“I think they really see the ACA as a great program for the Kalamazoo Community”

I had an interview with Julia Duncan on the evening of May 4th in my living room. Julia worked as an intern at Planned Parenthood specifically on enrollment. The interview was very fulfilling, because Julia was directly involved with the enrollment effort, trained as a certified application counselor. Julia explained to me her role with enrolling, specifically her day to day tasks and interactions. “Each month we would host (at the Planned Parenthood offices) two to three public education events, with one-on-one appointments for enrollment afterwards.” She explained “Additionally, we would each have “office hours” once a week where people could come in and receive one-on-one help enrolling online. Often, other organizations involved in enrolling people would need help at an event, and we would go help them. Several times I even went to Grand Rapids to help at enrollment events there.”

It is clear that the work Planned Parenthood is putting into the enrollment effort is extensive, but I was then curious if Julia felt that what they were doing was successful. “Obviously, we couldn’t help everybody that needed help.” She said “But the community really pulled together a lot of effort for this initiative. Not only did Planned Parenthood have an ACA program, but so did Family Health Center, and other organizations like it, as well as some local hospitals.” This quote shows just how important it is to work at the community level in programs like this. Julia’s optimism was very inspiring, and she was thrilled as she explained how rewarding it was for her. “And I hate to be cliché, but although we weren’t able to help everyone, those that did get help either from Planned Parenthood or another organization made it worth it. A lot of the people we worked with had lost insurance or jobs during the recession, were illiterate, computer illiterate, were immigrants, or were non-English speakers; in other words, people who really needed help applying.” She continued “It was really rewarding when people left our offices with affordable insurance coverage.” Julia explained the importance of the education that was taking place at the events. “Also, there are a lot of misconceptions about what “Obamacare” is, so our education events were really important. Hopefully, the people who came to those events went home and told their families and friends about the reality of the Affordable Care Act and how it could help them.”
Julia did explain to me some uncertainties that the implementation may have on other organizations. “I know that Plan First, a health insurance program that offered limited coverage (notably, birth control) for low-income Michigan residents was shut down, I think because of the Medicaid expansion in Michigan which would provide a more extensive, low-cost insurance to this same demographic.” She said “So, there was some concern over what that meant for people with Plan First, but the good news is that they will have affordable health coverage that covers more things, including preventative treatment and emergency coverage.” This is an interesting point to look into as part of studying what types of tradeoffs may come about.
To conclude, Julia was very satisfied with her experience and truly felt that Planned Parenthood is making a positive impact. She said “In general, everybody at Planned Parenthood is really supportive and excited about the Affordable Care Act. This is an organization that dedicates itself to safe, accessible health coverage for all, and I think they really see the ACA as a great program for the Kalamazoo Community.”

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