Access to medical care could not be more important than it is at this moment. And plenty of people either don’t have health insurance or lost it because they lost their jobs during the pandemic. On Episode 62 we look into what options exist for the underemployed and recently unemployed, what a hospital worker experienced when she got a $1,500 COVID-19 test bill she was not expecting, and we talk to the superintendent of insurance to discover what the state is doing to help.
We hear from Stephanie Nelson and Eddie Nelson, who tell us what happened when Eddie was fired from his job and lost his health insurance just before they were hit with a $900 emergency room bill for their coronavirus tests.
Rebecca Marie Sparks, a nurse at UNMH, talks about her surprise $1,500 COVID-19 test bill. She was ordered by her employer to take a test when she returned from out of state. She also had to use her paid time off and sick leave for quarantine.
New Mexico superintendent of insurance Russell Toal explains how insurance companies and providers should be handling coronavirus testing and treatment bills, and how is office is handling glitches in health insurance billing during the pandemic.
Sireesha Manne, executive director for the Center on Law and Poverty, tells us how her center is ensuring everyone has free access to health care and COVID-19 testing and treatment coverage. She said 70,000 New Mexicans have applied for unemployment insurance since the pandemic began, highlighting the challenges people are facing getting help not only for coronavirus treatment but for all health issues.
Barbara Webber, executive director of Health Action New Mexico, talks about the accessibility to COVID-19 testing in New Mexico, how to apply for health insurance, and how her organization is helping consumers with their health insurance issues. She said 1 of 10 New Mexicans did not have health coverage before the pandemic, and this gap highlights how the country’s lack of universal health care puts everyone at risk.
And a news update:
On the eve of a partial reopening in New Mexico, officials reported 143 more positive COVID-19 tests, pushing the total to 5,503, with many of those in the northwestern corner of the state, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. They also announced 11 more deaths. The death toll here stands at 242. Close to 1600 people have recovered.
Though some of the shutdown orders are being lifted, people are still being asked to stay home. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has ordered people to wear masks in public which will be enforced by state police and first responders.
Here in Albuquerque, the UNM hospital banned the helicopter for San Juan Regional Medical Center for 10 days for a policy violation, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Officials said the pilot didn’t give notice before lifting off from the UNMH helipad again after dropping off a patient.
The San Juan Hospital is in the northwestern part of the state that’s being hit hardest by coronavirus and is flying more and more patients to Albuquerque hospitals. Now, the Journal reports, their pilots must fly patients to Albuquerque’s airport, and then have them transferred by ambulance to UNMH.
Find a full list of the resources we talk about on each episode + opportunities to donate or help online at: bit.ly/ynmghub
If you are in the need of health insurance here are some avenues for you:
Check out the insurance portal for the state at https://www.bewellnm.com/ or call 1-(833) 862-3935
The New Mexico medicaid portal is https://nmmedicaid.portal.conduent.com/
For more info on the office of the superintendent of insurance https://pd.osi.state.nm.us, their hotline is 833-415-0566
No-cost medicaid coverage is available for low-income new mexicans at yes.state.nm.us or 1-(855) 637-6574.
You can sign up for coverage through the nm medicaid insurance pool at nmmip.org or 1 (844) 728-7896
You can find help at the new mexico center for law and poverty at http://nmpovertylaw.org/
Health action new mexico has a blog that can help walk you through your insurance questions. Head to https://www.healthactionnm.org/blog
How are things going for you? We want to know. Share your quarantine stories by calling: (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We could roll them into a future episode.
Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the New Mexico Local News Fund.