Butch Matthews is a 61-year-old former small business owner from Little Rock, Arkansas who used to wake up every morning at 4 A.M. to deliver canned beverages to retailers before retiring in 2010. A lifelong Republican, he was heavily skeptical of the Affordable Care Act when it first passed. “I did not think that Obamacare was going to be a good plan, I did not think that it was going to help me at all,” he told ThinkProgress over the phone.
But after doing a little research, Matthews eventually realized how much the law could help him. And on Tuesday, his local Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) provider confirmed that he would be able to buy a far better plan than his current policy while saving at least $13,000 per year through Arkansas’ Obamacare marketplace.
Matthews was self-employed between 1997 and 2010, meaning he had to purchase his own plan on the individual market. He chose a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan for himself and his wife that charged a $250 per month premium and had a $2,000 deductible. But the price of that policy kept rising even as it covered fewer of his costs, eventually devolving into his current rate of $1,069 per month with a $10,000 deductible. At this point, it doesn’t even cover his medication or doctors’ visits — particularly concerning considering he had to have two stents placed in his heart in 2006.
“I do not work now, I’m 61, and we do have assets saved up. But still, to come up with that $1,069 per month….” he said, trailing off. “I went to Blue Cross Blue Shield, and they don’t even sell that plan anymore, but I could not change it to anything else. So I was locked in with it.”
That all changed once Obamacare’s state-level marketplaces opened to the public on Tuesday. Matthews knew that, at his income level, the law would help him pay for insurance. But even he might not have expected just how good of a deal he could get: his new coverage will cost him absolutely nothing in monthly premiums after factoring in federal subsidies, and has a deductible of $750.
“Which is a lot different from $10,000,” he pointed out, laughing.
The mid-level “Silver” policy that he picked out also offers a significantly better benefits package. “It’s a lot better plan,” Matthews said. His old plan was considered to be “Bronze” and had much higher co-pays. Under Obamacare, when Matthews visits a doctor, it will no longer cost him around $150. It will cost $8.
So what would Matthews tell other Americans who are skeptical about Obamacare? “I would tell them to learn more about it before they start talking bad about it,” he noted. “Be more informed, get more information, take your time and study and not just go by just what you hear on one side or the other. Actually check the facts on it.”
“I still am a very strong Republican, but this… I’m so happy that this came along,” he continued. “Our home is paid for, vehicle’s paid for, this is our expense that we have. We have more expense on medical care than everything else put together, so this is going to be a great help for us.”