Cancer patient gets affordable insurance and keeps all his doctors with Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act is saving one Michigan couple big money — and may just be saving a life.

Charles Barnett was as “healthy as a horse” until late 2012, says his wife, Linda. That’s when he discovered a swollen lump in a gland. As it turns out, Charles had a stage 4 tumor under the floor of his mouth that had spread to other parts of his body.

That’s a serious cancer diagnosis — and a pre-existing condition that would have disqualified Charles from all but the most expensive insurance coverage before the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

But costly insurance wasn’t a luxury the Barnetts could afford. Linda had to quit her job to take care of Charles, who has undergone extensive treatment including radiation. Last year, the Barnetts’ premiums were $829/month and they still owed $5,500 in out-of-pocket costs. When their COBRA increased to more than $900/month in January 2014, the Barnetts knew they needed a better option.

Linda turned to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, where she found a Silver plan that she describes as “primo.” The Barnetts qualified for tax credits, so they’re paying just $520/month for the two of them, with out-of-pocket costs capped at $2,800 for the year. Before the ACA, their premiums on the individual market might have been three or four times as much — if they even qualified for coverage at all after Charles’ diagnosis.

He has minor surgery coming up that will involve three days in the hospital, which would cost at least $5,000 a day without insurance, Linda says.

That will all be covered — and he got to keep his doctors and specialists. I see these ads with people saying they can’t keep their doctors and I know that’s bullcrap. Those ads are all about politics, not insurance. You just have to do a little research and pick the plan that works for you.

Linda points out that people with fewer medical bills could choose a less expensive plan than the one she and Charles need right now.

In fact, she’s guided two people she knows to the ACA marketplace — and one of them was dead set against the idea of Obamacare. But after losing his job, he was grateful to find coverage for just $50/month.

“I think the ACA is crucial for people who lose their jobs unexpectedly,” Linda says. “What are they going to do when they can’t afford COBRA on unemployment?”

She believes the people who are paying a little bit more for coverage right now will start to see savings as the marketplace levels out and more people sign up. And for the Barnetts, the ACA has been “a godsend,” Linda says.

If this had happened a few years ago, I would have had to keep working and pay someone to take care of Charles. We have to have insurance — everyone does. It can make the difference between life and death.

The next open enrollment period begins November 15, but if you have a major life change like the loss of a job, a move or a change in marital status you can sign up or change your plan any time. Visit Healthcare.gov for details.

[Photo credits: Top – Will O’Neill | Flickr; Bottom – Linda and Charles Barnett.]

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  • judyms9

    Thanks for another family’s experience with the ACA, as each one further debunks the dire predictions–make that perverse wishes– of the rightwingers.

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