By Regina Gray
On March 26th, 2014, myself, and nine others had the honor and privilege of representing the GLBTQ community at the White House.
I was proud to share my story of how the Affordable Care Act has benefited me alongside other GLBTQ representatives and Dr. Jill Biden, 2nd lady of the United States.
Just a short year ago, I was struggling under increasing debt directly related to my health care. In addition, I was coping with a recent divorce of twenty years and struggling with the loss of everything I had worked for. I moved out of my home, divorced my spouse, lost my pets, as well as my part-time job.
After being a “stay-at-home parent” to my two daughters, I found myself unemployed and struggling to find work.
One bright spot was that in my search for resources I decided to start volunteering. My search for a volunteer opportunity led me to The GLBT Community Center of Colorado where I landed in Transgender Programs as an administrative assistant.
The greatest financial burden I had was still the costs associated with maintaining my health. I was paying $400.00 a month for the coverage and another $800.00 per month in medication expenses. The monthly cost of just one of the medications I need is $350.00 per month. I was charging my medication on credit cards because I had no other choice. Not only did my prior insurance plan not pay for charges related to my diagnosis of Gender Incongruence, it also did not pay for much of the medication I require unrelated to my Transgender status. As my insurance renewal date approached, my insurer informed me that my premium was going to increase by $250.00 per month! This put the cost of coverage beyond my means. I was so relieved when the Colorado marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, opened!
The GLBT Community Center of Colorado is a designated “Assistance Site.” They have a health coverage guide, Rachel Gips, on staff who can help community members navigate the enrollment process free of charge. I made an appointment with Rachel and we got started. She helped me navigate and complete the on-line forms and paperwork. We did encounter a few glitches and delays along the way but nothing insurmountable. President Obama had said, “to expect a few challenges along the way but they would be worked out,” and they were worked out.
I ended up with a great plan that was affordable and very comprehensive- including transgender surgery and services. I saved $50.00 a month on the monthly premium, but the real savings was the fact that the plan covered my medications. That alone is saving me over $700.00 a month!
I no longer need to use the proceeds from the sale of my home to pay for my health care expenses. I can use the extra money on car repairs and other life expenses. My new plan even includes a case manager that knows me and calls me on a regular basis to keep me informed and to check on how I am doing with my Transgender related care.
For me, the Affordable Care Act has been a pathway to better health while allowing me to regain and maintain my financial stability.
Your voice matters, because decisions about your health are too important to be left to others. Make your voice heard and tell us how you have benefitted from Obamacare and Connect for Health Colorado.