Politics

10.23.13

The Obamacare Success Stories

From a retired business owner in Arkansas to a young freelance filmmaker in Hollywood, Eleanor Clift highlights a few of the people the media has found who are happy to have Obamacare.

The White House is getting hammered for the rocky rollout of Obamacare, but around the country news outlets are reporting a more positive story as Americans of various ages and from all walks of life look into what the newly launched program has to offer.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells the story of Lissie Stahlman, 60, who credits “a combination of patience, luck and different platforms” for getting her through the system late last week after trying for three weeks. She says she saved 50 percent over her current premiums and cut her deductible in half from $5,000 to $2,500.

ThinkProgress, a liberal website, reported on a 61-year-old lifelong Republican, Butch Matthews, who was heavily skeptical of the Affordable Care Act when it first passed. A former small business owner in Little Rock, Arkansas, Matthews used to get up every morning before dawn to deliver canned beverages to retailers before he retired three years ago. Medical care is his family’s biggest expense, since his home and vehicle are paid for. So he was pleased to discover his local Blue Cross Blue Shield would cover him under Arkansas’ Obamacare marketplace for less money than he had been paying, and with more benefits.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably skeptical of extrapolating too much from these examples of people in their early sixties, who are too young for government-provided Medicare and probably willing to crawl over broken glass to find good health-care coverage. But stories abound about younger people as well. Enroll America, working to recruit people to Obamacare in Texas, a state that has been ostentatiously hostile to the law, tells the story of Mark Sullivan, a 31-year old worker in Austin’s tech sector who immediately created an account on healthcare.gov and settled on a bronze plan with added dental insurance. He will receive an $82 per month subsidy, which will halve his monthly premium to $78, giving him the financial freedom and security to put his energies into his new tech startup.

The Washington Post reported that California, an early embracer of Obamacare, has signed up 600,000 low income Golden Staters for the law’s expanded Medicaid, and over 100,000 are in some stage of applying for insurance on the marketplaces. The Wall Street Journal reported on a 28-year-old freelance filmmaker in Hollywood who was among the first to sign up on the California exchange market. “At $62 a month in direct costs to him, the plan, offered by managed-care firm Health Net Inc. is ‘a great deal,’ Mr. Foster said. Because he earns only about $20,000 a year doing freelance videography and odd jobs, Mr. Foster qualifies for federal subsidies that cut deep into the premiums for health plans available in the new marketplaces…”

The Journal went on to report that Foster’s monthly premium is $213.68, but the subsidies will cover more than $150 of those costs. After comparing several plans, he settled on the Health Net option because, he said, “I liked the price, I liked the website, I looked them up on Yelp and I liked what people were saying about them.”

Reading these individual stories does put the website woes into perspective even as they reveal potential problems down the road. Almost all the stories of people attaining coverage, some after going without for years, succeed because of the federal subsidies that will be available. The way insurance works, and to pay all those benefits, requires the youngest and healthiest among us to sign up in sufficient numbers that the White House can highlight their stories, and the media will have to take notice.