Bringing up the Affordable Care Act in the weeks before the presidential election can be risky business and subject you to a tirade of opinions from those around you. No matter which side of the fence you land on, for or against ACA, the numbers show that more people are getting insured. While it’s tough to deny the fact that the law has reduced the number of those without insurance, there are still many who remain uninsured. In addition, high out-of-pocket costs continue to prevent those with coverage from seeking medical care when they need it. Many insured simply cannot afford to use their coverage.
As part of Centre Volunteer in Medicine’s ongoing mission to meet the critical health and dental care needs of the Centre County area, our agency has decided to expand its services to include uninsured individuals working in Centre County but living in neighboring counties that do not have free clinics to meet their healthcare needs. CVIM will continue to serve those with incomes at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines ($29,700/year for an individual, $60,750 for a family of four). This expansion is made possible by the progress we have seen with the implementation of the ACA, which has helped to insure more individuals locally. We welcome this progress. The need, unfortunately remains significant for many residents of Centre County and in surrounding regions.
A “typical” profile of people who work in our community but do not have healthcare include people like Donna. Donna, a single mother of three, is employed full time by a local hotel where she earns $9/hour as a housekeeper. Her full time status qualifies her for health insurance at the hotel, but she is not able to afford the monthly premium, co-pays and deductibles. Donna resides in Huntingdon because housing in Centre County is too expensive. Donna’s family has a history of diabetes, and she is most likely pre-diabetic. Lack of access to healthcare may eventually affect her ability to work and support her family.
CVIM is also focusing on getting to the hard to reach individuals within the area who do not have healthcare. Through an increased outreach and marketing program, we are striving to get the word out that we are here to care for their medical needs.
Ultimately, CVIM, our providers and friends will not rest until we make certain that all Centre County residents, and people working in our community who need our help, receive access to the dental and healthcare services that enable them to lead happy and healthy lives and participate as productive members of our community, as our neighbors, friends, and co-workers.
Cheryl White is the executive director of Centre Volunteer in Medicine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.