Archive for December, 2013

How a Health Care Party Helped Me Support a Friend

December 11, 2013

This post originally appeared at MomsRising.

Recently, I signed-up with MomsRising and Get Covered America to host a “Healthy Homecomings” webinar at my house to learn more about the health care exchanges and tips for helping people in my family and community get the coverage they need.  It was a great excuse to have friends over and I wanted to learn more about recent health care changes. Hosting the party was surprisingly simple. All I did was invite some friends and neighbors, wrangle my mother into whipping up a few snacks (this is optional, though you should never pass up an opportunity to have my mother bake), and read through a few simple discussion questions. On the evening of the party, we watched a webinar and listened to a live presenter.

And then the most amazing thing happened, we talked — really talked — about health care.

Mer-party-group-convo

After the party, my friend Shari stayed behind. She told me that she was so glad she came, and told me what she did not say to the group, that she has been having health problems and needs to see a doctor. I am glad she stayed; glad we are here in my living room talking about how things really are on health care.

I am also amazed at how much people need to share, want to share, when someone really asks “how are you?”

I didn’t know until that night that my high school friend, a health professional that spends her life traveling to fill critical medical staff shortages, does not have health insurance.

“I heard so much negative information about the exchange. People were saying it was one way…like you had no choice” she explained, clearly aghast at what she did not know about the healthcare exchange. She just kept saying how scared she had been about the process, about how people were making it sound like she would not get the coverage she needed.

I nodded my head. I’ve seen the news and the Facebook posts. I can remember how she feels, what it is like to need the coverage you don’t have. Before I was able to get coverage with my employer my husband and I went thousands into debt when he dislocated his shoulder, a debt we just paid off recently after several years. I looked her in the eye and told her that she needed to get covered before the December 23rd deadline. We talked about how she can make that happen, about how empowered she feels after learning about the exchanges, and her options.

“Girl” she said in true Shari style “Momma is gonna get the Mercedes Benz of healthcare to take care of this heart,” she laughed. I laughed along with her and for more times than I can remember I again say a heartfelt thank you for the Affordable Care Act.

My friend Shari was one of three people at the party who were uninsured. One of the guests had already gained insurance coverage through the exchange. Everyone at the party knew someone who needed health care coverage or better health care options. Everyone had a stake in the conversation.

Mer-Holiday-Health-Party-Group-Image

Personally, I am all in on this because I have seen first hand the savings and quality of care that it affords people. When I had my second child this past February, my prenatal visits were covered — a fee of $40 that I paid while pregnant with my first child only 20 months earlier — and it saved my family thousands. Then, the exchanges opened and I saw people I knew — a woman at work, my hairdresser — get coverage for the first time in years. Both my siblings still need coverage. They have become my next mission!

The webinar we screened at the event reminded me of something I knew intrinsically: family and friends listen to women about their healthcare decisions. We are the trusted go-to members for information in our communities. As moms, we need to use this trust to make sure we are helping our families get the healthcare they need and the truth is “69% of uninsured people don’t know about health care options but they want to.” We — that’s right us — are the people they need to hear from because when we tell them about the exchange, when we ask them “how are you?” they know we have their best interest at heart.

So, ask.

Ask your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family over. Volunteer to host your own party (it was so easy, just a Facebook event and a couple of snacks in my living room). Ask, really ask “how are you doing?” “What are your health care needs?” And, don’t be surprised when you get some unexpected answers.

 




Great Coverage, Great Savings

December 5, 2013

AmyLynnSmith2Before the Affordable Care Act, Amy Lynn Smith of Michigan had three strikes against her when buying health insurance: living with type 2 diabetes, being a woman, and being self-employed.

Although her current insurance plan covers a lot, annual price hikes have driven the cost up to $1,400 a month plus out-of-pocket expenses.

That’s all changed now that she can no longer be discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition or being a woman, and isn’t stuck paying top dollar to buy an individual plan.

Here’s what she wrote after enrolling in a new gold-level plan at Healthcare.gov:

“Starting January 1, I’ll be paying $530 a month for almost identical coverage. Actually, my annual deductible is less — $150 instead of $250. My prescription co-pay will be just a tad higher, but that still won’t bring me anywhere near what I’m paying per month now. The cost to see a doctor is just about the same if I stay in-network, and the nationwide network is huge. All the other benefits are comparable, with the added bonus of programs to help me better manage my diabetes. Plus, I can keep every single one of my doctors.”

Amy estimates she’ll save nearly $10,000 a year with a plan that covers 80 percent of her expenses. Plus, her coverage can never be canceled or limited.

With her new plan, Amy not only has the peace of mind that comes with knowing she’s covered, no matter what. She also has more money in her pocket to spend on other things.




Why Wednesday Night Tea is Out2Enroll

December 4, 2013

This post originally appeared at Out2Enroll.

Wednesday-Night-TeaThere’s no doubt that Wednesday Night Tea – a unique, interactive drag queen show held every Wednesday at Central Station in Shreveport, Louisiana – is known for its amazing cast of characters and non-stop entertainment. But we’re more than just a great drag show – we feel a responsibility to keep the LGBT community informed about issues that affect us, including Obamacare.

How did we get involved with Out2Enroll? Each week, we produce a slide show that covers local, state, and national news that ranges from the funny to the most serious. We always include several slides that address LGBT issues that our fans appreciate and enjoy. One of our fearless crew members was searching for new content for our show and came across the Out2Enroll website. Even though we have heard about health reform, we didn’t know all of the details or how to answer questions that our community members might have. But Out2Enroll did! We were impressed with the information and knew that it was going to be very beneficial to our local LGBT community. So we made the jump and got involved.

We immediately began promoting Out2Enroll resources to our in-house fans and our Facebook fans, and we’re including information about the Affordable Care Act and the Out2Enroll campaign in our weekly slideshow. Our cast – the ever-lovely Vanessa LeRoux, Feenyx Styles, The Ladi Phat Kat (who recently placed 7th at the National Miss USofA Pageant At-Large), Mya Andrews, and Jax Hannigan – is also working on videos that will be posted on our YouTube page. These videos will focus on the need for insurance, the issues our cast has faced because they were uninsured, and how the LGBT community can enjoy the same benefits that other people enjoy without many of the barriers we’ve faced in the past. And, of course, we will continue to use social media and our weekly drag shows to post information about health reform and encourage our fans to check out their options.

Wednesday Night Tea is also working to promote the PC Wellness Center at our upcoming local drag pageant, the Miss Shreveport Pageant. The reigning Miss Shreveport will be responsible for several community activities and will raise awareness on issues concerning the LGBT community, including health reform and the importance of being Out2Enroll. And we are planning to take our show on the road so we’ll be looking for venues to provide other communities with information concerning the LGBT issues and some GREAT entertainment!

Why is it important to be Out2Enroll? Because our community needs health care and Obamacare plays a huge role in making this a reality. For example, Shreveport faces the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the state of Louisiana. It is not something that we are proud of – but it is something that we are working on through grants for free services – and health reform will help. We are excited to work with an organization that is dedicated to providing information and helping the LGBT community on one of the major issues facing our family, friends, and neighbors.

Thank you for the Out2Enroll campaign and for partnering with Wednesday Night Tea! Together, we can get the word out to our community: help is around the corner, which means that HEALTH is around the corner. Let’s all get healthy, stay healthy, and get covered!




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