Last December, Yvonne, a single mother of two who is undocumented, found herself without health insurance for her children and utterly bewildered by the process of finding coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Eduardo also found himself without health insurance. His employer didn’t offer coverage, and figuring out the state’s online health marketplace and the various requirements proved more challenging than he had imagined.
Both Cypress Hills residents turned to CHLDC, which through funding from SeedCo hired a “health benefits navigator” last fall to guide the uninsured in the neighborhood through their options, help them determine whether they qualified for subsidies, and assist them in enrolling in New York’s fledgling health insurance marketplace, known as New York State of Health.
“We knew that implementing the Affordable Care Act was going to be a major undertaking,” said CHLDC’s Health Benefits Navigator Laura Olan. “And that was especially true in Cypress Hills because the state health insurance marketplace is only in English. It was really important for us to help people navigate a brand new and complex process.”
Despite the challenges of the difficult rollout of the Affordable Care Act last fall, nearly 200 people in Cypress Hills sought out and found health insurance coverage with CHLDC’s help. Many were able to find subsidized coverage while others qualified for Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income people, or Child Health Plus, the state-run insurance plan for children. Two of those whom Laura helped secure coverage were Yvonne and Eduardo. In March, Eduardo purchased a subsidized health plan, and in April, Yvonne obtained coverage for her children through Child Health Plus.
“The system has worked; there were some glitches, but many people who were uninsured got covered,” Laura said. “It’s been very satisfying to help connect folks to benefits and health insurance. Everyone should have health insurance. It shouldn’t be a privilege that some have and others don’t. It’s very rewarding to know that we as an organization have helped people, and especially children, be able to see a doctor or get medical care when they need it.”