By Judy Sarasohn, Public Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services
A Kansas City entrepreneur and single mom of four boys, Lynn Gardner Hinkle thought that because she was healthy, she didn’t need the expense of a $600 monthly premium. So she dropped her coverage.
And then she was diagnosed with melanoma.
Lynn was forced to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for two rounds of surgery. She couldn’t get new insurance because of her cancer diagnosis. Lynn told me she sold her house and downsized so she could free up savings in case she needed more medical care.
But then she logged onto the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov and found a “lifesaver.” And because of new Affordable Care Act protections, she could no longer be denied coverage by an insurance company because of her pre-existing condition.
“I found I could get great insurance,” Lynn said. ”People don’t realize that there’s something great waiting for you.”
Lynn purchased a silver plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield that, with the financial assistance available through the Marketplace, costs her less than $200 a month and has a deductible of only $600 (her previous deductible was $3,800). Her coverage becomes effective March 1.
President Obama must have been thinking of people like Lynn, who’s run a small business for most of her adult life, when he said in his State of the Union address that Americans are united in the belief of “opportunity for all,” the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can make it in America.
Before the Affordable Care Act, Lynn, like so many other Americans, kept seeing her insurance costs going up every year. And with two of her boys in college at the time, she said, “This was a cost I couldn’t afford. Since I was in good health, I let it go.”
And then like too many other Americans, Lynn was hit by unexpected medical needs.
Lynn is so thrilled with her new coverage and the security and peace of mind that comes with it that she has taken to heart the President’s call to action, asking every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st, when open enrollment ends. Lynn has told friends and gone on social media to spread the word that there are good, affordable options through the Marketplace and she joined Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a recent Kansas City enrollment and outreach event.
So if you’re uninsured -- or know someone who doesn’t have coverage -- you can enroll by February 15 for coverage that begins March 1.
Besides enrolling like Lynn online at HealthCare.gov, you can also enroll by phone at 1-800-318-2596; by mail; or through an insurer, agent or broker. You can also find in-person help in your community at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
“I feel people are missing out if they don’t try. It doesn’t cost you anything to try,” Lynn said. “Obamacare was a lifesaver for me.”