-Beth Engel, in Ventura County, knows the tax penalty for those who don’t have insurance would be much cheaper than paying for premiums. The 32-year-old mother of a nearly 3-year-old daughter, describes herself as among the early supporters of the ACA. “I was very hopeful" when the Affordable Care Act passed, she said. "I thought, 'Wow! I can have a job that I love that doesn’t’ necessarily have insurance but I get insurance affordably.'" Engel, works part time as a hotel clerk and qualifies for tax subsidies that reduce premiums for her and her toddler to about $200 a month.
But she chose not to buy insurance for herself this year. "I found that the premiums were still very high, and I just couldn’t afford them," says Engel.
Even though now she’s armed with the knowledge she can take the subsidy upfront in the form of a reduced insurance premium each month, she says she's hesitant without thoroughly understanding the plans offered through the state-run marketplace, Covered California.
"Maybe I’m reading these incorrectly," she said, "but it just didn’t make sense, and I thought I’m not going to put money I don’t really have to spend into a program that I don’t really understand."
This story is part of a collaboration which includes Southern California Public Radio , NPR and Kaiser Health News.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Thu, Apr 24 2014