11/07/2012 06:52 pm ET Updated Nov 07, 2012

Mitt Romney Supporter Turns To Obamacare

Melissa Littlewood of Sarasota, Fla., voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney because she thinks the government is becoming too expansive, too intrusive, and too burdensome for small business owners such as herself.

At the same time, President Barack Obama's health care law, reviled by conservatives as an expansion of big government, may be the only way for Littlewood to get affordable health insurance.

"I think we're in a society that is on a runaway train," Littlewood said. "I think I'm about to see what that is all about."

Polls show that Americans, collectively speaking, are as ambivalent about the law as they are about the president himself. Under Obama's watch, the Affordable Care Act's major provisions are supposed to take effect in 2014, extending insurance coverage to 30 million Americans whether they like it or not.

Littlewood knows from personal experience that the health care system's status quo is no good. She has owned an automotive accessory business for 34 years. She said her company's group health insurance policy, which covers her and one employee, costs $1,460 per month. If she renews the policy for another year, its monthly premiums will go up to $1,553.

She said she can't afford it anymore, but she has no other choice for obtaining coverage, since no insurance company will offer an affordable plan to a 59-year-old breast cancer survivor.

"I think I'm being discriminated against," she said. "I am healthy and I am tired of getting beat up each year with the high insurance costs."

Thanks to Obamacare, Littlewood is now considering other options. If she's willing to spend six months uninsured, she can qualify for a little-known new program called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. In Florida, the PCIP's monthly premiums range from $376 to $505 per month.

"That's a substantial savings," Littlewood said. "It's a heck of a lot better than what I'm paying now."

Fewer people have enrolled in the PCIP than the Obama administration expected, and its costs per enrollee have been much higher. Yet for many of the 80,000 Americans who have signed up, the program is a lifesaver. The Huffington Post has followed several people who have actually canceled their private insurance in order to spend six scary months uninsured so they can qualify.

The program will be phased out 2014, at which point the insurance industry will no longer be allowed to exclude sick people from coverage. At the same time, people with lower incomes will receive government subsidies to purchase health plans, and people who don't buy insurance will have to pay a penalty to the IRS.

Littlewood said she voted for Obama in 2008, but voted for Romney Tuesday because of her frustration dealing with the state and federal government as a business owner. Plus, she said, she figured Romney would not fully follow through on his promises to repeal Obamacare.

She said she would decide whether to drop her insurance just as soon as her doctors can confirm her cancer is still in remission.

"I will make up my mind in about 30 days when I have my final test," she said. "And then I will probably go for it."



100 Years Of Election Night Winners