A Michigan woman with cancer is defending herself against critics after she publicly spoke out against Obamacare.
"I'm not lying about Obamacare," Julie Boonstra wrote in an op-ed in the Detroit News Thursday, responding to nearly a month of criticism she's been seeing regarding the facts of an ad she was involved in that cut down the Affordable Care Act.
"If I do not receive my medication, I will die," Boonstra said in the ad produced by the right-leaning organization Americans for Prosperity last month. "I believed the president. I believed I could keep my health insurance plan. I feel lied too."
Boonstra was diagnosed with leukemia five years ago and was given a 20 percent chance of survival.
The 49-year-old from Dexter, Mich., said at the time she could no longer afford the care she needed as a result of Obamacare.
Though AFP released this video in February, Boonstra's story garnered wider attention after the Detroit News Monday reported that she could actually save about $1,000 under her new plan that meets Affordable Care Act requirements:
Boonstra’s old plan cost $1,100 a month in premiums or $13,200 a year, she previously told The News. That didn’t include money she spent on co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses.
By contrast, the [Michigan Blue Cross Premier Gold] plan premium costs $571 a month or $6,852 for the year. Since out-of-pocket costs are capped at $5,100 for in-network doctors and hospitals, including deductibles, the maximum Boonstra would pay this year for all of her cancer treatment is $11,952.
She said she still fears her costs will be unaffordable because she could be hit with large out-of-pocket bills in the early months when she wouldn’t have the money to pay. She also said her out-of-pocket maximum could be higher than advertised because there’s one prescription that was previously covered by her old plan that isn’t and she now buys with a separate prescription discount card.
Blue Cross spokesman Andy Hetzel told the News that all prescriptions Boonstra needs are in fact covered by the plan. As for reaching her maximum in a short period of time, something Boonstra said she couldn't afford to happen, Hetzel told the newspaper while that could occur, it's unlikely.
When the facts surrounding Boonstra's claims were questioned after this initial ad, AFP released another one, in which Boonstra changed what she said from the plan being "unaffordable" to that it "didn't work for me."
Following the revelations made by the Detroit News, many other publications have come out to blast Boonstra and AFP for the allegedly misleading ad.
Rick Ungar, a Forbes contributor writing on politics and policy from the left, wrote that he thinks Boonstra simply didn't do her homework as to the details on her plan.
"As for AFP, one would think they would be considerably more careful in picking the ‘horror stories’ they chose to tell. One might also want to consider what it means when this is the best anti-Obamacare groups can come up with when attempting to undermine the future of this law," Ungar continued.
The Washington Post labeled Boonstra's story with three Pinocchios, its rating system for fact checking.
On Thursday, Boonstra penned a familiar story in her Detroit News op-ed. Her experience was shared by many last year: insurance plan gets cancelled, followed by the frustration of trying to navigate Obamacare options with a defunct website. Eventually, she settled on the private plan she now has.
"I recently told my story in Michigan with the help of a group called Americans for Prosperity. Now people are attacking me and calling me a liar. Some believe that I can afford the insurance because the annual premiums will be lower," Boonstra wrote. "Those people choose to ignore the problems inherent with high out-of-pocket limits and prescriptions that aren’t covered for a person like me.
"My new plan could mean wildly fluctuating and front-loaded costs in the first few months of the year. I chose my old plan — the one that Obamacare canceled — specifically so I could budget for the same monthly costs with certainty."
After the initial ad ran, Rep. Gary Peters (D., Mich.), who is seeking to move to a Michigan state Senate seat, sent a letter to the station manager advising them to require AFP to back up its claims to comply with the FCC's regulations protecting against the spread of misinformation. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) criticized it as well.
“I can’t say that every one of the Koch brothers’ ads are a lie, but I’ll say this … the vast, vast majority of them are," Reid said.
This was one of the reasons the Glenn Beck Radio Program's Pat Gray last week called Reid the "worst living human being on the planet."
As for Boonstra, who called out these congressmen in her piece, she wrote that she "never asked for this. Obamacare has turned my life into a nightmare.
"That’s why I’m speaking out for the 225,000 Michiganians who also lost their insurance plans thanks to Obamacare. Like them, I want a plan that works for me," she continued. "Instead, Obamacare has denied me my choice of coverage, President Barack Obama has betrayed my trust, Harry Reid called me a liar, and Gary Peters has tried to silence me."