While Congress holds hearings into why the federal Healthcare.gov web site has been filled with glitches, and many media outlets — Fox News, in particular — parade a steady stream of supposed Obamacare “victims” in front of their cameras, only to have their stories quickly debunked, stories of people who have actually benefitted from the Affordable Care Act are going largely unreported.
Despite a glitchy web site and Republican congressmembers issuing dire imprecations of “rate shock,” health insurance consumers are now coming forward with their stories of how Obamacare has saved their pocketbooks — and even their lives.
One such consumer is 57-year-old Gail Roach, a retired school district employee in Pittsburgh and a type 2 diabetic. Roach was paying more than $500 per month on her retirement health insurance plan, so she turned to the Affordable Care Act in hopes of finding a lower rate on a good plan.
Pennsylvania does not have its own state-run insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, so Roach turned to the federal exchange. But she bypassed the troubled website altogether and did something very simple, but something that most people wouldn’t know is even possible from most media coverage of the new health insurance law.
She picked up the phone.
She dialed 1-800-318-2596 and let a live representative walk her through the process of applying and comparison shopping for insurance coverage through the exchange.
As a result, she found a plan comparable to the $509-per-month plan that she was previously on — for just $70 per month, a savings of about 86 percent over her previous plan.
But she wasn’t finished. After qualifying for a government subsidy, as well as a tax credit and another feature of the new program called Cost Sharing, the shocking rate plummeted to a mere $1.11 per month.
“I’m telling people they need to look into it,” Roach (pictured) told Pittsburgh TV station WTAE. “They need to be patient about it. Go to the website. If you can’t get on, call the number on the website and just be very patient because it’s very much worth it.”
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Roach’s story is far from unique. Phil Sherburne of Salt Lake City persevered with the balky Heathcare.gov site through several failed attempts to log on. But once he did, the hour-long application process netted him a plan that will cost just $123 per month after tax credits and subsidies — which covers his whole family of five.
Or 26-year-old Kendall Brown of Oklahoma City, who had been denied insurance because she suffers from severe Crohn’s Disease, a condition that will kill her if left untreated. Due to the ACA, she was able to stay on her parents' insurance coverage through age 26, then enroll in a plan through the federal exchange, saving her life.
Lifelong Republican Butch Matthews of Little Rock, Ark., was no fan of Obamacare — until he figured out it would save him $13,000 per year compared to the insurance costs he was previously paying. He now encourages other Obamacare opponents to reconsider their position.
“Be more informed, get more information,” Matthews now says. “Take your time and study and not just go by just what you hear on one side or the other. Actually check the facts on it.”
Sources: WTAE TV, OKC.net, Salt Lake Tribune, Healthinsurance.org, Think Progress, Kaiser Health News