November 19th, 2013
04:34 PM ET
5 months ago

Bad news for woman cited as Obamacare success story

Updated 2:53 p.m., 11/25/2013

(CNN) - Jessica Sanford, the Washington State woman cited by President Barack Obama as an Obamacare success story, received more bad news Tuesday. Officials with the state's health exchange checked on her case and said she will not qualify for assistance in buying insurance.

Sanford had written the White House last month after purchasing what she thought was affordable health care coverage on the Washington state insurance exchange.

Part of her message was read by the President at a Rose Garden event at the a White House on October 21.

Woman cited by President as Obamacare success story frustrated by sign up process

But in the days that followed that presidential shout-out, Sanford received letters from Washington state's insurance exchange, notifying her she did not qualify for a tax credit she was originally told she would be getting.

After looking into Sanford's matter, officials with the exchange admit they made a mistake calculating her benefits, along with those for thousands of other Washington state residents.

"The Exchange would like to sincerely apologize to Jessica Sanford and all those affected in Washington State by this error," Washington Health Benefit Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka said in a statement provided to CNN.

"Unfortunately, Jessica Sanford is one of the individuals who is affected by this tax credit miscalculation," he added.

A 48 year old self-employed court reporter and single mother of a teenage son with ADHD, Sanford said it's now unlikely she will be able to afford to buy insurance.

"I'm not getting insurance unless I pay more money than I'm willing to pay," Sanford said.

"I've always been in this middle place. I make too much but I don't make enough."

Sanford said after her story appeared on CNN she was contacted by a person who identified herself as a spokeswoman in the White House press office.

Sanford said the White House official offered to help "in any way."

Asked about Sanford's story White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration regrets the mix-up.

"We are certainly sorry as we can be that Jessica is one of the folks that has been affected by this," Carney said.

Sanford, an Obama and health care reform supporter, said "yes, I do" when asked if changes need to be made to the Affordable Care Act to help people like her.

Sanford did receive a small measure of good news when she was told by an insurance broker her 15-year-old son is eligible for Medicaid. However, she said she will remain uninsured.


Filed under: Healthcare • President Obama
soundoff (345 Responses)
  1. Ralter

    Well... this isn't working apparently. The old system was working even worse. Now what do we do? Force conservatives to cry uncle and give into what the rest of the civilized world has done, or finally admit there is no more middle class anymore and let three-quarters of the population be turned into serfs? Partisanship on both sides seems to have created a No Man's Land of any sort of middle ground.

    November 20, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  2. maggie

    it's going to be a while before it all gets straightened out but fortunately I think people (from both sides) are being vocal....hopefully the white house is listening to what people want/don't want to make it work

    November 20, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  3. misscee

    I don’t quite understand why this is “bad” news. This woman will have to pay more than she thought she would have had to do. However, she will pay less than she would have had to pay before Obamacare. Her son will be able to stay on her insurance until he is 26. He cannot be turned down because of his preexisting condition. Her son’s mental health issues are covered. It’s not all bad. .... just saying.

    November 20, 2013 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  4. Dar

    What this lady makes over 65,000 a year. That's the only way she doesn't get a tax credit for the health insurance. If you make that much then I feel she needs to pay for health insurance.

    November 20, 2013 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  5. Erik

    "I'm not getting insurance unless I pay more money than I'm willing to pay," Sanford said.

    Willing to pay? Health insurance is expensive. If you get it through your employer, it's income. You don't get health insurance so you can visit the doctor when you have the flu. That's a minor expense. You get health insurance so you can go to an oncologist if you develop cancer. Like your car insurance, you want to hope you never have to substantially use it. If you do need it, you better hope it's good insurance that provides real coverage because your life depends on it.

    That seems like an important expense to me. I've always been willing to make whatever sacrifice it takes.

    November 20, 2013 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  6. James

    Thanks again 0bama !

    November 20, 2013 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  7. jce3227

    I'm in the same boat as she is in, I live in the south and they didn't accept the medicare expansion, and I don't make enough to buy one of those plans, or qualify for a tax break. I have said it all along, all Obamacare does is give people that probably could have had insurance anyway another option, sometimes cheaper, sometimes more expensive, depending on their situation.

    November 20, 2013 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  8. rewster

    Now the LIE has teeth.

    November 20, 2013 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  9. jce3227

    I'm in the same boat as she is in. I live in the south and they didn't accept the Medicaid expansion, so I can't afford one of those policies either, and I don't qualify for the tax breaks either. All Obamacare does in the entire south is give the privileged few yet another option, it doesn't help the poor, or those in the middle class at all.

    November 20, 2013 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  10. rewster

    Didn't Nancy GUMP Pelosi put it succinctly: "ACA is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you'll get, till you pass it".?

    November 20, 2013 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  11. ERClark

    This "story" seems to be missing a lot of crucial facts. For example, she says she won't buy insurance if it costs more than "she's willing to pay"? Well, what is she willing to pay? Is it unreasonable? Did the state of Washington "miscalculate" by five bucks or five hundred? This "update" is incomplete. Or worse – this "update" is tailor made to draw a negative conclusion by omitting important facts.

    Finish the story, CNN, then post it.

    November 20, 2013 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  12. chuck

    Ok CNN, How much more evidence do you need to see that this guy is completely incompetent and unfit to run the country? How many more examples before you do your job for real and report the facts? This country can not hold up much longer if you refuse to do your job and expose this fraud.

    November 20, 2013 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  13. Shamrock Rancher

    This is excellent! Finally exhausted everything that could possibly go wrong! The only thing I haven't heard the weasel say is "Do over"!

    November 20, 2013 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  14. Hardworker

    It's no one's fault but her own that she "makes too much but doesn't make enough". A self employed court reporter? Really? This isn't Obama's fault...this is her fault.

    November 20, 2013 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  15. Roberto

    Understand what she is going thru however many individuals on that position also claim not to be able to afford one hundred dollars a month but pay $170 in cable, $150 for an iphone plan and internet another sixty and an IPad. On top of that they can afford to go to the casino and play every week.I think a detailed list of all the bills should be requested here...By the way...who pays for her emergency room care when she gets sick??? yeah...you and me!!!!

    November 20, 2013 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  16. Burbank

    Time to just socialize health care except for the most expensive stuff that isn't likely to work anyway, such as terminal cancer discovered too late, keeping Granny plugged in after she is comatose, or possibly not plugging her in to start with, etc.

    My European friends say that not everyone having access to health care in their countries is unthinkable. If we end these wars, stop all this foreign aid (with the exception of helping with natural disasters like the Phillipine hurricane), and cut out all the pork projects, there is more than enough money in the coffers for everyone to be taken care of.

    Obamacare is nothing but taxes called something else. Enough! If people want to plug Granny in and keep her that way as a vegetable, spend a king's ransom on surgery, kemo and radiation treating cancer when it's obviously too late and so on, let them buy insurance for it. For the rest of us, nomal, sane health care will do, thank you.

    November 20, 2013 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  17. AntiDjinn

    Wow. You would think after touting her as a success story they would totally make sure it worked out for her, even if they had to do it under the table. Instead, what was cited as an example becomes a dire warning and makes the administration look even more inept.

    November 20, 2013 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  18. tim

    The Govts of the world are killing us all very fast

    November 20, 2013 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  19. John

    They... this women, and people like her voted for democratic leadership. Well.... here comes your leader now. A man/child, who would rather play golf, then resolve the issues. I hope someone learns a lesson... but I doubt it.

    November 20, 2013 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  20. Elliott Carlin

    this clown is making Bush look like Einstein.

    November 20, 2013 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  21. Tacitus Talks

    In 1972, Ben Stein an aide to President Nixon set up a plan to pay everyone uninsured a government check to buy health insurance. It was sent to Congress and Ted Kennedy led the charge to kill the proposal. Had it happened, the Republicans would have done away of the with uninsured. As a conservative, I could live with this.

    November 20, 2013 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  22. Wade

    Protecting Obama is CNN'S job 1! Why else would they place this story here instead of the front page where people can comment on it.

    November 20, 2013 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  23. Gail D.

    Please Reply to this: Do you make too much to qualify for Government programs like HEAP, OBAMACARE, SNAP, WELFARE, etc., but not ernough to afford to get by ? LET'S HEAR FROM AMERICA !

    November 20, 2013 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  24. Gail D.

    Deteriorating America – Once the Wealthiest Nation in the World, with the Highest Standard of Living. Now, homeless? in need of home repairs that can't be afforded, renting. Rotten infrastructure. No job, lower paying job than previously held. No health care; can't afford Obama care. Not eating as well as previous years. Sound off America.

    November 20, 2013 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  25. PD

    Uncle Joe,

    There has been some sort of terrible mistake, I was always the most devout and ardent supporter of all your revolutionary policies as I still believe in them today. Why have I been sent to this Gulag? Such were some of the letters sent to Joseph Stalin from the Gulags (prison camps). So Jesse, your child is ill and you lost your health insurance, maybe, just maybe, the hip cool government doesn't give a dime about the poor after all.

    November 20, 2013 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
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