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Coverage Days Before A Health Emergency

28th August 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

Timothy Royce 

Timothy Royce—Blue Island, IL

Timothy Royce struggled to manage his COPD before he enrolled in Medicaid. Luckily, he enrolled in time to fill his dwindling prescription supply and to cope with an unexpected emergency.

When Timothy Royce slipped and fell in the shower, he says he was certain he had broken his ribs. Intense pain accompanied a huge bruise along his side—“It really, really hurt,” he says.

Luckily, Royce enrolled in Medicaid just about a week prior to his accident. Royce says that he and his wife got word of a Campaign for Better Health Care navigator, Cheryl Gay, who was enrolling patrons of a local food bank in health care plans. Both decided to enroll during a routine visit to the food bank.

“I was instantly completely relieved,” says Royce. “[Being uninsured] is a thing that hangs over my head every day… [Medicaid] came in real handy to be able to get to the hospital in order to get taken care of.”

Fortunately, Royce says that the doctors confirmed he had not broken any ribs. He had, however, separated the cartilage between them.  The doctors were able to provide him with pain medication while he healed.

Prior to obtaining Medicaid coverage, Royce was uninsured for over half a year. At the end of 2013, Royce’s employer, PetSmart, stopped offering health coverage to their part-time employees.

Royce, an animal lover, has worked at PetSmart for around 9 years, he says.

“My family owned a farm when I was a kid,” he says. “I’ve always been around animals. I have pretty much no fear of them, so I get to take care of all of the animals at the store.”

When the company stopped offering health insurance, however, Royce says he didn’t have anywhere else to turn. He could not afford a private health plan, so he did without.

“I’ve avoided going [to the doctor], but my main problem is that I have COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease],” says Royce. “When I was a little kid I had double pneumonia and ever since then my lungs have been goofed up. It is always hanging around; it is more scary than anything else. If I don’t have my inhaler around, it’s done. I gotta have it.”

Royce says that the last prescription he filled for his condition cost him $340 per monthly dose—even with his past insurance. He says that with the help of friends, and by trying to manage with half-doses, he has been able to make it through.

With his new insurance, Royce was able to make a doctor’s appointment in the nick of time to re-fill his prescription.

“Frankly we needed [insurance],” he says. “Trying not to go to the hospital, and trying not to get hurt and to be careful, there are always things that happen around here. Trying to take care of everything ourselves, stuff like that just doesn’t work.”

“It is a big load off my mind, and it is nice to know that there is actually help out there,” says Royce. “It’s a big relief …I feel a lot better about things.”

Single Mother Able to Afford Her Children’s Prescriptions

21st August 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off


Carrie L.—Midlothian, IL

For three years, Carrie was making due without health insurance. An unemployed single mother of two, Carrie says that the costs of her teenage children’s doctor visits were straining their family budget.  Her 14-year-old son suffers from ADHD and must make monthly doctor appointments to secure his prescription medication; combined, the appointments and prescriptions cost over $200 a month, says Carrie.

During a visit to Operation Blessing, a food pantry in Alsip, IL, Carrie was referred to a Campaign for Better Health Care navigator, Cheryl Gay. With Cheryl’s help, Carrie discovered that she and her children were eligible for Medicaid coverage. She says that she is so thankful to have help covering the costs of their routine doctor physicals and care: “[This] has made my life complete,” says Carrie.

Back to Work: Insurance Helps Ill Taxi Driver

13th August 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off


Ioan Matis—Chicago, IL

Ioan Matis [pictured above with girlfriend Barbara Frills] was forced to leave work due to poor health. Thanks to his new health care coverage, he was able to see the necessary doctors. 

When Ioan Matis left his native Romania to live in the States, he drove taxi cabs to make a living. Matis made a 20 year career from driving cabs until recently, when he was forced to stop due to a variety of health issues.

Various symptoms plagued Matis, says his girlfriend Barbara Frills, speaking on Matis’ behalf due to a language barrier. Matis, who was uninsured as long as he was a taxi driver, avoided going to the doctor, as the couple knew that they could not afford the costs of tests and possible treatments.

“He would get advice when there was a problem,” says Frills. “We would call and get advice from a doctor, or give a doctor the symptoms, or we’d go to the pharmacy and they’d recommend something over the counter.”

Matis knew that he suffered from hypertension, but the specifics of his condition remained a mystery says Frills. Frills, who is unemployed due to disability, says that she has the benefit of a Medicaid medical card; the couple sought out a means to secure Medicaid coverage for Matis as well.

A fellow member of the couple’s church was recently enrolled in the state’s Medicaid expansion program through Campaign for Better Health Care (CBHC) and passed along the contact information for CBHC Navigator Cheryl Gay. The couple set up an appointment for Matis.

“She was very pleasant,” says Frills of Gay. “She helped us understand everything.”

Once Matis was enrolled, he made a doctor’s appointment—his first in a long time. Frills says that the doctors completed a variety of tests, and that the couple waited anxiously for the news.

Happily, Matis and Frills were met with great news: there were no complications from Matis’ hypertension. In fact, they hypertension itself had been alleviated. Unfortunately, the restoration of Matis’ normal blood pressure levels came at the price of taking time off and losing much-needed income, but Matis now hopes to return to work very shortly.

“Everything has been great, and I thank Cheryl and [Campaign for Better Health Care] for introducing us to this health plan,” says Frills.


No More Suffering: Affordable Prescription Costs

8th August 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

rose bean

Rose Bean—Blue Island, IL  

Rose has suffered with chronic, debilitating migraines for years. Now that she is insured, she can afford her medications and treatment.

For Rose Bean, a day without her prescription medications is like a day in hell.
“I’m just in bed with a blanket over my head,” says Bean, “not being able to look at light, not being able to move, sick to my stomach.”

Bean has suffered from chronic, debilitating migraines for years. She has been seeing a neurologist for around 10 years, trying nearly everything to help alleviate the headaches. In 2011, Bean was laid off from her position at a market maker firm; the firm was bought-out and was executing major layoffs, dissolving the majority of Bean’s office.

“Losing the insurance, believe it or not, that hurt worse than losing the actual job,” says Bean.

For some time, Bean and her husband made due with an insurance plan provided to part time employees by her husband’s employer.

“They offered insurance for part-time employees,” says Bean. “But their insurance was so bad that they dropped it instead of improving the services that they would give to their people. They said ‘oh, it’s not worth the trouble,’ and they dropped us completely. So that was our problem; we were just dropped at the end of the year….That was difficult…”

Suddenly, Bean could not afford her medications.  She applied for disability after being laid off, but was rejected. She and her husband, who also suffers from chronic conditions, were forced to compromise: medications, or food?

“Usually, if I get all of [my medications] filled, [the cost] is between $200 and $300,” she says. “I have to take only half of the pills, or a quarter of the pills…whatever I can afford that month. It [is] that kind of a choice–do I feed my family for the month, or do I get my medications that I need to live [through] my day?”

Bean heard about Cheryl, a Campaign for Better Health Care (CBHC) Navigator, from a friend that was enrolled at a local food pantry; she decided to make the trip. Within “an hour and 11 minutes” of meeting with Cheryl, Bean says that she was enrolled in Medicaid.

She called in her prescriptions and was shocked to find that, under Medicaid, they would now only set her back $8.

“The big stuff is getting maintenance drugs so that I can do stuff like get out of the house and look at a computer,” says Bean, “And you know, look at a list of doctors. Before it was like, I can’t even open my eyes. I can’t even watch TV. It’s just bad.”

Bean says that she has been perusing lists of doctors who accept Medicaid so that she can continue her migraine treatment.  She hopes to one day be able to go off of her medications and to explore other treatments, like Botox, that have been shown to reduce migraines.

“What [Campaign for Better Health Care] did was amazing. I really wish there were more people like [Cheryl] in the world,” says Bean. “It isn’t just her job, she wants to help, and she asks the right questions because she knows… what people need or what their problems are. She thinks about stuff that other people might ignore because it might mean extra work for them. That is the thing about Cheryl; it has been a while since I found somebody that was helpful.”

“[I]ran into her yesterday, when we went back to the food pantry,” says Bean, “I was able to go by myself because I was actually able to go out in the daylight. I’m outside! I actually got a little sun! I’m actually awake! It is a nice feeling.”






Health Care on a Tight Budget

30th July 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

ken jones

Ken Jones—Blue Island, IL 

Uninsured for 10 years, Ken Jones is happy that–thanks to Medicaid– a visit to the doctor will no longer break the bank. 

Prior to 2004, Ken Jones says that he “never worried about a thing” when it came to health care. Back then, Jones worked in the stock market and enjoyed the health benefits that his employer provided; when he was laid off in ’04, however, worry began to sink in.

For the past nearly ten years, Jones has wavered between unemployment and part-time jobs, all the while without insurance. During those years, Jones has dealt with various medical situations, including a serious burn that he sustained while working in a restaurant. “I would try to deal with it myself,” says Jones, stating that the cost of a doctor or hospital visit was out of the question.

Jones, who lives with roommates, describes their tight budget: “We don’t even live paycheck to paycheck,” he says, “We live penny to penny.”

Currently, Jones is working part-time at PetSmart. He says that all of the roommates help one another out, but it often comes down to tough budget decisions like, “Do we get [a roommate] her medication for migraines, or do we eat?”

Hopefully, now the answer can be ‘both!’ Jones was inspired to enroll by a CBHC navigator who found out that Jones was qualified for Medicaid. Soon, Jones’ roommates followed suit and enrolled as well.

Jones plans to see a doctor regarding a back injury that he has been trying to ignore, and he says that he plans on pursuing a primary care doctor as well. As for his roommates, Jones says that they are excited to be on board, and are very happy to be offered $2 prescriptions.

“Insurance helps, it really does,” he says.