NC Women’s Summit: Health Panel Preview


By Ann Gerhardt

Yesterday I received my insurance letter stating that I will have the same insurance policy next year but that deductibles and copays are changing. Another letter, I am told, will let me know the most important news: how much is it going to cost?  The Affordable Care Act is under attack.   The latest move will increase North Carolinians’ premiums by 14-percent, destabilize the insurance market, and increase the federal deficit.   Each and every day there we are faced with more news of sabotage on our healthcare system.  

People are rightfully nervous, and confused.   Will I be able to afford to have an annual physical next year and get a mammogram?  Will my children have insurance? Will my grandchildren?  I’ve heard Medicare will be impacted.  Will my parent be able to stay in the nursing home without Long Term Care Medicaid?  Will I be able to get contraception with my health insurance?  What about mental health?   Pre-existing conditions?  Maternity and childbirth expenses?  When do changes go into effect?  Will my insurance company pull entirely out of the market?  The list of questions goes on.  Even those with employer-sponsored insurance are under ACA guidelines and may be affected by price increases and reduced coverage.  What can I do now?  Today?

In the midst of this changing healthcare landscape, our health panel at the NC Women’s Summit will guide us through the issues so that we can think strategically and thrive through change together.  We can do better.  Join us as we consider how to ensure health literacy and health care access for women and their families.   You’ll know what concrete steps can to take to successfully advocate for improved healthcare options and experiences for yourself and your loved ones.  

Ann Gerhardt, MPH, moderates a panel of experts to explore healthcare today at the NC Women’s Summit, November 4 th sponsored by Women AdvaNCe.  

Our expert panelists are:

Ciara Zachary, PhD, is a Policy Analyst for the Health Advocacy Project at the NC Justice Center.  The Health Advocacy Project works to ensure that all North Carolinians, especially underserved populations including individuals and families with low incomes, racial and ethnic minorities, and rural communities have meaningful access to high quality, affordable, equitable and comprehensive health care so that children, adults, families have better health outcomes and live productive lives.

Jennifer Simmons, JD, is the Navigator Project Director of the NC Navigator Consortium, a group of a group of 14 health care, social service and legal aid organizations around the state  that spearhead outreach and enrollment activities for the Affordable Care Act health exchanges. Legal Aid is the lead agency of the group. Under Jennifer’s leadership, North Carolina was one of the nation’s success stories, enrolling more than its federal targets for each of the first four enrollment periods for ACA insurance.

Willetha King Barnette is author of “The Caregiver’s Secret,” an account of her 25-year journey as a caregiver to her mother, and an effort to share some of the lessons and insights of this experience with others who may be facing similar challenges. The experience convinced her that outreach and community-based health education efforts are needed more than ever. The system of health care delivery, insurance, and long-term care have gotten so complex, and many of those with the greatest need are the least prepared to deal with that complexity.  Her goal is to help break down barriers to understanding caregiving, long-term care, and how to prepare for that experience. It is something that will eventually face nearly every family. Right now, too much of that work is done in isolation, resulting in excessive suffering, emotional stress, and financial burdens.




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