Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

March 12, 2014

Glenn Puit: Affordable Care Act causing fear, confusion

TRAVERSE CITY — Celia Anderson is one of the people the Affordable Care Act is supposed to help.

Anderson recently sat in the lobby of the Traverse Health Clinic and waited to see a doctor for a $10 fee. She hoped the clinic that serves the poor in northern Michigan could offer a cure for her dizziness, stomach ache and nausea.

“I think it’s the flu,” a suffering Anderson, 23, said. “It hasn’t been going away.”

Anderson showed up at the clinic because her $8-an-hour job as a cashier in Traverse City leaves her with no options for private health care. The clinic, she said, is critical to her health, and allows her to access doctor visits and donated medical care that otherwise would be out of reach. Anderson wants to get private health insurance but can’t get it despite the new Affordable Care Act.

“When I applied for insurance with Obama, it’s $300-something (a month,)” Anderson said. “I’m just like, ‘There’s no way ... that’s more than my car payment’.”

The huge cost for private health care insurance has Anderson applying for enrollment in Medicaid. There’s no guarantee she’ll get on the Medicaid rolls because the federal government wants more information from her. They want her to provide documentation proving her income, and that’s left Anderson frustrated and facing the unknown for health insurance in the coming months.

“It’s not simple, no matter what,” she said. “Healthcare is a pain.”

The unknown is a fitting analogy for the confusion and fear the Affordable Care Act causes patients and providers in northern Michigan. Leaders of the Traverse Health Clinic said they are optimistic about the long-term affects of the ACA, noting the poor, like Anderson, will have more options for seeing doctors and getting cheaper prescriptions if they get on the Medicaid rolls. Medicaid or private health insurance also will offer a degree of financial protection for the previously uninsured, meaning people are less likely to lose their house and life savings because of a health crisis.

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