Daphine B., resides in Hillsborough County and for years had been self-employed and unable to afford her much needed blood pressure medication. Aware of the fact that “self-care” and trying to stay healthy, was not enough, she went back to school and studied to be an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). For the next 13 years she was employed in her County School District as a nurse where she had health insurance. When her health began to deteriorate, she was forced to retire and could not afford to continue her employer-based insurance. She found out from the Family Healthcare Foundation that she qualified for coverage that she could afford through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA and its Navigators across the state of Florida are assisting individuals like Daphine to find affordable coverage enabling them to receive the care and medications they need to lead healthier lives. Get connected to a Florida ACA Navigator at www.coveringflorida.org.
“My experience made me realize that it is not easy to find the information you need to maintain healthcare coverage. My Navigator and the Family Healthcare Foundation helped me to find and obtain affordable coverage. I couldn’t have done it without their help!” - Daphine B., Hillsborough
Read more of Daphine's story below or share your own story here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 62 years old.
When my kids were little, I worked in the hospital [as a nurse’s assistant]. When I left the hospital, I became self-employed and had no insurance. I went to a free clinic where they help people because I thought I had high blood pressure. They told me that there are programs where you can apply…because you need to be taking the blood pressure medicine because it is so high. I was put on the Hillsborough County plan and my kids were put on Medicaid. I used that program for a long time. But then I realized, okay, my children are getting older and one reason why I might have gotten help is because I have young children. [At that time], my youngest was 14, and the other thee, two grown and done was still in high school. I said I better go back to school. So, I went back to school and became an LPN. So, this way I would be able to get a job that had health insurance. So, I've been working [as an LPN] for the Hillsborough County School System for 20 years. I had my own insurance. But my health started deteriorating and the health problems got in the way of me working. So, I retired two days ago.
Have you experienced health care affordability issues in the past? Have you ever been uninsured for any long period of time before?
When my kids were little, I worked in a hospital, and had insurance…I left my hospital job around 1989. I became self-employed and didn’t have insurance. Then I got on the Hillsborough County plan in 1995. So, it was about 5 or 6 years that I didn’t have insurance.
[When I was uninsured] I stopped taking my blood pressure medication. My blood pressure was so high, and I went to a free clinic where they help people. They told me that there are programs where you can apply…because you need to be taking the blood pressure medicine because it is so high.
I didn’t take the kids to the doctor because I never applied for Medicaid. I did have food stamps, but I didn't have Medicaid. So mainly just doing my own doctoring, and I know my family and myself…whatever we could stay healthy. We didn't really see no dentists. I tried to make sure that I took care of things, you know, because I knew I couldn't afford it.
I went back to school and became an LPN. So, this way I would be able to get a job that had health insurance. So, I've been working [as an LPN] for the Hillsborough County School System for 20 years. I had my own insurance. No problems because I had health insurance. But my health started deteriorating and the health problems got in the way of me working. So, I retired two days ago. I have been on medical leave since October last year. In September, I found out that I would be paying for my insurance if I wanted to keep it. It was HMO through Humana. I am like, I can’t afford that. That is my whole disability check. When I was working, I was paying about $140/month. It went to about $900 or more. I can’t afford that.
My children are grown, but I have an adopted son. So, I need to make sure I am healthy to take care of him.
How do you foresee having this coverage will impact your health or different areas of your life?
When they sent me a letter telling me how much I’d be paying [HMO through Humana], I called the benefits department and she explained everything to me. So, I went and got all my medicines refilled because if it takes me awhile to find something at least I had my medicines refilled… In a few days I wasn’t going to have insurance… Once I went to my [retirement] meeting, signing my retirement papers, she gave me a phone number and I got in touch with the organization [Family Healthcare Foundation]. When she told me about this, I said thank you because in the back of my mind I was like what am I going to do? I was thankful that she told me all this information. The people that are in positions of informing people need to make sure people know. One person informed me, she put in touch with the foundation and put me at peace of mind.
One big thing I was happy with, I got to see my primary doctor. She was on their plan. I'm hoping some of my specialists will also be on the plan, as well.
Describe your experience working with a FHF Navigator and why you went to them.
Her name was Lynette Lacey. She was very patient with my questions and explaining things to me that needed to be explained. She called me back in a timely manner. It has been a good experience with her and having the same person because sometimes you call back and you get someone else. So now you have to explain the whole thing to them again and I've had to do that since I've been trying to go through this retirement part with insurance disability.