Better insurance: She went from high premiums to peace of mind

Just as the nation was hit with the Great Recession in 2008, Lola Peters lost her job at Macy’s, in the marketing department’s IT section. She was 58 at the time.

Flickr photo by attila acs

Lola Peters saw her savings drained by health insurance costs

Over the next few years, she learned exactly how health insurance can drain your bank account.

She kept her health coverage for 18 months, by paying for COBRA out of her savings.

“Truth is, I probably was eligible for Medicaid for a long time. I just didn’t want to do it. I wanted to get by on my own,” said Peters.

Out of the frying pan, into …

When she couldn’t afford expensive COBRA, she paid $408 a month premiums to Group Health for an individual plan with high deductibles.

“Between the out-of-pocket expense limit and the deductible limit, I had to spend $15-16,000 before my insurance would kick in,” Peters explained. “I was paying premiums and [also] having to pay for every medical thing I went through.”

That arrangement took its toll on Peters’ savings. She job-hunted and tried to start an e-learning company. Eventually she opted for early retirement.

“In October, I caught this awful cold that is going around, and it turned into bronchial asthma. I was home and unable to do anything for six weeks. I went to the doctor and had all sorts of tests run—and I am still paying for it. The cost was close to $1,000. And I had to pay every penny of it because I hadn’t met my deductible.”

Healthplanfinder to the rescue

Shortly after, Peters decided to try using Washington Healthplanfinder.org. She found she qualified for the state’s free Apple Health program — and to select a plan where she could keep her doctor.

Meanwhile, Peters learned her previous individual plan would have jumped to $578 a month premiums this year, which, she said bluntly, “I would not have been able to afford.”

As for any technological challenges with the website, they didn’t phase her.

“I always knew there would be glitches because it’s technology. I have been part of the technology field and part of rolling out systems. I wasn’t particularly surprised or frustrated by it,” Peters said.

For anyone who gets stuck on the website, the first stop is the toll-free help line, 1-855-923-4633, or find in-person assisters and brokers.

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