Letter: Healthcare.gov really works

Dec. 24, 2013 @ 09:54 AM

To the editor:

I wanted to share our family’s experience signing up for health insurance under the new law. There are so many horror stories out there, and it’s important to hear about real life experiences, from real people — not politicians.

My husband and I both work full-time, and together make approximately $50,000 per year. We have a blended family with four children, three of whom we claim on our taxes. Neither of us have insurance available through our employer. My husband and I are in our mid-30s. Our children are already covered under other plans, so we just needed coverage for ourselves.

My husband has been uninsured for years. To add him to my previous employer’s policy three years ago would have cost around $700 per month. He has an enlarged heart, problems with one of the valves in his heart, and high blood pressure. A few years ago, he tore his bicep and because we couldn’t afford the $20,000 surgery to repair it, so he now has reduced strength in his dominant arm.

I waited until I heard the website was working “better” and logged in to get us started one night around 9. There were a few questions that confused me, a few quirks about the site that frustrated me, and a “chat” help function that I found mostly useless. But, when I called in, which I had to do three times, they were very quick and helpful.

I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with CHOICES! For the two of us, we could pay anywhere from $87/month to $499 per month for varying deductibles, co-pays, and out of pocket totals.

Because of our income and family size, we qualified for a subsidy. We will pay $226 per month total (not each). We will pay $5 for doctor visits. Our maximum out of pocket cost for the both of us is $3,800 per year.

Overall, setting this up was less of a hassle than having our phone/Internet/TV connected when we moved in this house. The website was no more frustrating than when I was first learning any common office program or social media site.

Now, there are some things about this law that need to be fixed – but that doesn’t mean you throw the whole thing out. Blended families can be messy when it comes to who has to cover the kids and who claims them on their taxes. The employer coverage for spouses is also messing up a lot of people. And NC needs the Medicaid expansion. FIX it – don’t throw it away!

I would also recommend asking for help from an agent or navigator if you aren’t very computer-savvy. It doesn’t cost a penny more, and they might make it much easier.

Sarah Guy