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Over the past year, we’ve seen 10 million additional Americans gain health insurance, leading to a 26 percent drop in adults living without health coverage. This is progress which can’t be adequately quantified by the numbers, and as we approach the third week of our second Open Enrollment period this Thanksgiving weekend, we fully expect hundreds of thousands of families to use part of their time together to gather around their laptops, tablets and computers to make sure everyone has the health coverage they need to stay healthy in the new year.
Of the millions of Americans who are newly covered thanks to the ACA, many saw doctors for the first time in years, many caught or prevented conditions before they became life threatening, and millions more slept soundly with the peace of mind that they weren’t living just one accident or unexpected illness away from losing everything. Every day, the President hears from hundreds or thousands of these folks who write the President and share their story. As we kick off the holiday season here at the White House, we reached out to handful of these folks to let them know the President appreciated reading their letters, and to hear a little more about their stories in hopes that their experiences may compel others to also visit HealthCare.gov this holiday season.
Regina Moran had already battled cancer twice by the time she turned 25. A social worker in Philadelphia, she was paying nearly $700 per month for insurance and costly medications not covered under her plan. She was working multiple jobs and was forced to put vacations, graduate school, and even her wedding on hold to pay for health coverage for the medicine she needed. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that has all changed.
Regina was able to cut her monthly costs by more than half through the plan she enrolled in through the marketplace. In her email to President Obama, she described what it felt like when she learned the news and realized what it meant for her life.
“I remember breaking down in tears because no longer was I going to be punished for a disease I never asked for,” Regina wrote. Because of the ACA, Regina says she’s able to “breathe and relax for the first time since 2009.” And with the money she’s now saving, Regina is now looking seriously at going back to school to attain her master’s degree, and she is finally planning her wedding. She was even able to take a vacation.
Regina caught us up last week, letting us know she is still in remission, she intends to renew her coverage during the current Open Enrollment period, and she is still feeling thankful for her health insurance.
Anthony Cutrone is a husband and father of three in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. He owned his own mortgage company for decades, but when the housing crisis and a decline in brokerage opportunities squeezed him out of business, he took on jobs at a series of large banks, in part, to keep his family secure with health insurance. His hope was to eventually get back to more client-centered work at a smaller institution, to help people secure effective loans and push through mortgages. But for years, Anthony was stuck on a career path that was less than satisfying out of fear that a gap or lack of coverage could cost his family dearly. Through COBRA, he would have had to pay $1700 per month for health insurance for his family. But because of the Affordable Care Act, he was able to obtain coverage for just $259 per month.
Anthony described the relief he felt being able to change direction in his career without worrying that he was putting his kids’ health at risk. The Affordable Care Act gave Anthony the security he needed to change careers, pursue his passion, and care for his loved ones.
David Hershey from Elkins Park, Pa., hadn’t had health insurance since 2003. He was a photographer and website designer with a fluctuating income that made purchasing insurance just out of reach. But through the Affordable Care Act, he enrolled and gained insurance by May 2014. With a strong family history of cancer in mind, he put his new coverage to good use right away, scheduling a long overdue screening and colonoscopy.
Unfortunately, the procedure revealed four abnormal polyps, three of which were removed during that procedure. The fourth was fused to his colon, and was removed in September. According to his doctor, one or all of them would have likely metastasized within a year, and according to David, if it hadn’t been for the Affordable Care Act, he would not have had that colonoscopy.
David credits the Affordable Care Act with saving his life. He knows the importance of preventative care and is grateful for that surgery every day.
Regina, Anthony and David are just three of the millions of Americans who were able to sign up for quality, affordable health insurance last year—and millions more are expected to enroll this year between now and the February 15 deadline. But don’t wait! To gain coverage by January 1, you’ve got to log on to Healthcare.gov and select a plan by December 15.
For the millions who bought last year, I encourage you to return to HealthCare.gov to update your information and shop around. You may be able to find an even better deal for you and your family! The average person selecting a plan with tax credits paid $82 per month for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplaces in 2014, and there are even more affordable plans available this year.
This holiday season, help the people close to you get the coverage they need and deserve.
For more information on deadlines or to compare plans, please visit www.HealthCare.gov.