The thrill is gone for Jessica Sanford. If the name fails to ring a bell, it’s because Sanford is a bit player in the still-unwinding melodrama that is the Obama presidency. More precisely, she was a prop the president used in his bizarre Rose Garden infomerical on the Affordable Care Act last month in a lame effort to deflect criticism of the botched Healthcare.gov rollout.
Regrettably (for Obama), Sanford, whose email he read aloud as proof that all is well in Obamacare land, is a flesh-and-blood being. She is a single mother living in Washington State and now wishes she had never sent, much less written, the letter.
According to CNN’s Politicalticker blog, the email, which salesman-in-chief Obama read aloud, included such over-the-top ejaculations as “I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to call the doctor for an appointment on January 2nd.” After dutifully recited these hosannahs, the president then turned back to the camera and said with a straight face:
That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. The point is, the essence of the law — the health insurance that’s available to people — is working just fine.
Then came the letter, this time addressed to Sanford. It was from the Washington State health exchange, whose sad duty it was to inform her that the government had miscalculated her eligibility for a tax credit. Her monthly insurance premium for the same “gold” plan she had signed up for had risen from $198 a month to $280 a month. Sanford was frustrated but decided to shrug off. She purchased the new plan, thinking everything was fine.
Then came the second letter reporting another glitch. A “system error” resulted in some “applicants qualify[ing] for higher than allowed health insurance premium tax credits.” The letter included an apology, along with an upwardly revised premium quote of $390 a month — almost twice what her original policy cost her — and with a higher deductible. In addition, her plan status had been downgraded from “gold” to “silver.” (A cheaper “bronze” plan, Sanford said, was available at $324 per month, with a higher deductible still, but even this was beyond Sanford’s budget.)
The third letter was the final straw. It read, as only machine-generated government letters can:
Your household has been determined eligible for a Federal Tax Credit of $0.00 to help cover the cost of your monthly health insurance premium payments.
Sanford grimly notes that she can no longer afford health insurance at all. She felt impelled to write a letter of her own again. This time, however, the missive took the form of a post at Washington HealthPlanFinder’s Facebook page:
Wow. You guys really screwed me over. Now I have been priced out and will not be able to afford the plans you offer. But, I get to pay $95 and up for not having health insurance. I am so incredibly disappointed and saddened. You majorly screwed up.
Sanford, CNN notes, is an Obama supporter (she voted for him twice) and blames the mess she inherited on the state of Washington’s online marketplace (more’s the pity for her), not the White House, though she regrets Obama’s mentioning her in his October 21 speech.