Friday, February 14, 2014

So far, Four out of Five Americans Qualify for Free or Low-cost Health Coverage

by Robert Riley

What?? Free or low-cost health coverage? Can this possibly be true?

Yes. This astonishing news is buried in the 17th paragraph of an article originating from the NewYork Times, reprinted in yesterday’s Seattle Times:

About four-fifths of those choosing health plans to date qualified for financial assistance to help pay their premiums, [Obama] administration officials said.

A historic transformation took place January 1, when the Affordable Care Act took effect: hardworking Americans may qualify, depending on their income, for financial help to secure health insurance.  

Depending on your family income, you may qualify for premium assistance too. 

A family of four needing insurance and earning less than $94,000 a year will qualify for a low cost plan; a family of four making $32,499 or less will qualify for a plan at no cost. 

Meet a few Washingtonians who signed up online at: www.wahealthplanfinder.org and already reap the health benefits of their new, affordable coverage:
Ingrid is a talented Seattle videographer, landscaper, and dog trainer. She qualified for no cost Apple Health coverage, and recently had a full preventive physical (her first in years) along with a Pap smear, mammogram, colonoscopy, prescription for her skin rash, plus a knee x-ray - all without any co-pays or deductibles. Yesterday she saw a dentist, thanks to her new coverage.  Her advice to others:  “I encourage you to sign up immediately!”



Claire and Jim create beautiful works of art and run an eclectic bar in the southeast Washington town of Waitsburg.  They qualified for a silver Group Health plan with a premium (for both) of $159. In January, Jim had his first checkup; and in early February, Claire had one as well, including full cancer screening.

“Thanks to our new health plan, all of this care was covered for free - no hassles, no co-pays, no fine print,” exclaimed Claire.




Kristi is a Seattle chef and small business owner.
She qualified for no cost Apple Health coverage.  Even so, she didn’t believe it would do much for her.  Then in January, she visited the doctor, learned that an IUD costing $700 would be the best solution for her ongoing medical condition, had it ordered and promptly installed, free of charge, without any co-pays. “This relieves so much anxiety,” says Kristi.  “I’m really excited and appreciative of the Affordable Care Act.  Having health care means things will be taken care of.”



Carrie and Ken manage a small organic farm near the town of Orting, in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

It's a darn good thing their new, no-cost Apple Health coverage started January 1, because in late January, as Carrie was tending the farm, a ram went on a rampage, charging and attacking her repeatedly.   She wound up scraped and bruised, with a broken leg.  Her hospital visit and follow up care were all covered, with no deductibles or fine print. 



Julie and her husband began midlife career transitions after launching their daughter from the proverbial nest.
Last fall they explored their new coverage options, and selected a bronze Group Health plan for which they receive full premium assistance.  

Though Julie doubted her new insurance card would work, she gave it a try in mid-January after she heard the scary news of this year's flu outbreak – 10 deaths already in our state.  Sure enough, she was whisked through the Seattle clinic, and given a flu shot, free of charge.

"The experience couldn't have been more seamless. I drove in and out of there in 15 minutes!" she exclaimed.


If you live in Washington State and need coverage, follow Ingrid’s advice and sign up immediately by visiting: www.wahealthplanfinder.org

Don’t delay! Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014




Roberta Riley is the Communications Director for Northwest Health Law Advocates, a non-profit dedicated to health care for all. In her former role as Legal Counsel for Planned Parenthood, Ms. Riley won a groundbreaking federal court decision requiring health plan coverage of prescription contraception. She has served as a consumer advocate at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and was appointed to the Washington State Health Reform Realization Panel by the Hon. Mike Kreidler. In recognition of her achievements on behalf of women, she was given a 2001 Ms. Magazine Women the Year Award.

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