Michelle Perez is next in line for someone who speaks Spanish. She says she's here to figure out if the new health insurance law can help her save some money. She's holding a medical bill for a recent doctor's visit. She's diabetic and unemployed. And she's here so someone can explain her options to her.
Also waiting for a broker is DeLisa Tolson. She lost her insurance when she got divorced three years ago. Since then, she's gone to the emergency room and to mobile health vans for care.
"Even though they did a lot for me on the medical van, there were just some things they just couldn't do," she says. "And so, as far as mammograms and Pap smears, and being over 40, I decided it was time that I came down here and got Access Health."
That was three weeks ago. Starting April 1, she'll pay $86 a month for her insurance. That's a lot better than the roughly $240 a month she had priced before the exchange plans were available.
Today she's back, bringing a friend in to enroll.
"I came home and I explained to ... all of my friends how easy it was and how comfortable it was," Tolson says. "It didn't take long at all, either. I was in-and-out within like 45 minutes to an hour. I felt very welcome. It was a very warm environment. It was nice."
The state's health care exchange says that Tolson is one of 10,000 people to have walked into one of its two retail stores — and that she's one of 5,000 to have actually enrolled.
This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes NPR, WNPR and Kaiser Health News.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Fri, Mar 21 2014