“It seems inherently un-Christian to associate something as vital as health care, and as necessary as health and access to care, and base that off wealth.”

The Bridge is a relatively new church serving the community of Portage and Kalamazoo, that aspires to “be disciples and make disciples; be bridges and make bridges; be one | make one”. Behind the scenes of their Sunday worship, adult life groups, and children activities, are dedicates people who are working to make the Bridge community heavenly, one of which is Scott Watson. Scott attended Western Michigan University and graduated with a comparative religion degree. He is currently pursuing his Master of Divinity at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and is a ministry intern for the next four semesters at the Bridge to fulfill his program requirements.

Scott applied for the ACA insurance in February 2013. He said that he had to apply, as both he and his wife work but are not eligible for benefits, leaving them both without insurance. Scott, like many others, had difficulties with the government website. When he first tried to use it, it simply did not work. Eventually, he was able to access the website and he explained that, “The process was pretty straightforward. It sure seemed a lot easier than applying for anything for the state.” Scott went on to explain the result of his application. “We were eligible, because of our low income bracket, for Medicaid. My understanding is that the federal government would provide subsidies to the state, in order to expand Medicaid, in order to cover the people who are a part of such low income brackets that they are not going to be able to, realistically, purchase one of the plans that are on healthcare.gov. We fell in to that bracket, but at that time when I applied, before the deadline, Michigan had not expanded their Medicaid coverage. It was one of the states that had chosen to opt out of that. So as a result, my understanding is, we were not liable for the penalty that would be from the federal government.” However, the ACA website, www.healthcare.gov, later recommended that they apply directly to Healthy Michigan, the state’s Medicaid expansion. A few setbacks occurred that Scott was hesitant to explain, and as a result the process to apply has been stalled, so Scott and his wife are still without insurance but plan to reapply in the near future.

Unfortunately, Scott broke his arm recently and had to go to Bronson Hospital’s Emergency Room. “I went to Bronson because my wife a few years ago had to be in the hospital for about four days, and Bronson was actually really good and ended up writing it off. There was no possible way for us to pay it off, its like ‘OK, we can give you this amount for the next 100 years per month and then, possibly, we will pay it off.” Scott has had to have several follow-ups and X-rays due to the severity of the break. “As far as my treatment, everything has been great. There has been a couple of things where it is like, ‘OK, I don’t have insurance, so maybe that’s not an option.’” Scott plans to talk to Bronson Hospital’s financial office to make arrangements for a payment plan, or he hopes to have them write off some of the costs.

Scott believes he is not extremely informed, but thinks that the ACA is a great step in the right direction for a nation that ““is one of the richest and most industrialized nations, with one of the poorest health care options.” Before he applied, he stated that he had a trepid excitement; he was wary of the plan, but had high hopes it would work. To him, “It seems inherently un-Christian to associate something as vital as health care, and as necessary as health and access to care, and base that off wealth. How much or how little you get is based off worth, off your income. I can’t reconcile that.”

Scott is unsure of how it will affect Kalamazoo County as a whole, and is anxious to see what it will look like in ten years. “I think it will be something we just acclimate to. Health insurance will be something we just have to get, like car insurance. It will become the ‘norm’ and things will just normalize to it.” Scott believes that there is a negative connotation to the term “Obamacare”, yet Scott absolutely recommends others to apply. He thinks that people seem to reject the idea based simply on principle, not the policy itself. “You’ll ask someone ‘Do you support the idea that insurance companies cannot deny you based off of preexisting conditions?’ And they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah that’s a terrible thing to do.’ But once you bring up ‘Obamacare’ they’ll say no, even though that is what you were just explaining to them.”

Overall, Scott Watson holds no grudge against the ACA for being denied the first time. As expressed earlier, Scott and his wife plan to apply again with confidence that they will be able to insure not only themselves, but also Miriam Ruth, their 17-month-old daughter.

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