But it's a hard slog to get there. Take the example of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.
In 2011, about 20,000 of the counties' 178,000 residents lacked health insurance, according to the most recent census data. That 14 percent rate was the fourth-worst in Maryland that year, and above the 2011 statewide uninsurance rate of 12 percent.That's 15 people covering three counties across 1,100 square miles. They are further hampered by a website that has at least as many problems as the federal exchange website. The results are worth it:
It is now up to a team of just 15 county health workers to get those people covered under the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law.
"We finally got a plan," said Sheila Fisher, a two-time cancer survivor from Westover who had been unable to afford health insurance before Obamacare's passage prohibited health insurers from charging astronomical rates to those with "pre-existing conditions." For $271 a month including tax credits that cut the cost, Sheila and her husband, Samuel, got a low-level "bronze" plan plus dental coverage. The couple had been uninsured for three years.These are the stories that justify the arduous path this law has taken. But they're also the stories that aren't breaking through. There's still a ton of misinformation about what Obamacare is, and going through all the options is still a complicated process, particularly for someone who hasn't experienced it before. That's what navigators face in these last two weeks of open enrollment. If it's a challenge in Maryland, imagine how hard it is in Texas or other states where the need is greatest, but which are actively hindering the process. All because Republicans are putting politics before people.