Dawn Lindsey is one of nearly 65,000 Missouri residents that have signed up this year for health insurance through the federal Marketplace. Lindsey, who is self-employed, knows firsthand how important having insurance is.
Lindsey signed up for Marketplace coverage in 2013 during the first open enrollment period with assistance from the Cover KC coalition, a local effort to enroll as many uninsured Kansas City-area residents as possible.
Last year, Lindsey was diagnosed with uterine cancer. After nearly a year of treatment that included surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, she is now in remission. She spent a total of $2,000 for her care. Without insurance, it would have cost her more than $450,000.
“I was thankful every single day I had insurance. I never had to worry,” said Lindsey. “If you roll the dice and go without coverage, your life is ruined. Your finances can be wrecked and you could lose your house.”
Cover KC coalition members include health care organizations throughout the region, the United Way of Greater Kansas City and the Mid-America Regional Council.
Trained navigators and certified application counselors help consumers review their coverage options, set up appointments and enroll in plans available through HealthCare.gov. United Way 2-1-1 serves as the region’s central referral hub for consumers seeking in-person enrollment assistance. MARC coordinates a public outreach campaign using a variety of media outlets to promote enrollment.
Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimated that nearly 240,000 residents in the region were uninsured. During the first open enrollment period in 2013-14, more than 42,000 residents enrolled for coverage, and last year, 81,000 enrolled or re-enrolled through the Marketplace.
Consumers who remain uninsured face poorer health outcomes and significant tax penalties in 2016. For coverage to begin on January 1, 2016, consumers must enroll by December 15. The last day to enrollment for 2016 coverage is Jan. 31, 2016.
This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.