OLATHE, Kan. — Exactly six weeks from today, March 31, is the deadline to have health insurance or face a penalty. That’s for those who qualify. Many are finding out that they don’t.
Mike Rix and Michelle Soukouna are patients at Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe. Both have had strokes in recent weeks and been in the hospital.
“I left because I can’t afford to be in the hospital to get the care that I need because I don’t have insurance,” said Soukouna.
Rix doesn’t have insurance either.
“I’m on the downhill slope here. I don’t know what to do,” said Rix.
Both have tried to get coverage on the health insurance marketplace. They found they don’t qualify. They make too little money.
Soukouna is in the gap created when Kansas lawmakers didn’t expand Medicaid to include her income level.
“I was very hopeful, but very disappointed,” said Soukouna.
Caitlin Zibers is a navigator for the marketplace, and counters that about 90 percent of her clients in the past month have successfully purchased coverage. She acknowledges that may be because they’ve checked on the income requirement before they even made an appointment with her.
“Now they have the estimator online. I think more people are using it,” said Zibers.
Her goal over the next six weeks is to reach as many people as possible, especially young adults who haven’t been as interested in the marketplace.
“We are amping up our efforts with universities and the young adult crowd to get out there and make sure they know what their options are and the importance behind it,” said Zibers.
It’s something that Rix understands. He’s applied for Medicaid, and is waiting to hear if he’ll get that coverage.
Navigators from Health Partnership Clinic are also planning open enrollment events in early March at libraries and county health departments.