Ana’s doctor referred her to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy to discuss health care options and other public benefits assistance as she approached retirement. At the time, Ana didn’t know what an impact that call would have on her life.
Ana immigrated to the United States from Mexico almost 15 years ago. A legal permanent resident, she was not aware of the public benefits available to her. When she contacted the Advocacy Center, one of our health insurance Navigators, Abigail Duemler, helped her determine the benefits to which Ana was entitled. Quickly approaching retirement age, enrolling in Food and Nutrition Services provided critical food security for Ana.
Even more importantly, Abigail helped Ana to enroll in Medicaid and then in Medicare when she turned 65. Having access to affordable health care was crucial when Ana became critically ill with COVID-19 last winter. Fearing for her life and worried about the resulting medical bills, Ana’s family was relieved to know her medical costs would be covered. As she continues to recover from the long-term effects of the illness, Ana remains thankful: “I am so grateful to [have health insurance]. When I receive the bills and see that Medicaid is paying, I am so grateful. I don’t know what I would have done without your help.”
When Ana speaks of the Advocacy Center, it is with immense appreciation: “You have been such a strong guide for me. It’s an excellent organization.” Yet Ana realizes there are so many more people just like her that might need help.
“There are many people like me who come from another country, who may not speak English, and are not aware of the help they can get.”
Navigating public benefit and health care systems is increasingly complex, even more so for non-English speaking North Carolinians. The Advocacy Center’s team of federally trained health insurance Navigators includes bilingual staff members that are a critical resource for native Spanish speaking clients. Ana hopes her friends and neighbors contact the Advocacy Center: “I want to help other people find [the Advocacy Center] so they can get support just like I did.”