For Kenneth Gray, owner of Graystone Fitness and Dominant Force Athletic Program of Severn, Md., it was just a typical trip to the library. He had not planned on doing anything life changing that day; but he would. His purpose in going to the library was to research high schools in Maryland that had recently contacted to put some of their star athletes through his new physical training program.
Upon entering the library everything looked the same. There was no new paint on the West County Library walls or new chairs. Everything looked the same, neat and clean. He even saw the same woman enrolling library patrons into health insurance plans through the Maryland Health Connection website. He had met Deborah Lewis Thornton the last time he was there. Thornton, he found out was not only the chief of staff for Chatman, a partner with the Central Region Connector Entity, Healthcare Access Maryland, but also a navigator, certified to enroll the public into Affordable Care Act health insurance plans.
Thornton was once again busy helping other library patrons enroll.
As Gray walked past Thornton he had a conversation with himself. It went something like this; Now Kenneth you will be 49 your next birthday and you have owned your own business for 13 years. You are healthy and fit, but you still need health insurance. As a fitness trainer you can be one accident away from financial ruin. You have to make the time to see if you can qualify for this affordable health care. This self-conversation quickly stopped when he remembered hearing a Republican politician say on the radio that it had taken three hours for his friend to get registered. Gray reasoned that he could not invest three hours; rather he needed a process that was quick and painless, so he quickly dismissed the idea of enrolling.
As he finished his research on the high schools he noticed a woman with a certified navigator badge shaking the hands of a couple who were leaving the computer lab. They appeared to be very grateful and he heard the couple say enrolling in Obamacare was quick and painless.
He approached this navigator, Bianca Harsley, and much to his surprise she said she would enroll him immediately. Just 50 minutes later Gray had done something that changed his life. Kenneth Gray had successfully enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield.
As a self employed man with a growing business, Gray was surprised to learn he qualified for a large tax subsidy that would reduce his monthly premium to only $202 per month. Even better, he qualified for assistance called a cost sharing reduction that will pay 87 percent of his out-of- pocket costs like co pays.
Now on a first name basis, after a productive fifty minutes, Gray told Harsley that he’d given himself an early 49th birthday present; by having healthcare he alleviated his stress levels to zero. Gray said “Once you are born you are given a birth certificate card and a health insurance card should follow close behind that one.“
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