I’ve lived in Portland for 11 years and work for a small real estate maintenance business. About eight years ago I needed medication for an acute lung condition but I had no health insurance. I ended up going to a community health center off and on for years, for simple emergencies or basic treatment, anything my employer wouldn’t cover because it didn’t happen on the job. I paid for everything out of pocket.
In the fall of 2017, I injured my hand. A staff person at the community health center gave me Project Access NOW’s contact information, and I set up an appointment.
I was skeptical—I don’t even qualify for food stamps. But Sean at Project Access NOW helped me enroll in the Affordable Care Act insurance. It was the first time in my life I had health coverage. I didn’t even know what a deductible was until that point. Then Sean started talking about a dental plan and I panicked. I’d never had a dental plan. “How much is that going to cost?” I asked him. When he said $18-$19 a month, I signed up.
Last year, I came back to Project Access NOW to renew my ACA insurance during the open enrollment period. A lot of people have to navigate the system, go through lists of options, and make their selections… It’s not that simple. Project Access NOW helps make it happen. Staff were very easy to deal with, and what an interesting, diverse group of people!
I’ve now had insurance coverage for over a year. I also now have a primary care doctor at Kaiser Permanente, and a dentist for the first time in my life. And a coworker also signed up for the ACA through Project Access NOW after I’d told him about it.
All my life I would never go to the dentist because I couldn’t afford it. When I had to have some dental work done last year, I ended up paying about a third of the total out of pocket thanks to my coverage. And when a week ago I got a call for teeth cleaning, I immediately asked how much it was going to cost, but the deductible was just a few dollars. It was amazing.
I’ve been lucky to not have any major health issues. But I know something can happen any time and I can end up in the ER or needing expensive treatment. When I didn’t know how I would deal with it, it was stressful. I’ve been working my whole life and now, with health insurance and access to health care, I feel more secure. Being insured, thanks to the help from Project Access NOW, has definitely reduced stress in my life.
I have more pride in this country in some way.