Utahns With Obamacare Worry What's Next

Jan 16, 2017


Republicans in Congress took the first steps last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act in two procedural votes, and that has Utahns with coverage under the health law worried about what could happen to their insurance.

Cherie Byars is an adjunct professor at Salt Lake Community College and holds down two other part-time jobs, none of which qualify her for work benefits.

 

About a year ago, after a screening showed she had pre-cancerous polyps, she decided to buy a plan on the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchanges, better known as Obamacare.

 

“I was no longer in a place where I could just risk it and go without insurance,” she says.

 

Byars had another reason. Her eldest son has diabetes and needed supplemental coverage beyond what her ex-husband’s health plan could provide.  

 

President-elect Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans have promised to replace the Affordable Care Act, but have so far only taken steps to repeal it. And that scares Byars.

 

“I’m worried about either getting dropped completely from my insurance for having pre-existing conditions, or having to pay a lot more for our premiums...related to those pre-existing conditions for myself and my son.”

 

Byars isn’t alone.

 

“I am scared to death,” says Sonia Joyce, a shipping clerk in Salt Lake, who’s in a similar situation. “I am almost 60 years old, so I’ve got five years left before I qualify for Medicare, if it’s still around. I’m petrified. I really am, I don’t know what I will do.”

 

She’s paying $400 a month with a $1,000 deductible for a silver plan on the exchange, and says while costly, it’s still better than what she could get through private insurance.

 

Both Byars and Joyce want to see the ACA preserved and even expanded to include more people, though they know that’s far fetched with a Republican Congress and White House.

 

Republicans have vowed to keep the more popular elements of the Affordable Care Act, including the pre-existing conditions provision, but have yet to release plan specifics.