An Obamacare Success Story
By Lenore Poggioli
Despite listening to all the Obamacare naysayers I’m here to say that I had a very decent experience obtaining coverage. Perhaps I’m magical? I doubt it. I’m sure the website had problems depending on whether the person trying to subscribe was living in a red or blue state. I feel lucky to now be living in a blue state after 12 years in a red one.
I went to Healthcare.gov during the first week of October, around the 5th. Getting on the site was not a problem, perhaps because I’m a night owl; at 2 a.m. most of the country was asleep.
Initially I was asked for my name, date of birth, zip code, and if I presently have any medical coverage. Now Healthcare.gov needed to make a decision. The wait was more than one would expect online when ordering books or clothing, but it wasn’t so long that I wanted to just scrap the whole experience. The screen came back to life advising me that because I lived in New York, I needed to go to NYStateofHealth.ny.gov to review and register in its Marketplace choices. It also provided me with a link to that website.
Unfortunately, the link did not work for me. Apparently, the problem was with the federal website, not the state site. After waiting a frustrating 15 minutes, I gave up and just typed in the URL and got to the state site without any problem.
Once on the NYS Marketplace site everything went beautifully. I was able to complete the application in approximately 30 minutes and there were drop-down boxes along the way to provide definitions and explanations of what was needed to complete the questionnaire. There also was a phone number to call if you wanted to speak with someone in person. And you could save the application along the way so that you could stop and go back the next day to complete it. This was a great feature since you needed to have specific income information and current premium costs if you were replacing your existing insurance.
The site provided very clear information for the various plans available and I was able to click on the choices I wanted to compare. Depending on the coverage level (bronze, silver, gold or platinum) you choose, the premium would change, as would the deductible and the co-insurance. Since the Affordable Care Act has set up specific requirements for health insurance, you are always matching apples to apples when shopping for coverage. What a breath of fresh air.
Six and one-half weeks after completing my application on line, I got a phone call from Affinity Healthcare advising me that they received information from NY State of Health that I enrolled with them. They provided me with a customer service phone number, the approximate date I would receive my enrollment information, and the date I would need to provide my first premium payment if I wanted coverage by Jan. 1.
Overall, this was not a painful process. Previous health insurance experiences had been far worse and more expensive for me. Obamacare is saving me $301.22 a month in my premiums, $1,900 in my annual deductible. My office visits under my Affinity plan are in flat-dollar amounts rather than the percentage amounts for my present insurance. For example: Flat rate Primary Care visits will be $25, under the percentage plan of 20 percent paid by me if the bill came to $250 my cost was $50. This is also true for my medications.
As a Registered Nurse, I saw through the years of my career the increasing need for medical coverage for people who had lost their insurance and were unable to obtain coverage either because they had pre-existing conditions or couldn’t afford it. Obamacare isn’t perfect but it is a giant step forward. It will help not only those who need affordable health care but also will assist hospital emergency rooms by relieving them of uninsured patients who use the ER in place of seeing primary care physicians.
Lenore Poggioli is a Registered Nurse and former member and vice president of the Warwick School Board from 1987 to 1993. She currently lives in Monroe.