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Local man feels "kinda bad" for subsidy under Obamacare - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Local man feels "kinda bad" for subsidy under Obamacare

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SHREVEPORT, La -

So no big rush after all to get health insurance by Monday's deadline under the Affordable Care Act. It's been extended.

But the push continues to reach the administration's lowered goal of six million enrollees.

Workers with a group "Navigators For A Healthy Louisiana" manned a phone bank in the KTBS 3 studio this week. They

re being paid by the federal government to boost enrollment under the health care law. And they're getting a mix of calls.

"You've got a lot of people who are signing up for it because they don't want a penalty. Others because they've lost insurance," explained Brian Burton.

If you're signing up on the healthcare.gov website, you have more time to decide what to do. Until about mid-April, you can click a box on the site to get an extension. The length of the extension is yet to be determined.

Steve Stewart of Bossier City says he grudgingly signed up for Obamacare because of the penalty.

"We got to the point where it's going to be one percent of my annual pay, which amounted to a decent amount. So we could either throw that away basically, or we can just try it out, see how it's going to work," Stewart says of the mandated insurance.

So far, so good, Stewart says. He went with a Platinum Plan. He and his wife have no deductible, $35 co-pays for doctor visits, and $7 prescriptions. The plan would normally carry a $900 monthly premium. But the Stewarts got a $560 subsidy. So they pay just $340 dollars a month.

But Stewart doesn't feel good about that.

"Kind of bad that I have to rely on the large discount that I get because where's that money coming from? It's not coming out of my pocket? It's coming out of someone else's pocket," the self-described conservative says.

Stewart also doesn't think the law can be sustained financially. Republicans have so far been powerless to change the law. But it'll be a huge issue in this year's U.S. Senate race in Louisiana, where Democrat Mary Landrieu has been labeled vulnerable for her support of the law.

Her likely Republican challenger, Baton Rouge Congressman Bill Cassidy, says Obamacare should be replaced with a system of tax credits to let people afford to buy their own insurance.

"We need to give the patient the choice as opposed to giving all that choice to a government bureaucrat," Cassidy says.

Despite it's unpopularity, Sen. Landrieu has said she'd support the Affordable Care Act all over again. And she's criticized Gov. Bobby Jindal for not expanding Medicaid to cover more Louisianians under the law.

In addition to the six million enrolled under the ACA, the Obama administration has said another five million have gained coverage through expanded Medicaid. And three million people up to age 26 are still insured on their parents' plans, under the law's provisions.

But a study by the consulting firm McKinsey and company backs up what many critics have said -- that most of those signing up were previously insured, but saw their plans canceled because of the law's regulations or they're switching plans.

This company's study this month says only 27 percent of Affordable Care Act enrollees were previously uninsured. It also says that just over half of those previously uninsured -- 53 percent -- have actually started to pay.

Reports also say only 28 percent of those signing up are younger, healthier Americans who are less costly to cover. That's ten percent short of the administration's goal.

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