Name: Barb Gabri
Insurance for 2014: Employer
Barb Gabri isn’t a fan of the Affordable Care Act. At least she hasn’t seen it help many people — particularly families that earn too much for government assistance but not enough to pay for their own health insurance.
“My heart breaks right down the middle, and I don’t know how to help them,” she said.
A human resources professional for more than 20 years, she now works for a nonprofit health care agency. The organization’s health insurance costs have skyrocketed recently, up 20 percent one year, then 30 percent the next, despite the cost-containment promises of the ACA. To compensate, the organization has slashed the percentage it pays toward health insurance, both for its workers and for their families.
“They were devastated, just like I was. I had people crying, going into the HR office and saying ‘Remove my child from my insurance for next year.’ They don’t qualify for MaineCare because they make $60,000. They don’t qualify for a subsidy [on the ACA marketplace],” she said.
In case some workers could qualify for a subsidy, Gabri’s employer brought in experts to guide them through Healthcare.gov, the ACA insurance marketplace. But the help seemed more confusing than actually helpful. And while some people qualified for subsidies, Gabri discovered a number of them put down the wrong information — such as net pay instead of gross. It’s a difference that could cost those people their subsidy, and their affordable insurance, later on.
“I think that is going to be a fiasco when that all starts to unravel,” she said.
Gabri herself didn’t qualify for a subsidy. She and her husband earn too much.
But they couldn’t afford insurance through her employer anymore, either.
What had cost them $108 per week will, in 2015, cost $183 per week. That’s an additional $300 per month. Plus a higher deductible.
As a part-time, six-days-a-week postal worker, Gabri’s 58-year-old husband doesn’t get help with insurance through work. He’d have to pay for the entire thing himself, and that would cost even more than sharing Gabri’s.
So they made a decision: take him off her insurance and pay the penalty for not being insured in 2015. It’s not a decision they’re happy with, but it’s the only option they can see.
“He’s not insured now. At all,” she said. “We’re rolling the dice.”
She added, “We hope we can figure it out before the February deadline for the ACA [marketplace].”