New ACA insurance plans provide financial relief for some, but not others
by Rudy Herndon
Staff Writer
Feb 06, 2014 | 1063 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s getting easier to navigate the new health insurance marketplace at www.healthcare.gov, now that many of the website’s technical glitches have been fixed.

But as more and more local residents visit the site in search of better coverage and lower premiums, some people are having an easier time than others in finding plans that work best for them.

Moab massage therapist and life coach Lee Truesdell said she was able to sign up for an incredible plan that will save her close to $2,000 this year alone.

The registration process could be frustrating at times, she said. But with the help of two certified application counselors and an Arches Health Plan representative, Truesdell said she found coverage that is cheaper and more comprehensive than her previous plan was.

“I found that help to be really invaluable,” she said. “There was nothing intimidating or frustrating about that.”

Thanks to that help, Truesdell not only expects to spend less money on her monthly insurance premiums; in the event that she needs medical care, Truesdell said she won’t have to pay any out-of-pocket costs.

Local attorney Christina Sloan heard similar success stories from her friends in Colorado and other states, so she decided to give the healthcare.gov website a try.

The first time she visited the site in early December 2013, it kicked her off, and Sloan later ran into technical difficulties that forced her to start the registration process from scratch. But the self-proclaimed Obamacare supporter wasn’t discouraged.

Several tries later, Sloan said she was finally able to review her options under the new marketplace.

Although she knew she wouldn’t qualify for federal insurance subsidies, Sloan hoped she could find coverage for a fraction of the $1,080-plus she currently pays each month to insure her four-person family.

Sure enough, Sloan said she was able to find a comparable silver-level plan for about $900 a month. However, the amount she currently pays for out-of-pocket costs and prescription drugs would have doubled under the plan, she said, and it would not have covered her visits to doctors in Grand Junction.

“It was a worse plan, and it didn’t have any real Grand Junction coverage,” she said.

Sloan said she will take another look at marketplace plans in 2015, but for now, she will stick with her current insurance provider.

“I’m not going to [sign up for marketplace coverage],” she said.

Despite experiences like Sloan’s, local supporters of health care reform encourage residents to review the plans that are available through the new marketplace.

“There’s no cost just to see what our options are,” Moab Free Health Clinic Executive Director Allyson O’Connor said.

Most of the clinic’s patients are either uninsured or underinsured, and O’Connor said that 60 percent of them will qualify for some type of subsidy that could reduce the costs of their monthly insurance premiums.

Generally speaking, it’s unclear how many Grand County residents would be eligible for subsidies, since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services does not break those estimates down by county.

But on a statewide basis, the department found that as of Dec. 28, nearly 28,000 of the 43,446 Utahns who were then eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan would qualify for financial help.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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