Trying to cover tuition, family basics, and health: Nathaniel’s #GetCovered Story

Posted February 3, 2014
By Judy Sarasohn, Public Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services

Like many young couples raising a family and reaching for the American Dream, Nathaniel Carroll and his wife have had to juggle basic living expenses with health insurance costs.

They agree with what President Obama said during the State of the Union about how Americans are united by the belief in “opportunity for all” and the notion that if you work hard, you can make it in America. That’s why Nathaniel, 28, in his third year of law school, also works part-time at a legal aid office, teaches piano, and picks up freelance writing jobs when he can. His wife is taking a full load of undergraduate courses.

“Both my wife and I are working hard to provide for our children and their future. We are investing our time and limited resources into education and jobs,” Nathaniel told me.  But “without affordable, accessible health care, our ability to show up for work and class could be jeopardized in a matter of days by a relatively minor spell of illness,” he said.  

Fortunately, their son and daughter are covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Missouri, but Nathaniel and his wife were paying about $450 a month, nearly 20 percent of their income, for their own health insurance through a school plan. This made covering other basic expenses really tough, but health insurance was part of being responsible parents.

Nathaniel and his wife are saving over $400/month. Explore your options and #GetCovered today at

Because of the Affordable Care Act, however, Nathaniel and his wife found less expensive options for quality health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Nathaniel said that they enrolled in a silver plan last month with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield that costs an incredible $43 a month after financial assistance-- only 10 percent of what they had been paying. Their deductible is $1,000. They had considered a silver plan for an even more remarkable $13 a month, but the deductible would have been $3,000. They decided the smaller deductible made more sense for them.

They will be able to use the money they save on premiums to spend on other family needs that sometimes went on the back burner when they were short on funds.

“Now, we are at least protected by better insurance with lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs. So if we do get sick, we can get care faster and affordable care without sacrificing too much time or money that could be spent on our children,” Nathaniel said.

President Obama asked every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered through the Marketplace. So if you’re uninsured -- or know someone who doesn’t have coverage -- you can enroll by February 15, for coverage that begins March 1st. Open enrollment continues through March 31st.

Besides enrolling like Nathaniel online at, you can also enroll by phone at 1-800-318-2596/TTY 1-855-889-4325; by mail; or directly through an insurer, agent or broker. You can also find in-person help in your community at