Confessions of a Healthcare Navigator
The deadline for the second ACA open enrollment period is this Sunday, February 15. Learn more about your options for enrolling and your eligibility for financial assistance at NC Get Covered.
Let me begin this by saying I am not a healthcare expert. I am not a health insurance expert. I am not a tax expert.
However, I am a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, neighbor, and friend. I am a believer in universal healthcare. I am an advocate for those who cannot help themselves.
The politics surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have overshadowed both its intent and impact. It has felt as if the intent of the ACA, which is to provide affordable healthcare to those in need but without the financial resources to attain it, is sometimes forgotten. There is no denying the many challenges that initially plagued the federal marketplace website, just as there is no denying that the first open enrollment period proved to be a time of valuable learning about what worked and what could be improved upon. As a healthcare Navigator, I witnessed frustrations with early applications for coverage and delays with the system. However, I also witnessed consumers attain coverage for the first-time ever in their lives. I witnessed consumers go from taking more than $1,000 from their monthly incomes for health coverage, to applying eligible tax credits to offset those costs and walk away not having to pay any monthly premiums out-of-pocket.
I could repeat statistics and other data but they are readily available elsewhere. I could make this a more technical blog post about enrollment but you can find that information here. No one can tell you about my personal experience except me. Only I can tell you how often I looked at the desperation on a consumer’s face when she sat down and the hope in her eyes after hearing she would now be able to see a doctor for the first time in more than twenty years.
MDC is an organization that has built its reputation on providing the resources and skills needed to address poverty. By becoming a federally-certified healthcare Navigator entity, we are now rolling up our sleeves and doing the work that directly touches peoples’ lives in a way that allows us to immediately see the impact. In other words, we get to the statistics as they are being created.
I was initially hesitant to do this work, since it was so heavily steeped in politics and under such intense scrutiny. Now I cannot imagine not taking part in a body of work that has so much influence on the very thread of everyday lives. I am giving hope where none existed before.
The ACA is not a perfect program and there will still be many who will not be able to reap its benefits. Yet, for all of the many individuals and families I have been able to help, it has made the growing pains worthwhile.