Published on January 20th, 2015 | by Thompson0
Obamacare is Working Pretty Well
In its second year, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, seems to be working just fine. Since open enrollment began on Nov. 15, 6.8 million people have been insured through the Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov, including 4.5 million renewals and auto-renewals.
The uninsured rate in the United States has sunk to 12.9 percent and fallen 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect one year ago, according to Gallup. The uninsured rate was 18 percent before the Health Insurance Marketplace opened in October 2013.
“In the first month, 87 percent of consumers got financial assistance to help lower the cost of premiums,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.
Despite the success of the Health Insurance Marketplace, the Affordable Care Act isn’t working for everyone. I received an email from Montana Governor Steve Bullock recently. It reads:
“In the 2013 Legislature, a minority of Republican obstructionists blocked a bill that would have extended quality, affordable healthcare to 70,000 Montanans. The bill had majority support in both chambers.”
Gov. Bullock’s Healthy Montana Plan to expand Medicaid in Montana could help these uninsured Americans, which Montana seems to be ignoring more so than the rest of the country.
According to an Aug. 2014 story by the Great Falls Tribune, Montana ranks 34th of the 50 states when it comes to its citizens having health coverage, with 16.9 percent going uninsured, according to the state Commissioner of Securities and Insurance analysis. That’s well below the federal average, and nearly 20 percent of the uninsured are Native American.
Although I’m not Native American, I am one of those uninsured Montanans, and have been attempting to obtain health coverage by the Feb. 15 federal deadline. Because I have had multiple expensive health events in the past few years, including a minor back surgery for a herniated disc resulting from degenerative disc disease, the lowest premium I’m offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace is $147.77 a month for a plan with a $6,600 deductible. The only tax exemption I qualify for is an exemption from a $98 fee for not having health insurance in 2014, but I actually did through half the year. I guess I’m a high risk for health insurance companies, but I haven’t even been to a doctor in almost a year.
It’s frustrating to be one of the nearly one in five uninsured Montanans. As an independent contractor, I don’t have an employer that offers health insurance, and as a part-time employee for multiple employers, I don’t make enough money to afford $1,773.22 a year for health insurance I probably won’t use.
So I’m stuck in a waiting game, like many other Americans. I could wait until I find a full-time job that offers health insurance, but then I’m sacrificing my lifestyle for insurance I may or may not use.
Obamacare has lived up to the hype and has done its job to get healthy Americans enrolled to flip the bill for unhealthy Americans and the uninsured. Of the 8 million insured through the Health Insurance Marketplace, 28 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34. I’m not one of them, unfortunately, and I’m not the only one.