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Mom Obama Cited Can’t Afford O-Care After All

From the Washington State Wire:

Rude Awakening for Federal Way Woman Who Got Shout-Out From President – Can’t Afford Obamacare Policy After All

By Erik Smith | November 18th, 2013

OLYMPIA, Nov. 17.—Jessica Sanford, the Federal Way woman who got a shout-out from President Obama last month with her fan letter for the Affordable Care Act, got a rather rude awakening last week. Turns out she doesn’t qualify for a tax credit after all…

Now she says her dream of affordable health insurance has gone poof. She can’t afford it. She’ll have to go without. “I’m really terribly embarrassed,” she says. “It has completely turned around on me. I mean, completely.”

Chalk it up to a bollixed-up state website that apparently still has major problems. Originally it said Sanford and her child would get a whopping tax credit that would reduce their total premium to $169 a month. Now the state is telling her it goofed – twice – and she has to pay full ticket…

But it just goes to show that even in the state of Washington, which has earned national kudos for a health-insurance exchange that seems to function better than the dysfunctional federal website, there are big, big problems.

“They have to own up to what is going on,” Sanford says. “They have to fix it. They can’t just go around and say this is working great. In my opinion they ought to shut it down and just get all of it straightened out.”

Sanford’s tale may not be all that unusual amid the national furor over Obamacare’s sputtering start. But it is particularly embarrassing because the president himself mentioned it in a speech, calling it a success story that makes the case for the program…

Obama related Sanford’s story in remarks from the Rose Garden last Oct. 21: “I recently received a letter from a woman named Jessica Sanford in Washington state, and here’s what she wrote. ‘I am a single mom, no child support, self-employed, and I haven’t had health insurance for 15 years because it is too expensive. My son has ADHD and requires regular doctor visits, and his meds alone cost $250 a month. I have had an ongoing tendinitis problem due to my line of work that I haven’t had treated. Now, finally, we get to have coverage because of the ACA for $169 a month. I was crying the other day when I signed up. So much stress lifted.’

The president went on: “Now, that is not untypical for a lot of folks like Jessica who have been struggling without health insurance. That is what the Affordable Care Act is all about.” …

Mind you, Ms. Sanford isn’t the woman who almost fainted in the Rose Garden. Whom, some joked, must have just heard what her real premiums were.

Sanford was ecstatic when she discovered she could sign up for a health plan that covered all her needs at a reasonable price. As a freelance court reporter, Sanford, 48, doesn’t make a lot – a little less than $50,000 a year. That doesn’t go very far when there is a child in the household and his father doesn’t pay child support…

Although a computer glitch shut down the Washington Healthplanfinder website the first day, by Oct. 3, with the help of a broker, Sanford managed to enroll in a “gold”-level health plan offered by Premera Blue Cross.

Sure, why not go for the best, when someone else is paying?

The savings were tremendous. Thanks to the tax credit, Sanford qualified for a discount of $452 a month. “I was looking at it, and you know, it was like it was amazing. How was I supposed to know?”

Sanford was so happy that she wrote a thank-you note to President Obama and dropped it in the mail. One of the president’s speechwriters contacted her and asked if he could use her story. When the president used her name she says it was one of the proudest moments of her life. “To think I would finally be covered if anything happened – I was so relieved.”

Then came the bad news.

Four days after President Obama made his address, the state health exchange publicly revealed a grevious [sic] error – its tax-credit calculations were all wrong. The state had been submitting monthly income information to the federal data hub, but the federal computers were expecting an annual figure… So everyone who purchased a subsidized health insurance policy through the Washington state exchange prior to Oct. 23 was quoted too low a rate. The mistake involved 4,600 policies covering 8,000 people – Sanford’s policy was one of them.

The state sent a letter saying mistakes were made. And so she went back to her broker and tried again. They went over her income and made a more careful calculation of her business tax write-offs. But this time the website showed she qualified for a much lower tax credit, just $110…

Sanford had managed to save enough money for half of the first month’s payment when she got another letter from the state last week. It had goofed again. She qualified for no tax credit at all…

“I was dumbfounded,” she said. “I thought this was a total mistake, they’re going to correct this — this isn’t true. How could I not qualify for a tax credit? I make under $50,000 a year. There’s got to be something. So I got ahold of my broker, and a couple of days later he called me back, and he told me that no, it was true.”

No one making over $47,000 a year will get a subsidy. (Which is the average salary in the US.)

Now she says her health-insurance dream has gone bust. Without a tax credit she has to consider the cheapest “bronze” level plans, but the deductibles are so high that couldn’t afford to purchase prescription medication. “I was like, forget that – I’m not going to pay.” …

If she can’t get someone to pay for her insurance, then to hell with it.

She says she wants to make it clear she has no beef with Obama and Obamacare. She still believes in the Affordable Care Act. “I don’t want this to be a political thing,” she says. “I don’t want to be bashing the president. I don’t want to be bashing the ACA. I don’t want to come across as saying that. I am a big Obama fan.

“But to me there is a big problem with the way the state is handling it. It is like a big machine – you put your stuff in there and once you do it, it is impossible to do anything. You can’t get through to them [on the phone], the website is really limited. So you are stuck on this big treadmill of bureaucracy, and you know, it feels very out of control.”

Alas, some people are just hopeless. They will never be reached.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Mom Obama Cited Can’t Afford O-Care After All”

  1. Helena

    Another trusting O-Bot’s dream vanishes in the morning light.

    “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now” – Shakespeare (Mark Antony on viewing Caesar’s body, in ‘Julius Caesar’)


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