Joshua Pittman is a 31-year-old self-employed videographer from Montgomery, Alabama. A libertarian Republican who voted for Ron Paul in 2012 and believes that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is the future of the GOP, Pittman sees Barack Obama’s presidency as a “failure” who hasn’t lived up to the nation’s expectations.
But on Tuesday morning, Pittman logged on to HealthCare.gov and after some initial glitches and delays, successfully enrolled in a Bronze-level Obamacare health insurance plan. “It took me all day, really,” he says with a laugh. “It kicked me out and told me you have to try again, but I knew what I was getting into with so many people exploring it.”
Though he initially supported repealing the law, Pittman became curious about Obamacare in the days and weeks before it launched. For years, he had gone uninsured, thinking he’d be able to “get over anything with a bandaid and a six pack of beer.” But a lead poisoning incident earlier this year shook his confidence and bank account, leading him with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. “I was a healthy person and it really depleted me financially, so it made me look at things in a different way than I would before. I understood the importance of people being insured.”
“I’ve seen first hand people hitting up the emergency room for free health care and then putting a burden on [everyone else] and that’s not something I would want to do, I want to take personal responsibility … By no means am I trying to take a government handout…it’s not a free handout, you’re paying for this health care, but it’s making it more accessible to more people.”
Asked what he liked about Obamacare, Pittman highlighted its prohibition against denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, noting that he wouldn’t be able to find coverage without it, and said that the policies offered in the marketplace seemed more affordable and comprehensive than those available to him on the individual market. “You may pay $18 a month [for a cheaper plan] and you’re missing a level of coverage. It’s not as easy as you’re going to pay this much a month,” he says.
Government data shows that premiums for an individual Blue Cross and Blue Shield Bronze-level plan in Montgomery County, Alabama averages $160 per month for a 27-year old. An older adult will pay $273 per month.
Pittman doesn’t believe that Obamacare is perfect, but says Republicans in Congress should stop trying to repeal the law and give it a chance to work. “As a Republican, I think [the GOP’s repeal effort] is childish and I think this is the wrong way to lead… it’s babyish and I think as a party it just reflects negatively upon us,” he explains.
He predicts that other conservatives will set aside their party politics and do what they feel is best for themselves and their families. “I think there are Republicans that are all types of people who are making these decisions and they’re not basing them on political party. It’s just common sense kind of things. And I think that’s the only way we’re going to make a change in this country if people start thinking on those lines, instead of political party lines.”