Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2013

SALISBURY — Health insurance companies turned down Odessa Davis three times last year because she has a pre-existing condition.
Davis, who has not had health insurance since a COBRA policy expired in 2012, avoided going to the doctor unless absolutely necessary and skipped several procedures, including a mammogram.
“I did go to the doctor once,” she said. “I paid for it, but it was a struggle. The doctor wanted me to come back in September but I didn’t have the money, so I have been putting it off.”
After surviving a car accident years ago that nearly took her life, Davis, who spent several days in the intensive care unit, said she worried all year about getting sick.
“So to have insurance, yeah, it would have meant the world,” she said.
Davis, a single mother and temporary employee who works 40 hours a week, found out Thursday she now qualifies for health insurance and, thanks to a hefty subsidy paid by the federal government, she also can afford it.
Davis attended the Obamacare enrollment event at the Civic Center with about 100 other people and shopped for health insurance.
She found a policy for $201 a month with a $3,000 in-network deductible. She will pay $25 every time she visits a primary care doctor and $45 per appointment when she needs a specialist.
“This is lower than what I thought,” said Odessa, who was prepared for prices in the $400-a-month range, which she said she could not afford. “Really, I am pleasantly surprised.”
She could not actually sign up for her new policy because the government’s troubled website,, was down.
But working with insurance broker Scott Cantrell from Carolina Health Insurance Market, Davis learned that she qualified for a monthly subsidy of about $400, shopped for insurance online, compared several policies — the cheapest would have been $112 a month and the priciest $484 a month — and chose one.
Cantrell created an account for Davis on the Obamacare website, and Davis filled out a paper application that Cantrell said he will enter into the site when it’s up and running. They will complete her application on the phone.
As long as she makes her first premium payment by Dec. 15, Davis will have health insurance by Jan. 1.
“This is peace of mind, most definitely,” she said.
Cantrell said Davis’ experience was “pretty typical.”
About two out of three customers qualify for a subsidy of some kind, and most are pleased with the rates, Cantrell said. People who earn between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level —