Healthcare Voices: The story of Michael Brylewski

Interview conducted January 24, 2017

Essential Plan Coverage Rescues Hardworking LI Mom

When the renewal of Medicaid coverage for herself and her two sons was denied in December 2016, Tracy Baric was frightened. Her marriage earlier in the year altered her household income, and based on information she found online, Tracy was left with the impression that she was ineligible for a public sponsored insurance plan. In reality, even with the combined incomes, the total household family income still fell within the public insurance income parameters.

This was the good news she learned when she met with Neffy Townes, a certified navigator at the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, a lead agency for the New York State’s health insurance exchange. Tracy says she broke down and cried in Neffy’s office.

“She made me feel like there is hope,” said Tracy. “It was like she was in my head answering all my questions before I asked them.”

Her family income qualifies her for Essential Plan coverage, the level of insurance coverage instituted in 2016 for individuals whose income is above the threshold for standard Medicaid, but who still cannot afford commercial insurance. Tracy has no monthly premium for her medical coverage and will pay $31.86 for the vision and dental insurance she opted to take, instead of the $1200 a month premium she was quoted for the off-exchange commercial plans. Those plans carry deductibles in the thousands and offer bare-bones coverage.

Tracy has some underlying health issues that give her pause for concern. Now with insurance, she says she will be able to resume vital medical testing. Her two boys qualified for enrollment in Child Health Plus.

“Financially, I can’t afford insurance,” said Tracy. “If I lose it, all I can do is hope and pray.” Tracy says she often worked two and three jobs as a single mom in order to provide for her boys. “I am an honest and hardworking person,” said Tracy.

Her message to Congress is this: “Not everybody is the same. I agree the health system needs change. But don’t hurt those people who are hardworking and just trying to survive. Please don’t hurt us.”