What Loss, Love, and Life Taught Me About Obamacare

Love it or hate it, sometimes adversity can provide the best perspective.

Mar 15, 2014 at 11:00AM

Last fall, my wife and I were elated to learn we were pregnant with our third child.

We'd quietly planned for it to happen but still found ourselves overjoyed at the sudden reality of adding another member to our family. Over the next two months, we mulled names, tried to guess the gender, and -- though it was still early -- broke the news to our 6-year-old daughter. We decided we'd tell the rest of our family on Thanksgiving Day by outfitting our 3-year-old boy with a newly purchased "big brother" shirt.

But something wasn't right.

My wife unsurprisingly felt sick, but it wasn't like the others. More uncomfortable. Less nauseous. Just ... different. 

Fast-forward to the day before Thanksgiving. I was downstairs, starting a new article for the Fool.

My daughter came bounding into my office, armed with her usual frenzied tone and exclaiming, "Mommy needs your help!"

I nodded my head, my eyes still fixed on a particularly troublesome sentence. Then she grabbed my wrist, looked me in the eyes, and insisted in a more serious, almost mature voice, "She needs your help. Right now."

My heart sank when I found my wife doubled over on the bathroom floor, trying not to pass out from the pain.

A few hours and one unexpected surgery later, I would learn it was an ectopic pregnancy. The surgeon had removed her left Fallopian tube -- and, with it, the pregnancy -- which had ruptured, causing heavy internal bleeding and threatening the life of my better half.

It goes without saying I love my family dearly, and it almost hurt more than anything to see them weather such an ordeal. 

My wife tried not to cry in the days following the surgery, mostly because it literally hurt to do so. The kids and I cried for her instead. Even now, despite some of my more lighthearted musings here at the Fool, I'll readily admit the magnitude of it all still weighs on me.

I also know it could have been worse. 

My wife is still here, after all. Secondarily, our high-deductible insurance from Assurant (NYSE:AIZ) Health also helped lessen our financial burden.

And no, I didn't sign up for my coverage through Obamacare's HealthCare.gov Web portal.
In fact, Assurant voluntarily deferred participating in Obamacare's exchanges in early 2013 -- a curious choice, considering other insurers like WellPoint (NYSE:ANTM) were aggressively targeting what appeared to be a captive pool of prospective customers. As of the end of January, Wellpoint had already profitably signed up more than 500,000 new customers directly through Obamacare's marketplaces.

Obamacare's reach is longer than you think
You might recall back in October -- which was only six weeks before the surgery -- I teamed up with fellow Fools Sean Williams and Travis Hoium to give you an idea of what it's like to apply for Obamacare on the new state and federal health care exchanges. Unfortunately, serious glitches on the HealthCare.gov portal prevented me from actually completing the signup process then. And even if had signed up, my coverage wouldn't have kicked in until Jan. 1.
In the meantime, Assurant was already capitalizing on its decision to first help people understand how the changes would affect them, and then to offer plans to suit their individual needs. It turned out to be a great move; last month, Assurant Health reported increased market share along with its record fourth-quarter sales of $319 million, thanks to "significant activity prompted by the first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act."

In short, even if people aren't exactly flocking en masse to Obamacare's online insurance marketplaces, they're still signing up for health insurance elsewhere precisely because of the new individual mandate.

But life wasn't quite done with our family yet.
The good news? We're expecting another little one to arrive in late September, and this time baby is healthy and growing in the right place.
However, my wife is currently suffering from morning (and afternoon, and evening) sickness with a severity I didn't even know was possible. We even ended up in the emergency room for dehydration on Super Bowl Sunday, and then returned three more times for additional IV fluids over the next several weeks when nothing else seemed to help it abate. Finally, everything culminated in a three-day hospital stay late last week.
Unfortunately, this all happened shortly after the turn of the calendar year, just after our large deductible had reset itself. Heck, by the time we reach our max out of pocket -- which looks increasingly likely by the day -- I could have purchased a reasonably nice car or maxed out contributions to both my regular and Roth IRAs this year. In fact, it still seems accurate to describe my plan as "disaster insurance," basically putting a lid on my expenses should something terrible happen.

While ours may be an exceptional case, I've learned the hard way over the past four months that terrible things do happen. And when they do, that seemingly hefty monthly premium we pay for health insurance starts to looks much more reasonable.

If that isn't enough, remember that Obamacare also prohibits denial of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, ensures that your plan will cover most preventative benefits with no out of pocket cost to you, and removes previously imposed lifetime coverage limits.

Put politics aside and give it a look
Better yet, if you sign up through your ACA exchange by the March 31 open enrollment deadline, your premium or out-of-pocket costs might not be so hefty at all, thanks to government subsidies that are being offered to many low- and middle-income households.
In fact, to avoid incurring penalties for violation of the individual mandate, you must sign up for a qualifying plan by that March 31, anyway. In that case, why not take a few minutes to visit your state's marketplace to see what it has to offer?

You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Still have questions? We have answers ...
Obamacare seems complex, but it doesn't have to be. In only minutes, you can learn the critical facts you need to know in a special free report called "Everything You Need to Know About Obamacare." This free guide contains the key information and money-making advice that every American must know. Please click here to access your free copy.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of WellPoint. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information