Affordable Care Act opens up possibilities for uninsured

On October 1st, health insurance exchanges will open under the Affordable Care Act. That means millions of people without insurance will have the chance to see if the policies work for them and if they're affordable. Randy, a 54-year-old retired plumber, from Peoria, Ariz., is one of them. He's been without insurance for about a year.

"I have to live off of Social Security income, which just about pays my house payment plus a little more. So we basically rely on my wife for most of the bills. She's a daycare provider at house and she's been doing it for many, many years," says Randy.

Randy's wife has thought about finding another job that would get insurance, but it's been difficult at her age (54). They bring in around $30,000-35,000 a year.


 How do you know if you have good health insurance? Buying health insurance can be intimidating. And with the debut of state health insurance exchanges, it can be confusing trying to figure out the type of plan that you should buy. So how do you know what plan to purchase?


Randy had a leg infection that was so painful he had to retire. He says it's scary to be sick and without insurance.

"I could wind up getting that leg infection again or something similar and wind up back in the hospital," says Randy. "Because of my health situation I should be seeing specialists that I can't afford to go see. And my wife does not get her yearly women's things -- mammograms, Paps, that kind of thing -- because we can't afford for her to go to the doctor and have it done."

Randy has done some research on the possibility of getting insurance through his state's health exchanges, but he's not sure he can afford it.  And he's worried that a cheap plan might not provide the coverage he needs. 

"With our budget, we could probably squeeze out $200 a month," says Randy. "I would like to find an insurance that actually does us some good. I'm not saying I want everybody to pay for our medical bills or pay for my problems. I just want something that will help us. Most people don't understand that not everybody can afford insurance every month, but I would like to have something that will take some of the pressure off of us -- for instance, if I do have to go to the hospital or even if something happens to my wife."


Tell us your story: Are you planning to purchase insurance for the first time -- or the first time in a long time -- through the Affordable Care Act? Leave a comment.

About the author

Lizzie O'Leary is the new host of Marketplace Weekend.

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