Story by Bara Vaida
Photos by Ty Wright Photography
Colleen, 54, didn’t want to retire from her job as a high school accounting and drama teacher in 2012. She did, though, to get the maximum pension benefits from her 30 years in the classroom.
When she left, Colleen was able to buy health insurance through the school district’s retirement system for herself, her husband, Rick, and her four children, all of whom are under the age of 26.
“On Oct. 1, I can compare plans. Maybe I am getting the best deal now. I don’t know.”
Colleen, who lives in Grove City, Ohio, is an energetic woman. Although she recently injured her shoulder and Rick has high blood pressure, they're in otherwise good health. She estimates that about 30% of her family’s expenses are connected to health care services. Fortunately, Colleen has saved money to cover them, and Rick still works, but his company doesn’t have health insurance.
Colleen is interested in Ohio's new health insurance Marketplace because her premiums are going up to $1,000 a month next year. She hopes that in the Marketplace, she’ll be able to compare benefits and costs between all the plans and find something less expensive with better coverage.
Update: Sept. 23
Colleen is eagerly awaiting Oct. 1, when Ohio is expected to publish information about premiums for plans in the state Marketplace. She is checking healthcare.gov several times a week to glean any information she can and remains hopeful that she'll be able to find a low-cost plan for her family. She is having a hard time understanding how the tax credits work, but she thinks she may not be eligible for them because she is working again and her income may go over the threshold where the credits kick in.
Update: Oct. 8
On Oct. 1, Colleen went online to create an account in her state's Marketplace and explore her insurance options, but she wasn't able to get through. After a couple of days, she called the 800 number and was referred to an "advanced resolution specialist" who is supposed to call her back.
Colleen expected computer glitches, but she was upset that the system couldn't verify her identification. Despite the delay, she expects that she'll get through soon and start shopping for insurance.
Update: Jan. 23
Colleen finally was able to compare plans on Healthcare.gov "after much hassle."
After weighing the pros and cons of new plans with her current plan, she chose to stay with her current plan because it has lower out-of-pocket costs.
"All in all, I'm still glad I looked into it. I can now see how my insurance stacks up against others and know I have access to insurance if I should need it."