Obamacare is a disaster! It's the worst thing to happen to the country since slavery! It will rape the future of our young people! It will cause wives to leave husbands and husbands to marry their dogs! OK, I made up the dog part – but all the others are, sadly, 100 percent real statements made by right-wing extremists in the last few weeks.
But despite the hand-wringing and rumor-mongering, and despite some gleefully reported website glitches, around 45,000 people across the country have already enrolled in the insurance program set up by the Affordable Care Act, with almost two months left until the December 15th deadline to be covered starting in January. (Open enrollment for this first year will be available even later, through March 15th.)
For those who have enrolled, many of whom were previously uninsured or were hit with massive co-pays, Obamacare is a total success. Here are just a few of their stories:
Phil Sherburne and Leia Bell
This Utah family will pay just $123 a month to cover their family of five, despite a shoulder issue that had left Sherburne unable to get insurance before the Affordable Care Act went into effect. According to Sherburne (who is also a small business owner), the multiple efforts it took to get onto the federal exchange website were well worth it. "It's a great deal. I'm thrilled to have coverage, period," he said to the Salt Lake Tribune. "Once I got onto the site it took about an hour, start to finish."
This Oklahoma City resident, who suffers from Crohn's Disease, has already benefited once from the Affordable Care Act, which allowed her to stay on her parents' health insurance through age 26. After that, she was unable to find affordable insurance – forcing her to forgo treatment because she couldn't afford the out-of-pocket expenses. She has now been able to enroll in the exchange, despite the pre-existing condition that previously caused her to be denied by every insurance company. In an open letter to Congress, Brown wrote, "[I]f you defund Obamacare, or delay it even for one year, as you are debating today, then this will be my last letter to you. I will be dead before my 27th birthday."
For Rikhi, who owns a Bay Area auto-repair shop, the $500 a month that he is saving when it comes to covering his family through the state exchange will mean more money to invest in his small business. Even better, that investment will likely assist his employees in purchasing their own health insurance. "Now that he knows his potential saving, Rikhi says he can't wait to sign up and looks forward to feeling relief from the financial pain of skyrocketing insurance costs," reports the local NBC affiliate.
If Rikhi's savings sound good, then Matthews' return must be twice as impressive. The self-avowed Arkansas Republican and retiree admits he became an Obamacare convert after learning he will save $13,000 a year under a new plan that has no monthly premiums. "I would tell [people badmouthing Obamacare] to learn more about it before they start talking bad about it," he told ThinkProgress. "Be more informed, get more information, take your time and study and not just go by just what you hear on one side or the other. Actually check the facts on it."
A Los Angeles freelancer who has been on COBRA health insurance so he won't have any gap in coverage, Stryker expects his monthly premiums to dip to $300 a month from the current $600. "Obviously three hours is a long time to wait, but it will save me over $6,000," he told Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post. "For that, I would have waited all day."
Klabusich, a self-employed writer and activist, says she had been plagued by a chronic sinus infection that she was unable to treat due to her previous insurance plan. "There were periods in my 20's where my health insurance cost more than my rent," she wrote in a blog post, where she went on to praise her new, low monthly premium under the low-deductible health care plan she purchased on the New York state exchange, which will allow her to finally treat a myriad of medical issues she'd mostly tried to ignore. "IN TEN WEEKS . . . I get to see a doctor and start whatever course of treatment is the best option, not the one I can attempt to afford. That is my new reality. Thank you, ACA," Klabusich wrote.
These people, some with bigger reasons to be thankful than others, join many others who are celebrating finally becoming insured after being turned down for having cancer, arthritis, endometriosis, blindness, amputation or other devastating illnesses for which having affordable health care isn't just a convenience, but a matter of survival.
In fact, there are large numbers of people that will benefit from Obamacare, from those with increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer who will now get plans that make it mandatory to allow preventive genetic testing, to working-class and middle-class adults and children who will now be covered under an expansion of Medicaid, providing even more uninsured with a new chance to finally get coverage. To the program's defenders, it's clear that these successes should more than outweigh a few frozen screens during the application process.