Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for Obamacare coverage in 2017. That means that regardless of what happens, you will have coverage through the end of the year. CNN just reported that 286,000 more people have signed up for it this year than the comparable time last year.
I recently watched as House Speaker Paul Ryan paraded across the town hall platform, proclaiming that Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act is in a “death spiral.” The premiums are too high, he protested. “It really is hurting families,” he told CBS correspondent Scott Pelley in a 60 Minutes interview.
Not my family.
Politics and partisanship have zapped me over the past year, but there are some things worth fighting for, and my family’s insurance and access to affordable healthcare is one of them.
In 2013, I was working full-time and our family was covered under my employer. But I struggled with guilt and wanted to spend more time with our daughters. I knew there had to be a better way. Obamacare paved that way.
Following the birth of our second daughter in 2013, the Marketplace (or the website where you go and shop insurance plans) launched. We all read the stories where it was riddled with issues and problems, but I must have waited long enough, because once I logged onto the system, my entire experience couldn’t have been easier. I was easily able to identify potential plans, save them and compare them against other plans that covered our doctors, desired coverage and price points.
I found a plan covering our entire family that ended up being less expensive than the amount we paid to cover my husband and two daughters under my current employer’s plan. With that, I was able to make the leap and go into business for myself as a freelance writer and communications consultant.
We’re fortunate. We’ve been healthy and haven’t had to use our insurance except for the occasional trip to the doctor for a virus or that one trip to the emergency room when our oldest daughter decided to head butt a rock. So I’ll be the first to say that our experience differs from those who have had to contend with medical issues and work through medical bills. But anytime I had a question or issue, I was easily able to get someone on the phone. I had often wondered if we’d be treated any differently because we’d registered through the system (think: Priceline versus full-paying guest), but that wasn’t the case.
And because we’ve been healthy and everything had been smooth up until this point, we were pretty surprised —okay, outraged— when we received notification last September that our premium in 2017 would increase by 25 percent and our deductible would double.
But when the deadlines for 2017 approached, I logged back onto the Marketplace to see if I could find coverage comparable to what we’d been receiving, at the price we were paying.
And you know what?
I found a plan that was cheaper and had the same deductible level we had with the original plan. And not just “cheaper” by a few hundred dollars… we’ll be saving approximately $2,400 a year.
That’s enough for a Guns ‘N Roses VIP ticket.
An old police car.
A flight and eight night stay for two in Punta Cana.
Holla! Isn’t that how a marketplace is supposed to work?
As this Jimmy Kimmel skit shows, many people don’t know the difference between Obamacare/Affordable Care Act. So it’s not surprising that most people wouldn’t have a good understanding of what an amazing impact it has had on people. On families. Sure, it still has issues—it’s a massive program that would be nearly impossible to get right the first time.
While the Obama administration could have used tax payer funds to deploy a PR campaign that shows just how beneficial the campaign has been to so many, they didn’t. And now the Republicans want to repeal it without providing an outline of what the replace might be. And while some have suffered, there are many of us who have benefitted.
I just find it sad that healthcare is such a political issue. As Dr. Haider Warraich, author of Modern Death, said in an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross broadcasted today:
“Health and wellness aren’t red or blue, and they shouldn’t be, but unfortunately that is where we are.”
Amen to that. Hopefully lawmakers keep that in mind as they make critical decisions that impact the livelihood of so many.