Coverage is Critical

In this Catholic News Service video, CHA President and CEO Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, discusses how the proposed AHCA bill contradicts Catholic social teaching and how taking healthcare away from millions will be a 'pro-life disaster.'
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. Catholic Health World is publishing profiles of individuals whose lives have been improved by ACA-enabled health insurance coverage. 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 Judith Vandewater.


Tennessee couple doubts ACA replacement will serve patients' interests

Catholic Health World - June 15, 2017

Marjorie and Tim Riley of Bartlett, Tenn., describe themselves as private people, but they are telling their own story to illustrate the need for affordable, quality health insurance. It's something that has been a worry of theirs for decades, as they often didn't know from year to year if they could pay for needed health insurance.

Marjorie, better known as Bonnie, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994 at age 33, when she was a stay-at-home mother. She woke up one morning unable to see out of her right eye.
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California woman credits marketplace insurance with saving her life

Catholic Health World - June 1, 2017

When Kellie Pearson of Olivehurst, Calif., reflects on the nearly two decades she went without health insurance coverage while also struggling with a life-threatening heart condition, she is most saddened by the collateral damage done to her loved ones.

Her daughter and stepson were in early elementary school in the late 1990s when Pearson began having debilitating arrhythmias related to a genetic heart disease. Pearson recalls now how the children often would check on her when she was napping, to make sure she was still alive. 
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Marketplace insurance essential for two-time cancer survivor

Catholic Health World - May 15, 2017

In late 2001, at age 44, Toni Bannister received two life-altering diagnoses: In November that year she learned she had Stage 3 colon cancer; and in December she learned she had Stage 3 breast cancer. Both cancers had moved into her lymph nodes, and the breast cancer was a particularly aggressive strain.

She had a left-breast mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation to eradicate the breast cancer and several surgeries and chemotherapy to remove 12 inches of her colon and her lymph nodes.
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Hotel housekeeper's insurance covers lifesaving surgery

Catholic Health World – May 15, 2017

Toni Deluca doesn't mince words when she describes herself as "the working poor." She labors 25 to 30 hours a week cleaning rooms and assisting with banquets at a hotel in Boonville, Mo., about 25 miles west of Columbia, Mo.

In January of 2016, she got health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Deluca, a 57-year-old resident of Bunceton, Mo., a town of fewer than 400, said she hadn't tried to buy health insurance before then, figuring there was no way she could afford it. But she developed a sharp, chronic pain in her left side, and it motivated her to investigate the cost of coverage on (Missouri did not expand Medicaid under the ACA.) Deluca found a policy for which she currently pays $20.48 a month, after subsidies.

She scheduled an appointment to see a family practice doctor, setting it for a day after her insurance took effect.
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ACA provides vital protection for San Antonio woman with diabetes

Catholic Health World - May 1, 2017

"'Type 1 diabetes is such an unforgiving disease. You may not feel it now, but you will later,'" Ursula Garza Hernandez says her physician warned her several years ago.

At the time, she was uninsured and stretching her insulin by skipping doses or taking smaller shots than necessary to control blood sugar spikes.
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Artist's health insurance facilitates life-saving care

Catholic Health World – May 1, 2017

Robert Ganson was reminded about the importance of health insurance in dramatic fashion — he fell off his roof.

Ganson, a 54-year-old artist who lives east of Kansas City in Lexington, Mo., had just taken down roof jacks and planks when he lost his balance and plummeted 16 feet to his lawn. When the accident happened in 2012, his family was uninsured. Ganson said they couldn't afford the $1,300 monthly premium for a family of three.
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Through ACA, Shreveport woman gains coverage in the nick of time

Catholic Health World - April 15, 2017

Patricia Blaze Jackson of Shreveport, La., had been uninsured for more than 25 years when, the federally facilitated health care exchange enabled by the Affordable Care Act, went live in 2014. She signed up right away.

Jackson, now 60, had dropped her employment-based insurance in 1987, because, she says, she could not afford the premiums and high deductible connected with the coverage.
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Insurance allows Baltimore woman to have preventive care and peace of mind

Catholic Health World – April 1, 2017

For several years in her 20s and 30s, Baltimore resident Nzinga Rahim went without health insurance because she couldn't afford it. She was "pretty much" healthy, but she says that when she turned 30, "things started to go south." She didn't have a primary care physician. On the occasions when she felt really poorly, she'd seek care at a hospital emergency room. In one visit she was diagnosed with a sinus infection. When Rahim developed a skin condition, she initially turned to the Internet to self-diagnose, and briefly thought perhaps she was allergic to sunshine.
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Entrepreneur with preexisting condition relies on ACA protections

Catholic Health World - April 15, 2017

Ben Brammeier's offbeat business, Fish Eye Fun, puts a party twist on the old style photo booth with props that include silly hats, accessories and signs. He and his 10 employees, all but one of them part-time, travel all over the country to work at family celebrations and corporate and community events. They snap lighthearted pictures through a fish-eye lens that makes the moment pop, and immediately deliver a high-quality print to everyone in the group shot.
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Student depends on Medicaid expansion for mental health care

Catholic Health World – April 1, 2017

By her late 20s, Jamie Willett had grown accustomed to feeling fretful and blue, but the sadness and stress wore on her.

"I just thought something was wrong with me," she recalls now. By the time she entered graduate school at Arizona State University in mid-2016, she was weary of her struggle and determined to get mental health treatment.
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Now insured, Chattanooga woman poised for comeback

Catholic Health World – March 15, 2017

Etta Hill is ready for things to turn up again, and she hopes that now that she has insurance, she'll be able to have a fresh "restart."

The 61-year-old widow had been living in California for decades, working as a nurse, with full insurance coverage, when in late 2014, her parents in Chattanooga, Tenn., fell ill. Hill moved back to her hometown — first temporarily and then permanently — to care for them. In December 2014, shortly after Hill's move, her mother died of complications from colon cancer surgery.
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ACA health insurance covers the unexpected for retired salesman

Catholic Health World – March 15, 2017

John 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, the federal marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.
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Cancer survivor's video supports patient protections in the ACA

Catholic Health World – March 1, 2017

At 21, Maggie McConnaha has more knowledge of health insurance than most people her age and more reason to worry about the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

When McConnaha was a freshman at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., in the spring of 2015, she got sick. She initially thought her swollen lymph nodes were caused by mononucleosis — two of her friends had mono. Doctors conducted tests, and then more tests, and came back with a diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system.
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Subsidy enables owner of business start-up to buy health insurance

Catholic Health World – March 1, 2017

Jordan 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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Corpus Christi woman says marketplace insurance is 'a blessing from the Lord'

Catholic Health World – February 15, 2017

When Lisa Morris of Corpus Christi, Texas, received her insurance renewal notice in the fall, she was crestfallen: Rates on the plan she purchased on 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

About 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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Prospect of ACA repeal worries woman with congenital condition

Catholic Health World – February 15, 2017

Megan 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.
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Flight attendant's Medicaid allows for her breast cancer treatment

Catholic Health World – February 1, 2017

When 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

Insurance 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 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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CHW_TexasMinisterMarketplace insurance gives Texas minister access to medications

Catholic Health World – January 15, 2017 

Trevon 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 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 

Trudy 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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Father calls on citizens to protect the ACA by sharing their stories
Sons have rare, inherited genetic disorder