by Nina Roumell, Strategic Engagement Fellow with Vicki Tosher
Vicki Tosher is a 60 year old, two-time cancer survivor living with her husband in Arapahoe County/Englewood, Colorado. They enjoy walking, hiking, camping, reading, and visiting with friends and family. Before losing her job in 2009, Ms. Tosher conducted cancer prevention research at the University of Colorado.
Losing her job and being unemployed for 10 months left Ms. Tosher spending her savings and struggling to find health coverage due to her pre-existing condition. She is now self-employed and pays $800.00 a month to be on Cover Colorado, a state program covering individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. She struggles to pay these health bills and often opts out of preventative care for fear of unpredictable costs. “ I did not use the medical system the way I should have and as an older adult preventive care is essential.” Ms. Tosher blames her recent pneumonia, a lung infection, on her lack of access to affordable care. You should be able to see your doctor without unpredictable costs to help you avoid getting sick.
But things are beginning to look up for Ms. Tosher. She explains how Obamacare has already begun helping her by eliminating lifetime limits on care, and looks forward to low rates and reliable insurance in the new insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. Ms. Tosher is a consumer advocate herself and was a member of the Individual Experience Advisory Workgroup for the new marketplace. She says, “People who have experience as consumers of the health care system and are grass roots health advocates need to be at the table and provide a voice for those who have encountered the burdens of a significant health care crisis, unemployment and/or lack of access to health insurance.” She cites the importance of people who have endured the strains of accessing care, like herself, throughout the development of Connect for Health Colorado.
Looking at preliminary rate analysis, Ms. Tosher says in an eager voice that the health care premiums she has to pay will drop from $800.00 a month to around $138.00 a month for a silver plan (after financial assistance), saving a whopping $662.00 a month. “This is huge,” Ms. Tosher explains. She says she will no longer struggle to pay looming health care bills or be in fear that her insurer could drop her for being sick. “Reducing the stress of health care bills will make me a healthier person- eating better and being more active,” Ms. Tosher says. Come October, Ms. Tosher will be enrolling in the new marketplace most likely though the customer service call center, one of the avenues for consumers to ask questions and enroll in healthcare.
Vicki is just one of thousands of Coloradans that will be able to use the new marketplace to find affordable health insurance that will begin covering her health care needs on January 1, 2014. Learn more about Connect for Health Colorado and make your voice heard.
If you would like to share your health care story please contact Nina Roumell, Strategic Engagement Fellow, at (303)-839-1261 or at [email protected]