Woman with chronic condition finds affordable health plan
Posted March 27
Angier, N.C. — Under the Affordable Care Act, Betty Harmon cannot be charged more for health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
Harmon has ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease that affects the colon. She keeps it under control with prescription medications, but the combination of an anti-inflammatory drug, a steroid and an infusion drug add up to about $8,000 a month.
"If I did not have health insurance, I would not be able to afford my medications," she said.
After Harmon was laid off from her telecommunications job, health insurance was too expensive with her condition. She found coverage through the state's high-risk health insurance pool.
The high-risk pool was eliminated as the Affordable Care Act ordered insurers to provide coverage to people with chronic medical conditions. So, Harmon turned to HealthCare.gov to find new coverage through the federal online marketplace.
"The process was very, very frustrating, from trying to get on to the website to sign up for the health care," she said, noting that she finally went to an insurance agent to get a policy.
She chose a Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina plan that includes her doctors and covers her name-brand prescriptions. Her husband found a plan as well, and they qualified for a $100 monthly subsidy, putting their premium at $424 a month.
"With the medications that I get and the procedures I get, I really can't complain about the price," Harmon said. "If I did not have access to health care and health insurance, I probably would have my colon removed because I wouldn't be able to afford my medications – or I very well could be dead."
Harmon also saves $50 a month on co-payments for her prescriptions after contacting the pharmaceutical companies and asking about programs they sponsor to help pay for the drugs.