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.