Moraine Township’s partnership with the Lake County Health Department and the Alliance for Human Services helped more than 500 residents sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare).
“Thanks to 20 volunteer Navigators, a grant from the Health Department, and the ability to leverage existing resources, the Township was able to help residents without Moraine Township taxpayer funds,” said Township Supervisor Anne Flanigan Bassi.
“People were grateful for the help and patient with a process that was at times challenging,” noted Navigator Donna Novickas. “We received thank you notes that touched our hearts,” said Navigator Carol Pomerantz. “One enrollee wrote ‘what a nightmare that has ended in a dream come true.’”
Bassi attributed the success of the effort to a team of dedicated volunteers, staff, and elected officials, who completed more than 40 hours of training and a criminal background check to become certified Navigators. The Township’s effort continued throughout the six-month open enrollment period, both at the Township office and the Highland Park Public Library weekdays, evenings and weekends; the Township office stayed open until almost 11 p.m. on March 31, the last day of open enrollment.
“As Navigators, our job was to be sure residents received all of the financial assistance they were income-qualified to receive to help make access to health care a reality,” noted Navigator Diana Passerba. Added Navigator Barbara Altman, “the process of understanding provider networks, subsidies and cost-sharing was complex, and even sophisticated people needed help navigating the program and plans.”
Some examples of people Moraine Navigators were able to help included retail, domestic and beauty-shop workers without employer-provided health insurance; young people coming off their parents’ plans; self-employed people; unemployed people; people who were losing COBRA coverage; and people who were previously “uninsurable” because of pre-existing conditions.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, residents had to factor access to healthcare into major life decisions such as whether to retire early, start their own business, or quit a job. Those without insurance put off preventative care, such as Mammograms and other important screenings that are now included in all plans, without co-payments.
Navigator Leslie Abelson commented that “this is the most satisfying volunteer work I have ever done. I go home evenings knowing I made a real difference in someone’s life.”
Moraine Township’s General Assistance Manager, Paula Peddle, helped almost 100 residents enroll for the expanded Medicaid program. She observed that “some of the low-income residents I have worked with for years now have health insurance for the first time in their lives.”
“We were fortunate to be able to partner with a vibrant organization like the Lake County Health Department. One of our star Navigators, Terri Olian, became Project Manager for entire the Enroll Lake County! effort.”
Township staff and volunteers will complete additional training to continue this effort. The 2015 open enrollment period is scheduled for November 15 to December 15, 2014. They will also assist people who have changes in insurance coverage or become eligible for Medicaid throughout the year.
For further information call Moraine Township 847-432-3240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.