Hear the Voices of the Insured

A staggering 3.6 million New Yorkers obtained affordable, quality health insurance through New York’s health insurance exchange, since it opened in 2013. Thousands of those individuals passed through the doors of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council on Long Island and met with the Hospital Council’s certified navigators who helped them apply for coverage.

The consumers seeking the Hospital Council’s assistance are from various socio-economic classes, races, religions, and genders. They are your neighbors, friends, and relatives. We hope these stories will help you understand why access to affordable health insurance is so vital. We want everyone to read these stories and see these people, rather than just numbers and statistics. We also want lawmakers and policy makers to consider the impact their decisions have on the health and well-being of their constituents.  We want you to remember these stories and these lives. Simply click on a headline at left to read a person’s story.

Stacy Villagran, senior director of health insurance programs at the Hospital Council, has overseen health insurance enrollment programs at the Hospital Council for the past 16 years. The organization is also a certified navigator agency providing enrollment assistance in the insurance exchange, and a subcontractor for the New York State Consumer Assistance Program for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled. The Hospital Council has been providing these types of enrollment services for years, even before the Affordable Care Act was put in place.

Stacy and her seasoned staff have been providing enrollment assistance for over a decade, and know what life was like for people trying to access health insurance before the ACA was there to help.

An Enroller Speaks

“Have you ever had to look into the face of a young mother with cancer, and tell her she makes $20 too much to qualify for health insurance?” Stacy recounts. “Almost every day, we were forced to answer questions like, ‘What do I do now? What do I tell my kids? Am I supposed to go home and just die?’ The only answer to be given at the time was, ‘When you get sicker and can no longer work, come back and apply. You will qualify then.”

The Hospital Council Navigator team knew just how woefully inadequate that advice was. But prior to the ACA, people who did not qualify for public health insurance could neither afford nor access private insurance – especially when they were sick.

The stories Stacy’s team can share are heartbreaking, but very real. Here at the Hospital Council, we believe that the Affordable Care Act isn’t just about insurance. Whether an individual’s coverage comes from the exchange or an employer, this is about healthcare rights and protections for all.