The ACA makes a simpler, farming life possible for our family

I’m a writer, an online professor, a farmer, a wife, and a mom. None of these jobs offer health insurance for me and my family, so our family purchases our health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. We work hard, but we try to work differently. If you read my blog, you know we’re learning to grow and raise our own food, and our health insurance through the ACA makes this possible.

I used to work more traditionally. I worked about 70 hours per week, more sometimes, and I was tired all the time—and getting sick. I was missing out on my youngest son’s childhood, after missing way too much of my oldest son’s childhood, but I stayed at my job for my health insurance. For a long time, there were no other options.

But I wanted my life to be different. I didn’t want to spend all of my creative energy creating things for other people. My husband and I dreamed of becoming farmers and starting our own publishing company, but these things would take up time, more time than I had in a day since I was working so much.

chicken farm

The first thing we did when I left my full-time job was start our chicken farm. These chickens help feed our family and others. Photo credit: Michal Grosicki, Unsplash

That’s when we decided to research purchasing health insurance through the ACA. We were scared. We knew there had been much opposition to the ACA and knew that politics might play a role in whether or not our family would have health care if we took the chance and decided to purchase our health care through the ACA. But, as I was growing sicker and ever more tired of “the grind,” as I called it, it seemed like it was worth the gamble.

We ended up qualifying for a tax credit from the government through the ACA and were able to purchase a pretty good silver plan from the health insurance marketplace. We were joining in the middle of the year since I was leaving my old position, but I called customer service through the health care site and was given amazing help and support.

Our plan wasn’t that different than what I had previously had through my work. In fact, it was through the same insurance company, and our copays were exactly the same. Emergency room coverage was poor, but it had been on my employer plan as well. On top of this, when I was teaching full time at a local college, we paid $900 a month for our part of our coverage, and that was in 2007, long before the ACA. With the partial subsidy we were able to get through the ACA, we were paying less than $600 a month.

Contrary to what I had heard about the ACA, we didn’t have a deductible that was any higher than our deductible was under our employer coverage. Of course, we received a tax credit from the government to make things more affordable for us, but our family pays an extremely large amount of income, sales, and property taxes every year. We’ve been that classic middle-class family that pays a small fortune in taxes, so we were excited to get this little break, to finally get a little help with health insurance.

And, most importantly, I had my time and my life back.

I still work quite a bit, but I’m now able to help my husband with our farm animals and during the growing and harvesting season in our vegetable garden. We make less money, but we spend less money. We’re gradually learning to grow more food and to live a more sustainable lifestyle. We buy less junk food. We buy less junk. I’m not in a rush all the time. We’re careful in how we spend our money, and I’m able to see my children and my husband more. I like them a lot. They’re pretty cool. It’s been nice to really get to know them again. I don’t want to go back to working 70 hours a week, so our family can have health insurance.

I’m not going to sit here and say the Affordable Care Act is perfect, but it’s a good start. It gives families options and real access to health care, not the kind of access that politicians tell you that you have but you know you really don’t.

I have family and friends from southern states who do not report positive experiences with the ACA, but I have friends in states in the west and northwest who rave about how amazing the ACA is. How about looking to see what’s going on in the places where the ACA is working? If it’s so bad, why is it work so well for some?

The Affordable Care Act is important for families who farm or who must work several part-time jobs or who just want to live a more reasonable life. I’m not saying it’s a perfect program, but for any country to have a strong health care system, we all need to participate.

I believe we all deserve to have health care, not just some kind of vague access to it. I mean, I have access to a million dollar home, but we’re never going to be able to afford one.

The ACA has helped me to become a better mom, a better wife, a better teacher because I am not so overworked, and it has made it so I can learn to be a farmer. I’m also just a better person. I’m not sick and overworked. I’m more patient and more kind and more helpful to everyone.

And this is my story. There’s so much potential here to make lives better. There are many people, including many farmers, who depend on the ACA. I hope we don’t lose sight of that.

Crystal Sands

About Crystal Sands

I am a former academic and award winning writing teacher turned hobby farmer/homeschooling mom/freelancer. In 2015, after too many years of working too many hours, I decided to change my life. This blog shares my stories related to making the change and simplifying my life–a process that began when we finally got our first chickens. In this blog, I will share my experiences learning how to hobby farm on a small place in Maine, become more self-sufficient, live frugally, live peacefully, and have more time for love. I hope you will join me on this journey by following my blog and following me on Twitter @CrystalDSands.