You’ve probably never heard of Sherilyn Horrocks.
A 61-year-old woman with autoimmune disease, she was profiled by The Salt Lake Tribune before the governor of Utah’s health summit in September, as an example of someone who would benefit from Medicaid expansion but wasn’t being asked to speak at the event. Horrocks hasn’t had insurance since about 2000, when her husband’s company stopped offering spousal coverage.
Her condition is incurable.
“But there are medicines and procedures that would prolong my life if I could afford them,” she told the Tribune‘s Kirsten Stewart. “I have a feeling I’m going to be one of those who falls through the cracks.”
Her story certainly has ended up between the cracks. She didn’t get to speak to the governor and her story never made it out of Utah.
Welcome to America, where one middle-class woman in Florida having to pick a new plan is a bigger deal than five million poor people being denied Medicaid expansion.
You may have have heard of Dianne Barrette.
She’s the 54-year-old Florida woman who was the subject of a “bombshell” report about the unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“What I have right now is what I am happy with and I just want to know why I can’t keep what I have,” Barrette told CBS’ This Morning. “Why do I have to be forced into something else?”
There actually turned out to be an excellent answer to that question.
Barrette was paying $54 a month, more than she would pay as a tax for not being insured during the first year of the individual mandate, to essentially be uninsured. Her plan doesn’t cover hospitalization — or much of anything except $50 toward her doctor visits. One serious illness could have easily bankrupted her.
The New Republic‘s Obamacare Whisperer Jonathan Cohn spoke to Barrette and let her know that for about $100 a month she could get a plan that primarily covers wellness visits but would cap her costs at $6,250 a year, possibly preventing her financial ruin.
“I would jump at it,” she told Cohn. “With my age, things can happen. I don’t want to have bills that could make me bankrupt. I don’t want to lose my house.”
Not every story where someone in the individual market is forced to find a new plan, despite the president’s best efforts, turns out so well.
Lee Hammack and his wife JoEllen Brothers are Obamacare supporters who find themselves in the group of approximately two million Americans who will be paying more for a policy that covers the same as or less than what they had before.
The reasons why this couple from San Francisco lost their plan are complex. They’ve only had it since 2011. The plan selects participants based on their health status and doesn’t cover all the benefits required under the new health law. Kaiser Permanente could have kept the plan in place, Pro Publica‘s Charles Ornstein discovered. But it didn’t for — you guessed it — business reasons.
Hammack and Brothers are healthy and earn just over the 400-percent-of-the-poverty-rate threshold for subsidies. And they will have to pay more for what they currently have because of Obamacare.
To a liberal, they’re the perfect argument for a public option, which would reduce the deficit by multiples more than raising the Medicare eligibility age by lowering insurance rates.