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.)

What Does Obamacare Mean to Photographers 2 Bankruptcy

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.


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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Previous comments
daisysc's picture

Totally agree Capion. Beside did anyone even list to the author saying how stressful it is hoping with you finger crossed that no one get sick. Further, what about prevention (mammogram-wife, prostate exam-husband). I mean who wants to find out their have 2 months to live because they have never taken routine exams and now they are stage 4 cancer or fall dead to a heart attack because of untreated HBP or CHOL. Really, I'm thankful I have both of my parent who are in theirs 80's who are very diligent about their health and healthcare. Don't people in America want to live in optimal health?? I just don't get it!!!

Kevin Luiz's picture

Amen Brotha! This is considered liberal radical thinking however.. making it mandatory to take care of ourselves and those around us is waaaay too utopian society, sounds more like communism to me. Next thing we know we will be accused of not liking apple pie ;)

lord trini's picture

Actually my analogy is quite apt. Our "essence" is house in a bio mechanical vehicle. This vehicle is for certain at some time in the future going to require repair. When this time comes you will seek said repair. If you cannot afford to pay the totality of the cost you will either not receive and live a life serious and constant disease or the cost of the repair will be born by others who pay. I do not want to pay for the care of people who have the mean to but refuse to pay for a utility that would mitigate that risk. If you are independently wealthy and can afford to pay out of pocket fine. But if you are not please do not take money out my pocket and impinge on my freedom.

PS The President and Congress can utilize if they want to a Federally administered health care plan. They can buy into the State Exchanges if they want to but they cant be dual partakers of the Federal Plan.

Ben Mitchell's picture

Ok, but what makes you think that someone who can not currently afford health insurance because they do not make enough money, or do not work at all will suddenly be able to afford it when they get on the state exchange. You are still going to be paying for people who can not afford insurance, the same as you pay for it now through Medicaid. The fact that I could ignore buying insurance by paying the fine until such a point that I have a serious illness and then buy it is only going to make the cost go up. That would be like paying a fractional fine for life insurance until you realized you have a terminal disease then suddenly purchasing $500,000 policy because you know you are going to need it. You haven't paid into it until that point to cover the cost of it, so someone else (the person who buys it years before they need it) is going to foot the bill through increased cost.

lord trini's picture

So we have made some progress.
If they cant afford hopefully they can get a subsidy. But think about it. It is bigger then insurance. There are people working 40 hours a week for a company that make billions in prophets and the minimum wage they make does not allow then to afford health care. There is a systemic problem they we have to face. Greed is not Good. It kills. We have walmart paying workers low that the have to take public assistance to survive. Thus we have tax payers subsidizing wages.

And as photogs we would want people to have disposable income so they could book that seasonal family shoot. :)

To your second point. If you dont want to pay of insurance till you get sick. You are playing russian roulette with phaser. You will still have to pay a fine. You are not getting regular check ups and preventative care and when final start to show enough systems to alarm you to go in and get looked at you might have a situation that would be so far progressed that will have a long and painful recovery if any.

Ben Mitchell's picture

OK, point one; (disclaimer, I don't particularly like walmart, but I will give Sam Walton credit for a business model that has produced one of the largest employers in the world) Walmart employs unskilled labor to do basic retail sales work, the level of skill required to perform the duties required at a walmart is not high enough to justify paying some one $15, $20 or really any amount over minimum wage. This is because in the labor market there are thousands of others will skill sets the are equivalent and could easily replace some one who decides they no longer want to work for walmart. All of this stems from the fact that labor is a commodity.
Take for example, as a wedding photographer (if that's what you shoot) what makes you worth what you charge for a wedding as opposed to some one who buys a DSLR kit and charges $500 with full rights to the images. The answer, your skills as a photographer in composition, exposure, how to get the important shots, off camera flash, ect. Your skill set is greater than some one who shoots their D3100 with kit lens in auto mode, thus you can justify charging more and get paid that money.
Now, back to walmart, if you have a sale associate that puts forth the effort and works very, very hard they may move into a management position where they're labor commodity now demands more money. This is only possible because they have increased their value by learning what is required to take on the new position. Is that an easy way to go, Hell NO! it would suck and be difficult, but it's an option. The same goes for fast food, are McDonalds employees worth $15/hr, No, because there is very little skill required to put together a Big Mac, now if a McDonalds employee works very hard and pushes to advance in the company, there are avenues to become managers, and move up where they are worth $15/hr and eventually much more.
By forcing a company like Walmart, even though they turn a solid profit every year, to pay their employees wages higher than what they are worth will have ill effects across the entire retail market because now other retail outlets such as Kmart will have to pay more to get employees, and for a company like Kmart that isn't doing as well financially as walmart this could eventually lead to closure and the loss of all of the back end jobs that are associated with it's operation.
That's enough, because waiting to get insured is a bad decision, but it's one that some people are going to make I'm sure because of financial reasons.

daisysc's picture

I am so glad someone else has taken the time to "read" and become "informed" and has the "facts" I too have been a victim of paying for other's inability to pay their medical bill. Long story short I lost an infant child who spent 48hr in ICU at a tune of $22,000. When I inquired about the fee of the itemized bill $$for a bandage (tape) over a shunt. Financial Officer explained to me how the cost is passed to the insured. Uninsured bills are written off as a loss and redistributed. Thank God I was insured and did not have to pay the entire $22,000.

David Ewers's picture

there are no exemptions for unions and of course the big lie, yes congress and the rest of our senators and reps are not exempt

Capion's picture

Amen. Well said.

Stefan's picture

welcome to the first world, US

daisysc's picture

But we are mandated to buy other insurances (auto, homeowners) to protect ourselves and others. Surely, I would not want my car totaled or my home burned down and I not have no means of replacing either. Same with health insurance, that should be a no-brainer. My health is more important than my auto or home. So why do 'people"have a problem protecting their health?? I just don't get it.The Affordable Healthcare Act was passed into law and upheld by the Supreme Court. Fact is people are in bankruptcy right now because of unexpected medical expenses(uninsured and under insured) Lastly, people pays thousands for life insurance and lively sickly well past the life of the policy (money lost).

Michael Prizant's picture

Wow are you ever showing your own ignorance with this post! Or are you not aware of the fact that an activist, highly conservative Supreme Court actually ruled that the ACA is in fact constitutional? As for it being wrong, that's a subjective statement and only an opinion based on your obvious ignorance. Please explain to me in exactly what ways it's unethical to provide people with affordable health care? It is in fact unethical NOT to provide health care for people who cannot currently afford a bloated, overly expensive system. Please show me where in the constitution it says that they cannot mandate that people have to buy insurance? If you want to drive a car, you have to have insurance, is that unconstitutional? Nope.

It's you who don't understand your rights. Start learning and maybe you'll be able to speak intelligently about what are and are not your rights.

Simon's picture

You, sir, are the ignorant one. The individual mandate to buy health insurance is not the same as having to buy car insurance. Driving a vehicle is a choice and a person can therefore be required to buy car insurance for the protection of OTHERS in case of an accident. The individual mandate takes away someone's right to make a choice to buy, or not buy a product. Never before in history has Congress forced the American people to buy a product of it's choosing. There are obviously many fools like you who think they are able to 'speak intelligently', but alas.

EricV's picture

@Simon Do you have a problem with the U.S. Army? It's protecting you and your fellow countryman. So is collective healthcare.

Simon's picture

Your comment is the most absurd thing I've read in a while.. Thanks for the laugh.

EricV's picture

Hi Simon, I'm glad I made you laugh :-) , but please explain why you find my remark so absurd.

Chuck Eggen's picture

Here's the next part to this. The system can't afford all the babies and other runs on the hospital. Those that pay the least will use the most and the cost has to be passed on to someone. Who pays the difference, the government? No, the tax payer. Paying, let's say $1,400 a year for insurance and having one baby puts the system in hole by $6-10,000. Where does that come from? I think the positive comments here are based on party, not reality. A lot of folks have buyers remorse and must justify their choice by supporting and defending any and all stupidity. Well, that will work until it infringes on your lifestyle and then you'll be crying "what happened?" Let's see how it works out in the next 12-18 months. Somebody gets to say "told you so."
The sad part is, it will probably be me and that's not necessarily a good thing.

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

In Mexico? My 2 best friends and photographers have lived there for over 10 years and LOVE it.. Unless you've lived there and actually know what you're talking about, you know squat...

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

I am a victim of Sandy, that's how I wound up in California with NOTHING but my truck. I lost everything. The Red Cross and the Government SUCK. We got NO help for MANY months and even now they're dicking us all around and not paying.

Andrew Sible's picture

sorry to hear that, Scott. I'm sad for what has happened to people in your position. What brought you all the way here? If you don't mind did you have any insurance to help with what happened?

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

Thanks Andrew.. It's a very sad situation. People talk, talk, talk but have no clue what they're talking about. Many thousands from Katrina and Sandy are still homeless and jobless because the government screwed them. Insurance only covers certain things and many portions of "an act of God" and flooding are not covered near the coastlines. I've been working out here a few months a year for years. I was offered 2 corporate photography jobs that require me here full time so I decided to make the move.

Andrew Sible's picture

that really sucks...I haven't been impressed with anything I've heard. I figured insurance wouldn't cover it, it's one of those things. I'm glad you got some jobs that sound good though, good luck in the future and I'll do some research before sending my money anywhere... sounds like something to be very cautious with unless you like throwing money away.
Thanks for the reply.

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

Thank you Andrew I appreciate it. These days the best places to make any donations after natural disasters are LOCAL services, LOCAL churches and such places that are helping out with meals, clothes, cell phone charging, shelter etc.. I'm very thankful for the work I've gotten and am big on "paying it forward", it can never hurt and only do good. :)

Andrew Sible's picture

Good to know, in an area that's been destroyed by a disaster I didn't even think about local services. Thanks. :)
Great attitude to have I try to do that myself but don't always remember.
Best Wishes man!

RUSS T.'s picture

sorry to hear about that Scott. I hope it gets better for you soon. :)

lord trini's picture

People say we want smaller government. Now when a tragedy hits and there is nothing we forget that we cant get what we did not pay for.

♆ Scott ♆'s picture

Could you be more ignorant? I've paid taxes for the past 30 years not including the insurance I was paying for the home that was hit by Sandy.. I hope you go through something similar, it will shut you up fast.

Kevin Fairhurst's picture

With the numbers of all cancers on the rise, everyone needs some kind of coverage. I have carcinoids and require a needle every 4 weeks. $4,450 a month for this shot alone. I am so lucky to have coverage.

Jayson Carey's picture

wow. just wow. I had a well worded, intelligent response to you, then realized you aren't worth the effort to type it out with a retort like that. Are you sure you're not in congress?

Jan Ulman's picture

He probably is, at least from what I remember of his comment.

Hopefully he can take you at your word that it was a well worded reply.

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