When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, he declared that "health-care reform is no longer an unmet promise. It is the law of the land." Now, it's time to see whether it works. Starting Oct. 1, millions of Americans who lack medical insurance or buy their own coverage will have their first chance to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare.
My colleagues and I have spent the last month interviewing some of these people, and you can read their stories here. Today, I'll be posting a few profiles of people I spoke with about how their lives might change under the health overhaul.
Two years ago, King Labule lost his health insurance when his father got sick and stopped working. His parents couldn’t afford to buy a plan on their own.
“Right now, I guess I’m just winging it,” said Labule, who is a bouncer at a lounge near Dupont Circle and works as a dishwasher at another restaurant.
So far, he has been lucky; he hasn’t had any serious illnesses. “The only thing that’s happened to me since I’ve been uninsured is I dislocated my thumb,” he said.
Next year, Labule expects to make less than $10,000. That would make him eligible for Maryland’s expanded Medicaid program.
Most state Medicaid programs have traditionally excluded childless adults. But the health-care law called for anyone with an income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $15,400 for an individual or $31,400 for a family of four) to be covered by the Medicaid expansion.
So far, about half of the states and the District have chosen to take part in the expansion.
Labule said he’s eager to enroll. Though healthy, he said, he worries about what would happen if he were in a serious accident.
After his girlfriend got insurance through her school, Labule noted, some of her medical expenses dropped.
“She was paying $250 for a prescription, and now it’s $10,” he said. “She’s pretty stoked.”
- Use this calculator to see what Obamacare will cost you.
- Have Obamacare questions? Wonkblog has 42 answers.