Meet Chad Henderson, the Obamacare enrollee tons of reporters are calling

October 3, 2013
(Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)
(Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

Ask and, apparently, you shall receive.

Just moments after writing a blog post Thursday morning, about the lack of information on Obamacare enrollees, Enroll America reached out with contact information for Chad Henderson, a 21-year-old in Georgia who had successfully enrolled in coverage on the federal marketplace.

It was a little difficult to reach Henderson, mostly because so many other reporters wanted to talk to him. "I'm supposed to talk to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in a half hour," Henderson said. "And The Wall Street Journal is supposed to call."

Luckily, Henderson managed to squeeze me in for a few minutes. He's a student at Chattanooga State University who lives across the state border in Flintstone, Ga. (population: 3,456). He describes himself as a supporter of President Obama who has anxiously awaited Obamacare's rollout.

"I haven't had health insurance for 14 years," Henderson said. "My dad put me on BlueCross BlueShield, but the premiums kept rising, and we dropped it since he wasn't making that much."

Henderson is a part-time worker at a day-care center. He did not qualify for tax credits to purchase health coverage because his income is below the poverty line. Since Georgia is not expanding the Medicaid program, that meant Henderson was essentially responsible for his entire premium.

He logged onto the Web site around midnight on Oct. 1, ready to purchase coverage. Part of his decision was ideological: He wants the health-care law to succeed.

"I've read a few articles about how young people are very critical to the law's success," he told me. "I really just wanted to do my part to help out with the entire process."

The sign-up process took about three hours.

Like other Obamacare shoppers I talked to, Henderson passed the time by watching news coverage of the government shutdown, which was happening at the same time.

"I had to wait like everybody else," he says. "Millions of people apparently got on the Web site. It took me til about 3 a.m. to create an account. That was probably the longest thing. After creating an account and getting logged in, it was pretty smooth sailing."

Henderson purchased a health insurance plan with a $175 monthly premium. While that price does fit in his budget, he was also hoping for a better deal.

"It was a little more than I was expecting," he says. "I like the doctor benefits, but I would have really liked a plan that includes dental and vision, since I have contacts. That kind of stuff I would have preferred."

Henderson excused himself from our conversation when he received a call from another reporter.

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Brad Plumer · October 3, 2013