WENDT: How Obamacare harms my family

Health care is no longer affordable or caring

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When President Obama promised, “If you like your plan, you can keep it” and “If you like your doctors, you can keep them,” I believed him. I thought it had to be true since it was repeated so many times by others in Washington.

That was foolish. In late October, we found out that the plan we’ve had for five years was going to be canceled at the end of the year.

Immediately, we sought new coverage through Healthcare.gov. Constant glitches kept us from finding a new plan. Then, just before the deadline, owing to yet another glitch, we were told our children weren’t eligible to purchase insurance at all.

At the time, it was beyond frustrating and incredibly frightening facing a new year without insurance for our family. We soon discovered something worse: For our family, affordable plans no longer exist under the so-called Affordable Care Act.

I spent many hours researching health care plans when we settled on the plan we bought five years ago. It’s part of my job to trim our budget and shop around, finding exactly what we need at the best price. Every year, I checked prices to make sure we were still getting the best deal.

We liked our plan. It was affordable and provided great coverage. We paid $221 per month for our family of seven. It had a family deductible of $5,000, 20 percent coinsurance, and a $10,000 out-of-pocket maximum. There was no lifetime or yearly maximums.

After we worked through the website’s glitches, we replaced that plan with a “grandfathered” plan that will be canceled at the end of 2014. It has a monthly premium of $381 per month, a $10,000 deductible, 30 percent coinsurance, and a $17,000-out-of-pocket maximum.

This plan could be nearly $10,000 more expensive than our old plan. Even so, this is still a better financial choice than a similar Obamacare plan.

Blue Cross Blue Shield quoted an Obamacare-compliant plan that fits our needs at $981.49 a month in premiums — more than four times what we were paying last year. It also has a $2,800 deductible, 20 percent coinsurance and a $12,000 out-of-pocket maximum.

This means that in a year with few medical expenses, we’re going to pay more than $8,000 a year more in premiums. When we have a year with significant medical expenses, we’re responsible for almost $24,000 a year — more than $12,000 more than we paid before Obamacare.

What about the subsidies? My husband and I would be eligible, but only if we put our children on MIChild, a taxpayer-funded state health insurance program run through Medicaid. My husband and I would be paying less, but we’d also have to leave the family doctor I’ve been with since I was 6 years old.

That’s a path we would never take. We’d be sacrificing our children’s health for the sake of our wallets.

Seven years ago, our family was briefly on MIChild — and it put my daughter’s life at risk. I could only find two offices in our area accepting new MIChild patients. The first was overcrowded and dirty. The next office made us feel rushed, and the care we received there was terrible. 

After we left MIChild and returned to our family doctor, we discovered that the MIChild doctor failed to give my daughter the right immunizations. She received some that were unnecessary and didn’t receive others that she needed.

Being in that position was awful. We never want to be there again. We’ve worked hard to create a better life for our family. Now it’s frustrating, disheartening and exhausting to have our choices reversed by a bunch of politicians 700 miles away who couldn’t be bothered to read the bill.

Before they passed Obamacare, we could afford our health care just fine on our own. Overnight, that all changed. For us, the Affordable Care Act has, ironically, made health care both unaffordable and very uncaring. And I know that we aren’t alone.

Shannon Wendt is a mother of five from Grand Rapids, Mich.

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