Dear Diary,

Tis the season to go shopping. Armed with a list, which has been checked over more than twice, I log onto my computer in search of the perfect present. I’m looking for that gift that keeps on giving all year round. You know the one, that your friends and family wished was under their trees. The one that you researched for months. The one that will breathe life into your heart and home. What big buy am I about to make? I’m purchasing a health insurance plan. I work for a small nonprofit, and my coworkers and I are shopping for health insurance that will best fit our families. We have reviewed and compared all of our options. We have from now until February 15, when the open enrollment period closes, to make up our minds.

Fifteen years ago, health insurance wasn’t even on my radar. I was in my twenties and invincible, so I thought. I survived hanging out in overcrowded clubs and eating greasy, fried foods in the middle of the night. The television station I worked for didn’t offer up a plan, and I didn’t go out and find out. Luckily, I never had a health problem during that time.  But as we age, we have more aches and pains. To take preventative measures, I’ve started to run again–well, speed walk. And I even joined a gym. OK, the 5K was over the summer, but I hadn’t hit the pavement for years, so I’m going to pat myself on the back here! Now, more informed and more responsible, I must ensure that I’m around for my daughter, and that she’s happy and healthy.



The more I know about the Affordable Care Act, the better prepared I am to make smart decisions about my family’s coverage.  Here’s how I’m making an informed decision.

1. I Learned the Facts.

You would think most uninsured people are unemployed. That’s so not the case! According to research, almost 80 percent of uninsured people are in working families, but are either not offered health insurance benefits, cannot afford to pay their portion of the cost, or can afford it, but have chosen not to have it. When I first started out as a journalist, I lived check to check, so health insurance unfortunately didn’t make the cut when I cut checks each month.

2. I Learned the Lingo.

Once I knew a little more about health care and why reform matters, I needed to know exactly what I was buying. Be sure to learn the lingo and the meaning of deductibles, co­pays, premiums and maximum out­-of-­pocket expenses.  That way, you can know more about the kinds of things you see doctors for, get prescriptions for, or have operations for.

3. I Learned a Lesson.

Since becoming a mom, I’ve underwent two surgeries. If I wasn’t insured, I probably would have put it off. Something that seemed so minor turned into being a bigger deal, and if I didn’t get it checked out, my condition would have worsened. And worse yet, it would have impacted my ability to raise my little girl. I wasn’t on my death bed–Thank God–but I was in a lot of pain and suffered from fatigue. Yes eventually, I would have gotten the surgeries, but I may not have recovered from the huge debt without the safety net of insurance. This is just one reason why I can’t procrastinate. Caring for not only my child, but myself as well, is priority, unlike my twenties.

Hey DFTM Fam–Are you scheduling a trip to the Marketplace this holiday season? How are you prioritizing your health?

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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