October 1, 2013

Uninsured seek answers at Waterville health care presentation, Augusta program

Mark and Brenda Lint, of Winslow, among those seeking help navigation Affordable Care Act's insurance markets at today's event

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — If anybody is in a health insurance bind, Mark and Brenda Lint are.

click image to enlarge

Brenda Lint asks questions during a presentation on the Affordable Care Act today at the Waterville Public Library. Her husband, Mark, is seated to her right.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Jake Grindle, of the Western Maine Community Action Program, explains the Affordable Care Act to a group at the Waterville Public Library today.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Additional Photos Below

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Oct. 9, 1 p.m., Oakland Public Library

Oct. 10, 10 a.m., Maine State Library, Augusta

Oct. 17, 10 a.m., Skowhegan Public Library


Oct. 3, 10:30 a.m.-noon; and Oct. 8, 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m., Waterville Public Library

They're an example of what happens when you become injured, lose your job and health insurance and try to muddle your way through to get help.

"We're in a mess," Brenda Lint, 57, of Winslow, said Tuesday.

The Lints attended a health insurance marketplace presentation Tuesday afternoon at Waterville Public Library, where Jake Grindle, a health marketplace navigator from the Western Maine Community Action Program, explained how uninsured people can find and sign up for affordable health care.

Mark Lint, 58, his right arm in a sling, sat with his wife and about a dozen other people who sought answers to questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Lint said he was told by his employer of 27 years that as of midnight Monday, he was terminated from his job as a gas delivery man.

In early August, he had surgery on his shoulder for a torn rotator cuff, which he said was a work injury; but his company denied the claim. The company also said he doesn't quality for short-term disability because he is claiming a work injury.

The workers' compensation board is reviewing the case but says it may be a year until he gets a decision, he said. Meanwhile, when he lost his job Monday, he also lost the insurance he had through work.

"He was terminated because he can't work," Brenda Lint said. "All he wants to do is get better and get back to work."

She said she thought it might be less expensive to seek health insurance through the marketplace than by paying for COBRA, a transitional insurance coverage Mark Lint expects to get soon.

Brenda Lint is disabled. She has had cancer, a knee replacement and a herniated disk in her back — and gets Medicare Part A, she said.

She learned Tuesday that she will not be able to get any further assistance through the marketplace because the Affordable Care Act does not allow someone receiving Medicare to do that. Instead, she must seek assistance through Medicare.

Grindle said one of the most common calls he gets is from people who are on Medicare, asking whether they can sign up for insurance on the marketplace.

"The answer is definitely no," he said. "It really has nothing to do with Medicare."

Brenda Lint said her husband will have to stay on COBRA until he can apply for insurance in the marketplace Jan. 1.

The couple's 24-year-old son, who was on Mark's insurance through work, has Crohn's disease, and treatment for that costs $24,000 every eight weeks, they said.

"We really have to make sure that we have insurance," Brenda Lint said.

After listening to Grindle's presentation, she said a lot of her questions were answered.

"Still, it's quite mind-boggling," she said. "I'm a little more hopeful that if you fill out an application through the marketplace, a lot of questions will be answered."

Throughout Maine and the country Tuesday, thousands of people sought information about how the new federal health care program will work.

Emily Brostek, consumer assistance program manager at Consumers for Affordable Health Care in Augusta, said the foundation's help line received at least 55 calls Tuesday, and two people visited the office in person to seek information. For comparison, the help line averaged about 15 calls per day in August.

Joseph Ditre, the executive director of the Augusta-based organization, said people might have been frustrated by the delays they encountered on the phone or online, but he wants them to know that open enrollment will continue through March 31.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Emily Brostek, left, assists Charlene Brousseau with enrolling in an Affordable Care Act insurance exchange today at Brostek's office in Augusta. Online enrollments have encountered delays, but people wishing to to enroll can telephone or fill out paper forms.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Emily Brostek, left, assists Jesse Miller, of Portland, learn about health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act today. Brostek works at the Consumers for Affordable Health Care office in Augusta.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy


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