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Coverage is Critical

Editor's note: With Republicans laying the groundwork to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, CHA is urging legislators to put people above politics and proceed in a way that preserves and ultimately broadens health care access. Beginning in this issue and extending for several issues, Catholic Health World is publishing profiles of individuals whose lives have been improved by ACA-enabled health insurance coverage. Those stories will be compiled on the CHA website. We invite ministry members to contribute patient profiles of their own to this project and to use the stories to reach out to legislators with the message that health insurance matters to the dignity, quality of life and well-being of individuals and families. To contribute profiles, or suggest individuals for profiles, please email jvandewater@chausa.org.

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ACA health insurance covers the unexpected for retired salesman

Catholic Health World – March 1, 2017
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxJohn Bower tripped on a concrete barrier, lost his balance and conked his head in a Rolla, Mo., parking lot in early 2016.

His wife drove him to the hospital, where he got stitches to close his head gash and received a concussion diagnosis. The medical bills for the visit totaled about $6,000. Much of that was covered by a family health insurance policy that the Bowers purchased through healthcare.gov, the federal marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.
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Subsidy enables owner of business start-up to buy health insurance

Catholic Health World – March 1, 2017
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxJordan Maney launched her wedding and event planning business about a year and a half ago because she recognized that nontraditional couples were being overlooked by the wedding industry.

As owner and sole employee of her home-based consulting company, All The Days Event Co., in San Antonio, Maney can plan and coordinate everything from the engagement party to the music that plays as a newly married couple exits their reception. She specializes in events for nontraditional couples, people whom other bridal planners may overlook. This includes couples who are biracial, older, minority or gay.
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Prospect of ACA repeal worries woman with congenital condition

Catholic Health World – February 15, 2017
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxMegan Burkett underwent her first heart valve replacement surgery at the tender age of 14 months. When she was 23, a surgeon replaced her prosthetic valve with a human cadaver valve. A few months later, she had a cardioverter defibrillator with a pacemaker feature implanted in her chest. On odd occasions, she can feel it regulating her heartbeat.

Congenital heart disease has not slowed her down, but the 31-year-old Burkett says her need to maintain good health insurance coverage continues to influence her life choices. Now, she faces the prospect that Congress will repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement law in place to continue coverage protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. That safeguard had been a hallmark of the ACA law. "I'm terrified," she says. "I have to get a job with benefits — I have to," she says. That's proved very challenging.
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Corpus Christi woman says marketplace insurance is 'a blessing from the Lord'

Catholic Health World – February 15, 2017
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxWhen Lisa Morris of Corpus Christi, Texas, received her insurance renewal notice in the fall, she was crestfallen: Rates on the plan she purchased on healthcare.gov had risen considerably — and even with premium subsidies, her monthly bill would climb from $100 to $250 per month. She couldn't afford it.

A patient of CHRISTUS Health's charity clinic system, Morris, age 48, called a CHRISTUS enrollment help line; and an insurance expert helped her enroll in CHRISTUS' silver plan, on the federal insurance exchange created through the Affordable Care Act. Morris qualifies for significant premium subsidies with that plan, too.
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Tennessee pastor has access to essential cancer drugs through marketplace plan

Catholic Health World – February 1, 2017
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxAbout 14 years ago, clinicians diagnosed Michael Rigsby with a rare liver cancer. Since then, he has received a chemotherapy injection every four weeks to prevent the growth of his tumor; and he will have to follow this treatment regimen for the rest of his life.

The drug is priced at $25,000, per injection, according to Rigsby.
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Flight attendant's Medicaid allows for her breast cancer treatment

Catholic Health World – February 1, 2017
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxWhen Melinda Lopez of Las Vegas switched jobs as a flight attendant in 2015, she took a gamble that she'd be all right without health insurance. Making about $20,000 annually at the time, she didn't feel she could afford to pay her portion of plans offered through her employer.

About a year ago, she noticed a change to her right breast. She needed a medical evaluation, but didn't know what to do without health insurance. She and her sister began looking for organizations that might be willing to help her. "This is the first time in my life ever needing assistance. I didn't know where to go," she said.
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w170115_VulnerablePopulations-aVulnerable populations wonder what is ahead given potential for repeal of health reform

Catholic Health World – January 15, 2017
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxInsurance enrollment counselors who work with low-income people are used to hearing heartfelt "thank-yous" when they help their clients sign up for insurance. But it isn't every day a counselor also receives the promise of delicious eats. Erricka Hill, a social worker with CHI Memorial in Chattanooga, Tenn., discusses health care insurance enrollment with a client. She helped him to navigate the healthcare.gov insurance marketplace.

When Joy Salas, a certified application counselor for Mostellar Medical Center in Bayou La Batre, Ala., recently told a client that she qualified for insurance on the insurance marketplace with very low out-of-pocket costs, the woman "just about started crying," said Salas.
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w170115_MarketplaceInsurance-aMarketplace insurance gives Texas minister access to medications

Catholic Health World – January 15, 2017 
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxTrevon Buchanan of Texarkana, Texas, needs a lot of stamina and pep to keep up with his full life. The married father of four is a youth minister at Texarkana's Westside Church of Christ, where he directs summer camps, weekend retreats and mission work with energetic children.

Buchanan, age 41, a kidney transplant recipient, is insured through a policy he purchased on a federally run exchange at healthcare.gov. The medications that prevent his body from rejecting the kidney cost a few thousand dollars per month; and he would not be able to afford that cost without insurance coverage. Buchanan was underinsured for one month last spring and struggled to pay for his medications. Friends and Good Samaritans at his church helped with the costs of the medicine.
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w170115_HospitalAdmissions-aHospital admissions supervisor uses ACA insurance as bridge into retirement

Catholic Health World – January 15, 2017 
w170115_MarketplaceInsurance_CoverageIsCriticalBoxTrudy McCarty, 63, isn't afraid of hard work. She was 15 years old when she started working, but come Feb. 28, she's retiring from her position as an admissions supervisor for same-day surgery at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La.

She has newly signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and while she knows the law has its critics, she says: "Thank God for this." She has worked at Our Lady of the Lake for 40 years. She'll retire at age 64, a year shy of Medicare eligibility. She looked into coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act — better known as COBRA, which provides people a way to temporarily continue their health coverage at group rates — and suffered sticker shock. Her premium would have been roughly $600 a month. "Absolutely, it was a shocker," she said.
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