For most of her life, Joan's relationship with health insurance was pretty normal. She received insurance through her employer, and although it was sometimes frustrating to have to change plans and doctors when she changed jobs, overall she was happy with her coverage. But when she was laid off six months ago, she found herself in a much more difficult position.
When Joan started shopping for private insurance, she discovered that the only option she could afford was a "catastrophic coverage" plan with a deductible of over $10,000. It was the kind of plan she was already using to cover her 14-year-old daughter, who had been too expensive to put on her employer's coverage. She wasn't thrilled with the monthly premium, and the high deductible meant she couldn't anticipate the cost of doctor's visits. But she decided that having any health insurance was better than none. Joan says, "I wanted something that would protect us 'just in case,' so that if something were to happen, I wouldn't lose my life savings."
However, when Joan heard about the Affordable Care Act, she knew that it could offer her, and millions of Americans like her, an alternative: more comprehensive coverage, established co-pays, and most of all, money saved. With the help of Mary Jo, a PPMNS Navigator, she completed her MNsure enrollment in November. Under the ACA, Joan will qualify for MinnesotaCare and her daughter will be covered by Medicaid. They will have a much lower deductible, and they will save about $200 every month on premiums.
As for how this will change her approach to health care, "I don't think I will go to the doctor any more often – I will just be less worried about the cost when I do," Joan says. "A few years ago I had to take my daughter to the hospital because she was having symptoms that looked very much like appendicitis," she recalls. "It turned out it wasn't, but of course it was $400 to have it checked out. Now, if something like that happens, I won't have to worry about the cost." She laughs. "Now I can tell my daughter it's okay to break her arm!"
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EMILY SHAFTEL, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST