Woman got shout-out from president; can’t afford Obamacare after all

Jessica-Sanford
Washington woman Jessica Sanford received a rude Obamacare awakening after getting a presidential shout-out

A Washington woman who received a presidential shout-out learned afterwards that if Obamacare is too good to be true, it probably is. It turns out that the “affordable” coverage she was originally promised is unaffordable, and she’ll have to go without.

When touting the Affordable Care Act at his Oct. 21 Rose Garden speech, President Barack Obama added a heartwarming and memorable testimonial from a struggling single mom, according to the Washington State Wire.

“I recently received a letter from a woman named Jessica Sanford in Washington state, and here’s what she wrote,” the president said, who then read from her letter.

I am a single mom, no child support, self-employed, and I haven’t had health insurance for 15 years because it is too expensive. My son has ADHD and requires regular doctor visits, and his meds alone cost $250 a month. I have had an ongoing tendinitis problem due to my line of work that I haven’t had treated. Now, finally, we get to have coverage because of the ACA for $169 a month. I was crying the other day when I signed up. So much stress lifted.

Obama closed with the following: “Now, that is not untypical for a lot of folks like Jessica who have been struggling without health insurance,” he said. “That is what the Affordable Care Act is all about.”

When Sanford applied for coverage under Obamacare, she was informed that most of her premiums would be covered by a tax credit.

“I’m really terribly embarrassed,” she told the Wire. “It has completely turned around on me. I mean, completely.”

Another Obamacare computer glitch, as the Wire reported:

Chalk it up to a bollixed-up state website that apparently still has major problems. Originally it said Sanford and her child would get a whopping tax credit that would reduce their total premium to $169 a month. Now the state is telling her it goofed – twice – and she has to pay full ticket. There may even be a third goof involved: At least one health-insurance broker says she may qualify for a tax credit after all, albeit a small one. Officials at the state Healthplanfinder website could not be contacted Sunday night. But it just goes to show that even in the state of Washington, which has earned national kudos for a health-insurance exchange that seems to function better than the dysfunctional federal website, there are big, big problems.

Sanford’s $169 health insurance premium was based on her qualification for a monthly $452 discount.

Four days after the president’s shout-out to her, Sanford received her first letter from the state, informing her that the previous calculations were made in error and that her discount would be reduced to $110. She felt she could still work with this by switching to a less favorable plan — one with higher deductibles and copays.

“I knew I would be struggling in my slow months,” Sanford said. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it. But honestly, I just wanted to get it in my budget and start working on it right away and start working on saving money toward it – that was all I could do, just work at it and hope for the best and try to take the money from here or there or wherever.”

Then the other shoe dropped. She got a second letter from the state last week informing her that she was entitled to no tax credit at all. She has no choice but to continue without insurance.

“They have to own up to what is going on,” Sanford says. “They have to fix it. They can’t just go around and say this is working great. In my opinion they ought to shut it down and just get all of it straightened out.”

So much for the “affordable” in the Affordable Care Act.

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