Since his chronic leukemia was diagnosed in 2010, Ray Acosta has paid dearly for health insurance: more than $800 a month in premiums, plus steep co-payments for the drug that helps keep him alive.That's the kind of story that makes Republicans quake in their shoes. For more of them, go below the fold.
Mr. Acosta, 57, owns a small moving company in Sierra Vista, Ariz., which he said had barely made it through the recession. He was thinking about dropping his coverage, but the insurance company beat him to it, informing him recently that it would cancel his policy at year’s end.
He sought advice from an insurance agent who had used his moving company. She connected him with an application counselor at a community health center, who found — to Mr. Acosta’s astonishment — that he qualified for Medicaid under the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which gives states the option of expanding the program to include more low-income adults.
“I’m kind of in a disbelieving fog,” Mr. Acosta said last week, two days after completing an application. “I’m just hoping, keeping my fingers crossed, that this might really help me out.” [...] “After being gouged all these years, trying to make ends meet, to all of the sudden get this?” he said. “I’m really blown away.” [...]
The good news keeps coming.
Claire He grew up worrying about her parents’ health. Her mother, who is a waitress, and her father, who is a cook, work long days at a Chinese restaurant in Battle Creek, Mich., where they settled after immigrating from China 14 years ago. Health insurance has always been a luxury they could not afford. [...]That's precisely what Republicans have been fighting against so desperately for the past four years; people's lives being made fundamentally better. People realizing that government can be a direct force for good in their personal lives. It's every Republican's nightmare, and it's going to play out in every state until next November.
This Thanksgiving, she and her family sat down to explore their options in the new insurance marketplace. After about 45 minutes online, they selected a midlevel, or silver, plan that would cost the family about $30 a month, after tax-credit subsidies based on income.
“We were shocked,” Ms. He said. “I actually called a few places to verify that.” [...]
At 61 years old, Bruce Kleinschmidt, a lawyer who is mostly retired, has no illusions about whether he needs health insurance. He has a chronic sinus condition that has required three operations, including one last year, and has had a few serious accidents over the years, including a fall that required back surgery. Doctors also recently diagnosed a heart condition. [...]
“I have been declined before,” he said.
The coverage available through the state high-risk pools for people like him, Mr. Kleinschmidt said, typically have “extraordinarily high premiums with really high deductibles.” On the state’s new online exchange, he was able to select a plan from a well-known insurer that came with a deductible of only $1,000.
“It’s a godsend,” he said. [...]
Tasha Huebner, 45, had long wanted to leave Chicago, but one of the biggest roadblocks was the fear of losing her health insurance. Ms. Huebner learned that she had breast cancer five years ago and, given her costly medical history, knew the chances of a new insurer accepting her were slim.
So when she finally sold her house and moved to Silverton, Ore., this year, she did so knowing that the new health care law would soon make it much easier for people like her to get coverage. Under the law, insurers cannot turn away people with existing medical conditions, nor charge them more for coverage. [...]
So she turned to the new exchange after it opened on Oct. 1. Oregon’s online marketplace has not worked properly, but Ms. Huebner figured out that a midlevel plan would cost her about $300 a month — within her budget. If she qualifies for subsidies — which is uncertain, given her unpredictable income —her bill may drop to about $150, she said. She applied through the mail and is awaiting approval.
Ms. Huebner said she is in good health and is training for two half-marathons. But she needs annual mammograms and checkups with an oncologist, and she lives with the knowledge that her cancer could return.
“I’m young,” she said. “The chances are that it will come back.”
For that reason, she said, being able to afford health insurance is “just a huge, huge relief.”