Eileen is a caregiver. She has spent her career making sure that people are taken care of at the end of their lives, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She works hard to ensure they are comfortable and supported. It is a career she loves dearly. After the young boy she cared for passed away from cancer, she decided to come back to New York City for a time of reflection and respite. “I love my job, but I needed to be near my own family after that loss.”

When Eileen returned home, she faced a challenging season of unemployment. Months turned into a year, and she was still seeking a job. “I am fortunate to have a friend to live with. But what scared me the most was not having health insurance.”

Eileen would not just benefit from health insurance, she was in desperate need of it.

Everyone benefits from having health insurance. Those with insurance have access to preventive care, and so are able to detect disease and conditions earlier. They are better able to manage chronic illness and medication, and fare better psychologically knowing that they can afford care when they are sick. Increased rates of healthcare access may help tens of thousands of people to live longer lives.

Eileen would not just benefit from health insurance, she was in desperate need of it.

“I have a history of precancerous cells in my cervix that was found over five years ago,” said Eileen. “I need to receive regular check-ups to make sure they do not turn cancerous. I had not had an exam in a year, and it really scared me. I thought about it every day.”

Eileen’s friend calmed her fears by steering her to Public Health Solutions’ Ridgewood Neighborhood Center. “He assured me that they would help me to quickly enroll for health insurance under the NY State of Health Marketplace. I needed the peace of mind. It was weighing on me knowing that I may have cancer.”

Our Health Insurance Navigator and Facilitated Enrollment programs help over 12,000 families submit their applications and over 18,000 individuals successfully enroll in and renew their health insurance each year. We have multi-lingual navigators available in all five boroughs and Long Island who help community members like Eileen to enroll in a health plan, step by step.

Eileen remembers that first day she entered our Ridgewood Neighborhood Center well.  “I was nervous that I would be denied. I didn’t have a New York ID. I didn’t have a stable address. I was actually on my fifth couch that year. My navigator Fatima put me at ease.”

“She is wonderful.” Eileen says about her navigator.

“Fatima understood immediately that I was in need of medical care, and put my paperwork right through. She helped me out so much. Within just weeks I had health insurance.”

Health insurance navigator Fatima did not stop at helping Eileen enroll for health insurance. “She also connected me to other services at the center that would help me at this time, like enrolling for SNAP.”

Eileen has found great comfort in having health insurance, and has taken advantage of many of the health services she is now afforded.

“It makes me feel better that I can get checked and taken care of. I was able to get the regular physical I needed. I had a pain in my heel, and went to the doctor for that. Today I went to the optometrist and found out that I may have to get eye surgery.  I would not have done that when I did not have health insurance. I thought I had bad glasses, and I would have just gotten tear eye drops at the pharmacy. When you have no insurance, you take an aspirin and try to go on with life. This could have left me blind in one eye if I didn’t take care of it.

“Now that I have insurance, I can get things like this checked out that I would have just lived with.”

Nearly 1 in 5 New Yorkers enrolled in a health plan through the NY State of Health by the end of the 2017 open enrollment period. This has resulted in a significant drop in New York State’s uninsured rate, from 10 to 5 percent between 2013 and 2016. This increase in health insurance enrollment significantly increases access to care and use of preventive care, primary care, chronic illness treatment, medications, and surgery—all of which can directly maintain or improve health for New Yorkers in need.

Not only is Eileen in better physical health since having insurance, the peace of mind she sought has drastically improved her mental health.

“Everyone should be able to go to a primary doctor every year, eye doctor every year, dentist every year. Having health insurance has saved my life.”

While incredible strides have been made since the passing of the ACA, there is still more work to be done so that every New Yorker has health insurance. Your gift to Public Health Solutions enables us to reach people like Eileen, who are in desperate need of healthcare. We hope you consider becoming a monthly donor today. Your unrestricted contribution supports our work in helping vulnerable families and communities in New York City to thrive.

Yes! I want to help New Yorkers like Eileen

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