I want to add my experience with the ACA (Obamacare) to the long list of (eventually) satisfied and relieved citizens.
Yesterday, I completed my application and as of January 1, I will be saving $832 A MONTH. Follow below for all the details:
First, a bit of history. My wife and I are self-employed. My wife has had, since 1992, Psoriatic Arthritis. This disease runs in her family and, in addition to the embarrassing and painful skin eruptions, causes joint inflammation and deterioration. Back in 1998 it became so severe that she could no longer walk up or down stairs. We sought out an expert in the disease and he told us about Enbrel, a new drug that not only alleviated the symptoms but reversed the damage to her joints. Back then, we were insured with a company that did not cover "specialty drugs". We got a one month free trial with Enbrel and the results were amazing. In just one month, her skin was clear and she walked and even ran without pain. The next month was not so good. I went to the Walgreens to pick up the prescription and the bill was $2,700! Back then, I was a prosperous man, so I just paid it. And paid it month after month for a year, putting it on my Visa Card that had a $25,000 limit. Well, of course, suddenly my "minimum payment" on that card was a couple of thousand a month. Had a bad month or two in business and made a late payment or two on the card and the interest went to 28%.
I finally called an independent insurance agent. He found that UnitedHealthcare would sign us up as a "group" through my business and cover the Enbrel with a $50 co-pay. At first we paid about $2,000/month for this insurance. Eventually, the premium went to $3,300/month.
We then found a Blue Cross policy that would do the same thing for about $1,000/month less. We signed up. Now, mind you, when you are getting a "specialty drug", changing insurance is a major deal involving pre-authorization, setting up an account with a new specialty drug mail-order pharmacy and on and on.
Enter the ACA passage. When the bill passed, Blue Cross started making their policies "compliant" with the then-new rules. Our premium dropped in the first year to $1,900/month and dropped again in the second year to $1,380/month - still one of the biggest bills each month in our business.
Then the "Marketplace" at healthcare.gov opened.
By now, the Great Recession had decimated our business. If you ask around, you'll find that most small businesses have run out of reserve cash over the last 4 years, borrowing has become almost impossible and 2013 has been the worst year in however long they've been in business. I was now convinced that my meager income would qualify us for a subsidy.
I tried to get on the site the day after it went live, and like others, got nowhere. I waited two weeks and tried again. No luck, although I got a little further. I waited another week and called them on the phone. After an hour with a delightful person on the phone helping me, we were able to determine that I did, indeed, qualify for a subsidy, but even she could not tell me how much or what plans were available to us.
I waited another two weeks and went online again. This time, everything worked. We, as of the first of January, will have essentially the same insurance plan with Blue Cross that we had before (with a somewhat higher deductible for hospital stays - which we have never done, so far) for the low, low price of about $540/month. We still get the Enbrel (with a somewhat higher co-pay). Our doctor visits are still just $30. Our regular prescription co-pays are the same as before ($10 to $20).
Between January 1st and April of 2015 (when my wife qualifies for Medicare) we will have saved $12,480. Real money. Imagine if Medicare was 15 YEARS away for us!
Am I still in favor of single-payer, national health insurance? You bet I am. Is Obamacare (and let's keep calling it that, just to piss off Republicans) better than what we had? Absolutely. Will it ever be repealed? Not if there are millions of stories like mine, and there will be. Will we eventually join the rest of the world and have universal healthcare? I hope so, but meantime, this is a HUGE step in the right direction.
If you'd like to see what we do here to earn our daily bread, look at wyckoff.com