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
Carsten Schlipf's picture

Hm... maybe disallow the Pentagon to spend 5 billions just the day before the government shutdown?

Seriously... I have no idea what benefits Obamacare includes. I also could have an insurance that is cheaper (although not close to 7000$), but right now I am enjoying some additional benefits.

Chris Newman's picture

Don't worry Carsten, it will be up there before you know it.

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

I think it's great for those they need and want it. For those of us that don't want it why the hell should we be punished and penalized for not wanting it? It's insane that we get FINED if we choose not to buy into their crap. What is this becoming? North Korea?

Mia Paolini's picture

Just a question or two for you - Do you have health insurance now? If you do - great, it goes no further. If you don't - what happens when you are in an accident, get deathly ill, seek treatment at a hospital and then don't have the cash to pay your bill? Who ends up paying for it? I don't know you, I'm not being snarky - just asking a conversational question.

Draider's picture

So if you get sick, we shouldn't be penalized paying for emergency bill because you chose not to have insurance. Or maybe welfare is good at that point when it benefits you?

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

I'm a full time professional photographer and have paid for all of my own medical bills out of pocket for the past 27 years including 2 knee surgeries and a back surgery. You're mistaking me for the scum of the earth type of people you're used to dealing with... Know or ask for facts before you shoot your ignorant mouth off.

DeathNTexas's picture

Poor does not equal scum of the earth.

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

The way he phrased it they are. He's implying welfare is good for people when it suits them. Those people that use the system and waste our tax dollars are scum of the earth.

DeathNTexas's picture

Fair enough. If your intention was to say that hypocrites are scum, I agree.

However, poverty is a catching disease. I would be very wary of equating poverty to any moral failings.

Jan Ulman's picture

I hope you can't, and eventually have to pay for the weight of your words as your medical bills drown you in a literal deluge of debt :P.

DeathNTexas's picture

Jan, I understand where you are coming from, but I can't stand by your comment.

I don't hope illness on Scott, but I can think of many long term illnesses that would bankrupt him, take away his ability to work, and require a family member to care for him full time.

I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Which is the reason I support the idea of affordable healthcare.

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

Won't happen loser. Good karma is always on my side. I donate to so many charities and do so much charitable photography it's ridiculous. In addition I make plenty of money to cover my own bills and or pay for my own insurance if necessary. I'd like to see what charitable work you do, if you even work.

Brooks Crandell's picture

One of my main issues with it is that this is another power grab by the federal government. Everyone talks about how Obamacare is just like Massachusetts, and since it worked there, it can work for the entire country. If the other 49 states want to do it, more power to them, but this should have been left for the states to decide and fund on their own. The removal of power from the states to the federal government moves the power further from the people.

mario masche's picture

How did you get 5 kids without health insurance? I still remember the invoice from the hospital after our daughters birth, only that ammount would cover your $7,000 for a while. Should be happy to have insurance!!!

Trevor Dayley's picture

I had health insurance previously. Yeah baby birth is extremely expensive.

DeathNTexas's picture

Heck, I had a kidney stone that cost $7000!

Simon's picture

Obamacare is just another tax on the middle class. It is unconstitutional, wrong, and unethical. The Government cannot and should not mandate that anyone purchase anything, health insurance included. Anyone that does not see that has been deeply misinformed and does not understand the rights granted to us by the Constitution.

Chuck Eggen's picture

Agree!!!! 100%

DeathNTexas's picture

I don't believe that the affordable healthcare act is a great law either. It may also be unconstitutional (although the supreme court doesn't seem to agree), but it is the only solution put forward to fix a growing healthcare crisis in this country. Health care costs are inflating beyond control and without reason. Fewer and fewer Americans are covered by insurance every year (it gets worse by generation as well). The middle class is not exempt from that. Even the professorial faculty at prominent universities is 60% part time adjuncts, which means they don't qualify for health benefits. Unexpected medical bills or poor health due to lack of care will wipe out the middle class just as easily as "unethical" taxes.

I am all for other solutions, but so far everyone else keeps claiming there is no crisis.

lord trini's picture

Saying something is unconstitutional does not make it so. There is a test to see if it constitutional or not. That highest test is litigation in the Supreme Court. You may not like it but that is the definition of the word you are using. If another court overturns the judgement then you can say it is unconstitutional. Until then that word does not apply.

Also government mandates purchases all the time. If you have a car in most states you must have car insurance (If you baby in the car you must have a car seat). If you have a restaurant you must have the required sanitary and food storage equipment. If you want to walk the streets you must have clothing.

Finally people actually read the constitution
Section 8 Says
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.

By any stretch Heath Care is in the general welfare. And so says the Supreme Court.

Simon's picture

The Supreme Court might be the be all and end all in the matter it doesn't make it right. While the country obviously needs a healthcare system overhaul an individual mandate should not be part of the package. Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy got it correct, and Roberts was, simply put, blackmailed. At the end of the day our justice system is sadly dysfunctional.

DeathNTexas's picture

The constitution is definitely up to interpretation and there were dissenting opinions (although your comment about Roberts is a bit strange). Let's say that the minority opinion is actually the correct opinion; what is the proposed solution that would satisfy that interpretation of the constitution? I, for one, would be perfectly willing to consider it.

Ben Mitchell's picture

The problem with your analogy of car insurance, car seats, restaurants is that you don't have to buy a car and thus insurance, if you don't have a car a car seat is not needed, you aren't being forced to own and operate a restaurant. You are being forced to buy insurance whether you want to or not.
The idea behind Section 8 you have pointed out, is that Obamacare was not passed as a tax, and it's not uniform either, there are exemptions for unions, business, and most aggravating of all Congress, Senate and the President. Why is it that the general public is being forced into something when the people that passed the damn law in the first place don't have to participate, that's F'ed up no matter what your position is on the subject.

Capion's picture

These are responsibilities that we must uphold. I say they are responsibilities because they have been deemed civic duties that must be enforced to protect ourselves and our family. Politics aside, It is irresponsible to not have health insurance, just like it is irresponsible not to have car insurance. This article points out that the writer is clearly rolling the dice with his family every day he does not have health insurance. That is the definition of being irresponsible, because he has the option to work under an agency that will provide him with health benefits. Now individuals who run their own businesses are allowed to have health care without the risk of jeopardizing himself and his family physically and financially. You are right.. no one is forcing you to purchase a car thus you are not forced to partake in purchasing car insurance. Your same logic applies.. no one is forcing you to live in the United States of America, thus no one is forcing you to purchase health insurance. This ideology is synonymous.

Ben Mitchell's picture

The responsibility of the federal government is NOT to supply me with health insurance, a job, a house, food, a paycheck, means of transportation, ect. Those fall under my personal responsibility or that of the state to which I live in at best (i.e public transportation). It is your opinion that the writer of the article is irresponsible, but he is not asking you to cover his medical bills if some thing were to happen to his family. He is taking a calculated risk, he and his family are healthy and thus in his eyes the cost of insurance is higher than the risk of not having it. He also understands fully that if some thing were to happen he is up sh*t crick without a paddle.
With the ACA the cost of someone who decides that having insurance now is more expensive than paying the fine, and then getting insurance at a later date because you can now purchase it whenever with any pre-existing condition (to which I don't have a problem with the pre-existing condition part, but it should have stipulations that you can't wait until the condition presents itself to buy insurance) will be passed on to others on the network, it has to be paid for in one way or another.

lord trini's picture

In the ACA the Federal Government is not suppling you with health care. They are creating a market place where you go and buy a product. They may assist you in buying it but it is not free. Also when you pay the fine you still don't have care. If you pay for insurance you have a service.

Capion's picture

So going back to your belief on risk vs. irresponsibility... to be clear.. you do not "believe" calculating a "risk" of you and your loved ones is not being "irresponsible" when other options are viable that entail a 0% risk factor at the expense of your dreams. The writer is stating a difference between wants and needs, and displaying the "want" (shoot weddings) over a "need" (health insurance). I am not sure I follow with your deduction, please clarify.

lord trini's picture

Risk is the wrong word. Risk infer the a probability of less than 100% that something will happen. It is a 100% certainty that your biomechanical vessel (Your Body) will require repair and preventative maintenance. It is going to happen. When it happens no one is sure but it will happen. I am going beyond the writer of article here. The day you get ill you will thank the stars. I have see a 23 year old kid get a $6000 bill for a kidney stone and $75,000 each for hip surgery for 2 kids that crashed into each while one was skating and the other was walking. I have seen a 20 year old that inhaled a small rock and got a $50,000 bill. People this is not a joke. Its not politics its life. Get some health for your own best interest.

Ben Mitchell's picture

Ok, in my instance, I want to be a professional photographer, I need to keep my job because I need the insurance because my children are still young and yes I believe the risk of them getting an injury is greater than my desire to be a professional full time photographer and incur the expense of insurance myself.
However when I was 25 years old and not married, I didn't have insurance because I felt the risk of me getting injured was far lower and the cost of insurance was more than I wanted to come out of my paycheck. So I took the calculated risk that I was and would continue to stay healthy. Sure, something could have happened, I could have been diagnosed with an illness, I could have broken a bone skiing, or any number of other things could have happened. If that was the case, yes I would have wished I had insurance, but in no way would I have expected anyone else to pay my bills. In your opinion my actions at 25 are irresponsible, however I felt at the time it a risk worth taking. When my children are older would I take the same risk to start my own business, I don't know there are too many variables.
To address your statement about being irresponsible about calculating a risk for me and my loved ones, what's the difference if I would at some time take the risk of starting my own business and going full time. I would be leaving a steady, well paying job for the uncertainty of being my own boss. The risk is it could fail, cause my family financial uncertainty, amongst others, but if I felt it was worth it and my family was on board with it I would do it, and health insurance would play a roll in the risk of that move.

Ben Mitchell's picture

I'm sorry, my response prior to this was a little convoluted, my point is not carrying insurance is a risk that is based off an individual decision. If you are a wedding photographer, your kids don't partake in risky behavior (i.e dirt bikes, bmx, skateboarding, ect) and your family is healthy then it is reasonable to expect that you are a low risk for getting sick or injured. Now sure, something will happen at some point and when it does hopefully you have bought insurance and are covered, if not shame on you.
Now on the other hand, if you photography extreme sports, your kids ride motocross or other more risky behavior, then yes it's reasonable to expect that you run a high risk of being injured and not having insurance would be incredible irresponsible.
On the other hand, I would also find it incredible irresponsible if someone decided that because of the ACA it was cheaper for them to pay the fine for not having insurance until such a time that something major happened and they were able to buy it then, because under the ACA pre-existing conditions can not exempt you from coverage.
Now should something you have no control over, i.e cancer at some point in your life cause you not to be covered if you are looking to buy insurance, NO. But, you should not be able to skip out of buying insurance by paying a fine until you are diagnosed with cancer and then suddenly pick up insurance because now you realize you need it.

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