Blake Pooler: Finally insured, for $160 a month

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Name: Blake Pooler

Age: 34

Location: Augusta

Insurance in 2014: None

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Blake Pooler found health insurance because of Hulu.

A self-employed carpenter, he’d checked out insurance before, but he always found the prices “unrealistic” — $500, $600 a month — to cover him alone. He just couldn’t justify the expense.

“If I had to go to the hospital, it would have been cheaper for me to pay for the hospital bill than it would have been to pay insurance all year long,” he said.

Then, a few weeks ago, Pooler was watching TV on the website Hulu when an ad popped up. You might be eligible for health insurance, it said. Plans are affordable, $40 a month and up.

“That’s what grabbed my attention,” Pooler said.

He didn’t know about the Affordable Care Act, didn’t know what his options were on the ACA marketplace, didn’t know what, if any, help he could get paying for insurance.

A call and a visit to Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care and he was signed up for a $350-a-month plan that, with subsidy, will cost him about $160 a month.

His rationale suddenly flipped. 

“Even if I go to the hospital once — and being a carpenter, who knows what could happen to me — it’ll be cheaper to pay for the year (of insurance) than it will be to pay the hospital bill,” he said.

Pooler has now set his sights on getting insurance for his girlfriend. They’re expecting a baby in March — just weeks after she turns 26 in February and will age off the insurance her mother gets through her job. A comparable plan would run her $800 a month.

“Which is absolutely insane,” Pooler said.

She can’t afford that, but neither can she afford to pay for the baby’s delivery and their hospital stay without insurance. Pooler thought Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care and the ACA might be able to help her, too.

“We’re going . . . to the Augusta office to get a plan set up for her so we can get that rolling,” he said.

ACA 201 Online: A one-year checkup on how the ACA is doing in Maine and a subsidy calculator can be found at SunJournal.com/ACA201

Profiles of Mainers who bought health insurance through the ACA marketplace:

You’ve seen how the Affordable Care Act affected other Mainers in 2014. How about you? Good, bad or neutral — share your ACA stories

Resources:

Affordable Care Act 101: We break down the ACA, what it does and what it requires you to do.

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