Amy Bowman’s husband died almost two years ago after a 14 month battle with pancreatic cancer. A single mom with two children to care for, she relied on her husband’s COBRA plan until it ran out, forcing her to try and buy insurance on the open marketplace. After she herself was diagnosed with cancer, the best policy she could find totaled nearly $1,500 per month.
This month, Amy applied for, and secured a new plan for her family under the Affordable Care Act. The new plan is half the cost of her old one, and includes dental coverage. Regular people, working hard to make ends meet, especially those beset by tragic, unforeseen circumstances, are who the Affordable Care Act was designed to help.
Healthcare.gov, the ACA’s website, has been an embarrassment, reflecting poorly on what remains a good law that will improve health care coverage for millions of Americans. In states where they built their own websites, unlike Virginia, enrollments are strong and growing. While Medicare and Medicare Part D had troubled rollouts when first introduced they are now recognized as staples of the American healthcare system. Despite healthcare.gov’s inexcusable problems, improvements are being made every day and the site is slowly getting better. The Administration is reporting daily on measurable progress in consumer response time and error rates, as well as improved wait times and better functionality.
Even with these online misfires, over 100,000 Americans so far have selected plans through state and federal Marketplaces under the ACA. Nearly a million more are through the application process, ready to choose from a number of coverage options.
But the Affordable Care Act is much more than just a website. Insurance reforms mandated in the act are already proving winners with consumers. Millions are eligible for coverage previously denied them because of a pre-existing condition. Small businesses are saving thousands because of the administrative caps prescribed in the law. Young adults just starting out are able to remain covered by their parents’ plans.
And in Alexandria, a widowed mother, caring for two children on a fixed income, is able to secure quality, reasonably priced healthcare. A construction company owner in Fairfax County has seen the smallest rate increase in his company’s health insurance plan’s history due to the law’s reforms. Scenes like this are playing out all across the country, as the nearly 30 million Americans who go without adequate health care every year are exploring their options for the first time under the Affordable Care Act.