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Friday Conversation: On Obamacare, Texans Took Many Sides

Lauren Silverman

How did Obamacare affect North Texans in 2013? It depends on whom you ask.

As part of KERA’s Making The Choice serieswe’ve been brought you the health insurance stories of everyday folks across Dallas-Fort Worth. Here’s three from 2013 that stood out:

1. An Allen family gets out of the costly state-run insurance pool


The Flood family of Allen, which had to dive into the state-run insurance pool due to pre-existing health conditions, had been spending $3,000 a month for coverage. Under Obamacare, the family’s policy will nosedive to under $1,000 a month. Bob Flood was able to sign up online right away.

A decade ago, right after he retired, Flood learned he had cancer and a kidney would have to be removed. Just one month after he lost his kidney, he lost his health insurance. He’s been in the Texas Health Insurance Pool ever since – but he’ll be able to drop his costly policy now that Obamacare is here.

Don’t even talk with Flood about repealing Obamacare.

“What do you want to repeal?” he said. “Do you want to repeal the pre-existing clause? That would mean cancer survivors like me couldn’t get insurance.”

2. A Garland woman says ‘no’ to Obamacare

Jackie Sawicky of Garland is young, healthy and uninsured. But she thinks the health care overhaul is a failure. “I feel like I’m being penalized for being healthy and for taking care of myself,” Sawicky says.

She’s been uninsured for years. She’s so sick of the for-profit health care industry that she’d decided to pay the $95 fine rather than sign up for health care. She says that health care isn’t affordable when you add in deductibles and co-pays.

“You know what, I love Texas,” Sawicky said. “And when people say you don’t like it, get out. You know what? I’m a real conservative because I believe in saving the planet and saving each other.”

3. Obamacare means cheaper, easier healthcare access for Choctaw Nation family

Jeff Riley of North Richland Hills had wanted to get health insurance for his family – his wife and their three kids, including an infant. But he couldn’t afford the premiums. Since Jeff and his kids are Choctaw Nation members, they have access to health care, but the nearest Indian Health Service hospital is in Oklahoma.

In North Texas, Native Americans have even lower rates of health insurance than the general population. And although they’re exempt from the Obamacare penalty if they choose not to sign up, Riley and his wife, Maxine, began checking since it went up on Oct. 1.  In Dec. Jeff Riley finally completed the application.

“My policy is nuts,” Riley said. “With the subsidy my premium is $1.80 a month. Then there are no other cost(s). At all. I really couldn’t believe it.”

Riley’s wife has a policy that is a bit more expensive, a premium of $23.00 a month, and a deductible between $500 and $1000.

“It is leaps and bounds over what was available before the ACA,” Riley said.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.