Bernie Alfred and Kimberly Munro, a couple who live in my district, sent me their story. They said it took a few weeks to get their plan finalized, and there were some website problems along the way, but it was worth it. They also mentioned that the glitches they encountered on the Washington Health Plan Finder were fixed by the end.
First I want to say how happy I am with the new healthcare law and how much it has helped us. But I think you could be pitching it in a better way. It’s important to let low and middle income families know how much the plans will cost. No one seems to be mentioning specific examples. As someone who recently signed on, I can let you know how much it will be saving my family, and something you should be telling people about in SPECIFIC dollar terms.
My wife and I have had the same policy (we live in Seattle) for about 15 years and have been paying $1600 a month for health insurance. This year with premiums and copays, we have spent about $25,000. Our yearly combined income is about $48,000, so health insurance has been steadily eroding our savings. We are both 62 with health problems, so not having insurance is not an option for us. We do not get insurance through jobs so we have always had to purchase it for ourselves.
Starting in January, because of the ACA, we will be able to purchase a similar plan from the same company (Group Health) for about $70 per month!! This is partially because we qualify for a $900 subsidy, and partially because there are more plan choices than before. This is huge for us. A family of 4 with our income could even purchase a better plan than ours for less money. I think it’s important to tell people specific amounts they will be paying for plans given a specific income with a given specific premium. Once people understand that, I believe they will really start signing up in droves.
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I recently received a notice from my insurer, Group Health, that my plan was being cancelled and the new plan they were offering had a much higher premium—a 57% increase. I was livid, but my doctor encouraged me to go to the exchange and look at my options. When I logged on, it worked great and I realized that I had 38 plans to choose from. I chose a Bronze plan, with Group Health, which is actually a little bit better than my old plan.
I qualify for the tax credit, but I was worried I’d have to pay out of pocket and get a return at the end of the year, something I couldn’t afford to do. Instead, the tax credit is directly applied to my bill. As a contractor, I can adjust the tax credit and I could have paid nothing, but I’m conservative with my taxes, so I set it at the exact price of the old plan. Now I’m paying the same for a better plan.
Overall, this was easy and really helped me. I’m just glad I live in a blue state where the reforms are being embraced.
~Aaron Thomas, Seattle