My doctor has been distressed for years that I don’t have medical insurance. The lack interferes with my treatment. (More)

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For eight years I’ve been without medical insurance, ever since United Healthcare rewrote my policy on the fly, removing things like a $2500 maximum annual out-of-pocket, an annual deductible that suddenly applied not annually but to every provider, and refusing to follow their own policy about all providers being treated as in-network in an emergency.

They left me with well over $20K in medical bills after an emergency that almost killed me. When I appealed, I was told to take a look at the fine print. You know, the part where it says, “subject to change at any time without notice.” It took me a few months to figure it out, but then I dropped the policy because one stark question stared me in the face: “Do you think you’d be covered if you got cancer?”

Uh, no.

So I’ve been flying naked ever since. I have diabetes, so it wasn’t possible to get another policy. Over the years, I have shopped health care providers to get the best prices on things like cataract surgery. I’ve even been told doctors won’t see me because I have no insurance.

But I found a gem at our local minor emergency center. I’ll call him Dr. Mitch. Once he got to know me and my situation, he started going out of his way to take care of me in the most minimally expensive way possible. As long as I see him a couple of times a year, he’ll phone in my prescriptions, and he doesn’t badger me endlessly for tests I can’t afford. He sighs occasionally, and says, “We really need to get you insurance.”

Well, ACA has arrived. I went to see him for an infection last week, and he told me, “Take advantage of The Affordable Care Act. Check it out. Find a policy you can afford.”

When I said I didn’t know how much I’d be making next year because of my publisher dawdling about how much they were going to pay me, his answer was, “Think how much you’re already spending on medical care. Out of pocket. This could save you a lot of money and I could take better care of you. Find a way.”

I asked, “Can you still be my doctor?” (This guy is gold, if you ask me.)

His answer, “Pick an open provider policy, not a closed HMO, and I can still be your doctor. But get going on it. This is important.”

I did not expect to get a lecture from my doctor on getting insurance under the ACA, but I got one. And I suspect I’m not the only one of his patients who is hearing the same thing. Go, Doctor Mitch!