He had every reason to believe he was in control of his economic future as a Certified Fiber Optics Technician, able to ply his trade anywhere around the globe. However, 12 months ago, after losing a position with a technology company in Washington,

D.C., Michael Coleman was suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into unfamiliar territory. He was applying for unemployment insurance and living without the security of health benefits; benefits he lost along with his job. Michael had joined the millions in the U.S. left to chart a new course to survive and overcome the rigors of joblessness, and to recognize the impact of not having health coverage. Like many educated middle class Americans, Michael never thought he would be unemployed; never thought he would be without health insurance.

While he was redoubling his efforts to acquire a new place of employment, Michael also took advantage of the new healthcare law by attempting self-enrollment online under the state’s Maryland Health Connection website. After experiencing problems with his application, he eventually found help at the Randallstown library where Certified Navigator Sheila C Bennett was stationed to offer assistance to consumers by enrolling them into Qualified Health Plans or extended Medicaid. Bennett is a navigator with Chatman, a partner with Healthcare Access Maryland, the Central Region Connector Entity. Bennett provided Coleman with the necessary assistance. He finally was able to select a health plan of his choice qualifying for a tax credit to reduce his premium, and he also received a 70 percent reduction on certain out-of-pocket expenses. Coleman was surprised to learn he qualified for two subsidies that made his cost for a private health insurance plan very inexpensive.

A few weeks later, Coleman found Bennett again at the Randallstown library and gave her some welcomed news. He had gone to his first doctor’s visit using his new health insurance plan and he didn’t have to pay one cent out of pocket. He received treatment for an old untreated shoulder injury. As a result he got a full night’s sleep for the first time in six months. As part of the treatment plan he is undergoing physical therapy. He happily demonstrated to the navigator how he is now able to move his shoulder, which he declares, is already 80 percent back to normal. For Coleman, 2014 has begun on a bright note with his needed health coverage in place; now he can use all of his energy to find employment in the fiber optics field rather than worrying about health insurance.

 For help enrolling into the Maryland Health connection in Baltimore County call 443-962-5465 and like us on facebook at ChatmanLLCMD.