November 19th, 2013
04:34 PM ET
1 year 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. Anonymous

    What a train wreck. No kid that can hardly pay car insurance is going to buy this crap. No middle class person will be buying a house with insurance costs factored into the Debit to Income Ratio, and no one besides the people this law was made to protect will sign up cause the fine can't be enforced unless you receive a refund; (Hence change exemptions on w-2... Fixed)

    November 19, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  2. Christopher

    Surprisingly, this is actually what the administration wants. It'll give them more if a reason to justify single payer, universal health insurance. I can almost hear it now: "ACA didn't work. But we can't stop and give up on the middle class, so we need to move forward".

    November 19, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Willy100

    FIRST OFF – I think that this STORY tells a LOT about HOW the US Prez reads speeches that are written by writers – and this "culture" of always giving "one off" examples as if they are the NORM – ?!! – – WHY give useless examples – JUST TELL the FACTS AS THEY ARE – ? ? !!! – – We have a need for more Health Care Reform – – and so far we have Yet to have anything that improves QUALITY / SERVICE or COST – – But let's keep working on it !

    November 19, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  4. SirLordBaltimore

    Cold hard facts proving that this law is an absolute faiilure that hurts the people that it was intended to help = "GOP garbage" according to the Obama apologists.

    You might as well stick your fingers in your ears and scream "NEENER NEENER NEENER! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" for the next few years because there are going to be A LOT more stories like this coming through the pike.

    November 19, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  5. txsocref

    As anyone considered re-naming the ACA to UIA – Unaffordable Insurance Act?

    November 19, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  6. Smart guy

    You are correct Anonymous, the Republican plan is non exsistant because ACA is totally partison. Their plan got shutdown time and time again in congress years ago. And Gurgyl you are correct too! GOP garbage, Dems need to fix their glitches on the state sites as well as the Federal site and move on so everyone can pay more for their socialist healthcare coverage. Boy, that CNN reposting articles, kinda reminds me of how MSNBC totally distorts the truth by only allowing part of a conversion then cutting out part of the conversation to only allow what they want it to say, but not the truth. Totally biased.

    November 19, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. DiverDave

    Instead of cash for clunkers, which has now been shown to be a worthless venture, now it's cash for a clunker called Obama Care. This program only hurts the very people Obama said he would help during his campaign, the middle class. Now this poor woman will have to pay the fine, but cannot afford to buy insurance. Not a day goes by that yet a new situation arises. Don't forget, 90% of all people were insured when the Dems hurriedly past this program. Now because of it 6 million more people are not insured due to the policies being cancelled.

    November 19, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. tom l

    @Data,
    You might want to read the comments a little closer. Either there has been an explosion of sockpuppet hiring or......

    On a serious note, I'd like your thoughts on this story, though. How many times has Obama or some democrat brought out a story like this to show how good the ACA is working? Countless. You can't possibly say this isn't journalism when the very person they bring out to show the success of the ACA has a nightmare experience that the other side said would happen? The story might be a bummer for you but perhaps the incredible irony of it all might wake you up a bit from your liberal slumber. :) Come to the libertarian side!! The water's warm. :)

    November 19, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  9. Ron

    It's a mess. Perhaps the biggest domestic issue mess since the Draft. If Obama steps back and rebuilds it from square 1 then it might prove a positive if dine with competence. However, band aids and string will mire the economy in the muck.

    November 19, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. A Garcia

    I feel bad for this Woman's child but she should've done her homework and realized that this ACA is a bunch of crap. This is reality hitting you in the face and it sucks. Life is not fair sometimes and you can't TAKE from others just to make yourself feel better. Time for a repeal!!

    November 19, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    It's time for Obama to vacate the White House. If he was the head of a large corporation, say CEO, he would have been fired for having his head buried in the ground, and for his arrogant and most pompous attitude about what he thinks is right for the people (Board Members) of this Country who unfortunately were swayed by his so called charisma. That charisma has evaporated into outer space for sure.

    November 19, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. Robert Barnett

    I have no insurance... We can't afford to pay 75% of our income for it and live... My doctor ordered an MRI to diagnose the double vision and weakness I have been having on my left side.. The MRI with contrast fee without insurance was over $2100.00... The insurance companies are billed $250.00 for the same thing... There is no such thing as free market healthcare. The Hospitals and the insurance companies are in this together. All we are paying for is another group of insurance CEO's to make millions a year. The hospitals jack their fees to make you NEED insurance. BAN health insurance and fix most of the problems!

    November 19, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. roachstaugustine

    Lex,Lies, and Video Tape – Obama Style.

    November 19, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  14. Bob, NY

    It doesn't matter what this president does, these political yo yo's will naysay it! The man said he wasn't perfect, but that he is trying very hard to better our nation against very negative obstruction. Instead of just bashing, come up with some CONSTRUCTIVE critisism that will better our people. Most of my military veteran family members are rolling over in their graves as they watch what these people, that call their selves American, are doing to our country. For what? ...greed? religion? power? anger? illiterate? What kind of future are we leaving our heirs?

    November 19, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  15. Ahhh Sheit Midrauers

    The ACA is not that great and the Republican idea (which is nothing, oh wait, Obamacare is a Republican idea) not any better. How about a real practical idea, single payer, which had proven to be much better than our system. But, Americans are too dumb to get that.

    November 19, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. Iamnotfooled

    Battaille added that she expects insurance companies and other issuers will need to test the government's technical fixes within their own systems and then begin using the direct-enrollment process "in the coming days."

    If it's functioning properly, customers using "direct enrollment", should be able to go directly to an insurance company's website to learn about plan offerings. They would then be referred to Healthcare.gov to determine their eligibility for a federal tax credit and then directed back to the company site to purchase a plan.

    November 19, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  17. DJG

    Honestly this sounds to me like the insurance lobby won the president. If you think about it, the ACA forces everyone to get insurance . . . so now the insurance companies are just going to start raking in the money for all the people which never got insurance before, this is only going to raise insurance premiums IMHO, what incentive do the insurance companies have to lower rates when they are most likely doubling their money intake. Sure, they will be competing for your dollars, but not for a few years as there is no need to compete. Another thing is this really doesnt address the real issue with affordable healthcare, the cost of the care itself. If it didnt cost the price of a nice home for a surgery or to have a child, people wouldne need to have as much coverage. On top of all of this, my wife's company and my company insurance have changed so drastically (again to benefit the ins companies) so there are no more copays. Everything is now OOP until we hit our deductibles, so now the ins companies don't even have to pay anything AT ALL until the deductible is hit . . . so if I get sick, i am paying $100 plus to see my doctor or going to urgent care (meaning I am probably just not going to go at all). This is all just a huge insurance money grab.

    November 19, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. Eileen

    The White House has offered to help this woman personally. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be that she is now the Obamacare public poster child? And are all Americans negatively impacted by this law going to get the same personal attention from the White House?

    November 19, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. joe

    We can all agree that changes need to be made.

    Some of us want to make it better, some of us want to tear it down and leaves tens of million of people w/o access to insurance.

    It's hard to believe the latter exist, but they do.

    November 19, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  20. VJ

    Why can't Obama has not included public option, he can do right now which will fix Obama care and cost will come down very much...

    November 19, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  21. northerstar

    People get sick; young people break a leg or an arm skiing, etc.People need health insurance otherwise they end up in emergency rooms & the taxpayers end up paying the bills, or the hospitals writes-off the loss and everyone else pays higher hospital costs. Health insurance should not be considered an un-necessary expense. As a nation, we are doing a terrible job figuring out how to pay for it.

    November 19, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  22. upressplay

    I don't know what everyone is complaining about. The new policies are much better, and more affordable. You just have to go to your state's Blue Cross or Blue Shield site. As low as $155 a month. And a great PPO with $0 deductible for $345. That's the best rates I've seen in years.

    November 19, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. JohnAB1

    Well, the Republicans should just come up with some alternative. Just let the ACA go it's natural course. The Democrats will be too busy trying to put out the fire and apologize for all of the people that have lost their coverage.

    If the GOP can offer something else, people will vote for that "something else".

    No point in beating a dead horse on ACA. It was only a grand experiment on the American public.

    November 19, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. ObjectiveGuy

    This president is a complete failure, just like slightly under half of us have known since he first started campaigning in 2006. A puppet, with his strings being controlled by George Soros and his One World Order proponents. Obama claims that he is the hero of the middle class, however his policies do nothing but HURT the middle class. Why do you think this is? He wants to move past the train wreck that is Obamacare and take us to a single payer, government run system, which has been his intent all along. In the meantime, he is bankrupting the country, and causing lower and middle class "folks" to become more and more dependent on the government for their very survival, which comprises the vast majority of our population. In the meantime, government gets bigger, more powerful, and more abusive of our rights, until we have a true Socialist society, just like his puppet master, George Soros, wants. PLEASE tell me that we have seen and heard enough, and that we are smart enough to see through his lies, and that we have the backbone to fight for democracy and for our American values. Unless we do, this nation will become another failed nation, much like Greece.

    November 19, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  25. HARM

    Gee, what a surprise. The President's Free Market Heritage Foundation designed, insurance industry-friendly plan isn't actually working out too well for actual working class people. I'm shocked!

    And yet, he is being relentlessly attacked on the right for pushing this "Marxist" plan of "socialized" medicine on people, even though this plan could not be further form "socialism" if it tried. Meanwhile, simply giving everyone the option of buying into Medicare would have created NONE of these hassles and covered EVERYONE. And it would have done so affordably, simply by eliminating the FICA tax cap on millionaires & billionaires.

    But Medicare-for-all would have been far too "socialistic" for this "Marxist" President promoting his free market plan.

    November 19, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
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