John Costin: We are now a family with a pre-existing condition—good insurance is key

John CostinI started Veneer Services Unlimited over 25 years ago and we are now located in Sanford, Maine. We employ three workers in a mill in Sanford and manufacture high-quality custom veneer work for the custom woodworking industry. My wife Rachel and I also own New Pioneer, an old mill in Sanford that we have revitalized into a hub for craftsmen in southern Maine.

My wife is alive today because of the Affordable Care Act. Before the ACA we struggled to patch together health care coverage for our family and employees.  At various times as our business was growing, sometimes we had coverage through her other job as a social worker, other times we had bare-bones policies we paid for on our own.  Five years ago when the ACA was enacted, we were relieved to purchase a good policy through the health care exchange. 

When Rachel began experiencing low-level symptoms, she went to the doctor and followed through with recommended testing.  If we’d been on a bare-bones policy with a high deductible  she would likely not have taken either step. We found out that she had a tumor on her parathyroid.  This condition is called the ‘silent killer’ because it is often not detected until it’s too late.  So having good insurance is key to my family.  We now are a family with a pre-existing condition.

I have been advocating for affordable, quality health care even before the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has taken critical steps to lower costs and bring affordable, good quality health coverage within reach for small businesses. I was proud that Senator Collins introduced a bill to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump Administration is doing its best to dismantle piece by piece. But with her vote for Brett Kavanaugh—who President Trump nominated in part due to his extreme hostility toward the ACA—she undermined her past efforts and has left thousands of Maine businesses in the lurch.

Today my family is covered under Rachel’s employer’s  plan, but the cost is really steep. And if coverage for pre-existing conditions is stripped away, our family and so many others will lose our health care. My son turns 26 soon. He’s in graduate school, and being able to cover him up to this point has been critically important to his future. I don’t ever want to see him have to put his health on the line because he can’t access affordable care.

Provisions of the ACA—from rate review to guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions—have made a real difference for me and my employees. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Mainers no longer have to worry about spending their lifetime or retirement savings, or losing their home in order to pay for health insurance. It’s allowed us to expand our business and feel more secure. Small business owners know that we can’t afford to go back to the nightmare scenario that health care was for us before reform.

John and Rachel Costin own Veneer Services Unlimited, a high-quality custom veneer shop for the woodworking industry and New Pioneer, an old mill converted into a hub for craftsmen in Southern Maine.