For more than 40 years, the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida’s mission has been to provide compassionate care to those suffering from serious medical issues. We lead the fight to stop seizures, find a cure and overcome challenges created by epilepsy.
Our organization is no stranger to standing up for those who need help the most. So when the opportunity arose to be part of offering enrollment in health insurance to millions of Floridians through the Affordable Care Act, I knew it was a challenge uniquely suited to us. Our federally trained and state-certified “navigators” meet with consumers in person to educate them about their insurance options, determine their eligibility for subsidies and help them choose a plan.
Since 2013, the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida has provided education, outreach and navigation to more than 60,000 Floridians. We have helped thousands enroll in plans that open doors to better health outcomes and financial security. We are a proud part of Florida’s enrolling more consumers than any other state.
In particular, we’ve helped those with language barriers gain access to new health options. Forty-four percent of those we’ve helped enroll in Miami-Dade County speak a language other than English as their first language. Without our assistance offered in Spanish, Creole and Portuguese, many of those consumers might remain uninsured.
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But because of the politics surrounding the Affordable Care Act, this wasn’t a choice we made lightly. The law remains unpopular with many, despite their friends and family now qualifying for and enrolling in health coverage, many for the first time. I knew it could be a risk for our organization, potentially jeopardizing state funding or community support.
But then I’m reminded of Rick Elkins in Volusia County. Rick has needed a liver transplant for several years and has been hospitalized numerous times. After his wife, Dianne, met with one of our navigators, Rick was enrolled in an affordable new plan that finally gives him the care he needs, and Dianne the hope she deserves.
Because of Rick, I’m more convinced than ever that standing up for increased health insurance options was the right decision. No law is perfect, and that includes the Affordable Care Act. But this isn’t about a law. It’s about hope. Every day, we see people walk into our locations with a mixture of concern for their health, but hope for the future. And after another successful enrollment, they walk out knowing they’re covered, come what may.
That’s what compassion means to us. It’s about helping those who have hope feel more secure in their health. That’s what the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida has always done. And it’s what we’ll keep doing, until all who hope to get covered, do.
Karen Basha Egozi, CEO, Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, Miami