Jean* works for a small business that belongs to the North Country Greater Watertown Chamber of Commerce, a Community Health Advocate Network partner agency. The Chamber helps small employers and their employees with health insurance and health care access problems. When she started getting bills after a one-week hospitalization, Jean turned to her local CHA advocate at the Chamber for help. Jean had not met her annual deductible yet.
Jocelyn arrived at the hospital to get emergency care for her 4 year old son Jeremy and was told that his health insurance was inactive. Jeremy had to see a doctor and get oxygen, so Jocelyn had no choice but to pay for it out of pocket. He received the care he needed.
Winter is a 29-year-old, Brooklyn resident who works in sales and marketing. He was referred to Community Health Advocates (CHA) by a friend because he was having trouble getting his health insurance plan to cover transgender health services. He had COBRA coverage after leaving a job and the services he needed were denied by that plan. He soon secured different coverage through his new employer, however, that plan also would not cover the services his doctor had confirmed he needed.
Gladys Puglla was in a meeting when she collapsed without warning. She was immediately rushed to one hospital, and then transferred to another for treatment by specialists. The 50-year-old city employee eventually recovered from what was revealed to have been a stroke, and felt lucky. Then the bills arrived—over $130,000 in hospital and doctor fees, more than three times her annual salary. “That was scary,” she said. It turned out that the bills were so high because Gladys had received care from doctors that were not part of her insurance plan at the second hospital.
After attending a CHA presentation for small businesses about the Affordable Care Act, Kathleen contacted CHA’s Small Business Assistance Program to review her employers’ health insurance options. Together SBAP and Kathleen found how the business could capitalize on the Small Business Tax Credit and the employees could take full advantage of the Affordable Care Act. Everyone ended up paying less to have better coverage.
In the fall of 2010, Megan Schley was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. She had recently graduated from college and did not have health insurance at the time. Her family was forced to pay more than $6,000 out-of-pocket for many expensive tests. CHA told the family that under the ACA, Megan would be able to enroll in her father’s health plan starting in January. The family no longer loses sleep over the thought of having to refinance the house to pay for Megan’s care.
Victor Hill, 42 years old and homeless, had his backpack stolen in NYC after being discharged from a New Jersey State Mental Facility. His backpack had the prescriptions for his despression medication that he knew was extremely important to take regularly. Victor went to several hospitals in Manhattan to try to get a new prescription written, but the doctors there said they couldn’t prescribe him anything. After two weeks with no success, Victor finally got the contact information for Community Health Advocates from a person at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
Eight year-old Keyla was born deaf and has a Cochlear implant that enables her to hear. Last year, she began having sporadic hearing loss and lost her balance during playtime at school. As it turned out, these problems were caused by a hearing aid malfunction.
Keyla’s mother Yeni, who speaks only Spanish, contacted the manufacturer and requested a replacement part. The company sent her a stack of paperwork, all written in English. They also sent a bill for $2,500, saying she would have to extend the device’s warranty before they would fix the problem.
After being diagnosed with leukemia, Tracy first cut back his working hours, and eventually had to stop working all together. When he lost his health insurance, Tracy applied for Medicaid. Tracy’s doctor soon informed him that he would need a bone marrow transplant, and Tracy and his wife Anita went to the hospital to begin the required tests and procedures.
Vanessa Perkins knows the value of having an advocate. As a life-long New Yorker and activist, she speaks out for the causes close to her heart, such as children with special needs. With Vanessa, you know you’re in the presence of someone who gets things done.
But when Vanessa was facing her own challenges in accessing health care, she turned to CHA. “People think it’s degrading to ask for the help they’re entitled to, and that has to change. It’s empowering. CSS gave me the strength to tackle this situation.”