Falling Through the Cracks: My Healthcare Marketplace Story

I'm one of the people who won't be getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act next year. I would really like to have insurance, but it's not possible.

I'm currently part time employed as a substitute teacher in Michigan. This is not by choice, I live in an area where there simply are no jobs to apply for, and the jobs I do apply for have so many applicants it's very tough to even get an interview. This means I live well below the poverty level. I qualify for SNAP benefits, which helps me survive. Health care has been beyond my reach since I was laid off in 2009.

I hoped once the Medicaid expansion passed in my state I may qualify for that. If not, then one of the health care plans provided in the marketplace website would be subsidized low enough I could afford the payments. I was wrong on both.

Despite my income level I still do not qualify for Medicaid under the expansion that was approved in Michigan last September. This is what I really hoped would allow me to at least get a foot in the door to see a doctor.

I'm not completely out of options yet. I looked at the health insurance plans provided in the state of Michigan. The cheapest plan would require me to pay almost half of what I make in a month. Only 60% of health costs covered, $5,500 deductible, and $20 copays just to walk in the door of a doctor's office. The monthly premium for that insurance plan is $262.00 per month. Did I mention I'm poor?

So no Medicaid, and the insurance is too expensive. If I could afford it, I would sign up for health insurance, but it's just not possible with my current income level.

Are you ready for the fun part? I called the toll-free number to confirm this was the case, and after waiting over twenty minutes on the phone I was informed that “unfortunately, some people fall through the cracks.” Because I fall through the cracks, the nice man on the phone informed me I will now have to pay $95 in penalty fees (Although he said they weren't supposed to call it a penalty, even though it is) per year because I'm too poor for health insurance.

The obvious answer to my problem, and every other person's problem who falls through the cracks is Medicare for everyone. A simple solution that would have made sure everyone could have some health coverage regardless of income. This is why certain people in Washington made sure a single payer option wasn't included in ACA, because it would simply solve the health care crisis we have in the United States. Our current government prefers creating crises, not solving them.

I'm disappointed, I really looked forward to having health care again.