What Does Obamacare Mean For Photographers?

What Does Obamacare Mean For Photographers?

Today registration opens around the country for the new Affordable Healthcare Plans (a.k.a. Obamacare) which will take effect on January 1, 2014. People on both sides of the fence are fired up and expressing their support or disgust for the plans. It got me thinking though: What does this mean for self-employed photographers?

I voted for Romney in the last election. I have not been the biggest supporter of Obama and the choices he has made so far. However I have got to say I am quite interested in what the new health insurance plan means for our industry. Let me explain.

Self-employed photographers finally have a way of purchasing a reasonable health insurance plan.

I have been working for myself for the last 3 years. I have 5 kids under the age of 12. My wife works for herself as well. We have managed to get by over the last year without any health insurance at all. Fortunately for us, our family has been healthy. I hate to admit this openly. But if one of us were to need health care, we don't have a plan. I think about this often. One broken bone, one sick child, one surgery, one hospital visit, any of these things could end up costing us a fortune. According to a recent study medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcies. Being uninsured is not the way to live as it causes a lot stress, praying everyone in the family stays healthy. (I hope my mother doesn't read this as she always asks about whether or not we have health insurance and I have just fibbed telling her we did as to not stress her out as well.)

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Every couple of weeks I wonder if it would be better for me to have a full-time job with health benefits rather than work as a wedding photographer. But I just can't do it. I feel like it is my calling to photograph weddings and create photos that couples can cherish throughout their life. So while I have yearned for some kind of health insurance protection, my wife and I have just continued rolling the dice hoping we all stay healthy as a family.

Even with pre-existing conditions you still qualify for health insurance.

I didn't think much about this before. After all, my wife, kids and I have been healthy. But in one discussion inside a Facebook group of photographers one person spoke up. She explained that in her early 20's she was diagnosed with cancer. She fought the battle and won but as a result she has found it extremely difficult to find any insurer that will cover her. With the new Obamacare she can finally get the health insurance she desires and not have to worry about being disqualified because of her past condition. I was truly excited for her. It opened my eyes that there are a lot of people out there in her same shoes. These people are now going to be able to get the prescription medications and doctor checkups they need without having to pay out of pocket to cover all the costs.

More people will be able to follow their dream to become a photographer.

One of the biggest hurdles for people interested in becoming photographers is that as much as they would love to do it they just couldn't see how it was possible. Insurance was too expensive. Their child had a pre-existing condition. It was a risky choice for them to make and so more often than not they just stayed in their 9 to 5 job and did a little photography on the weekend. I have a feeling in 2014 we are now going to start seeing many of these people leave their "9 to 5" and find a more fulfilling life as they actually are able to do something they love.

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Is Obamacare perfect? Absolutely not. Am I looking forward to paying an estimated $7,000 a year for my family to get the insurance or be penalized? Nope, not at all. In fact, when my wife and I first talked it over about a month ago we were fired up. We were angry that we were being forced into something we didn't want. But as we educated ourselves more and more about what this meant to us as a family we started realizing this was not such a bad thing after all for us. I have a feeling that on January 1, 2014 a lot of stress of worrying about my family needing health care will finally be lifted from my shoulders. Will we need to use it? I hope not. But it is there to assist us in case of an emergency.

You hear about outrageous hospital bills all the time. In fact, I bet if you asked around you probably have a friend that has received one for $50,000+ and hopefully they had insurance to cover it. My feeling is that as a family we might go years and stay healthy never needing a doctor visit. But when that one time happens. When one of us gets sick, cancer, Parkinsons, heart disease, I am grateful to know that we will be able to get the help we need without having to worry about breaking the bank or reaching our hands out desperately to family members to help.

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When we buy a new car, before we drive the car off the lot we have to show them proof of insurance. Same thing goes when we get pulled over by a cop. It is required by law to have it. When we buy a house they often bill the cost of insurance right into our mortgage because the lenders want to make sure we are insured. Insurance is all of us pitching in a little bit today so that the person who needs the help tomorrow can find it.

I realize that Obamacare is not perfect. In fact far from perfect. But I do believe that for us self-employed photographers it does give us certain benefits that were once not available. I thought that was definitely worth mentioning. If you would like to find out more information about it you can visit this link, Healthcare.gov. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Please keep it civil and keep party lines out of it. While the new Affordable Health Care plan is not perfect, it is here, it is happening. What are some of the additional benefits we can get out of it as self-employed photographers? What are some of the disadvantageous? Chime in below.

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239 Comments

Previous comments
Juan Mojica's picture

shoving it down everyones throats indeed, if they believe in it and it's trustworthy enough they should set it into effect on a voluntary basis, and show us that it works in those initial phases, then people will voluntarily jump in and expand it as it naturally would if it was good for the people. Making it mandatory out the gate? What about the people who are barely scraping by?

Jon Sharman's picture

It doesn't work if the amount of money going into it doesn't reach a minimum level. Yes, that doesn't make it perfect. But it's like saying they shove Medicare and Social Security down our throats - it's part of the price of living in a society, where we're all responsible in a tiny financial way for the quality of life of our fellow humans.

Tristan Cook's picture

If everyone needs to pitch in to make this work why is congress, senate, and the cabinet exempt from it?

Trevor Dayley's picture

JAM ONE as I understand it there are large subsidies for people who are "barely scraping by."

Joe Reitz's picture

+1 at both of you guys.

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

Agreed! Why should I have to pay a penalty just because I don't want your healthcare? Mexico is looking very good right now...

Trevor Dayley's picture

Scott, Mexico is a beautiful place to visit. One of my favorite countries in the world in fact... to visit. But I don't think you want to live there.

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

I surf and photograph Baja a few times a year for the past 17 years. I love it there, I could move and live there easily. It's not like Mexico City cartel areas... I live in San Diego, could be there in an hour haha

Trevor Dayley's picture

It is gorgeous down there. Very familiar with the area.

Brooks Crandell's picture

Some ideas are just so good that they must be forced upon us.

the_pro_amateur's picture

I'm not sure what this is all about. Mandatory healthcare? This is probably one of those things that's on the news, but I don't have TV so I never hear about it. People are all pissed off it seems, but you're forgetting something. You don't have to do this. You don't have to pay taxes, or insurance, or most bills (like water). I make about 6,000$ a year from my professional internet taught photography. I obviously can't afford to pay normal living expenses, certainly not insurance. Ya know what happens? Absolutely nothing.
Seriously folks, try it. You can't get blood from a stone and the US has no debtors prison. If you don't want to do something, just don't.

peasporridgehot's picture

Don't you ever wonder why they've exempted themselves and all their supporters? WHY would they exempt themselves from such a great thing? And why would BHO illegally manipulate it 17 times?

Jaron Schneider's picture

Not really strongly for or against this for any particular reason. I'm just wary of the government promising certain things (like so much this, and not so much that), when they hardly ever keep their promises (ie. Income tax, social security).

Ben Mitchell's picture

I think I fall into the same camp as many people, I like the "idea" however the way it's been pulled off I'm not enthralled about at all. I have no expectations that the "affordable" part of this will in fact stay affordable because economics just don't work like that. I would much rather have seen a plan with much less government involvement and price control, and more open market options i.e. insurance companies allowed to operate over state lines easier, tort reform, ect. but we'll see how this all plays out.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

The government does nothing well.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

Please feel free to tell me what they do well.

Doug Gray's picture

They take our money (taxes) well.

Kevin's picture

Rain hell fire from the sky.
Nobody knows how to drop 2 million dollar missiles on mud and straw huts like the good ol US of A.

Jan Ulman's picture

Where was the last mud hut destroyed?

Kevin's picture

If you look too, you'll find other examples. Test your google fu.

"The security officials and Pashtun tribesmen in the northwestern region said the drone fired two missiles that struck a mud-built house at Chashma village, 3 km (2 miles) east of Miranshah, the region's administrative town."
They said seven people were killed and four wounded
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/29/us-drone-strike-pakistan_n_3350...

DeathNTexas's picture

"Well" is a relative term. There are plenty of places in this world with little to no government. Given the comparison, they do quite a lot "well". I am very happy to have a government. Yeah, it will constantly need improving (call it maintenance, if you like), but the people who advocate that "government" can't do anything right... well, that is really ridiculous.

If you want one example, though. Pick any scientific advancement in the last hundred years. I guarantee the government was vital somewhere in its development. The internet for example...

Jan Ulman's picture

Nope, the government is stupid and little independent contractors like us know it best! :P

Marcos Villaroman's picture

What I find amazing about ACA is how we see how much it costs up front: Look at how much rates went up when rules about not being denied coverage or charged extra for pre-existing conditions; coverage for children extended to 26; etc. Then look at what it costs to ensure 15% more people with things like the increased tax on medical equipment. All of this ain't free. But, I do think the benefits are worth the costs. It'll be interesting to see how well the actual costs vs. the estimates turn out; hopefully it won't be tampered with to make the costs jump and get out of balance (e.g., remove/reduce the identified sources of funding).

Bixby Bautista's picture

Just the fact that other countries with similar healthcare system are complaining that they usually have to wait weeks/months just to been seen by a doctor makes it really hard for me to trust it. The availability of healthcare to everyone is truly a great thing but I really do hope that the quality of this healthcare would not be compromised. Not to mention how all this is going to be paid for. It's too shady and the government is asking a lot of faith from us while hoping for us not to look at their track record in fulfilling promises.

Guest's picture

How can health care be available to so many, when so many hospitals are shutting down, and so many doctors are quitting their practices?
The gov't does not DESERVE out faith! They do nothing but lie and cheat.

peasporridgehot's picture

How can health care be available to so many, when so many hospitals are shutting down, and so many doctors are quitting their practices?
The gov't does not DESERVE our faith! They do nothing but lie and cheat.

DeathNTexas's picture

You are right, awerllow, there are horror stories like that floating around. But I have lived and worked in some of those countries, and for every horror story, I could tell you a personal one about how it saved someone's life.

We have our own horror stories here, too, about people who bankrupt their families because they died of cancer. Or did not seek basic care because they can barely feed their families, much less pay for doctor's visits or medicine.

No system is 100% perfect, but I find it morally repulsive that being able to get basic health care is dependent on income (or the benevolence of for profit insurers). And, it is only going to get worse as average income is in decline, insurance rates are rising, and health care costs skyrocket.

Carsten Schlipf's picture

7000$ a year for a family with 5 kids? Wow. I might consider moving to the U.S.

As a German most of us have a health care plan (I say "most of us" because contrary to believe, especially self-employed at the age of over 50 may not be able to get proper healthcare here), however I am paying more than 11.000 Euros per year for my family with 2 kids.

Bixby Bautista's picture

Okay, so if Germany had to charge people gazillion Euros to sustain their healthcare system, who's to say it won't happen here in the US? Like my question below, what would happen if not enough people enroll in the gov't healthcare? How else would a system this huge be funded? Remember, there's a promise that it "will not raise taxes on the middle class"

peasporridgehot's picture

Promise?????? These swindlers have NO CONCEPT of that word.

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