Asbury United Methodist Church in Annapolis invited certified navigators from Chatman to give a day long Obama Care enroll-a-thon at the church one recent Saturday. Church leaders, Yolanda Perry and Rhonda Green planned the enrollment event saying, “Our church’s mission is to serve the last, the least, and the lost,” so this Affordable Care Act enrollment event is a perfect collaboration for the church.

Perry originally met Certified Navigator Bianca Harsley at the Severna Park Library, where Harsley told her Chatman had been charged with reaching the uninsured, educating them and enrolling them into Medicaid and Qualified Health Plans. She explained Chatman’s partnership with Healthcare Access Maryland, the Central Region Connecter Entity for the Maryland Health Connection and asked whether or not Asbury would hold an enrollment event. Perry said the church provides free lunch several days per week, including Wednesdays and Saturdays. They agreed a Saturday during the free lunch period would be the perfect time to hold the enrollment event. They were right. Many homeless persons came in for lunch and were enrolled into Medicaid right on the spot. Chatman president, Priscilla Chatman, said she was so pleased that they were able to enroll seven consumers within just a couple of hours and many enrollment appointments were made as well.

It was most poignant when the church’s custodial engineer, Franklin Johnson, finished setting up the tables and chairs for lunch; he then walked over to Harsley and asked her to enroll him into a Qualified Health Plan. The church like any small business cannot afford to offer health insurance to its part time employees so Johnson did not have health coverage. Harsley enrolled him on the spot. Both he and the pastor, the Rev Dr. Carletta Allen, were so relieved that he now has health insurance. Johnson said, “I look forward to going to see a doctor. A big weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I am at peace now!” Rev. Allen said, “it is also a great relief for me now that Mr. Johnson has quality health insurance.“

Navigators provide a free service to the community, educating consumers and enrolling them into affordable and in some cases free health plans. But navigators don’t just enroll; they listen to life stories and gain a level of trust in the time it takes to complete an application. Those who need health insurance come in all forms with different stories and backgrounds. This was apparent in the persons who came to Asbury to enroll. Not only were there the homeless who came for the free lunch and enrolled into Medicaid, but also two church members who had lost good jobs and employer-paid insurance sat down to enroll. The need for insurance crosses all communities.

So Asbury UMC and Chatman will hold another enrollment event on March 22. Rev. Allen said the church is hosting these enrollment events because, “This is my service; this is my sermon.”

The deadline for enrollment is March 31. Bianca Harsley is stationed at Asbury UMC every Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Contact her at 443.962.5295 to enroll or for more information.