Nine million Americans need senators to make healthcare subsidies permanent | Opinion

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By GiGi Malinchak

We are on the verge of another health care crisis, and people like me will pay the price if Congress doesn’t take steps to protect our access to affordable care and coverage.

I’m self-employed, and for three years now since my husband retired, I’ve been purchasing my health insurance coverage through Pennie.com, Pennsylvania’s state-operated health insurance marketplace. I am one of the 375,000 Pennsylvanians who has saved on my health insurance premiums this year thanks to the assistance provided in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

www.pennie.com

This is the opening page of “Pennie,” Pennsylvania’s home-built replacement for the federally-run exchange for buying health insurance. Officials say Pennie has saved the state about $88 million, while enabling an exchange better-suited to state residents.

By lowering my monthly premium costs, the assistance provided an extra layer of financial security and removed the stress of having to choose between affording health care or risk losing our home to pay for it. Without the subsidies, 100% of my husband’s social security income would have gone to pay for my health insurance.

This affordable coverage has been a lifesaver for us! Here’s just one example of how important this coverage has been to me. Last year, I fell and broke my shoulder, but I didn’t know it was broken. When I finally went to the doctor, I got an MRI and found out it was broken and that I was not to move it for 6 weeks or the bone could displace and I’d need shoulder surgery. I was put in a sling for 6 weeks and then had to have weeks of physical therapy.

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I can tell you for a fact that if I did not have healthcare coverage, I would not have gone to the doctor. I would not have gotten an MRI. I would not have known it was broken and gotten treatment, and I would have had many ongoing problems with my shoulder.

This is just one example of what can happen without affordable coverage. If we can’t afford healthcare, we won’t seek needed treatment and screenings. And if we do have a medical emergency and go for care, we risk losing our home to pay for it. One surgery could potentially bankrupt us. It is not an overstatement to say that my life and my home are at risk without affordable healthcare. I’m praying that somehow, I can keep health insurance until I hit 65 and go on Medicare.

I know I’m not alone in relying on this coverage. HAS record number of Americans signed up for marketplace coverage last year. From small business owners to farmers, the average Pennsylvania family saved over $1,000 a year on their health care

But, unfortunately, the expanded tax credits that powered those savings will expire at the end of the year, and millions of Americans like me could see their premiums increase in 2023.

Last November, House Democrats voted to extend the health care premium reductions in the American Rescue Plan to prevent our premiums from skyrocketing at the end of this year. Now, it is up to the Senate to get on board and extend the premium tax credits for working families. If the Senate fails to get the bill passed and onto President Biden’s desk for signature, nine million Americans will face increased health care costs, and three million people will lose coverage altogether.

Lawmakers cannot let the health care premium reductions in the American Rescue Plan expire. The bottom line is that I and other working middle income Americans can’t afford healthcare without this critical assistance.

I implore our elected officials in the Senate to make the subsidies permanent and ensure that families can continue to afford the health care they need.

GiGi Malinchak writes from Boyertown, Pa.

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