Throughout 2014, The Wall Street Journal tracked the stories of people affected by the health law — the Faces of the Affordable Care Act. Many of you have shared your own experiences with the law, as well, and below is a sample of those stories. As we move into the second year of expanded coverage under the ACA, tell us more about how you’ve been affected by the health law changes. Submit your story here. (Last updated Dec. 26, 2014.)
“Because my premium increase to $ 1180/mo plus $ 7000 family deductible, I have opted for Christian based Medi-share at $ 500/mo and $ 7500 deductible equivalent. This more fully aligns with my Faith belief system. I have the opportunity to have family premium drop to $ 390/mo.” –David Marx, physician
“My wife, 19-year-old daughter and I are covered by a plan provided by my wife’s employer. It’s a high deductible plan. No change to the coverage for 2015, but the premium went up about 15%.” –David Hall, business manager
“ACA has been a life-saver. I worked full-time for 27 years and then my job came to an end and my Cobra ran out. Now, working as a part-time consultant in D.C., I have no monthly healthcare payment and can go to the doctor as needed. Such a godsend. As I continue to look for full-time work (a challenge in one’s 50s) I have this safety net. Thank you, President Obama!” –Martha Wilson, media consultant
“I have been a health insurance broker for over twenty years and I have never seen anything like the last year and a half. I have taken literally thousands of calls, many from people who don’t know where to begin to select a health insurance plan.
Without professional advice, most people are not prepared to choose a plan that provides access to the doctors they choose and the medications they need, within a budget that fits.
I have been working double- and triple-time to help folks figure out the right balance of price and coverage that makes the most sense.
The sheer volume of calls has been incredible. That, coupled with the complexity of the calls we are seeing, have changed my business dramatically.” –Jonathan Katz, health insurance broker
“I am thankful for it.” –Lianna R. Briffa, real estate agent
“I would love to have ACA. However, I cannot pay the $ 200+ monthly premium and then still have to pay the $ 2,000+ deductible before it does anything more than give me a copay at my primary care. I would have to pay the deductible before it even paid for an xray.
I have worked full time as a temp for a major international food corporation for over 7 years; I have not had insurance for over 5 years (when I could not afford Cobra anymore); I had breast cancer ten years ago; and at 61 years of age, I am stuck in the middle, not able to afford cancer checkups or dental care.
Will I last without this care until I age into Medicare?” –Mauri Mozeleski, temp
“Obamacare has affected me in 2 ways. My premiums have increased by 25%. My deductible has increased by $ 5000. Per year. I can no longer find coverage for an expensive medication that was covered on my previous insurance. That medication costs me $ 4800. annually that I now pay out-of-pocket.
The second is impact is my husband. He is a surgeon that has been in practice since 1964. His patients love him. He loves his patients. His reimbursements have decreased and continue to decrease. He accepts both Medicare & Medicaid. He has decided to retire March 1, 2015, he is tired of the struggle to keep his practice viable. Obamacare was the final blow to his successful practice. He retires with sadness as he watches the decline of the doctor/patient relationship and the decrease in quality of care. I fear for the future of our wonderful health care system. Yes more people have insurance coverage but their access to quality care will still be unattainable. What a mess.” – Rhonda Krupp, registered nurse
“My costs have doubled for a slightly lower quality plan. I’m a single, healthy 33 year old man with no kids and now have to pay for children’s dental coverage for some reason.” – Cody Anderson, self employed
“My friends have been able to afford healthcare which has allowed for them to receive prenatal care.” – Tara Bunge, nurse
“I wish they had made ACA a tax, rather than taking choice away from us. That way, couldn’t we have paid for more “poor” people to afford healthcare w/some more money for medical entitlements? I have healthcare that has gone up from 450 to 750 per month, but I am most worried about my young daughter who is self employed and who absolutely cannot afford this insurance but makes too much for Medicaid. I hope they fix it.” – Faith Burns, office manager
“I used to have a policy that was $ 185/month, and a high deductible ($ 8000). I am mid fifties with no addictions, weight to height appropriate, exercise regularly, don’t use tobacco, and maintain a healthy balanced diet which includes fat. Now I cannot buy my own policy and am forced into a $ 395/month policy with a marginally lower deductible which includes pediatric dental coverage for children I don’t have. The $ 2,400 per year after taxes I now lose could have been put into a health savings account as pre-tax deductions, meaning I would be able to afford the adult dental work I personally need for old fillings that are finally giving way. Given I am saddled with a student loan from law school that won’t pay off until I am 82 from the disastrous loan policies (i.e. unlimited availability with no information feedback and no incentive for limitation creating massive overproduction of unnecessary and unskilled attorneys who are my competitors in the field of e-discovery and temporary “legal” work) I can’t help but be astonished we would create an even larger system based on the same principles for healthcare, unlimited availability of benefit ultimately creating massive distortions. What could go wrong?” – Phil Stevenson, temporary attorney
“My younger son lost his teaching job (last hired, first fired) and his 2014 health insurance expired Sept 30. He responsibly sought ACA coverage for himself and his three kids to begin Oct. 1. But for weeks healthcare.gov would not let him complete an application. Now that hurdle has been leapt, it offers him only policies he cannot afford because they require him to purchase services he does not need and overcharge him to pay for pre-Medicare consumers. So he remains uninsured.” –Richard Belzer, consultant
“My health insurance is going up to $ 410.00 per month with a $ 3,000.00 deductible. Looking online I can get a policy from the same company for $ 75.00 per month and $ 300.00 deductible. That was a silver plan. My neighbor switched to the ACA last year. He has high blood pressure, and his premium was cut in half and his medication went from $ 70.00 per month to $ 5.00. The ACA is helping a lot of people.” –Steven Peel, self-employed
“I have seen more patients that now have health insurance that did not qualify due to pre-existing conditions. I have seen more people insured overall. Young adults stay on their parents plan or get a very cheap plan for themselves. I personally was paying over $ 1200 per month with a $ 3000 deductible. I can get the same plan for about $ 900 now but have chosen a cheap plan at $ 500 per month with a higher deductible. I figure that if I don’t use the plan then I will save money but if I use it a lot then I won’t really pay more in the long run. I can pay now or pay later. When you look at it, it all comes out the same.” – Jennifer Hollywood, physician
“My personal family healthcare insurance cost rose significantly in 2014 while benefits were again significantly reduced. Morale among most doctors, dentists and nurses I know is quite poor.” – Jeffrey Dorfman, dentist
“The “”Affordable Care Act”” has already raised rates, and threatens to raise them even more. I am a fairly young person. I am not obese; I do not smoke; I do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. In short, the expected cost of insuring me is very low. My insurance cost $ 85 per month back in 2010; it currently costs $ 132 per month ($ 5,000 deductible). The policy was canceled in December, but reinstated amid political pressure. The only replacement policies cost $ 240 and $ 250 per month, had a $ 6335 deductible, and did not include dental checkups and certain other benefits my current policy does. I do not qualify for subsidies – In 2013, I made too little income to qualify as I am starting my own business, and thus barely have any income. Once the business is operating properly, I will have too much income for the subsidies, as they only cover a narrow income range. The old insurance regime wasn’t great, but it was worlds better than paying more for less coverage. Insurance should be sold based on market prices based on controllable risk factors like obesity. Anyone who is not obese is significantly overcharged by Obamacare. Anyone who is fairly young is also significantly overcharged. Prior generations were not treated this way – they were not overcharged to subsidize certain lucky people. I voted for Obama in 2008 and voted for Romney in 2012. I actually believed he intended to lower costs by increasing efficiency, not make a huge mess full of bizarre subsidies. For the record, I do not support single-payer. The European systems total about 20% of earned income through various payroll taxes, and many still by supplemental insurance.” –Matthew Hurst, self employed
“My son was uninsured and was able to sign up for aca getting a silver plan with a subsidy that leaves him with a $ 45 monthly payment. He is in his 50s but in Mar. He was diagnosed with a sarcoma cancer stage 3 inoperable. The insurance is a god send. My husband and I have Medicare and had medigap insurance provided by my husbands previous employer Northrop G. They have canceled this renter enemy benefit and moved to a defined benefit for retirees as of July 31. Net cost to us about 200 per Mo and probably going to grow. Winners and losers.” – Sandra Anglr, retired
“I am a surgeon who is in private practice with a fee-for-service model. We are continuing to see indigent patients who don’t understand the ACA or just won’t sign up. We are directing them to “”navigators”” but this is a slow process. I haven’t experienced this but I am hearing stories of people having to pay more for identical policies. I presume this is a result of the insurance companies being “”forced”” to cover the indigent patients and cost shift to the previously insured patients. This should have been explained further to the public. An outcry is appropriate. Positives exist though. I am getting paid for services outside insurance contracts because people are just avoiding using their insurance and paying cash for services which we discount. Also, my 29 year old son with preexisting conditions was able to get a $ 200 per month policy which was unachievable before the ACA. This is a godsend.” –Joel Ernster
“I work for a small company (18 employees), and obtaining health coverage for our firm has been a challenge. Obama Care proponents lauded how this law would dramatically improve accessibility and affordability for the working family. Prior to this law being passed, I had coverage for my family (wife and 4 children) for about $ 500 a month with a $ 2400 family deductible. My policy was one that was cancelled. I had to scramble to replace it and now my monthly premium is just under $ 500 a month but my deductible has tripled and is now $ 12,000 for my family. I spent months looking at all types of options, Obamacare approved insurance, health costs sharing, etc. I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t 2-3x more expensive that my last policy for similar or even lesser coverage. Unfortunately, I have watched my co-workers go through the exact same experience. Additionally, again proponents of this law promoted the advantages to small businesses that have struggled to get group insurance. Again, our firm sought coverage at this level only to find that coverage for our employees had also become significantly more expensive than what we looked at in the past couple of years. As this impacts the health and well being of my children, frustration has turned to disgust which has turned to anger. I can say with certainty that there hasn’t been a piece of legislation that has been more misrepresented and had more negative impact on me and my family than Obamacare.” –Tyler Finlinson
“Personally we have had no effect from ACA. Professionally, I have seen a great deal of realignment of services and formularies that insurance companies pay for. I also am seeing quite a bit of anxiety and uncertainty from patients around their medical expenses.” — Byrch Williams
“I am a pulmonary, critical care physician that works part time. My husband is an urgent care physician that works part time. We buy our health insurance. Because of ACA, my monthly premiums and deductibles are much more expensive for less coverage and less freedom within the plans. Most plans are now HMO based. Ironically, my reimbursement for the care I provide has dropped from all health insurers. The burden of collecting deductibles from patients is a nightmare. It takes months to get reimbursed and then only about 60% of patients actually pay. The collection agencies will be busy. We get calls daily from people wanting healthcare, but we do not participate in this insurance plan. One person asked me why no physicians were participating providers, and I said because the insurer does not reimburse or adequately reimburse for services provided. The person was shocked. I asked them why did you choose this insurer and their response was that it was the least expensive. I said well that explains it and then directed them to investigate how much money the CEO and top administrators of health insurance companies make (not including their yearly bonuses). The ACA provides health insurance but in no uncertain terms does equate to adequate healthcare.” — Dawn Kennedy-Little
“I have been out of health coverage for 8 years due to a pre-exisiting condition which would not have cost the insurance companies a thing but they said “no.” I went through the fiasco of the website when it first went up and was totally frustrated. But then a friend told us of someone who was certified to help people with the Affordable Care Act. He got us going and now have insurance and it is a blessing. I pay $ 53.00 a month and no deductible. And many do not know this but this rate is based on 2014 adjusted household income, not what I take in pay check to pay check. I have already had blood work done, a physical and will have my first colonoscopy in May. I can not say how much this has meant to me.” — Jeff Coe
“ACA has yielded significant benefits. I choose managed care all services under 1 roof and electronic health records plus Dr email. Compared to fee for service, managed care has proven more efficient and affordable. My Dr’s are not business owners maximizing profit instead focused on patient care.” — Walt Cook
“It has raised the cost of my health insurance by 20%, after almost having my plan cancelled for not meeting ACA rules. I am a family doc in a solo direct pay practice. The ACA has increased the growth of my practice. My belief is that patients are beginning to distrust the hc system and doctors that participate and are seeking out docs who will work for them, outside the ACA bureaucracy.” — Steven Horvitz
“As a substitute teacher, I don’t have health insurance. My health insurance is through my husband’s work which was over $ 900 a month. The cost for insurance has skyrocketed to three options ranging from $ 1227 to $ 1,538 for our family starting in May. It is ironic that the “Affordable Health Care” is forcing me to live without healthcare because it is too expensive. 30% of our income would go to simply paying for insurance before paying for any deductibles or services. I feel betrayed.” — Chris Mayes
“I have made a personal transition aside from the law itself, I had Minnesota-care before my current job and it was heavily subsidized due to my low income and my employer not offering healthcare. And with a low income classification I had no deductible and a 3 dollar co-pay and a low monthly payment of 55 dollars a month. As a result of this, I went to the doctor every time I had a hangnail or a hiccup because it was cheap and did not cost me very much. I now have a good job and no longer qualify for subsidized healthcare. I am paying 300 dollars a month and have a 500 dollar deductible with 25 dollar co-pays and have at best 80% coverage in most cases. Now I am reluctant to go to the doctor at all, and may go off much needed medication to keep my new income (if I stayed at my current healthcare usage, I would have an overall lower monthly budget afterwards).” — Jonathan Norum
“Our premium for the same or worse coverage ($ 5,000 deductible) is going from $ 830 per month to $ 2,221 per month. I don’t think I can afford that and may decide to go uninsured and put that money in a savings account for medical expenses. We are a family of four with in excellent health and rarely need to go to the doctor. In fact, we are afraid to go to the doctor unless it is absolutely necessary. I still can’t believe this (effective March 1st) and have contacted an agent to see if there are other options, but so far, I can’t find any.” – Eileen Jacobs
“The Affordable Care Act allowed me to stay on my dad’s insurance plan for a year after graduation until I found a job with benefits.” – David Stanton
“My daughter’s policy, which we liked, was cancelled. Buying insurance on the NY exchange was a nightmare. None of our doctors are in any of the plans, and it was nearly impossible to find out which plans the Manhattan hospitals would accept. The NY website did not have this information. Nor did most of the insurance companies. We had to call each hospital to learn which plans they would accept. Most hospitals are accepting 3 or 4 plans, at the most. We bought the only plan we found that accepts most of the Manhattan hospitals. It is costing more than my daughter’s previous insurance because she now has a $ 3000 deductible. In truth, the exchange-approved plans are third-rate HMO’s. It’s great that many uninsured people are now able to get insurance, but I never expected the law to hurt my family in the process.” – Cheryl Lawson
“It has allowed me to leave my job of 10 years and start my own company–a dream come true! I have greater income potential, and greater personal and professional freedom. I employ 2 contractors, purchase subscriptions to online business services and stock photography for example–contributing to the economy. My former employer is now one of my clients. I’m a baby boomer and single mom; with previous high costs and pre-existing health condition exclusions, I was stuck. With the ACA, opportunities opened. I’m thrilled!” – Jo Cooper
“I am a gastroenterologist in a large single specialty group. Within the past six weeks I have had three new patients who arrived in my clinic stating that they had chosen their plans because my name was listed on their network as a participating provider. Unfortunately I had signed no such agreement. My name was being used without my consent or knowledge. When contacted the insurance companies claimed it was an administrative error. The most egregious of the cases was a woman who arrived at my endoscopy center prepped for a colonoscopy! She had somehow received and consumed a bowel prep (purge). Although I was again not a provider on her Obamacare exchange I could not in good conscience ethically turn her away so I performed the colonoscopy gratis including the facility fee, anesthesia fee and pathology fee for the biopsies that I obtained.” – Sarkis Chobanian
“I have owned a [medical billing] revenue cycle management company since 1982. The biggest problem facing provider’s is collecting patient balances. The ACA has increased the deductibles exponentially hence the patient responsibility of a medical bill has greatly increased. Due to various regulations and contractual arrangements it is very difficult to estimate and collect patient portion’s upfront. The cost estimator’s, determining a patient’s deductible in real time tools available today do not accurately calculate the patient balance prior to the claim being submitted. The government and insurance companies must ease the regulations on collecting directly from patient’s at the time of service, for both in and out of network coverage.This is the biggest burden facing provider’s, the minute a patient walks out of the office the probability of collecting balances drops to 62%.” – Vinod Gidwani
I was one of the lucky few who signed up for the ACA before this year. How? I had a pre-existing condition and had been dropped from my previous plan and no one else would insure me. I was able to find coverage via the Pre-existing Condition Insurace Plan (PCIP), implemented in 2010 shorty after the ACA was passed. – Jennifer Sky
“Last year we made the decision for my wife to reduce her hours to part time. We have been purchasing health insurance, through her employer under a cobra plan. Our Premiums for medical and dental per month were $ 827 with a $ 700 deductible per person for my wife and I, (were both 56 years old) a emergency room co-pay of $ 150, and a doctor visit co-pay of $ 25. After the Obama Care… Our premiums went up to $ 935 a month and co-pays raised to $ 1500 per person, our emergency co-pay went to $ 250, and doctor visits went to $ 35. We were forced to drop our dental coverage to reduce our premiums to $ 800 an month but still have the larger out of pocket expenses. I went to an exchange broker, but found that the plans offered under the Obama Care were higher yet and with higher deductibles! Thank You Mr. President for making my retirement planning more affordable:(” – Rick Taylor
“My coverage is better, less expensive. I’m not worried about my kids ADHD, being kicked off a really expensive plan that didn’t cover their medication or preventative care anyway. I have peace of mind letting them play sports today.” – Chris Peterson
“My policy was canceled at the end of last year because it didn’t meet the criteria with new guidelines. The new silver plan was comparable to what I had currently. The problem is the cost is almost 50 percent higher.” – Dev Misir
“I quit my practice of nearly 18 years, at least in part due to the coming of obamacare. I found a different avenue to practice medicine which I believe will allow me to avoid many of the onerous rules and over regulation of the practice of medicine which I see slowly destroying many of my colleagues and allied health care workers. I now devote my practice time entirely to the patient rather than spending almost half of my time on meaningless documents I used to have to fill out to justify what I do and why.” – Joel Shumacher
You can tell us your personal experience with the new health care law by filling out the form below. We will continue to publish some of the responses here. Please include your contact information if you wish to be reached for follow-up reporting. We look forward to hearing your side of this story as the year progresses.