Obamacare horror story debunked by Seattle Times columnist

By George Chidi
Sunday, November 24, 2013 18:32 EDT
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A Seattle Times columnist took a closer look at a conservative headline-making health care reform case Friday and discovered that the Rush Limbaugh narrative doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

In Danny Westneat’s piece “Debunking Obamacare sob story,” the writer checked on the reversal of fortune claimed by Jessica Sanford, a Washington parent of an ADHD-diagnosed child, who had been touted by President Obama last month as an example of the success of the Affordable Care Act because she could obtain insurance for the first time in 15 years.

When Sanford said on a Facebook post that the state had miscalculated her eligibility for a subsidy based on her income and that she was “screwed,” the media pounced, particularly conservative outlets like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

However, Westneat’s examination revealed that Sanford’s son qualified for Medicaid coverage at $30 a month, which would have not been available before the ACA. “He has ADHD and, according to Sanford, it costs them $250 a month for prescription drugs alone. Which will now all be covered,” Westneat wrote. While Sanford had originally been quoted for coverage at $169 a month, a bronze-level policy for a 48-year-old woman making $49,000 costs $237 a month, while a silver-level policy costs $313, Westneat added.

“So here’s a family that was totally uninsured for 15 years because it had always cost at least $500 to $600 a month for skimpy policies to cover them both. And what they can get now is full coverage for $30 a month for the son and scantier coverage in the $250 to $300 a month range for the mom. How is that a horror story?”

The decline in cost for Sanford appears to mirror the experiences of the uninsured in rural Kentucky, which like Washington state have set up state-level insurance exchanges and avoided the problems associated with the federal exchange. In a Washington Post profile of Breathitt County in rural Kentucky, writer Stephanie McCrummen noted that enrollment in areas like the poor, coal mining “Coronary Valley” are driving the state’s relatively high enrollment figures.

“In a state where 15 percent of the population, about 640,000 people, are uninsured, 56,422 have signed up for new health-care coverage, with 45,622 of them enrolled in Medicaid and the rest in private health plans, according to figures released by the governor’s office Friday,” McCrummen wrote.

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