I've always loved PEOPLE because it was created to showcase individual stories and it continues to do so. From the amazing tales of the Heroes Among Us section, to celebrities we watch, to stories of our neighbors who are going through struggles.
With that, I want to now angle this blog more toward your stories, your struggles that you feel no one is listening to and your questions that you want answered.
Email me at AskDiem@medgift.com with your stories and questions. I've felt the amazing support of this community for more than a year and now I want to help be a vessel for you!
I keep getting questions about what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means for the average person and how it will impact our day-to-day lives, so I went to Washington, D.C., to find out. I was invited to a Google Hangout with some experts who know the ACA like the back of their hands. I went into the meeting with the goal of stripping away the politics and focusing on what the ACA really boils down to for us today.
Doug Ulman, CEO of Livestrong, flew in from Austin, Texas, to join us. I was honored to be there with him as Doug is a three-time cancer survivor and a cancer advocate. I was able to garner information from people like Christina Postolowski, senior policy analyst from Young Invincibles, and Bryn Mooser, founder of RYOT News.
I think approaching this whole healthcare debate is like approaching a mechanic after your car has broken down. A lot of us are clueless about the intricate details of how it works, so we feel like we are about to get taken for a ride and ripped off.
So take away all the politics, and here, find some helpful tools and the straightforward information I learned about the Affordable Care Act.
What I Learned No matter who you are, even if you have a pre-existing condition, you can now shop for healthcare. (I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this new option to "shop!" For a two-time cancer survivor, who most insurance companies don't want to touch, it's liberating to feel like I have a choice again!) If you are under your employer's plan you can continue on that plan, or you can shop around online and see if you can get a better deal.
You are able to stay on your parents' health insurance until you are 26 years old.
The ACA requires health insurance companies to cover additional preventive health benefits for women.
If you can't afford the premiums and make less than $46,000 as an individual or $94,000 for a family of four, you can qualify for a tax credit to help you pay for coverage that the government will send directly to the insurer, so it will help to immediately offset the cost of your plan.
My Insurance StoryI was lucky that I bought private health insurance just one month before I was diagnosed with cancer the first time around. I had just been kicked off of my dad's insurance because I had graduated from college, and my dad kept reminding me to buy a private plan.
Every day, he annoyed me with, "Have you got it yet?" I finally bought the cheapest plan possible just to shut him up. Well thank God for his nagging, because less than one month later, I was rushed to the ER and doctors discovered the two-liter-bottle-sized tumor on one of my ovaries that turned out to be cancerous.
I bought the cheapest plan available to me, and I have not switched plans since, because I knew no other insurance company would pick me up after having cancer. I never switched to my employer's healthcare plan because I was terrified about getting fired or laid off.
Having a pre-existing condition made me feel trapped with my health insurance plan since 2002 with no options – until now.
Courtesy Diem Brown
The "marketplace" is open now and you can enroll until Jan. 1, 2014.
You can also check out Livestrong's cheat sheet about the ACA here.
Thank you again for being a part of this community, and please email me at AskDiem@medgift.com.
Love y'all, Diem
Follow me on Twitter @DiemBrownMTV and on Instagram @DiemBrown.