I terminated my insurance plan today. It was for the best reason: for the first time in ten years, I’m able to get health insurance through my employer!

But the timing feels weird, so I wanted to take a minute to express my appreciation for the ACA and the healthcare marketplace it created. It isn’t a perfect system, but it made a huge difference to me.

From 2007-2014, I was completely without health insurance. I was scraping by on part-time work, in grad school some of that time, and there was no way I could have fit the premium for an individual plan into my budget. I’m lucky to be in good health overall, so it was fine, but I went those seven years knowing that if I had a serious accident or unexpected chronic illness, I was probably looking at bankruptcy.

The ACA changed that. It meant I could go in for treatment of a skin irritation that I’d been (incorrectly, as it turned out) dealing with on my own for much of those seven years. Because I’m stubborn and hate making appointments, I didn’t actually take advantage of that option for several months — until my home treatment caused a very bad infection that could have turned even worse if I hadn’t gone in when I did. If I hadn’t had health coverage, I probably would have tried to tough it out even longer, which would have meant an even more expensive bill (that the state might very well have ended up absorbing anyway), and possibly a permanent injury/disability for me.

Because of my coverage, I’ve been able to stay in therapy for a full year, and I am amazed at the difference in how I think, feel, and cope now versus a year ago. Trauma can cause subtle damage as well as the obvious. I am certain that the consistent mental health care I’ve received has been an essential part of restoring my energy, focus, and confidence — without which I certainly wouldn’t have the job that is now allowing me to go off the ACA plan.

Good healthcare is essential to life, and good healthcare costs less in the long run. My hope is that our country’s health coverage only becomes more affordable, accessible, and comprehensive over time.