Pandemic Inequities Illustrated
Covid-19 has taught us more lessons than we can count, not the least of which is how unevenly the pandemic has affected our community. Many families we serve do not have jobs that can be done from home. During the pandemic, these families found themselves in positions of constant exposure to the virus. In addition, many of our clients lost their jobs completely. Such was the case for Susanna, who lost her job early in the pandemic, but was at least able to be at home with her two girls when the stay-at-home orders were enacted.
Susanna’s daughters were regularly glued to the chrome books provided by their school. One of her girls, Charlotte, was really struggling because her glasses had broken and Medi-Cal would not replace them until June 2021, some eight months later. You can probably imagine Susanna’s sleepless nights, having no job and not enough money for rent, clothes, food and certainly not glasses.
When Young & Healthy learned of this family’s situation, we were able to arrange for school lunches and donations of clothing for the family and a precious pair of glasses for Charlotte. Hopefully, years from now, when that family recalls the awful times of the pandemic, they will also remember that there were people who cared about them and their unbelievable burdens. Young & Healthy cannot “fix” everything, but we can make our best effort to lighten the burden of poverty in any way that we can.
More Than a One-Stop Shop
Forty-year-old, Isabella heard that Young & Healthy was now helping people with their taxes. She was desperate and wanted an immediate appointment. She knew she was likely eligible for a tax refund and she really needed that money.
Isabella had just been to the dentist and was horrified to discover her need for some dental work that would far exceed what her insurance would cover. She needed that tax return!
The Young & Healthy team set Isabela up with a tax appointment for the following week and suggested she also meet with our insurance advocate. Perhaps he could help her review the estimated costs from her dentist.
When he looked at the estimate, which was nearly $5,000, he suspected something was not right. Isabela was told that her dental insurance wouldn’t cover the work. The dental office had not actually inquired about the services with Isabella’s insurance company. Our advocate helped her change to a dentist who would submit the eventual claim to her insurance company, and sure enough, the dental work WAS, indeed, a covered service!
This is the Young & Healthy way—come in for one need and leave with many solutions. Isabella will get her tax refund and her needed dental care.
Living on a Prayer
A local school principal called Young & Healthy one day recently, saying he was desperate and didn’t know where else to turn. He explained that one of his most valued employees was so upset that she could hardly concentrate at work because her 26-year-old daughter, Rosie, had “aged-out” of her insurance coverage. This situation could not have come at a worse time, as Rosie has cancer and her treatments would surely stop without insurance coverage.
Rosie was able to obtain Medi-Cal insurance, but was finding it nearly impossible to access the treatment she so desperately needed. In despair, Rosie went to Mexico to seek any medical help she could find. Unfortunately, that did not work either and Rosie was getting sicker by the day. Her mother was terrified.
The principal’s call to Young & Healthy was all it took before our insurance advocate was quickly working on the issue. He first called Rosie in Mexico to get the details for facilitating the next steps. Understanding the Medi-Cal system quite well, our insurance advocate knew that Rosie would have to change her insurance in order to get the care she needed.
He helped her make the necessary changes so that she could be treated at City of Hope, once she got a referral from her primary care doctor. Our staff then primed her primary care doctor so that he was fully aware of Rosie’s circumstances. With the necessary insurance changes made, Rosie immediately came home to Pasadena and had an appointment within a week to see her primary care doctor. A week afterwards, she had an appointment at City of Hope.
Our “behind the scenes” efforts won’t cure Rosie’s cancer but we sure hope it gives her a fighting chance. We hope you will lift up Rosie with your positive thoughts and prayers.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Doing your taxes can be complicated, even for the most financially savvy among us.
Young & Healthy has embarked on a new service with our partners at Day One. We are helping people with their taxes. You might say, “Hmmm, what does that have to do with healthcare?” As it turns out, filing a tax return can have quite a lot to do with healthcare.
Poverty is considered to be a social determinant of health. There is a connection between our financial health and our physical and emotional health. If we can lift people out of poverty, even a little, we can help to improve their health. So, Young & Healthy is helping people with their taxes. Many very low-income families are not required to file taxes, however, right now there is a huge advantage in doing so.
If you file your taxes, you will also qualify for the government stimulus checks that have been provided during the pandemic. Some families will also qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Both of these programs put dollars into the hands of the most vulnerable families and Young & healthy is happy to be a part of this.
On Saturday, a father with small children came into the Young & Healthy office to get assistance with his taxes, hoping to qualify for one of the programs mentioned above. He did qualify, but he also got some unexpected and wonderful news. The tax preparer informed him that because he and his wife provide full-time care for his elderly and disabled mother, he can claim his mother as a dependent. Doing so gives him an additional deduction on his taxes, which significantly boosts his tax return. More money for the family equates to less health injuring stress.
You don’t know what you don’t know, unless someone takes the time to tell you. Young & Healthy is taking the time to educate and help those who don’t know that they are eligible for such tax benefits. In turn, many families can lead a healthier life.
Going the Extra Mile
A high-school student with a broken wrist was referred to Young & Healthy. Being brand new in the area (aka America), the boy was slow to get attention for his wrist. Instead, we did not hear of his situation until at least a week after the wrist was hurt. This allowed plenty of time for the wrist to begin to set and start to heal, but not correctly and not without pain. One of our Young & Healthy volunteer doctors put a cast on the wrist, but it wasn’t going to be perfect. Follow-up physical therapy was needed, but the boy’s father had consistently long work days that did not allow him to take his son to physical therapy appointments. So, the boy needed to go by himself. He had never utilized public transportation before and did not know his way around in his new city, so our empathetic case manager took screen shots of the different stops on Google Maps and sent them to the boy to help him navigate the route. Talk about going above and beyond!