Healthcare Voices: The story of Margaret Catalano

Interview conducted January 13, 2017

ACA Proves Affordable and Uncomplicated for 55 Year Old Widow

Her message to members of Congress, or anyone else for that matter, is that her situation may look fine.

“But the real story is that I am holding on as tight as I can. If I were to lose my insurance, your guess is as good as mine as to what would happen to me and my son,” says Margaret, whose voice quivers whenever she refers to her 26-year-old disabled son, Michael.

Margaret recently enrolled in a qualified health plan, otherwise known as commercial health insurance through New York State’s health insurance exchange. She pays $207 a month for coverage for herself. Her son receives Medicaid. She was assisted by Jorge Rivas, a state certified navigator for the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, an agency that provides enrollment assistance on behalf of the state.

“He sat down with me and helped me figure it out. He was so helpful,” said Margaret. She receives financial assistance, which enables her to afford the insurance.

Her husband died from cancer in 2014 and his employer covered the tab for COBRA until that coverage recently expired by law. Those on COBRA pay the full charge for the monthly premium, which is often
out-of-reach for most Americans. Not knowing what to do, she contacted the Department of Social Services and they gave her the NSHC Navigator Agency phone number.

“I didn’t even need an appointment,” says Margaret. “Jorge was wonderful.”

A life insurance policy, wisely purchased by Margaret’s husband many years ago, is the 55-year-old’s only source of income. Caring for her son is a full-time endeavor.

Here’s what she hopes Congress understands: “My son is my priority. I want him to be happy and taken care of. I want to make sure my son has a good life.”