North Carolinians sign up for health coverage


As Republican candidates for US Senate fight over how to frame opposition to Obamacare in their contest to determine who will get a shot at Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, the program seems to be pretty popular with folks here.

North Carolina ranks fifth in the number of people who have selected a plan under the Health Insurance Marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act, behind California, Florida, Texas and New York.

After the technical failures of the federal healthcare website were resolved, enrollment has been a relatively painless experience for some of us, and the new plans have proven to be less costly.

Of the 390,295 North Carolina residents eligible for a marketplace plan, 200,546, or 51 percent, have signed up, according to the latest stats released by the US Department of Health and Human Services. That places North Carolina slightly ahead of the national average.

North Carolina is also among the states with the highest percentage of enrollees receiving financial assistance, on par with Arkansas and Wyoming, and only exceeded by Mississippi.

Among them is my friend, Dan Bayer, who earns his living delivering medication to home-bound individuals and plays bass with the Raving Knaves.

Bayer was previously insured, but his premium went up. The only way he could determine whether he was eligible for a subsidy was to apply on the federal marketplace website, he told me.

He qualified for a plan under Blue Cross Blue Shield with “a very nice” subsidy, based on his income after expenses as a self-employed independent contractor. He also considers the quality of care to be an improvement.

“The new plan covers mental health care, and my therapist takes a co-pay now,” he said. “I don’t have to pay the whole thing out of pocket.”