I thought it would be easy. I'm low-income; in Obama's America, I should be the perfect candidate for The Affordable Healthcare Act. I had put off the inevitable long enough, time to get on the Marketplace website.
I was taken into the new world of subsidies and the difference between deductibles and premiums. I went to another site that steered me to some Blue Cross Blue Shield policies that were reasonable, and if I was eligible for a subsidy, my expenses would be lower. Due to my income, less than ten-thousand dollars a year, I thought I was a shoe-in for a subsidy.
I applied for a BCBS Bronze policy. The policies come in Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Other insurance companies, such as Meridian, offer the same type of policies. The Gold have the lowest deductibles, but the monthly payments are slightly higher. Silver and Bronze have higher deductibles.
My mother, a senior on Medicare along with her own supplemental insurance from Meridian, actually knows more about insurance than her daughter. She took one look at the Bronze plan I initially picked out and almost gasped over the five-thousand dollar deductible. "Laura, you will never pay this off before you can use it!" She's right, so I then went on a search for a lower deductible in The World Of Gold. I found what I thought was a decent Gold policy.
I had received a call from a Marketplace rep, but I informed him I was going with a BCBS policy, because I was sure I would get a subsidy. He didn't argue. My trip to the Marketplace had informed me, because of my low income, I would not be penalized, meaning nothing would be taken from my tax return next year. What a relief. However, my ignorance would lead to more disappointment.
I received a call from a rep from the other health insurance site. This rep wanted to help me with the whole subsidy issue. I gave her info about my age and income. She proceeded to tell me that I wasn't eligible for a subsidy, based on my income. What? I needed her to repeat that. She informed me that since I was so far below the poverty line in the state of Michigan (didn't exactly do wonders for my mood), I could apply for Medicaid. Actually, Medicaid was my only option. No subsidy for me, because I'm too poor. This leaves me wondering who the subsidy is supposed to help. I no longer have to discern between deductibles and premiums, gold, silver or bronze. The rep made pitying noises when I explained that I work only part-time in retail. The premium for the Gold policy I considered is two hundred and sixty-three dollars a month. Not bad, but I can't cover even that much while paying on my debts and other expenses with my K-Mart paycheck. Yes, I need a better job, but affordable health care and better-paying jobs don't seem to be lining up in this country, at least not yet. I haven't had health insurance since 2001, so I'm not crying about not being able to keep my doctor or losing the 'good' policy I had from work. I've had none of these for a long time, and I've survived, because my health is good. If I were to run into a serious health condition, such as cancer, I can't say what would happen; most likely, hardship applications, Medicaid, and watching the bills pile up. Bankruptcy-not just for divorce anymore.
I'm not a serious critic of President Obama, but I'm wondering if Obamacare is a case of putting the cart before the horse. If Americans were earning more, then paying for insurance would be easier, especially if insurance companies are willing to lower their deductibles and premiums. The burden, for low-income single people and families, ends up falling on Medicaid, anyway. The rep gave me the phone number for Medicaid, and I'll probably call, still searching for help. This year, I have a pap smear and mammogram to look forward to, along with paying for my prescriptions. In the meantime, I'll keep looking for a better job, so maybe I'll be able to pay that premium myself. I also continue to pray for good health. Too much worry can make you sick:)
P.S. This post is dedicated to the memory of Mackenzie Knight. RIP, Mackenzie.