Despite political uncertainty, Mainers urged to shop Obamacare plans as enrollment window opens
Bob Farnsworth, a self-employed builder in Machias, knows the future of the Affordable Care Act is profoundly uncertain. But the embattled health reform law has provided the first affordable health coverage of his adult life, and he was enthusiastically prepared for the sign-up period for this year that kicked off Wednesday.
“Once you’re in the system, you’re able to think in terms of actually getting health care,” the 61-year-old said. “Without it, I would never have even considered getting a colonoscopy, for example. I’ve also gotten the physical therapy I needed and some cardiology care.”
Before the ACA, “anecdotally, I would hear people say they were paying $1,000 a month or $750 a month or something like that,” he said. “None of those numbers were ever going to work for me.”
But with the ACA, also called Obamacare, Farnsworth pays just $130 per month for his plan, with a subsidy of close to $800 that covers the balance. He’s still responsible for an annual deductible of about $2,500, and he pays tax on the value of the subsidy.
Despite the current political climate, the insurance marketplace and its subsidies remain the law of the land. Potential changes at the federal level, including a hot-button debate about repealing the ACA altogether, are unlikely to take effect in 2018, experts say. Most expect no disruption of the system of income-based premium discounts, mandated health benefits and other elements that have made meaningful health insurance affordable for some 78,400 Mainers since the program went live in 2014.
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