The woman, a thin 61-year-old who refused to give her name, citing privacy concerns, had come to the public library here to sign up for health insurance through Kentucky’s new online exchange. She had a painful lump on the back of her hand and other health problems that worried her deeply, she said, but had been unable to afford insurance as a home health care worker who earns $9 an hour.We're here today because, as a nation, we decided that no one should have to choose between their prescriptions—their insulin—and feeding their family or keeping their home. We're here today because, as a nation, we decided that no one should go bankrupt because of a health catastrophe. We decided as a nation that health insurance should be available and affordable to every American citizen. That decision was was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court and by a national election. These stories all serve as a reminder of that decision.
Within a minute, the system checked her information and flashed its conclusion on Ms. Cauley’s laptop: eligible for Medicaid. The woman began to weep with relief. Without insurance, she said as she left, “it’s cheaper to die.” [...]
After Samantha Davis helped Deborah and Joseph Willis enroll in Medicaid one morning at a Family Health Centers clinic, Mrs. Willis, 49, told her how she felt some doctors and nurses had treated her unkindly because she lacked insurance. “Maybe they’ll look at me a lot different now,” she said.
As the couple prepared to leave the clinic, Mr. Willis, who is 55 and has severe foot and back pain from injuries but has not seen a doctor in years, turned to Ms. Davis and extended his hand.
“God bless you,” he said. [...]
Through the exchange, Mr. Elson, 60, who has advanced diabetes and kidney disease, was offered a choice of 24 health plans, with premiums ranging from $92 to $501 a month after the subsidy. But if he felt elation or relief, he was too preoccupied to show it.
Bleeding at the back of his eyes, caused by a complication of diabetes, had blurred his vision. He had run out of insulin the previous week and had not refilled his prescriptions, which cost almost $500 a month, because a recent tax bill had depleted his bank account. He had an appointment with an eye specialist that afternoon, and the possibility of more debt was hanging heavily over him. [...]
“I’m hoping once I have insurance that I can sit down and figure out a budget and see if I have to bankrupt,” he said. [...]
“It’s not a fact that I want to sponge off of somebody,” he said. “I want to be able to pay my bills and be able to go through life without feeling I owe somebody.”
The solution thus far has proved imperfect, but it's far preferable to the status quo. For every person who is pissed off at having their junk insurance policy cancelled and has to sign up for a new one, there are dozens who are elated that they can finally have just a little bit of breathing room in their lives because they finally will have health insurance.