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New Program Offerings: Helping Families Navigate the Maze of Health Insurance

Conquering the dizzying maze of paperwork and coverage options one encounters when first exploring the world of state health insurance is not an attractive endeavor. Individuals living with ALS and other terminal illnesses need to expedite the application process in order to access necessary services and equipment. Luckily there are provisions in place that allow individuals that meet certain requirements a fast track to coverage. The difficulty is knowing how to make it all happen.

Last year, CCALS staff member, Erin MacDonald participated in a 12 week training program with Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs called Serving the Health Information Needs of the Elderly (S.H.I.N.E.). This program trains volunteers to assist elderly and individuals with disabilities in understanding their health care options.
As a S.H.I.N.E. certified counselor, Erin is able to advocate on our families’ behalf to see that applications are expedited and everyone is receiving all benefits they are entitled to. She has already assisted nearly 100 families with issues around MassHealth and Medicare coverage and in most cases has been able to expedite the application process. She recently helped a family get approved in 15 days, after they had spent months trying to figure out the system on their own.

With the addition of this service we are closer to our mission of providing a holistic and multi-faceted approach to ALS care. While Erin has been helping many of our families with insurance needs, her impact extends far beyond those needs.

“I love that Erin has helped me so much and even when I think I am at my last nerve she saves me. She has a lot of contacts and helps me understand how to get what I need and what to expect. My husband was given his diagnosis by himself and I was not there for him at the time but Erin came to my house, held his hand and comforted us and we all cried together.”
– CCALS Family Member

Thanks to Erin, this family does not have to spend precious time trying to navigate Mass Health. They know they have an advocate who will not only go to bat for them regarding insurance coverage, but is also able to tend to physical and emotional issues that arise on their journey with ALS.

These kinds of experiences and this type of support are what define our organization. Our hope is that our families are able to pick and choose our services that best suit their specific need. For some, support may take the form of a passive-patient lift or a scooter, while for others it may be emotional support and having someone who can truly listen and be by their side throughout the journey. As we grow we are doing everything we can to prepare ourselves to meet an expansive array of requests.