This is part of an ongoing series for our writers to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.
by Sonya Haifa
I am living proof that even the hardest-working, most educated people can lose it all in a matter of months — I went from earning $225K a year to less than $21,000 now. After losing my 60-hour-a-week, high-pressure corporate communications job in New York and then having COBRA expire, I signed up on the Affordable Care Exchange, paying for my disabled husband’s and my coverage with savings.
Sadly, neither the psychiatrist nor the psychologist I saw regularly for chronic depression was covered under any of the Exchange plans, so we paid out of pocket. In my early 50s, I was having little success in finding another job, which exacerbated my depression. Then my husband was diagnosed with PTSD after being violently assaulted, so he too was seeing a psychologist on a weekly basis.
In 2016, our healthcare bills exceeded $40,000. It so quickly drained our savings that we had to sell our NYC home and relocate to a cheaper location in the Hudson Valley. It is terrifying to know that losing your job and needing critical health services can rapidly drain all the financial resources you’ve worked years to accrue. Having health insurance tied to employment makes losing a job not only scary, but potentially life-threatening.