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Community Group Helps Smooth Some Bumps on the Road to ACA Medical Coverage

Hannah Warren/WAER news

A community group turned the banquet room at the Bethany Baptist Church on Beattie Street into an information session on getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act over the weekend.

About 15 people gathered at the event hosted by the 100 Black Men of Syracuse to hear certified marketplace navigators, insurance company reps, and community activists clarify the health insurance enrollment process.  They were telling people how to use New York State of Health, the state’s new health insurance marketplace.  100 Black Men’s Chairman Charles Anderson is finding one of the biggest challenges has been convincing young people to enroll for health insurance.

“They seem to be the hardest category of people because they feel they’re invincible and nothing will happen but all it takes is one accident nteh football field or basketball court and then the parents are in for a hefty medical bill.”

Young people are in luck on this issue, though.  Through the marketplace, people under thirty can enroll in what’s called “catastrophe” insurance - where three doctor’s visits are covered for free, and anything over that is out of pocket, until a cap is reached at about $6000. With plans like this, people can worry less about going into debt from expenses if they’re in an accident, or end up visiting the E-R.  For others though, the problems with enrolling can come from finding the right information from tax forms, knowing how to enroll their children, or even from a lack of internet access to fill online forms.


Lanika Mabrey is a certified navigator, which means she provides hands-on help during the enrollment process. She says the safeguards put in place to protect people’s personal information are sometimes a huge problem.

“The site will shut down if there’s any discrepancy and that is to protect the consumer’s identity because the site actually distributes money and benefits.  And it is subject to identity theft.  So that has been the huge piece of getting consumers to understand the new process of applying.”

Cynthia Morgan has worked at an assisted living home in the area since 2011, and she’s experiencing a common problem with the insurance her employer offers. She’s looking into plans on the health care marketplace because her coverage was starting to take too much out of her weekly paychecks.

“It was 35 dollars, then it was 40 dollars and then from the 40 dollars it went up to 50 dollars and some cents.  To me it’s a big difference.”

100 Black Men of Syracuse will hold two additional information sessions:  one this coming Saturday, February 15th at 2:00 p.m. at the Hopps Memorial Church on State Street; the other Friday, February 21st 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Onondaga Community College’s Whitney Applied Technology Center. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.
Hannah vividly remembers pulling up in the driveway with her mom as a child and sitting in the car as it idled with the radio on, listening to Ira Glass finish his thought on This American Life. When he reached a transition, it was a wild race out of the car and into the house to flip on the story again and keep listening. Hannah’s love of radio reporting has stuck with her ever since.