• The real story of the Affordable Care Act

    We all have a health care story to tell. Here's mine.

    We all have a health care story to tell. Here's mine.

    When I was 8 years old, I was in the hospital for a routine surgery. The thought that a simple operation could have life-long complications was far from my family's mind, but that's what happened.

    To relieve nausea, my doctor inserted a tube through my nose and into my stomach. Accidentally, the tube lodged an opening between my stomach and esophagus and allowed stomach acid to reflux, destroying the bottom third of my esophagus. I spent the next three years in and out of hospitals. Finally, after multiple surgeries, I had the damaged portion of esophagus replaced by a piece of my colon.

    I became a patient with a pre-existing condition—a stigma I earned through no fault of my own but would be with me for the rest of my life.

    I was lucky enough to get beyond the scare and start a healthy life. By all accounts, I needed no more care than an average person my age.

    But in 2005, when I left the public sector as a public defender and started my own law practice, I found that I was nearly un-insurable. Navigating the private insurance marketplace was like the Wild West for people like me.

    Finally I found a private insurance plan, but I was forced to pay an arm and a leg. For context, my monthly payment for health insurance was higher than my mortgage payment. That didn't seem fair. Accidents happen to everyone. Life throws us curve-balls, and we're all just patients with "pre-existing conditions" waiting to happen.

    But that was before the Affordable Care Act and the protections the law put in place. Now Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be discriminated against or left to fend for themselves.

    During open enrollment, I signed up for coverage that will start on January 1st, 2014. My monthly premium will drop from $1,200 to $297.82, and my yearly deductible will drop from $2,500 to $1,200. I have access to more services, more prescriptions are now covered, there is a yearly cap on expenses the insurance company can charge me, and my expenses will be cut in half next year—all thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

    Simply put, it's a life saver for me and my business. And for millions of Americans like me, that's the real story of Obamacare.

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