Local advocacy groups launch Obamacare outreach campaign

Joselito Lopez talks about losing his job and his health insurance.

Joselito Lopez talks about losing his job and his health insurance.

Joselito Lopez, 43, suffered two heart attacks within two weeks in 2007.

While going through double bypass surgery, the Mountlake Terrace resident lost his job at Microsoft along with his health insurance. Unemployed and considered high risk, Lopez was drowning in $90,000 of debt.

“I went through bankruptcy and moved back home with my parents. I didn’t have any options and went a whole year without any insurance,” Lopez said.

Today, insured, employed and healthy, Lopez is one of the winners under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. And many more may be just like Lopez, according to local advocates.

“For many lower- and moderate-income people insurance is going to be a lot more affordable, and when about a million residents are uninsured in Washington that is important information,” said Teresa Clark of Washington Community Action Network (Washington CAN!).

As of Oct. 1, open enrollment for health care plans that go into effect Jan. 1 has begun. By logging onto a federal- or state-run website, anyone can plug in his or her age, gender, income, location and smoking status, and find a health care plan.

Members from Washington CAN!, Latino Leadership Institute and the Verdant Health Commission are launching a joint outreach campaign to inform the public about the new online application that is open until March 1. The three groups gathered at the Verdant Health Commission office in Lynnwood on Tuesday, Oct.1, to discuss ways to help Snohomish County residents without insurance understand their options.

health care chart

Though the application is entirely online, the groups decided the best way to communicate the Affordable Care Act’s promises and get people signed up involves personal one-on-one contact.

“We will be knocking on doors trying to get the word out,” Clark said. “We’re willing to do that follow up work and we know that it takes multiple steps to get people to understand how the law actually impacts them.”

Lack of clarity is a common complaint about the health reform bill.

George Kosovich, the director of programs and community investments at Verdant Health Commission, said that one of the main misconceptions about the health care law is that people who benefit are not working.

A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about half of the public surveyed across the nation said they did not have enough information about the ACA to understand how it will impact them and their families.

Also, the poll shows that Americans with lower incomes, who are more likely to be eligible for coverage, are less likely to report receiving information about the law across a wide variety of sources.

Clark said, “We still have a lot of work to do to enroll everyone who is eligible and continue improving the law, but by Jan.1, thousands more people in our state will finally have peace of mind knowing they’ll be able to get the health care they need.”

– Story, photo and graphics by Marika Price, using data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

If you like what you are reading, please consider a weekly, monthly or one-time voluntary donation of any amount to support our work. You can donate via this link.

2 Comments

  1. First off, Shame on Microsoft for laying off a man who was having Double Bypass Surgery. Maybe Bill Gates should see what happens under his nose instead before he goes around the globe helping everyone else?

  2. Let’s look at the facts of Mr. Lopez’s situation. First the details of his job loss are not mentioned. The article does not say that the surgery caused the loss. Second since he worked for Microsoft he legally would have been offered COBRA, a way to continue his Group medical insurance that he had with Microsoft. Yes he would have to pay the premium. “Unemployed and considered High Risk”-this does not sound right. His risk is irrelevant as he could have continued his coverage without a gap. Also the story seems to imply that his 90K debt is related to medical bills possible?? If he did go onto COBRA for 18 months he then could have obtained an Individual plan without any medical questions (Guaranteed Issue)
    I am glad that Mr. Lopez is now healthy and employed, but how is he a winner under Obamacare. No one is on any ACA plan yet. That cannot happen till Jan 1st.
    Yes there is a lot of confusion and mis-information about the new law. I personally spent 3 hours today with a key person from the Washington Health Plan Finder- The Exchange. Many of us Brokers have spent 100s of hours learning about the law and getting certified to help our clients evaluate the new options in the market.
    Don’t forget that there is still a market place outside the exchange like there has been for years where you can look at multiple plans side-by-side to compare. There is little new other then a way for some people to get a premium subsidy. This will be helpful for people with incomes below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. There is a place for Assisters, Navigators and Brokers to serve the citizens of Washington. Using a Broker will not cost any additional premium, it is built into the medical plans. It is important for groups like Verdant to reach out to the community to heal people learn about the new law. Let’s just make sure we tell the whole story and be transparent about the process.

Leave a Reply