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Affordable Health Care Not So Affordable for Everybody


Obamacare is the law of the land, now and forever. Let us rejoice! But let’s also not be naïve.

The Affordable Care Act doesn’t mean that health-care is actually affordable to everyone, or that the care is good and equitable. My own experience under the ACA has been decidedly mixed.

I’ve been self-employed since approximately the Protestant Reformation, and my wife only has a part-time job. Therefore, we’re target ACA customers. I applied for a policy last fall when my previous policy went out of compliance. It was pretty much the same policy as I had before—through Costco, of all places—except that the new one was nearly $300 a month more expensive as the one I originally had to cover my wife, my son, and I—with no reduction in our massive deductible.

The process went quickly, except that Healthcare.gov lost my application. So we had to reapply, and then they accidentally gave us the wrong policy, so our doctor didn’t accept our health insurance.

We reapplied again, with the minimum subsidy applied. Application accepted. But then I made more money in the first three months of the year than I thought I was going to, so we had to reapply yet again because we couldn’t use the subsidy.

They accidentally gave us two policies, separating me from my wife and my son, who were on a different policy.

The insurance company wouldn’t let me cancel the wrong policy, so I had to go through healthcare.gov, who filed a ticket, which was accepted, putting us all together on one policy.

However, the insurance company did not cancel the other policy, which we never ordered and never used. Again, I had to go through healthcare.gov, who filed a ticket.

They said it would take three months. It has been five. The insurance company continues to send us bills for a policy that isn’t ours.

I’ve spent dozens of hours on the phone trying to sort this situation, and yet it continues to get worse. The word “Kafkaesque” often gets thrown around where it doesn’t apply, but it certainly applies here. I only hope that I can get covered if I wake up one morning to find myself transformed into a cockroach.

And this still costs me more than $600 a month, which is only “affordable” under the most liberal definition of the term.

We are getting out of this policy as soon as open enrollment starts again, probably moving to a private policy, acquired through a broker. If we’re going to pay out the bum anyway, we might as well remove a level of bureaucracy from the process.

At least I’m getting decent coverage when I need it, with the exception of that one time I spent a week trying to find a specialist who would accept my policy. But I live in Texas, where I enjoy special privileges as a middle-class white man. If I were black, Hispanic, or a woman, and if I didn’t have any money at all, I would feel less sanguine about my health prospects under the ACA.

This state’s governor just made it illegal for Planned Parenthood to give women cervical cancer screenings. In Texas, the Supreme Court ruling means that poor blacks and Mexicans can officially afford getting denied basic health-care services.

So if you’re celebrating the ACA Supreme Court victory, go right ahead. You’ve earned your happiness. It’s a big moment.

Just remember that the middle-class still needs financial help when it comes to health care, and that poor people, particularly in states that didn’t set up their own exchanges, still need a lot of help getting decent services.

If you think that the Supreme Court solved our health-care problems today, then I’ve got a 1-800 number you can call. They’ll keep you on hold for a long time.

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