How Obamacare Affects Retirees: Jean Wentzel

Sophie Novack
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sophie Novack
Sept. 26, 2013, 4:15 p.m.

A car wreck a few months ago left Jean Wentzel and her hus­band un­harmed but shaken about be­ing without af­ford­able in­sur­ance to pro­tect against the un­ex­pec­ted. “It spooks you, be­cause you know you could walk out your door and something totally out of con­trol could hap­pen, even if you’ve done all the right things your­self.”

Jean, 63, and her hus­band, Roy, 64, re­tired re­cently and live in Colum­bus, Ohio. Both worked for large tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions com­pan­ies and moved around a fair amount for their jobs. Jean worked for AT&T for 22 and a half years; she in­ten­ded to stay the 25 re­quired to qual­i­fy for in­sur­ance after re­tire­ment, un­til the of­fice she worked in closed. She and Roy, who are too young for Medi­care, are cur­rently without re­tire­ment health plans.

Both ex­er­cise fre­quently, and neither is on any kind of med­ic­a­tion. They have worked hard and lived frugally — as Jean says, “done all the right things.” Yet re­tir­ing without em­ploy­er-provided in­sur­ance left them with few choices. Jean is on a private plan that is bey­ond her budget. She has no vis­ion or dent­al cov­er­age and has a $5,500 de­duct­ible, which she doesn’t reach, so she pays for her care out of pock­et. Roy had hip-re­place­ment sur­gery sev­er­al years ago — con­sidered a preex­ist­ing con­di­tion — which has made it im­possible for him to get cov­er­age. In­stead he re­lies on lim­ited vet­er­an’s be­ne­fits, and has seen a doc­tor for only a couple of an­nu­al phys­ic­als and minor is­sues.

Their ex­per­i­ence has made the couple en­thu­si­ast­ic sup­port­ers of the Af­ford­able Care Act. Roy will be 65 — eli­gible for Medi­care — this Decem­ber, a date they’ve been count­ing down to and plan­ning life events around for some time. Jean, a year young­er, can­not wait to shop for a more af­ford­able in­sur­ance plan on Ohio’s ex­change in Oc­to­ber. Without the ACA, “we would have no op­tions be­sides what we have now, oth­er than go back to work in a job with in­sur­ance. But find­ing a job at 63 and 64 at a com­pany that would provide in­sur­ance? I don’t know how easy that would be.”

Jean is bothered by the per­cep­tion that people who don’t have in­sur­ance are un­em­ployed, don’t have money, or don’t want to pay. “There are a lot of people with very val­id reas­ons for need­ing dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to in­sur­ance than what we have now.” She doesn’t mind pay­ing more for in­sur­ance at her age, either, but the prob­lem un­til now has been lim­ited op­tions.

Jean vo­lun­teers with ACA out­reach ef­forts to help oth­ers learn about their in­sur­ance op­por­tun­it­ies un­der the law, and she says the re­sponse has been over­whelm­ingly pos­it­ive. “A lot of people in my com­munity are pas­sion­ate about this,” she says. “We’ve all got a story.”

What We're Following See More »
ORDER REMAINS BLOCKED
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Travel Ban
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals "has upheld the nationwide block of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. ... It upholds the suspension of a revised version of the executive order that the Trump administration crafted to better hold up to legal scrutiny than an earlier version."

Source:
APPEALS COURT IN VIRGINIA
Court Upholds Block On Travel Ban
2 hours ago
BREAKING
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
CHINA OBJECTS
U.S. Destroyer Sails Close to Artificial Chinese Island
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

A Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, one of several such islands at the center of territorial disputes with other nearby nations. The U.S. called it a "freedom of navigation exercise." Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang "said China had lodged stern representations to the U.S over the patrol and that such moves were not conducive to peace and stability in the South China Sea."

Source:
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
5 hours ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login