Imagine that you’ve never had health insurance. You’ve never been to a primary doctor or gotten routine screenings because care without insurance is too expensive. Your only experience with health care has been in emergency rooms, which left you with a bill that was higher than your monthly income. Needing health care services can already be an emotional experience and needing health care without health insurance adds a layer of intimidation, confusion and emotional stress. Now imagine that experience as a Latino citizen who spoke minimal English. That entire experience could be downright scary. Unfortunately, that is exactly the experience that many Latino citizens are faced with in this country, specifically here in Michigan. The Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS) located in Southwest Detroit, helps care for the Latino population and provides core health services for the under-insured, uninsured and even for those who have insurance. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan recently awarded $55,000 to CHASS that will support their recent efforts to help people who cannot speak fluent English access health insurance and healthcare services. This grant will help Latinos enroll in coverage by working with a CHASS health worker who will educate them on what insurance is, how it works and what services are available to them. Kim Kratz, health care analyst for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, is excited about this partnership and speaks about what moved Blue Cross to work with CHASS. “In the first round of open enrollment we saw that Latinos were under enrolled, so we looked for an organization with established relationships in the community and strong partnerships to be able to help us serve Latinos. So we’re so excited that CHASS has joined us in this partnership.” Marylu Villarreal, chief operating officer for CHASS is grateful that CHASS was afforded the opportunity to use this grant to serve their bilingual clients. Villarreal says that the grant will be used to expand existing services and increase their enrollment staff. “In 2014 we had over 13,000 clients and over 54 percent of them needed bilingual services. This grant will allow us to expand our existing outreach and enrollment staff, enabling our certified application counselors to help more clients with the Healthy Michigan Plan and the Health Insurance Marketplace. We’ve noticed that our clients do need that extra help identifying what insurance is because most of our clients are uninsured, about 67 percent of them and we have been able to increase our insured clientele to 24 percent in the last year.” Rosella Campos is the managed care supervisor for CHASS who has been working with the organization for nearly two decades and has seen many changes and growth over the last 19 years. Campos and her team mange the care for every client who comes to CHASS for healthcare services, including scheduling appointments, help with prescriptions and transportation to and from appointments. “If I cannot help you, one of my seven team members will able to assist you and I guarantee that you will leave this building satisfied and know exactly what to do, where to go and all you questions will be answered.” The Health Insurance Marketplace will close on Feb. 15 and if you or a family member is in need of bilingual insurance assistance call CHASS at 313-849-0824 or visit their website, http://www.chasscenter.org/. http://youtu.be/U91C4vg4Ckg
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