One Chattanoogan’s experience with Obamacare

Authored By chloe.morrison

Chattanooga resident John VanHyning and his wife have gone without health insurance since July 2012. 

His wife is disabled, and the couple has two grandchildren who live with them, VanHyning said. He has a part-time job that pays a couple hundred dollars a week. 

Now, he has coverage that will go into effect Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. 

And he won’t have to pay any monthly premium for his coverage. 

Brief background 
President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act-which has been mired in controversy-will provide access to health care coverage to 30 million people.

For more information/help 

Click here for more information or to apply online for coverage. 

Click here for more information from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, which has a site to help educate consumers. 

Click here for more information from American Exchange.  

Call 1-888-995-1674 for help from an American Exchange broker. 

It includes provisions such as preventing insurers from denying benefits based on pre-existing conditions. It allows people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. It requires coverage to include a free annual wellness visit, among an array of other benefits. 

Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that the core of the health care reform law was constitutional.

Some of the law’s requirements have already been implemented, and others will continue to be rolled out in coming years. 

Under the act, marketplaces have been created that will allow individuals and small business owners to shop for insurance coverage via Internet-based exchanges.

The Affordable Care Act requires nearly everyone to have some sort of health care insurance or pay a penalty, and the coverage must meet the minimum requirements under the law. 

VanHyning’s story 
The exchanges-some of which are operated by the federal government and some of which are operated by state leaders-opened Oct. 1 to an array of problems and glitches. 

VanHyning said he hates paperwork and talking on the phone, and he has been “very confused” about the Affordable Care Act. 

“I was worried because there’s also talk of people getting on the wrong website and getting hooked up with some scammer,” he said. 

But he and his wife needed insurance, so when he noticed a sign outside of Liberty Tax that said that officials could help area residents get information about health insurance, he made an appointment. 

Liberty Tax officials connected him with American Exchange, a local company whose leaders are helping residents nationwide connect with health insurance through the online marketplaces. 

“I was even a little skeptical-how can they hook me up so easily when everybody else has [had so many problems?]” he said. 

Within about 40 minutes of going into Liberty Tax, where he made a phone call to American Exchange, he and his wife were signed up for health care coverage. 

It won’t cost the couple anything to get a silver plan through BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The monthly premium cost for that plan is $683.64. But because of federal tax credits, the couple won’t have to pay any of that. 

“I was very surprised it wasn’t going to cost anything and very relieved,” he said. “The relief is-I’m 60 years old, and my wife is 54. Anything can happen at any time. We were a little stressed over that kind of thing.”

David Yoder, co-founder of American Exchange, said that the federal exchange is running more smoothly now.

His team had been taking information on paper forms and then going through the site because it was so slow. But now, they are able to go directly through the site, he said. 

The American Exchange team has currently enrolled a total of about 100 people, he said. 

And according to Healthcare.gov, the federal online exchange isn’t open from 1 to 5 a.m. daily, so teams can continue to make improvements. 

Some people are still experiencing glitches, and some are experiencing sticker shock when they see what they might have to pay. That’s, in part, because new federal guidelines require a minimum level of coverage, so people who have had very basic plans that don’t meet those guidelines could lose their plans and have to go through the new exchanges. 

And under the new law, most everyone has to have health care coverage or else pay a penalty. So people who were paying very low payments for a very low amount of coverage might have to pay more now because they will be required to get the minimum level of coverage. 

Yoder reiterated that the cost of health insurance and eligibility for tax credits through the new federal marketplaces vary from person to person depending on age, household size and income.

And he said that VanHyning is an example of someone who didn’t realize he would benefit from the act. 

“He was just surprised he got any kind of help,” Yoder said.