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
David Apeji's picture

Have you even looked at HR 2300? It contains NOTHING. Plus, they couldn't even pass their own bill amongst themselves.

GoDawgs's picture

Obviously you definition of "NOTHING" differs from mine.

Gary Hammell's picture

Okay, I'm Canadian. I'm comfortable middle-class. We have health care that is fantastic. Sure we pay more taxes, but I am not paying huge insurance premiums. I am not being told I can't have medical coverage because I have a medical problem, or charged extra because of it. We are all treated fairly. No favouritism because I have money. No rejection because I don't. My taxes sure, are higher, but not exorbitant. I probably save money in the total package of benefits, over giving the money to insurance companies and its share holders money.

Our economy is doing just fine. Our health plan has been around for over 50 years. Most Canadians very strongly support Medicare. American friends of mine that have moved to Canada think it is wonderful.

Repeating, in the long run, I think I am financially ahead with our Medical system, plus, I have excellent medical service.

Jan Ulman's picture

...But your Canadian friends aren't republicans ;).

David Vaughn's picture

But the US economy is not healthy even without Obamacare. Won't Obamacare just be another strain on the system?

Gary Hammell's picture

I certainly do not know the ins-and-outs of how the economy works. (i'm not certain the experts really know) However it has to help if fewer people are going bankrupt, losing their homes etc.
Also, if you have a health insurance plan now, much of that money is going into shareholders, investors pockets. If they have money to invest, they already have a cash flow. How does that help the economy? How is the money that goes into their pockets helping your personal health plan?

Paul Martinez's picture

I'm a freelance videographer/editor and I've been buying my own healthcare, while my wife who works for the schoolboard gets hers through her work. Since I'm young and healthy I was only paying about $105, today I received notice that my premiums would go up to $285 to stay on a comparable plan. The reason was the new regulations because of the Obamacare Affordable Care Act. Explain how that helps me as a freelancer.

Trevor Dayley's picture

Are the plans exactly the same? I

DeathNTexas's picture

Yeah, my dad had the same thing happen to him. The thing is, they did it last year, long before the law even kicked in. I couldn't say for certain that their math doesn't add up, but private companies can charge you what they like and justify it whatever way they wish.

Jan Ulman's picture

Pick a different plan.

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.

I Yield the floor

mark-eric c's picture

Another Excellent Point!

Chris Newman's picture

Read the bill. The word "tax" appears nowhere in the bill/law. It was magically converted from a "penalty" to a "tax" during Supreme Court arguments. While we are reading the constitution, read Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 about apportions from the Treasury originating in the Congress and not the Senate. Then look up the history of HR 3950, it was written in Congress as a mortgage assistance bill and the Senate amended it and sent it back.

You don't have to have insurance to own a car and that has nothing to do with the constitution anyway, that's a State law.

Emmanuel's picture

Why are so many people getting so worked up about getting health insurance of all things? For goodness sakes you have insurance on your house, car, and even your cell phone. How big of a deal is it to make sure your own body is taken care of. Having health care benefits is one of the biggest make or break decisions for many people looking for work, so to be able to have that assurance without being forced to work a job just because of health care is great. Don't get so caught up in the Constitution and your "rights" that you overlook the good in things.

David Vaughn's picture

But you also shouldn't get so caught up in the things that are good for you, as an individual, that you disregard the negatives that come along with it.

Emmanuel's picture

True...I'm just saying out of all the things people spend money on you would think health insurance wouldn't be something to complain about. There will never be an all in one solution to this but at least steps are being taken so people have a fighting chance.

Phil Stefans's picture

In Australia there's no such this as "medical bankruptcy". I find it amusing in the US that people are objecting to it being eliminated....each to their own.

Phil Stefans's picture

No such thing as "medical bankruptcy" here in Australia...we have a govt run health care system which costs me about $1300 per annum. I can join a private health care provider if I want extras such as choosing my own doctor, a private room in a private hospital etc...

Joe Gunawan's picture

I highly suggest reading FactCheck.Org's many articles on ObamaCare in order to weed through the fearmongering that has been used against it. I for one, as an self-employed photographer without insurance currently, support it!

Here's a good place to start reading:


Joe Gunawan's picture

And I'm not saying that all that President Obama has been entirely truthful, either. There have been a good deal of stretching of the truth on both side of the aisle. But regardless, the plan is here and it's needed. Let's just hope they will continue to improve it on both the cost that we pay AND the cost that healthcare providers/insurance companies can charge. It really is insane how much various medical bills can cost

smithcreative's picture

The debtor is slave to the lender. Remember that on Oct. 17 too.

Shannon Wimberly's picture

what a firestorm you started with this! geez! HA!

Graham Marley's picture

Until there is a federally enforced common fee schedule that healthcare providers must follow, regardless of what type of insurance a patient has, any notion of healthcare reform is pointless. Everyone is pointing their fingers at either the government or the insurers for the reason health care COSTS are what they are in this country (the highest in the world by a massive margin) but the providers are still given plenty of breathing room to game prices. Medicare is the only regulated price structure in the country, and pay-for-value systems vs fee-for-service is encouraging, but it does nothing more than introduce a new metric system that can be exploited, and doctors can still refuse to participate in it.

I oppose Obamacare not because I don't think healthcare should be accessible to everyone, but because the cost of healthcare has gone completely unchecked on any legal, effective basis and Obamacare simply doesn't have the chops to really control it. All Obamacare does is change HOW we pay for healthcare on an individual or household basis, and not how much it's going to cost the country: that money has to come from somewhere, and if the nation is the customer, we need to have some kind of price control power.

There's a doctor in Portland Maine who has decided to refuse to accept any health insurance at all, and published the prices of what his services cost. THAT is healthcare reform.


Trevor Dayley's picture

All politics aside, I think what many people who are against this are forgetting to recognize is that many Americans who work for themselves and have pre-existing conditions making themselves uninsurable are finally going to get the ability to buy health insurance.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” - Henry David Thoreau

Think about how these people must be feeling. Before this plan came out health insurance was unreachable for them.

lord trini's picture

And why are you a Republican sir. You have empathy. And you are a photog. I hope you dont shot Pentax as well :)

Matthew Saville Baldon's picture

Trevor Dayley, with all due respect this article means very little unless you post actual comparisons showing the price differences between past and future options. Because EVERYTHING I'm hearing says that people in our income bracket are going to have to pay WAY MORE. How does this make it better for us? Can anybody tell me that they will be paying LESS than they were before? Don't get me wrong, the caveat about those with pre-existing conditions is awesome, but that has almost nothing to do with FORCING the entire nation to buy something....

Trevor Dayley's picture

Matthew, it would be way to difficult to get into the specifics and try to compare one plan from another with the amount of time I have to write this up. In this article I stayed away from talking about the specifics of ACA because I didn't want it to be about that. There are a lot of articles out there and websites to help people get all the details. What I shared here was just a few of my observations and things I learned about the plan after I took off my "I Really Dislike Obama" glasses and reviewed the plan for what it meant to my family and I.

What this means to us is we now have an option that can work. Before this some people had no options.

You ought to write up a detailed review using your income specifics for SLR Lounge. It would be an interesting read.

Matthew Saville Baldon's picture

I did indeed do a little research, and it seems that there is a huge (and very lame) difference between those who make under $40K, and those who make over $80K. Essentially, your costs more than double in many cases, and almost double in the rest.

Basically, it seems like the true cost of it all is being masked by the discounts available to low-income people. If you make $39K for example, you get a ~$200 monthly discount on an >$400 monthly payment. So yeah, you're at $200 per month which is not bad at all, but as soon as you make more money, that discount starts to go away.

Before, it didn't matter how much I made. I could cover myself and my wife for under $200, even with "only" a $2K deductible on major incidents. Now, if I make $81K, It's $360 per month for a plan that has a $5K deductible.

Indeed, these numbers might be dramatically different depending on where you live, how large your family is, and whether you have pre-existing conditions. Lke you said, there are so many different variables, it would be tough to assess in a single article. But whenever I hear people talk real numbers, it doesn't look good.

Thus my point remains: If you had zero health insurance before, and you're all healthy, that's one thing. It may seem like "well now we have a viable option" ...but the reality is, you might have been able to afford the same coverage, for LESS, before. When you were in the process of having 5 kids, I assume you at least looked into it? Was it significantly more than $7K per year?

Honestly I'm with you on this- I'd love to love universal healthcare. Lots of other countries have it. I'd love for my fears and rough calculations to be proven totally wrong, and discover that my costs are actually going to go DOWN instead of up. But if you are a hard-working photographer who already CAN afford health insurance, and your costs are going to go UP the more money you make, ...how does that equal "more people will be able to follow their dream to become a photographer"?

Trevor Dayley's picture

Matthew, I hate to keep referring back to the pre-existing condition clause. But there are a lot of people out there that would love to do photography full time but can't because they need to have a job at an employer who offer health insurance as part of their benefit package. Previously the only way they could get insured was through an employee program. Those people now have an option. The definition of pre-existing conditions is wide open to interpretation...

"Most insurance companies use one of two definitions to identify such conditions. Under the "objective standard" definition, a pre-existing condition is any condition for which the patient has already received medical advice or treatment prior to enrollment in a new medical insurance plan. Under the broader, "prudent person" definition, a pre-existing condition is anything for which symptoms were present and a prudent person would have sought treatment."

What do we do with these people? What about someone that genetically has high cholesterol and takes meds for it. Do insurance companies view that person as undesirable and decide not to offer coverage? I just feel we all need to be more empathetic to what others are going through. Even if I have to pay a little more but it means others can get the treatment they need, then I am willing to do that.

Trevor Dayley's picture

P.S. I am a registered Republican. I could find all kinds of reasons to dislike the plan. But it has been voted on. It is happening. At this point rather than try to fight it I am trying to find the silver lining in it.

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