This guest post is written by Gloria Francesca Mengual
Last year my husband and I divorced and my 19 year-old daughter, Sam, was dropped from his policy. The kind of health insurance I had through my employer only covered staff; with the option to buy additional coverage for family, but the cost is completely paid by the employee. The expense for my daughter would be an additional $940.00 per month. Do I pay for Sam’s health insurance, or shall I cover my mortgage? Not an acceptable question to be asking myself each month.
The higher-than-expected enrollment last year in the state health exchange was welcome news for Connecticut health care advocates. However, I must admit, it wasn’t all that easy for me as a single parent attempting to enroll Sam in a plan from my laptop at home. The journey toward health coverage took a turn for the better quickly as I sought help from Access Health CT staff during a health care registration fair.
While I had challenges with what I felt as a lack of intuitiveness of the enrollment website, the in-person assister at Access Health CT was infinitely more informative and patient. He asked who would be covered, how much I earn, etc. Sensing my frustration – and wee bit of desperation – the Access Health CT staff person calmly continued asking me questions and filling the on-line application.
In the end, it was well worth the frustration and cumbersome filling of the electronic form. Indeed, it was a win-win. Instead of $940.00 monthly, I now pay $185.00 monthly for comparable health insurance for my daughter. With Sam enrolled via Access Health CT, the plan has one more coveted healthy, young person to help offset the cost of covering people with chronic and pre-existing conditions, as the health care system should have been doing all along.
Months ago, I feared that residents of this country had bought into the deluge of which was only enhanced by the Democrats’ disastrous launch of the Affordable Health Care Act’s first open enrollment period. My daughter’s health was far too important for me to passively rely on the fear-mongers who do not support health equity in this country. I did my homework and sought out help.
Now, nine months later, Paul Krugman writes in a recent New York Times article that despite all the misinformation, the number of Americans without health insurance has dropped sharply, with approximately 10 million previously uninsured residents now covered. The costs of this program remain below expectations, with average premiums well below the rate increases in recent years. And kudos to Access Health CT for not only surpassing its expected enrollment numbers, but also for being sought out by other state plans to assist in improving their enrollment process.
Given our local success, it is hard to believe that only 37% of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act, with 56% opposed, according to a Gallup poll completed during the first day of open enrollment for this year.: That being said, a Gallup poll simultaneously found that a large majority of the newly insured through these exchanges are very satisfied with their coverage.
I applaud the success of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on my family; if you or someone you know has benefited from the Affordable Care Act, tell your story as well. Click here to learn more about some of the existing misinformation, along with some facts surrounding the success of the Affordable Care Act. Help spread the news about these health care exchanges and how they have positively impacted your life or that of someone you care about. It is through the sharing of real life stories that we will counteract the continuing misinformation campaign and ensure that we move closer to equitable health care access for all.
Gloria Francesca Mengual, a Connecticut native, is a graduate of the Connecticut Health Foundation’s Health Leadership Fellows Program. She works as a Program Officer for Everyday Democracy, a program of the Paul J. Aicher Foundation. Click here to learn more about Gloria.
Image courtesy of Gloria Francesca Mengual