Affordable Care Act, Obamacare — August 7, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Healthy Michigan Plan is working for hard-working young people


One 27-year-old with multiple part-time jobs on how important — and easy — it is to get health insurance.

With apologies to James Brown, Marcus Laban may be the hardest-working man in show business. He works part-time for a casting director, directs high school plays on a seasonal basis and just ended a tour with the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. To make ends meet, he also works part-time as an assistant at a funeral home and does administrative work for a healthcare provider.

I know Laban personally, and I always wonder when he finds time to sleep — let alone volunteer at area community theaters, which he does often.

There’s no question that he works hard, but none of Laban’s many jobs offer health insurance. He was able to stay on his mother’s insurance plan until he turned 26, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. But after that, Laban couldn’t find anything in his budget, other than a bare-bones catastrophic plan. He was paying about $100 a month, which only covered hospitalization in case of an accident or serious illness.

Then in March 2014, the insurance company dropped him for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, given that he was on a plan the insurer put him on after the ACA kicked in. Without health insurance, he’s been relying on healthy habits like eating right and exercising. Not a bad idea for anyone, but still not good enough.

Then Laban discovered the Healthy Michigan Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid expansion under the ACA. He learned about it at an ACA educational event, which his mom suggested he attend.

“Technically, I’m at the poverty level, so I didn’t qualify for a plan under the ACA,” Laban says. “But they told me Healthy Michigan was starting in April and suggested I check it out. I applied and was covered in a week.”

Laban says he couldn’t believe how easy the process was.

I went online during a break at work and in 15 minutes I finished the application. The only negative is that some doctors don’t take my insurance — but my family physician does. And my chiropractor is looking into whether they can accept it.

With his plan, which is provided by a private insurance company, Laban is covered with no monthly premium. He needed an eye exam, which he got along with a free pair of glasses for a $2 co-pay. Before he got covered, having a bacterial skin infection diagnosed and treated cost him $80 each for two specialist visits and $50 for a prescription.

Laban would love it if any of his current jobs became full-time, and he continues looking for other full-time work with health benefits. But until that day comes, he’s grateful to have insurance.

At first, I didn’t think I needed health insurance. But it’s stupid not to have insurance — everyone should do it. This is a great option until I get a job with health insurance. It’s really helping me out, and it’s money I can put to bills and other things.

I admit, I was skeptical at first, but I’m really happy and it’s already working for me.

Enrollment in the Healthy Michigan Plan is available year-round. Find more details at their website.