Story by Brenda Goodman
Photos by Jenni Girtman / Atlanta Event Photography
Laureen lost her health insurance about 8 years ago when the company she worked for closed its doors.
A few years later, her sister had a debilitating stroke. Laureen, who was still looking for another job as an executive assistant, moved in with her to split expenses and make sure she was looked after.
They survive on her sister's $700 disability check and about $200 more Laureen can get each month by taking on sewing projects through Craigslist. She sometimes works until 2 a.m.
"My primary worry is cost for medical care.”
Laureen’s lack of health insurance has kept her from getting a physical exam for about 5 years. "Because of my age, I know there are things I need to check," she says. She has a family history of breast cancer. "I need to do a mammogram."
At age 60, Laureen is too young to apply for Medicare, and she’s not eligible for Medicaid. She recently qualified for a program that allows her to see a doctor for a $10 copay through a public health clinic in Atlanta, where she lives -- as long as she's willing to wait. "If you go in for an 8 o'clock appointment in the morning, you're not coming out until 3 or 4 in the afternoon," she says.
She's eager to see whether there will be more help and less hassle when the Georgia health insurance Marketplace opens in October. Her main concern is whether the plans will be affordable.
Update: Sept. 30
Laureen says she's heard more about the Marketplaces on the news, and that's prompted her to want to know more about them. She feels very busy taking care of her disabled sister and her extended family members, though, and says she hasn't really had time to sit down and read about the new options yet. She's hoping to be able to do more research soon.
Update: Oct. 24
Laureen has been trying to get through to Healthcare.gov for days, even spending 6 hours trying one day. "I have tried to get on, and it's been very frustrating," Laureen says. She has done some research outside Healthcare.gov and understands that some of the less expensive plans are HMO-type plans, while others let you pick your own doctors. Knowing which doctors and hospitals are in a network is important to Laureen. Her next step is to try the 800 number.