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Coverage at an Affordable Cost

26th November 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

Bill Koclanis with quote

Bill Koclanis 

Oak Forest, IL

The Affordable Care Act has finally made health insurance accessible to Bill Koclanis and his wife.

“It brought insurance down to a price that a person could actually pay,” says Koclanis.

Prior to obtaining a Marketplace insurance plan, Koclanis and his wife had been covered under a health savings account (HSA) for about a year and a half.

“The price had gone up considerably from the time we had taken the health savings account,” says Koclanis. “[The monthly cost] probably jumped $400 or $500. We’d get letters saying ‘You’re 60 years old now,’ or ‘You weigh this much and you’re only this tall.’”

With each notification came an increase in price, says Koclanis. He and his wife didn’t know when to expect a price increase; he says that it seems the bill would climb every few months.

In January 2013, Koclanis attended a seminar on the ACA led by a former Campaign for Better Health Care Navigator, Jose Espinoza.

“He did an excellent job of explaining it,” says Koclanis. “It was very manageable for me.”

Koclanis and his wife later met with Espinoza again, this time to get enrolled. Koclanis said they walked away a half hour later with new coverage.

“Our savings is astronomical,” says Koclanis, who opted for both a medical and dental plan for he and his wife. “Our actual billed amount for both of our medical and dental plans is $1,046 a month. Our tax subsidy is $623 a month, so we only pay $423 a month.”

Koclanis says that, without this tax subsidy, he would not be able to afford his new coverage.

“It is awesome. It’s kind of like a dream come true,” he says of his new coverage plan.

Koclanis says that he sees other benefits of the ACA beyond his own vital savings.

“I can see for younger people, if they would take advantage of this, that to be able to cover your medical would allow you to leave your job, basically, and a person could go chase their entrepreneurial dream,” says Koclanis. “I worked in the trades. I knew guys who wanted real badly to strike out on their own, but the medical was always the large issue. It was always the killer; it was always the deal breaker that kept you where you were. I don’t know if the country seems to understand this [benefit of the ACA] yet. I think the Navigators made all the difference in the world. Still, the Navigators can speak to you, but you still have to listen.”

Koclanis says that his son has recently left his job to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor of his own; he is in the process of signing up for a Marketplace plan as well.

“I think that the Navigators are very good,” says Koclanis. “It made all the difference in the world. If people would just search out for the help…I contacted [Navigator Jose Espinoza] and he was more than generous with his time. It worked out beautifully.”

No More Costly Care: A Family Saves With the Marketplace

23rd October 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

 Alan C. large

Alan C. & Family 

Des Plaines, IL 

When Alan C. lost his job, he and his wife were concerned about switching to a new health care coverage plan; their son suffers from asthma, and Alan says that they wanted to be sure his son’s care would not be negatively affected by an insurance change.

The family qualified for COBRA continuation coverage, enabling them to stay on the group insurance plan provided by Alan’s employer prior to his job loss, but they knew this was not a permanent solution.

In February of this year, during a trip to his local library, Alan noticed signs advertising seminars and one-on-one information sessions on the health insurance Marketplace.

“I made an appointment to learn more about it, because before that it could be very intimidating,” says Alan.

Alan and Campaign for Better Health Care Navigator Cheryl Gay met to discuss his health care options.

“Cheryl showed me how to navigate the [Marketplace] system,” says Alan. “I was able to go on there to seek out the comparable insurance to the one that we had… we found comparable [coverage plans] for less money. It was good coverage, so we went that way, and we were able to get some savings.”

Alan says that he has been “very happy” while utilizing his new coverage plan.

“You don’t feel a difference from the [plan] that we had before,” he says.

There is one difference, though , Alan says: a huge savings of over $400 monthly, compared to what the family was paying for COBRA coverage.

“The Navigator system made this process less intimidating and more manageable,” says Alan. “[It] is so valuable to help us understand it. This is something that works for our family. [The Marketplace] is controversial, you know, some people are very against it, but for our family it worked very well. I was in the middle of a job transition situation, and my son has some sickness. We worried what if [a new insurance provider] doesn’t take that condition, but after managing to navigate the Marketplace system and seeking out a plan that fit our family’s needs, it worked out really well. We have savings over $400; that worked out real well.”

Embracing Change Under the ACA

17th October 2014 by Anya Krenicki Comments Off

Tanine Murdock w quote

 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

Mark MacGregor quote

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.”