By Joanna Bastian

Pateros Community Resource Center is offering free seminars for everyone to better understand the basics of health care options, coverage and insurance. The resource center is also offering seminars for understanding Medicare. The seminars will be held at the Pateros Brewster Community Resource Center, 169 Pateros Mall, Suite A. A question-and-answer period will follow each presentation. Call Grace Larsen at (509) 670-1381 for more information.

A “Learning the Basics of Your Health Care Options” seminar is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Aug. 24, Sept. 21 and Oct. 12.

“Understanding Medicare” seminars are scheduled at 6 p.m. on July 26, Aug. 23, Sept. 20 and Oct. 11.

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I had health insurance through my job at a major tech company. Although I had insurance, there were so many out-of-pocket expenses, I really wondered what the heck my health coverage actually covered. Insurance did not cover the prescription drugs or the yearly exams I needed. I never met the high deductibles with my simple needs and each doctor visit easily resulted in over $100 of expenditures.  Sometimes I put off going to the doctor because it was winter and my heating bill was high, and there was no way I could pay a doctor bill and an electric bill that month. Simple infections at times grew into serious problems, leading to lost work hours and missed deadlines.

Then I had a real medical emergency. Emergency room, expensive tests, the multi-day hospital stay and surgery were all “covered” by insurance, but only up to a certain amount for each bill, each test and each drug. There were no life choices that created this problem. I exercised, I ate healthy, I lived a clean lifestyle, I had a good job with benefits, and none of these decisions prevented a hereditary malfunction that cost tens of thousands of dollars.

I missed work during my weeks of illness and recovery. The company used all my vacation and sick time for most of my paycheck, but a few weeks were paid out at a reduced rate. Thankfully, I still had a job to return to after my recovery. I was lucky that I only had myself to feed, and not a family. An experience like mine is what knocks working families off their feet, and drains local economies.

Two years ago, my body required another surgery and months of physical therapy. The experience was far more financially manageable, thanks to the ACA. The deductibles were affordable and the care was fully covered.

I’m thankful for the ACA. My prescription drug costs dropped dramatically, my yearly cancer screenings are covered, and I don’t have to choose between treating a sinus infection and an oil change. Affordable Care benefits entire communities in multiple ways by controlling health care costs and offering coverage for preventive services that keep people healthy.

With all this political rhetoric about health care and an uncertain future, knowing about available options is important. The seminars at the Pateros Brewster Community Resource Center on health insurance and Medicare are free, informative and, at only one night, easy to work into busy schedules.


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