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Policy: Entitlements

At the White House: Obamacare success stories that aren't

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Beltway Confidential,White House,Byron York,Barack Obama,Obamacare,President,Health Care,Entitlements

President Obama invited a number of people to stand behind him as he delivered his speech on the state of Obamacare at the White House Monday morning. One of them, Janice Baker, a small business owner from Delaware, introduced the president, and Obama spoke of Baker and the others gathered there as people who have benefited from Obamacare. But after reading the White House-provided descriptions of each of those behind the president, it's clear the administration was stretching to present people who, beyond supporting Obamacare, have actually gained from it in any tangible way.

For example, a Pennsylvania man named Malik Hassan was in the group, and this is the White House description of his situation, in full: "Malik Hassan works at a restaurant in Philadelphia. Hassan, who does not receive coverage through his employer, is looking forward to enrolling for health coverage this fall. He recently used Healthcare.gov. to process his application and is waiting for the options for potential plans in Philadelphia."

So, Hassan is employed, not covered, and has not yet succeeded in finding coverage through Obamacare. That is, in the White House's estimation, an Obamacare success story.

Then there is Nathaniel Hojnacki, who recently finished his schooling. Here is the White House description of his situation, again in full: "Nathaniel Hojnacki recently received his Master's degree at Johns Hopkins University SAIS and is in an employment situation without benefits. Hojnacki recognizes the importance of coverage and is planning to enroll after he explores his coverage options on the DC exchange."

So, Hojnacki has a job, does not have coverage, and is planning to explore finding coverage through Obamacare. Another success story.

Then there is LaJuanna Russell, of Virginia. Here is the White House description of her situation, in its entirety: "LaJuanna Russell is the owner of Business Management Associates, a consulting company in Alexandria, Virginia. Russell says she is proud to offer her employees health insurance but that it can be difficult for a small business. Russell believes that the ACA provides stability for her and her employees and is exploring what new coverage options will be available to her company under the exchanges."

So, Russell owns a business, has employees, and believes Obamacare might help her in the future. Another success story.

Then there is another small business owner, Zohre Abolfazli of Tennessee. Here is the White House description of her situation, in its entirety: "Zohre Abolfazli has owned a small business outside of Nashville, Tennessee for almost twenty-five years. Even though she has been able to maintain her health insurance over the years, it has been a challenge to find affordable, comprehensive health insurance in the individual market place. Last night, Abolfazli was able to register through HealthCare.gov and now plans to comparison shop for the best plan that meets her budget and needs."

So, Abolfazli has managed to get onto the Obamacare website, register, and now plans to shop for coverage. Another success story.

Those are four of the 13 descriptions handed out by the White House. For the rest, see below. There are some who have been helped more than others, but clearly there are some who have been helped not at all, at least so far.

In the days since the problems with the Obamacare website became too large to ignore, defenders of the administration cited the many people they said have already benefited from the new exchanges, as well as from the law as a whole. Presumably, the White House had many success stories to choose from in deciding who would stand behind the president at Monday's event. But some of the successes they chose don't seem to be successes at all.

What follows are all the descriptions released by the White House, in their entirety:

Janice Baker (Introducer), New ACA Registrant

Janice Baker, a small business owner, was the first woman to enroll in the Delaware exchange. She and her husband are the owners of the Heavenly Hound Hotel, a boarding and grooming kennel for Dogs in Selbyville, DE. They have owned and operated it for 24 years. Prior to enrolling through the new Marketplaces, Baker had been turned down for individual insurance three times due to a minor pre-existing condition. On her new insurance plan, Baker is saving $150 a month.

Ginger Gutting, CVS Pharmacy Supervisor

Ginger Gutting is a pharmacist and current pharmacy supervisor for CVS in the Northern Virginia area. Ginger overseas many stores in the Washington Metro area. In this role, she has seen the impact that ACA has had on her customers and store pharmacists. Ginger has been a CVS colleague and pharmacist since 2002 and is a registered pharmacist in the state of Virginia.

Walt Rowen, Small Business Owner

Walt Rowen is the owner of the Susquehanna Glass Company, a small business in Columbia, Pennsylvania started by Rowen’s grandfather in 1910. The company, which has grown to 35 full-time employees, has benefited from the ACA’s Medical Loss Ratio provision which requires at least 80 percent of small groups' premium dollars be spent on patient care instead of administrative costs. A few years ago Rowen was quoted a 130 percent increase to his premiums -- this year his premiums increased by only 7 percent.

David Hall, New ACA Registrant

David Hall, a self-employed IT Consultant and Web Designer, signed up for health insurance through DC Health Link, the District of Columbia's online health insurance marketplace, on October 1, 2013. Hall is an Air Force veteran who was discharged under "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" in 2002.

Jessica Ugalde, ACA Beneficiary

Due to the immediate benefits of the ACA, Jessica Ugalde was able to stay on her mother’s health insurance after school and receive treatment for a serious illness. Ugalde’s mother was relieved her daughter could receive coverage and Jessica is very grateful to the ACA for this benefit.

Mike Brey, Small Business Owner

Mike Brey is the owner of Hobby Works, a small business that has expanded to five locations throughout Maryland and Virginia since it opened in 1992. While Brey’s business has been successful, he feels that his ability to keep his workers feeling secure by providing health insurance coverage has eroded over time. The company health plan once cost $100 per person, most of which was covered by the company. Over the years the premium has tripled and his employees have seen their costs increase five times as they pay more of the premium and face a higher deductible. Brey believes that the Affordable Care Act was the first thing in years that gave him hope that this spiral of escalating costs and depreciating quality of coverage might finally end. Brey has said that “as an employer in Maryland with fewer than 50 full-time- equivalent employees, I’ll be able to use our state's exchange next year to purchase coverage. This is huge."

Malik Hassan, Prospective ACA Beneficiary

Malik Hassan works at a restaurant in Philadelphia. Hassan, who does not receive coverage through his employer, is looking forward to enrolling for health coverage this fall. He recently used Healthcare.gov to process his application and is waiting for the options for potential plans in Philadelphia.

Ezra Salop, Small Business Owner & ACA Beneficiary

Ezra Salop, 25 years old, runs his own catering business in the Washington, DC area. Salop is currently receiving insurance coverage through his parents’ plan and is looking forward to enrolling on the ACA exchanges so he can continue growing his small business.

Karmel Allison, Prospective ACA Beneficiary

Karmel Allison was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was nine years old. She has stayed on the same insurance ever since, despite constantly rising costs, for fear she would not be able to find a plan that would cover her due to her pre-existing condition. Allison recently began researching her options on CoveredCA and has publicly described her experience as finally feeling equal to others, including her young and healthy husband, when it comes to access to coverage.

Zohre Abolfazli, New ACA Registrant

Zohre Abolfazli has owned a small business outside of Nashville, Tennessee for almost twenty-five years. Even though she has been able to maintain her health insurance over the years, it has been a challenge to find affordable, comprehensive health insurance in the individual market place. Last night, Abolfalzi was able to register through HealthCare.gov and now plans to comparison shop for the best plan that meets her budget and needs.

Jasmine Jennings, ACA Beneficiary

Jasmine Jennings was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was in college. Due to the ACA, Jennings no longer has to worry about health insurance companies denying her coverage due to her preexisting condition. She is currently on her parents’ insurance plan, which has given her peace of mind as she settles into her career and finishes grad school. Without having to worry about how to pay for health insurance, Jennings has been able to accept a part-time curatorial fellowship and start a small business. She has said that “these educational and entrepreneurial experiences are enriching my life every day and without the ACA, I wouldn't be able to do either.”

LaJuanna Russell, Small Business Owner

LaJuanna Russell is the owner of Business Management Associates, a consulting company in Alexandria, Virginia. Russell says she is proud to offer her employees health insurance but that it can be difficult for a small business. Russell believes that the ACA provides stability for her and her employees and is exploring what new coverage options will be available to her company under the exchanges.

Nathaniel Hojnacki, Prospective ACA Beneficiary

Nathaniel Hojnacki recently received his Master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University SAIS and is in an employment situation without benefits. Hojnacki recognizes the importance of coverage and is planning to enroll after he explores his coverage options on the DC exchange.

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Author:

Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner