Federal insurance plan sees large number of Arizona enrollees

April 04, 2012

An increasing number of Arizonans have enrolled in a federal health care plan even as the U-S Supreme Court determines its fate.  Since January, almost 500 people have been accepted into the state’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, a 25-percent jump. KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson profiled a Glendale couple that applied in January and has this update.

State budget cuts ended Bill and June Nelson’s Medicaid coverage last summer.  It covered people with serious medical issues who couldn’t afford their care.  Bill is diabetic and has 22 heart stents. June survived breast cancer but deals with spinal problems.  They waited the required six months without insurance before applying to the federal Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, part of the Affordable Healthcare Act passed by Congress in 2010.  Bill was approved.  His coverage began this week.

 “I’m actually very pleased that this program is in place,” says Bill Nelson.  “It gives me the opportunity to visit doctors I have not been able to see.”

That’s because the Nelsons have to pay out-of-pocket to see Bill’s specialists.  As it is, they had to borrow money to pay the first month of Bill’s $450 premium. 

“So this morning I called,” says June Nelson.  “And yes we do actually have insurance and I took a nice breath of relief.”

Bill Nelson was hospitalized in September 2011 with a toe infection. Bill Nelson was hospitalized in September 2011 with a toe infection. (Photo by Paul Atkinson - KJZZ)

Since losing their Medicaid coverage, the Nelson incurred tens of thousands of dollars in hospital expenses.  Bill had two toe infections, two uncontrollable nose bleeds and a minor heart attack.  While Bill was approved for coverage, June was not.  She can’t afford to see a doctor for the necessary exams.

“When you’re in this position, and many of us are, you try to take these setbacks one day at a time,” says June.  “You try not to take them personally.”  

Bill still might lose his insurance this summer.  The plan could be scrapped depending on how the U-S Supreme Court rules on the Affordable Health Care Act.

“We thought with this program we’d be home clear at least for the next couple of years at least until I get to Medicare age,” says Bill. “And with this going, we are hanging on.”

How long they can hang on is another question.  Before Bill sees any insurance benefits, he must reach a $1,000 deductable in medical bills and a $250 deductable in prescriptions.  

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