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Embracing Change Under the ACA

17th October 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

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 Tanine Murdock 

Chicago, IL

When Tanine Murdock became eligible for Medicare, she was hesitant to sign up.

“I got penalized for the few years that I didn’t take [Medicare] once I reached 65,” says Murdock. “That was my choice. I wasn’t getting a lot of money from Social Security, and it didn’t make sense. I was well, I didn’t have any severe medical problems, and I wasn’t on a lot of medication. So it didn’t make sense for me to put out money, you know, and I wasn’t using [the Medicare plan].”

Instead, Murdock sought out alternative sources of medical care.

“I was getting my medical care at the Board of Health and then I was also on a committee there,” says Murdock. “I was invited to be on the advisory council there, so I had knowledge of the community clinic starting in the same building right there.”

“Around the first of the year about four years ago, when the downsizing started at the Board of Health, I went to the community clinic,” says Murdock. “So I was over there for a couple of years until Obamacare came on board. That clinic, if you didn’t have any insurance or Medicare or Medicaid, you qualified to be in the clinic, and they took extremely good care of me and the rest of the patients. It wasn’t a crowded place, the atmosphere was good. And then Obamacare came and I was forced to get my Medicare.”

Murdock met with a Navigator who enrolled Murdock, but left her unsure of how to use her new coverage plan. Murdock admits that she was wary of the change and did not actively pursue utilizing her Medicare coverage for some time.  During a trip to her local food pantry, Murdock met Campaign for Better Health Care Navigator Cheryl Gay.

“I went to [Gay] and it didn’t make any difference to her where I was in life or what I needed or didn’t need or who I was,” says Murdock. “She was determined to put me on the right track and that’s what she did. Whatever box I was in, whatever mental box I was in, she helped me get out of that and move forward and it was so simple.”

Gay informed Murdock of how the Medicare program had improved under the Affordable Care Act, expanding to provide increased benefits, including savings on preventative care and prescriptions. She helped Murdock to apply for additional financial assistance through Medicaid.

In the interim, Murdock made an appointment at a facility she had never visited before, the Miles Square Health Center in Chicago. She says that she had a minor medical issue that she needed addressed, as well as information on her prescriptions, a flu shot, and a mammogram.

“On Medicare, things are just rolling right along,” says Murdock. “They didn’t ask for a co-pay; I didn’t have to be concerned about that.”

Murdock is still waiting on her Medicaid determination but says that she has been receiving her necessary prescriptions at very little cost in the interim.

“I am grateful, ecstatic,” says Murdock. “Nothing but good professional people around with getting into the Obamacare thing. I am really, really grateful to you guys.”

A Step in the Right Direction

10th October 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

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Mark MacGregor 

Worth, IL 

One moment in a seemingly routine work day changed Mark MacGregor’s world forever.

“I was working for a tree service,” says MacGregor. “A tree hit me in the back of the head…it messed up my whole life.”

MacGregor sustained serious injuries from his accident, which occurred around 10 years ago, ultimately resulting in the loss of his job and employer provided health insurance. He says that he stayed with his parents until both had passed away, and then he was on his own. MacGregor says that he considered returning to his past truck driving career, but persistent repercussions of his injury prevented it.

“Every once and a while I still pass out,” says MacGregor. “I don’t want to get back to driving a truck again because something might happen.”

Over the course of the last several years, MacGregor says that he and his dogs have been without a stable home, shuffling from place to place. He is currently unemployed and residing with a roommate who offered MacGregor a place to live.

“I’ve got a roof over my head, but other than that it’s rough,” says MacGregor. “It’s rough out there now.”

Since he lost his job with the tree service, MacGregor says that he has remained uninsured. He has not been to see a doctor since he was treated for his accident related injuries, though he recognizes that he needs to. He says he has been suffering from persistent headaches and tooth pain.

Fortunately, MacGregor and his roommate met Campaign for Better Health Care navigator Cheryl Gay during a trip to their local food pantry, where she helped to enroll them both in health care plans.

MacGregor says that he appreciated the one-on-one attention that Gay was able to provide for both him and his roommate.

“She’s dedicated to her job,” says MacGregor says of Gay. “She ain’t out there just doing it on the clock: she’s doing it 24 hours a day. She’s a dedicated worker; I gotta say that for her.”

Gay was able to help enroll MacGregor in Medicaid.

“[Gay] helped me out a lot to get [the insurance],” says MacGregor. “You know that’s like three quarters of the battle.”

Now, MacGregor is looking forward to booking doctor appointments. He has been collecting the names of specialists in his area with whom he plans to schedule appointments.

“This is one of the better things that has happened to me,” says MacGregor. “I appreciate what [Campaign for Better Health Care] did for me. It gives me a step in the right direction.”

A Family Fights for Good Health

7th October 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

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James Johnson & Family

South Holland, IL 

James Johnson says that obtaining a new health care coverage plan for his family of four was essential.

“I had no choice,” says Johnson. “I couldn’t afford to pay for [private] insurance, and my wife had cancer and my daughter has asthma and allergies, very bad. We had to have some type of insurance.”

Johnson and his family had a private insurance plan for around 3 years, he says, when he could no longer afford to pay the steep premium. He had to terminate their plan, and the family went without coverage for several months.

The bills were piling up when Johnson says his wife met Campaign for Better Health Care navigator Cheryl Gay at the South Holland Public Library during their twins’ tutoring lessons. Gay let the family know that they qualified for Medicaid, and helped them to begin the enrollment process.

“Cheryl made [enrolling] very easy; she did everything,” says Johnson. “She basically handled everything for us. All we did was answer a series of questions, and we sat there with her while she made phone calls and got everything filled out. She made it very easy.”

Now that they are all enrolled in Medicaid, Johnson says that using their new plan has been “pretty smooth.”

“It worked out pretty good. The specialists that we have had, they let us keep those specialists,” says Johnson. “So we didn’t have to change.”

The Johnson’s have also been able to save on prescription costs.

Johnson, who suffers from diabetes and hypertension, says that, prior to enrolling in Medicaid, his prescriptions alone would cost him $60 to $120 monthly.

Now he says he only has to pay “a dollar or two” to fill his prescriptions.

Johnson says that he is very thankful for his family’s new coverage, and for his experience with CBHC navigator Gay.

“[Cheryl] did follow up with me step by step, all the way until we received the insurance and I liked that,” says Johnson. “It made it easy.  I had a very positive experience.”

A Sense of Security Restored

24th September 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

 

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Joyce Matthews  

Chicago, IL  

When Joyce Matthews was terminated from her job of 12 years, she says that her sense of security was shattered.

“With that happening to me unexpectedly–all of my benefits canceled–it was devastating,” says Matthews. “It was very scary as to how was my medical coverage being taken care of. I’m 60 years old! That was very devastating and scary for me.”

Prior to her termination, and without realizing that she would ever have to utilize this knowledge, Matthews says that she did some research on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She read up on the subject and, when a friend mentioned that he had gotten enrolled through Campaign for Better Health Care (CBHC), she sought out Cheryl Gay, a CBHC navigator. Matthews says that Gay was able to answer her questions about the ACA and to see how much a supplemental health coverage plan might cost Matthews.

“I had a general idea about [the ACA] but I didn’t enroll initially,” says Matthews. “But, after being terminated, I enrolled immediately. I was almost in tears, but [Cheryl] calmed me and told me that that was the reason why [Medicaid and Marketplace plans] were available for many persons.”

Under the ACA, Matthews qualified for expanded Medicaid. She enrolled and has since received her medical card.

“Of my 60 years of living, this was one of the most—I have to say—happiest times,” says Matthews. “It was a scary time, uncertain, but then Cheryl took time and went into the system and did everything she needed to do. It was a big relief. It brings tears to my eyes now.”

Matthews has since accepted a part-time job, and she says that she still seeks to educate herself on health care reform issues.

“I would like to still be more informed about [the ACA] because, working for my employer, I never had to even think about medical assistance,” says Matthews, who is eager to share her story with others.

“I can honestly talk to other persons that I meet in passing, family members…and just some persons who don’t have any medical coverage at all, giving them my experience,” says Matthews.

Pastor and Wife Urge Others to Get Covered

18th September 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

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LaRue and Cassandra Kidd—Chicago, IL  

LaRue and Cassandra Kidd were dropped by their insurance provider. Now, they are enrolled in a Marketplace plan and are spreading the word about the Affordable Care Act to their church and community.

Pastor LaRue Kidd and his wife Cassandra say that their introduction to the health insurance Marketplace last December came at the “perfect” time for them.

Pastor Kidd’s church, Chicago’s True Light Baptist Church, is too small to qualify for group insurance policy rates, and Cassandra’s part time job did not offer coverage to part time employees; as such, prior to the Affordable Care Act, the couple had opted for a private insurance plan.

They had been making due when, suddenly, their insurance provider dropped them, stating Pastor Kidd’s pre-existing condition as the reason for termination of coverage.

Fortunately, the Kidd’s were aware of the upcoming changes that the Affordable Care Act was bringing to the world of health coverage. In fact, they were already spreading the word to others.

“We did try to host some events at our church to make other  people in our church and in our community aware of the Marketplace,” says Cassandra, “[We] provided assistance signing up for those that needed it…we tried to get as many people that we know aware of it as well.”

In December 2013, the Kidd’s went online to healthcare.gov and began to review their coverage options.

“The things that were important to us were the coverage and the cost,” says Cassandra.

The couple was able to select a plan that met their needs in both areas and to enroll online. They say that ever since their plan began coverage in January 2014, they have been able to visit the doctor several times.

“We go to the doctor regularly, not because we have health issues per se,” says Cassandra, “but, you know, to stay abreast of check-ups and that sort of thing. We have a $30 co-pay, which I think is average. But one of the things that we did notice is that we had more coverage for less money [compared to our previous plan]. There are some prescriptions we have filled regularly on a monthly basis that we don’t pay for.”

The Kidd’s say that they plan on continuing to host health care enrollment events at their church, including an event at the end of this month.

“We are very pleased at this point,” says Cassandra.