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Covering the Costs of a Chronic Condition

22nd July 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

Lisa Sinnott–La Grange Park, IL 

Lisa Sinnott first shared her story with CBHC in December 2013. We caught up with her to see how her story has evolved over the last few months.

“I have a chronic condition and need ongoing healthcare.  I lost my job last year and was having trouble getting work for some months.  I have training in ministry and love to help people.  However, sometimes a single job does not pay all the bills.  I work hard, I sometimes take on several small jobs and I also work like an independent contractor through various ministry roles.  Because I qualified for Medicaid, as well as the Marketplace, I have been able to work at the jobs and opportunities I have needed to further my dreams into roles such [as] a chaplain or campus minister someday.”

“In the meantime, I have a good coverage under Blue Cross Blue Shield to get access to local doctors and specialists and have Medicaid as a secondary insurance to cover the extra out of pocket expenses.  Blue Cross covers the cost of medications that I need and are ongoing.”

“My hope for continued reform is that people can continue to work as they are able and afford the coverage beyond the premiums and deductibles.  My hope is that people who need the marketplace or Medicaid can also negotiate the out of pocket costs that can happen due to unexpected health issues and emergencies.  Healthcare should be free or fixed in cost.  That is my hope.”

“If people can afford a trip on CTA for work, they should also be able to afford healthcare costs due to conditions they acquire in life or are born with.  My hope for Medicaid is to be more broadly accepted for dental, podiatry, mental health, recovery of addiction, and general doctors in clinics for preventive measures. There is so much need and too much costing the individuals of the United States.”

Watch Lisa tell her story in December 2013http://youtu.be/h6iCwJTbkF8?list=UUp9j9NfXjzoKNPdxMJ3MWzw

Freelance Musician Benefits from a Special Enrollment Period

11th July 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

200. Emily Barrett 

Emily B.—Chicago,IL 

Due to loss of her coverage, freelance musician Emily qualified for a Special Enrollment Period. 

Emily, 23, had been insured under her father’s employment insurance throughout her childhood and into young adulthood. This July, however, Emily’s father retired, leaving her family without health coverage.

Emily is a freelance musician who, for the past four years, has held anywhere between 3 to 7 different jobs at one time. Currently, she works as a piano accompanist for a variety of dance and musical theater companies. As a freelancer, Emily could not receive health benefits from any of her jobs; she sought out the help of CBHC navigator, Cheryl.

“I really like the idea of having a navigator,” says Emily, who says she needed someone to explain her options to her. “Cheryl was really helpful…it was a learning process for both of us.”

Cheryl and Emily discovered that, luckily, Emily qualified for a ‘special enrollment period.’ Due to loss of coverage in the interim between open enrollment sessions, Emily was still eligible for a Marketplace plan.

Relatively healthy, Emily says that she was looking for a plan that would help with the occasional doctor’s visit—“for a cold or sinus infection”—and generic prescriptions. She signed up for a Marketplace plan with a $5,000 deductible and $147 monthly premium.

“In 2 hours I had a plan that I felt comfortable with,” says Emily.

CBHC Partner: Operation Blessing

9th June 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

Operation Blessing—Alsip, IL  

op blessing2

Frank Sorice (left), manager, and Steve Bailey, pantry manager

Frank Sorice, manager of Operation Blessing in Alsip, IL, says that there is much more to running a food pantry than giving people something to eat.

“We want to empower people,” he says. “If you give someone information…you are empowering them. Instead of having them walk around in the blind, now they can use that information.”

With a recent change of location—and a huge increase in facility size—Operation Blessing has now partnered with other organizations to help extend a variety of empowering knowledge to its patrons.

The Operation Blessing team, a non-denominational mission of Christians, has focused on spreading “the word of God to the hungry soul” since the organization was founded in 1982. Visitors to the food pantry can expect an interview during every visit; the interview, says Frank, serves to collect some necessary data, but also to “check-in” with each visitor and offer them information on Christianity and a chance to pray with the Operation Blessing team.

In the facility lobby, visitors will find a variety of tables set up, each representing a different organization or cause.  One of these tables is run by a CBHC Navigator offering health care enrollment assistance.

“[These partnerships] have been an asset in the sense that, not only are we giving them food,” says Sorice, “But we are helping people get under the Affordable Care Act, we have WellCare in here, a lady that does blood pressure checks, and another lady that is going to start résumé writing for people that are struggling to find work.”

Sorice compares a visit to a food pantry to that of the doctor—“That’s one-dimensional, you are going there for a visit….You always have to sit at the doctor’s office, and wouldn’t it be nice while you were sitting there if someone who knew about computers or something said ‘Hey, have you ever had a question about this? I’m here to help you.’ Instead of dead time, you are using that time to your benefit.”

These various organizations had reached out to Operation Blessing seeking a partnership, and Sorice says that he hopes more will. He says that he would like to eventually help patrons with Spanish lessons, and tutoring as well.

“[The partnerships] have added to what we do here,” he says. “We realized there’s a lot more out there that we can offer people.”

op blessing

Canned goods at Operation Blessing 

For more information on Operation Blessing, visit their website.

Artists Find Coverage Under the ACA

29th May 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

Kirby and Cindy Pringle—Tuscola, IL 

Pringle

For Kirby and Cindy Pringle, both artists and butterfly preservationists, the ACA provided peace of mind at a reasonable rate.

If it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act, Kirby Pringle says that he and his wife, Cindy “would still be uninsured and just crossing our fingers.”

In 2008, Kirby left his newspaper job, where he had received health benefits for their family. He and Cindy purchased a private health insurance plan, and began making their living as full-time artists.

The Pringle’s run their studio, Dogtown Artworks Gallery & Studio, travel to art fairs throughout the summertime, and have penned and illustrated 3 children’s books. In addition to their passion for creating and sharing art, the Pringle’s are dedicated to preserving the Monarch butterfly species. They created a documentary film, “Plight of the Monarch,” which they present to interested groups around the state.

Eventually, the couple found that their health care plan (with a $600 monthly premium between the two of them, and a steep deductible) was their second highest expense, only below their house payment. “As artists, our income is unpredictable,” says Kirby, adding that they just “couldn’t swing” this huge expense. They decided to drop their insurance coverage.

The Pringle’s spent 2 years uninsured, during which they would pay out-of-pocket for care, often forgoing trips to the doctor. Though both were relatively healthy, says Kirby, at one point, he tore a shoulder muscle. Luckily, the injury healed on its own, but the MRI of his shoulder resulted in a $2,500 medical bill.

Now, the Pringle’s are enrolled in a Marketplace health care plan. They found a “cost conscious” option, says Kirby, and are paying $48 a month for a plan with a $1,500 deductible. “It’s a big relief to have the ACA,” says Kirby.

 

Take a look at the Pringle’s artwork:

www.dogtownartworks.com

“I Feel Empowered Now.”

21st May 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

Faith Freeman—Chicago, IL

The ACA helped Faith take back control of her personal health.

Faith Freeman suffered an accident in early 2005 which left her temporarily unable to work. After 12 weeks, Faith’s employer terminated her health insurance.

Faith was able to begin working again (in a new position as an independent contractor) in 2006. She was happy to be back to work, but remained uninsured as her new position did not come with benefits. Faith says that her lack of insurance kept her “on edge.” The high out-of-pocket costs at the doctor prevented her from seeking health care, but she says the risk of being uninsured haunted her—“It would come to me like a bad dream…what would I do if something happened?”

Faith says she has had several loved ones suffer from cancer, which made her acutely aware of both the importance of insurance and the limits of being underinsured. She says that she realized that one must “be your own advocate” when it comes to personal health.

Faith recently enrolled in a Marketplace insurance plan with the help of CBHC navigator Cheryl Gay. Faith admits to feeling “skeptical and intimidated” by the application process, but says that “Cheryl was really there every step of the way.”

Now insured, Faith has the taken the opportunity to regain control of her health. Not only has she scheduled doctor’s appointments, but she has been inspired to change other aspects of her well-being. She has joined a gym, lost some weight, and taken up yoga. She says she believes that the Presidential family, through supporting the ACA and other endeavors like ‘Let’s Move!,’ has stirred up a “drumbeat” signifying a new era for personal health.

“This president has given us back the power to take care of ourselves medically….I feel empowered now—I am taking the reins—I can get back to taking care of Faith.”