Views Of St. John's Well Child and Family Center As Share of Working-Age People With Health Insurance Rises
The Affordable Care Act's provisions enable those with pre-existing conditions to purchase health insurance. (Patrick T. Fallon, Bloomberg / September 23, 2013)
I am the face of Obamacare
I have multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. I'm 46 years old and, until I was diagnosed, was in excellent health. I did all the right things. I ate right, ran five days a week, didn't smoke or drink and had no history of cancer. I worked hard, earned an excellent income and never took a government handout for anything.

And then it all came crashing down in an instant when I heard my doctor say, "You have cancer."
I immediately went on medical leave from my high-paying corporate job. I was married at the time to an abusive alcoholic. When I realized I was sick, I knew I was finally leaving him for good and moving to Utah to seek treatment. It was a lot to take in all at once.

But it got more complicated. Just months prior, during our employers' open enrollment season, my husband and I had decided that he would carry our family's medical insurance that year. And he tried to use that against me.

"If you leave me, I'll cancel your insurance," he threatened. I was horrified and scared.
Thank goodness I had made that move to Utah because it turned out to be a "qualifying change," meaning I could purchase my own health insurance through my employer outside of the typical enrollment period. Otherwise, I would've been uninsurable thanks to my new "pre-existing condition" and unable to pay for the treatments I needed to stay alive. Millions of Americans, however, aren't as lucky.

Unable to return to work, I eventually went on COBRA in order to keep my insurance plan, but COBRA expires after 18 months. The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, became law just in time for me and, luckily, I've experienced no gap in coverage — just barely. And if things had worked out just a bit differently? I shudder just thinking about it.

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Lizzy Smith is a blogger, columnist and freelance writer. She chronicles her journey at