The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Featured Story

September 21, 2013

Seeking affordable health insurance


Name: Katie Bolin

Age: 35

Location: Yukon

Occupation: licensed practical nurse

Estimated 2014 family income: $65,000

Estimated silver plan premium:  $307 per month

Estimated bronze plan premium:  $255 per month

Katie Bolin works a 16-hour shift every Saturday as a home health-care nurse, helping other people deal with their aches and pains.

But when she gets sick, she’s pretty much on her own.

Bolin, 35, works as licensed practical nurse in Yukon. Because she’s part time, she doesn’t qualify for employer insurance.

She tried to get private market insurance after her husband, Rick, was laid off from his full-time job in 2009. She was afraid she might get turned down because she had a history of sinus infections and bronchitis.

Her hunch was correct, but not for the reasons she expected.

“When I had my first son, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I was on Prozac for about two months. They told me I had a diagnosis of depression and was uninsurable,” Bolin said.

“I was devastated,” she said. “My husband had just been laid off. Ever since I’ve been able to, I’ve been a working person and worked hard and carried insurance and everything, and then it was just like being left out in the cold.”

Rick, 44, now works as a part-time graphics designer. He and their two sons, Levi, 5, and Emmett, 4, are covered by a private-market health plan at a cost of about $500 per month.

Bolin was able to get employer-provided insurance for awhile after she went back to work as an LPN. But when she stopped working full-time to spend more time with her sons, she lost her coverage. She’s been without insurance for more than a year.

On Jan. 1, Bolin will be able to get insurance again. That’s the effective date of the policies being offered through a new federally-run health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. People can begin applying for coverage on Oct. 1.

Under the terms of the act, widely known as Obamacare, participating insurance companies can’t deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. That means Bolin is guaranteed she can get a policy.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Bolin should be able to buy a silver-level health plan in the Affordable Care Act marketplace for $307 a month, or a less-generous bronze plan for $255.

Bolin estimates the family’s combined income will rise to about $65,000 next year, after she receives a nursing degree from Oklahoma City Community College in May and goes to work as a registered nurse. At that income level, Bolin would not qualify for federal tax credits to reduce the cost of her insurance, if she buys it only for herself.

But if the entire family enrolls for coverage through the marketplace, the combined monthly premium would be $477 for a silver plan or $309 for a bronze plan, after tax credits, according to Kaiser.

That’s less than the Bolins are paying now for the plan that only covers her husband and the boys.

“If it’s going to be a better deal, I’m all for it,” Bolin said. “I figure that on Oct. 1, I’m going to be on the computer checking it all out.”

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