Artist's health insurance facilitates life-saving care

May 1, 2017


Robert Ganson was reminded about the importance of health insurance in dramatic fashion — he fell off his roof.

Robert Ganson

Ganson, a 54-year-old artist who lives east of Kansas City in Lexington, Mo., had just taken down roof jacks and planks when he lost his balance and plummeted 16 feet to his lawn. When the accident happened in 2012, his family was uninsured. Ganson said they couldn't afford the $1,300 monthly premium for a family of three.

He went to see his family practitioner, but declined a magnetic resonance imaging test recommended for him. It would have cost about $2,000 out-of-pocket, Ganson said. He toughed it out, waiting for his aches and pains to subside.

The family signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act during the first open enrollment period, in 2013. Their coverage went into effect in January of 2014. With a tax credit, the family pays about $65 a month with a $5,000 annual family deductible to cover Robert, his wife Adelia, and their daughter Amethyst.

Ganson creates all sorts of things as an artist, including perfume bottles for his wife's business, Majikah Perfumery. Adelia Ganson has created dozens of fragrances with names like Dark Honey Rose and Poison Apple. The Gansons sell product online and at events like Renaissance fairs.

Ganson said health insurance saved his family from financial ruin.

One night in 2014, he felt chest pain, but he assumed it was due to an inflamed lining of his rib cage; he'd had pleurisy twice before. He was in tears from the pain, but decided to wait it out until morning.

When his wife drove him to the doctor the morning of July 11, his physician rapidly determined Ganson was having a heart attack. Ganson was airlifted to Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, Mo., where he had emergency surgery to place a stent in his right coronary artery, which was 100 percent blocked, he said. Without insurance, Ganson said his bill would have been more than $125,000. "I would have been bankrupt without the insurance," he said. Instead, his costs were about $2,000.

Ganson said it would cost about $26,000 annually to insure his family in the individual market. "I'm scared to lose it," he said of the family's ACA-enabled coverage.


Copyright © 2017 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.