Meet Catherine, Valentina, Martin, and Peggy. They lost their insurance because of Obamacare, are struggling to afford new options, and the President’s “fix” isn’t giving them much peace.
CNN reported their stories last week and we’ve highlighted their concerns below.
Catherine Franklin, a 46-year-old mom and Navy veteran, is employed part-time as a nurse in North Carolina. She can’t afford to cover her entire family through her company’s insurance plans, and her husband owns his own business, so the family buys its current policy from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. She told CNN it’s basic, but affordable, and meets her family’s needs.
Franklin, who said she’s always supported Obamacare, knew she would have to sign up for a new plan, but she didn’t expect her options to be so costly after it was canceled in September, CNN reported.
The new plan Blue Cross offered her raises her premiums 280 percent—from $261.82 a month to $735.56, with an $11,000 family deductible. The plans she found on the exchange were equally costly, and she didn’t qualify for subsidies because of a loophole in Obamacare:
Unfortunately for Franklin, a provision in the new health care law states that, since her company offers plans that she could afford to cover herself, but not her family, she does not qualify for a subsidy through the federal government, even though she is below the income threshold.
She’s therefore subject to an unusual loophole that requires her to pay the full premium on a new policy if she wants to cover her family, or leave her job to get the subsidy.
When North Carolina’s insurance commissioner and Blue Cross both endorsed President Obama’s “fix” to let insurance companies choose to renew canceled policies, Franklin was grateful. However, she’s now worried for when the extension runs out. In an email to CNN, she explained her frustration:
I feel very conflicted about this law. On one hand, I realize that our current health care system is broken, and it is unfair for people who have medical problems to be unable to obtain affordable health insurance. I appreciate that the basis of the law was intended to fix this, and in all honesty I would not mind paying a REASONABLE amount more for insurance that allows everyone access to health care.
Valentina Holroyd, a 58-year-old triathlete from California fully supported Obamacare when it was signed into law. She hoped it would help people with pre-existing conditions, like her husband, get access to insurance.
But in October, her insurer, Kaiser Permanente, canceled her family’s plan. Comparable plans increased her co-pays, prescription costs, and monthly premium by 29 percent.
“So, in a nutshell,” Holroyd told CNN, “we are now, once again, being forced into a lower coverage plan, for more money.”
While the moderate Democrat and Obamacare champion expected to pay more under the President’s health care law, Holroyd told CNN she had “no idea that the premiums were going to be what they are.” And even though she still believes in the underlying principles of the law, she said she’s unhappy with the way it has left people like her out in the cold.
“We need more people in this country to be covered,” she said. “I’m losing faith in our administration.”
Dr. Martin Klein
Dr. Martin Klein described himself to CNN as a “self-proclaimed lifelong Democrat,” but since his insurance plan was canceled, he’s now frustrated with his insurance company, the President, and Obamacare.
The 54-year-old Connecticut psychologist told CNN his insurance policy from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Connecticut offers comprehensive coverage at a reasonable price. And because he purchased his plan in 2008, Klein assumed he’d be able to keep it under Obamacare. CNN explained why his plan wasn’t “grandfathered” in:
Policies purchased before March 23, 2010, as Klein’s was, are “grandfathered” in by Obamacare, meaning the law theoretically allows people such as Klein to keep them. But the law also stipulates that grandfathered plans must be canceled if the insurance company changes them in any significant way.
Klein can’t afford the new plans offered by Anthem and makes just over the cutoff for federal subsidies. Based on his research on and off the exchange, Klein says he would have to pay 50 percent more to get a plan that he considers comparable.
He’s decided to purchase an HMO with a $12,700 deductible for himself and his family. While he’s accepted the price of the new plan, his main concern is the narrow network of providers, all of which are in Connecticut. This means he’s going to lose some of his doctors in New York City.
Peggy Rose, a 58-year-old from Tennessee, signed up for her current insurance plan Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee when she retired in 2011. It has reasonable premiums and a health savings account, perfect for her basic needs until she can enroll in Medicare like her husband.
But in July, she received a cancellation letter. According to CNN, equivalent plans she found on the private market increase her premiums by 25 percent and triple her deductible. Plans on the Obamacare exchange also have higher premium costs, and she doesn’t qualify for a subsidies.
Rose said he she was “pleased” when Tennessee’s governor endorsed the President’s “fix.” She told CNN: “I still believe in [Obamacare], as I have seen what can happen when you do not have the options to buy insurance due to health and costs.”