July 5, 2017

Indiana's GOP Invites "Obamacare Horror Stories" On Facebook--And Gets The Opposite

Article origination WFYI-FM

The Indiana Republican party may have gotten more than it had bargained for after it invited users to share their “Obamacare horror stories” in a Facebook post earlier this week. The GOP account was inundated with thousands of replies from Affordable Care Act supporters from across the country.

“Did you lose a doctor that you liked? Have your premiums increased? Did your insurer leave the exchange? Are burdensome regulations hurting your small business?” asked the Indiana GOP. “We were promised Obamacare would make healthcare cheaper… it's turned out to be the opposite.”

Since it was posted July 3, the post has accrued close to 8,000 comments, most of them positive, and more than a few sarcastic.

“It was terrible!’ wrote Jean Smith. "I was able to find affordable health care through the exchanges after my company shut down our department and laid us all off. The horror!”

Many self-employed posters cited stories of the freedom they gained when they were able to afford to buy health insurance—they scheduled long-delayed surgeries and started to see their doctor for preventative checkups.

“I now have patients coming in for preventative care and illness care earlier, when it's more treatable and less costly,” wrote physician Traci Armer Kurtzer.

Other responses were more sobering:

“My best friend has bone cancer. She's staying in a terrible and abusive marriage because her husband has coverage through his work,” writes Mila Schwartz Marvizon. “She'd like to spend the rest of her life in relative peace but if the ACA is revoked she won't be able to get healthcare as a single person, too sick to work full time, with a helluva pre-existing condition.”

Although later comments were almost exclusively pro-ACA, initially some people also wrote in to criticize the health care legislation. The most common complaints revolved around the cost of insurance premiums.

Hallie Simms Holland put it succinctly: “Our premiums have DOUBLED under Obamacare,” she writes.

“We had Obamacare (refuse to call it the Affordable Care Act) with a $458 per month premium,” writes Amy Campbell Morgan, who explains an increase in household income meant those monthly premiums were expected to rise to more than $2,000. Faced with the increase, she went back to work, and now pays $800 per month for an employer-provided plan—half her take-home pay.

“I now bring home $250 a week, an amount I made in 1982…I’m unable to be there for my kids and my elderly parents. Obamacare may have helped some people but in my mind it is a disaster,” she concludes.

Health insurance premiums on the Affordable Care Act marketplace have been rising, due in part to a sicker-than-expected population signing up for marketplace insurance. In 2017, three of the four insurers offering exchange plans in Indiana posted double-digit rate increases. In 2018, only two insurers are left standing on the exchange, and both companies plan to raise their rates.

Congressional republicans have used premium increases and the individual mandate as reasons to repeal the law. The Senate GOP released its repeal plan last month with hopes high it would receive a vote before the July 4th recess—but the future of the plan—which would, among other provisions, nix the individual mandate and phase out the ACA’s Medicaid expansion—is still up in the air.

As of July 5, the post is still generating new comments every minute.

“I’d say the only horror story is putting up this thread and not getting the reaction you wanted,” writes Annette Farmer “and the horror show will be the next meeting to discuss the results.”

This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a reporting collaborative focused on public health.

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