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Thursday, 13 February 2014 00:00

Affordable Care Act: Oklahoma family unable to secure insurance with Obamacare, Medicaid expansion

Written by  Scripps Media, Inc
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The Lovins family hopes they've found their lifeline.

Their desperate search for insurance led them to Healthcare.gov, the site for the government's Affordable Care Act and the required health insurance.

There are likely few who need it more than the Lovins family.

Stephanie suffers from a rare autoimmune disorder.  Her husband Rowdy has pulmonary embolisms, blocked arteries in his lungs.

"It just makes you want to cry most the time," said Rowdy. "It's scary."

Neither of them can work.

Their only income is Rowdy's social security disability and food stamps--barely enough for the couple and their two children to live.

"I just felt like we were falling flat on our faces, literally," said Stephanie.

With no insurance and both of them in need of doctors and specialists, the family hopes Obamacare can finally save them.

Right now, Soonercare covers the children but the Lovins hope to find their insurance on Healthcare.gov.

"Some friends of mine got approved and theirs was $5 a month for Obamacare," said Stephanie.

Unfortunately, the website shows that the Lovins' insurance would be much more.

The lowest cost option is nearly $300 a month with co-pays of $75 a visit.  That's more than the Lovins can afford.

"I'm not asking for free insurance.  We can afford some insurance and I'm willing to pay to get better doctors," said Stephanie.

Desperate for help, the Lovins contacted 2NEWS and we directed them to the Obamacare experts at the Morton Comprehensive Health Center in north Tulsa.

"The poorest of the poor in Oklahoma can buy insurance, but the premiums are outrageous and they can't afford to," said Grace Burke, Morton supervisor of certified counselors.

In many states, the Lovins would be covered by Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, but in Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin opted out of the expansion, leaving the Lovins and many others in an Obamacare black hole.

"The original problem is that Oklahoma didn't expand Medicaid because there would have been no question about whether they were covered," said Burke. "They would have been qualified for Medicaid."

The governor's office tells 2NEWS in a statement, "We have chosen not to expand Medicaid because of the tremendous cost associated with that expansion (more than $800 million in the next 10 years). In fact, Medicaid costs are already ballooning for the state and straining our state budget without any expansion."

However, the statement does not mention that the federal government offered to pay for all of Oklahoma's Medicaid expansion, at least initially.

"Oh I'm aggravated," said Stephanie.

The Lovins called the Obamacare hotline repeatedly looking for another solution. Unfortunately, the hotline call-takers follow a precise script that doesn't account for the Lovins' complicated and unique situation. "They ask you the right questions. The same questions I was asking them, but they don't delve any deeper," said Burke.

To get reasonable rates with Obamacare, you must have taxable income. The Lovins have none.

Link to original article from KJHR

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