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I love the people on this website. It is a community that looks out for those that often can't or don't know how to get the services they need. With the advent of healthcare reform, the need for navigation of choppy waters is greater than ever. So, in order to steer clear of rocky shores, we need to do our part.

There are many people who make our day go just a little better. The smiling face that makes sure you get your coffee the way you like it. The dry cleaner who remembers that you only like light starch. The server at your favorite restaurant that knows you like the sauce on the side. These people need our help & we can make a big difference in their lives. I have two personal encounters to share just how we can make a difference.

We love an Italian restaurant in a beach town that draws a large number of second homeowners & tourists from DC. The town puts forth a fair amount of effort into drawing people there on the off season. The weekend after the shutdown ended, we were talking to our favorite waitress about how things were going. The place was pretty empty, & it was the Jazz Festival weekend, which usually has the town maxed out. She said business was terrible, & we agreed that the shutdown really decreased attendance.

We continued to chat. We come to find out that our 20 something waitress & her chef husband both work for this local restaurant consortium. Things are bad. The owner promised benefits & never delivered. She was often making more than her husband, even though he was head chef at one of the other restaurants which was an upscale seafood place. They played around with the staff by moving them on & off hourly designations so that they wouldn't have to pay overtime in the busy summer & wouldn't have to count them full time in the off season. They take a portion of their tips during catering events, & even tried to get her husband to scam the kitchen staff's hours. He refused. They have no cable, no internet, & one car.

I told her about the ACA. I explained how between their low income (her base is just over $2.00 per hour) they would more than likely qualify for a subsidy. I wrote down the website (so she could sit in a coffee house & try to get information) but more importantly gave her the phone number. I explained that she would need her tax return for financial information & that preventative care like mammograms & pap smears would be covered. I also told her that birth control pills would also be covered.

She got the biggest smile on her face. She hasn't been able to afford birth control or to go to a GYN for a pap smear for over two years. She left the table & before we left said she talked to the other servers & said they were all going to apply. She thanked me profusely.

A few days later I was getting a manicure (an indulgence I admit to) & started a conversation with my regular manicurist. She is an immigrant from Viet Nam. Her husband, and engineer has been laid off for almost two years now. One daughter graduated college, & the other is almost done undergraduate. I asked her if she had heard of ACA & had she applied? She said her husband was on it. She also had not been to a doctor in several years, & was having GYN issues she couldn't wait to have checked out. Again, I told her that she would probably qualify for subsidies, & for her to feel free to ask me questions if she didn't understand something.

These encounters got me thinking. I made up some little cards with the website address & phone number for ACA. I am updating them to include thehealthsherpa.com which is a site for them to put in their zip code so they can compare plans available in their area. This way they have a head start in deciding which level they want to purchase.

It is a small thing, but if we all pitch in it will really help the people who really really need us. So when you encounter someone who makes your life a little easier, stop & talk to them to see if you can do the same for them.

It's what the Kos community does best: combine compassion with action.

Originally posted to mamaeps on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 09:47 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What a delightful, inspiring diary. (10+ / 0-)

    If more of us took your kind of initiative, there would be no (republican) lie too large that we couldn't overcome.

  •  Great diary and the cards (6+ / 0-)

    are a great idea.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 10:41:12 AM PST

  •  I've been planning to take some info cards (5+ / 0-)

    with me to the next voter registration event at the monthly naturalization ceremony. Some of these new citizens may not have health insurance and might want to know more about the ACA.  

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 01:43:52 PM PST

  •  "What's a subsidy?" I answered that twice last (5+ / 0-)

    night, for people who are likely eligible for one.

    Maybe a week ago I read that although the    HealthCare.gov web site would be a centralized place to compare insurance plans, you could sign up over the phone without using it.  Last night it occurred to me to see if there are other web sites that will help you find a plan.  I didn't find the   healthcaresherpa.com  site but I found

       www.ehealthinsurance.com  

    and    

    www.healthinsurance.org   .  

    At least one of those will help you estimate how much subsidy you can get.

    When I went through that with two different people, the both asked, "What's a subsidy?"  I said something like the government picks up some of the tab for the insurance.  I don't  think that completely sank in until I had the dad from a young family of three plug in an estimate for their family income in 2014.  Their subsidy would be about $410 a month.  One of the bronze level plans was $402 a month and one or two others were below or scarcely above that.  Since the mom in that family just discovered she's pregnant, due in July, they'll likely be better off for 2014 taking a plan with a higher premium and lower out-of-pocket maximum; that may change by 2015.)

    I seriously think when people hear "subsidy" they don't realize it could be as good as money in their pocket.  We politics junkies here are used to understanding it, but for someone who doesn't want to get into the details of politics a "subsidy" is something they may have heard farmers get, but not something they'd ever expect for themselves.

    Those estimates of what the subsidy will be are unofficial, I'm sure, but I believe whatever insurance company you apply to can get an official determination of how much your subsidy will be.  Have your last tax return handy.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 02:23:24 PM PST

    •  A caution about ehealthinsurance.com (2+ / 0-)

      At this web site
      http://askville.amazon.com/...
      I found some worrisome comments, including one from 2012 in which someone who signed up through the ehealthinsurance web site and ended up with a higher premium than he'd been quoted.

      I think the site now just passes you on to Blue Cross or Humana or whatever insurance company you're interested in.  I'd recommend doing the actual signing up with the insurance company.  

      We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

      by david78209 on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 02:52:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. We are all navigators now ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kjoftherock, ahumbleopinion

    So true. With so much misinformation and disinformation out there even my normally well-informed friends are behind.

    One significant point for self-employed people. When I applied (and was accepted) I was only asked for my income "this month", which for many self-employed people is unexpectedly reasonable. I assume (but think it's still being worked out) that my numbers may be crosschecked with last years tax return to see if I'm in the ballpark.

    However, the elegant part of the system for people like me is the true-up that will come in 2015 when I file my 2014 tax return. If my estimate was too low I will pay back part of the subsidy. If my estimates were too high, the government will send me money.

    Anyone who gripes about subsidies for "those people" getting free stuff from "my" tax dollars, remind them that people who get insurance through their employers are already being subsidized by the Federal Government through IRS tax codes. Businesses get to write off their share as a business expense, and employees get tax-free compensation.

    "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

    by annan on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 12:33:01 PM PST

  •  Great diary! (0+ / 0-)

    However, I just tried to visit the website you gave, thehealthcaresherpa.com, and got a message that this URL is not valid. Googling turned up healthcaresherpa.com, without "the" in front of it, but that website says it's "A leading Medical Coding, Medical Billing and Revenue Cycle Management Services Provider," and I don't see any place to get information on ACA plans. Just wanted to mention this before you give it out to people, lest they become even more frustrated!

  •  You are right! (0+ / 0-)

    I've been helping some people out.  They need it.  Many won't know or don't know they can just call in, if they want to.

    There are also many people on the Internet spamming positive threads with their, "I got a raw deal" story.

    Some of those, sadly, are real.  Many are BS, and a little tiny bit of digging reveals that.

    Yes, we all need to help one another Navigate and keep discussion out there related to the ACA, somewhat sane.

    Oh, and the other dynamic is this:

    Nobody is too motivated to say they got a great deal, or are insured for the first time.  Here, we've encouraged people and we are close enough that it makes sense.

    Many people feel like they might lose it by talking too much about it.

    On the other hand, everybody who has a bad deal has a strong incentive to speak out.

    The only real way to check that is to get out there and do our part.

    Great diary!

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***
    IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

    by potatohead on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 11:33:00 PM PST

    •  Love the idea of the cards. (0+ / 0-)

      I may make some.

      I do keep the phone numbers handy and I do regular lookups for people who really haven't gone and looked at what is possible, mostly thinking the worst.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 11:34:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dang it! Replied to my own. Sorry. (0+ / 0-)

    One more thing:

    I helped a poor family get started.  I take them frozen chickens from time to time.  They need it.

    The kids need health care, one has seizures and cannot work.  Needs expensive meds.

    In Oregon, they totally qualify for OHP, our medicaid program here.  They actually thought only minorities would qualify.  Who told them that?  WTF?

    After that clarification, I realized people are thinking all sorts of shit based on garbage they could have gotten from who knows where.

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***
    IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

    by potatohead on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 11:37:26 PM PST

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