To expand on what Scott had to say, what I did when I got fed up with Earthlink a few years ago was to set up a free Yahoo account and start using an email address from there. I notified everyone on my Earthlink address to start using the new one, then everytime I received an email from someone on the old Earthlink address, I sent out a message I copied and pasted into the body (so it would be consistent and appear computer generated) telling the person emailing me to use the new address (I otherwise wouldn't reply). I kept the old addy for a few months then abandoned it when I finally told Earthlink to take a hike.
One big problem is many business (vendors, etc.) use an email address for an account name. It will be necessary to go to each of those accounts and change the email address to th new one. It's a royal hurt in the donkey, but once changed to an email address from a stable source, you shouldn't have to do it again unless too many spammers get your email address. A way around that is to use a second address, usually free, strictly for use with businesses you transact with. The dowside is you have to check both addresses.
I've used the new addy in two different ISPs and whenever I travel with no problems. I get very little spam (average of one or two every week or two at most) because I'm careful about where I go on the web, I'm very, very careful about who I give my email addy out to, and when I do get spam, I immediately delete it without opening it to avoid "encouraging" the %$#@! sorry s.o.b.s. I don't like to use spam filters because, every now and then, they block desired email and, since I have to check the spam folder to make sure I don't lose anything I want, I feel it's less hassle to deal with the spam myself. eventually, the spammers decide it's a dead addy and give up.
I will NOT use Hotmail because they require to have my cookies activated (hey, it's my cottonpickin' computer, I'll determine who puts what on it and I don't want everyone and their dog tracking me). I didn't like Gmail (felt cumbersome). Yahoo has worked well for me (Rocketmail is a domain Yahoo adopted to give more choice for addresses).