In many ways, Kristine is a typical 41-year-old Omaha woman. She enjoys cooking and reading about current events, and as a stay-at-home parent, she devotes most of her time to caring for her five children. When she and her husband found themselves without health insurance a few years ago, she wasn’t too worried, since she had always been in good health.
“I was without health insurance for the first time in my entire life,” she said. “It was a little nerve-racking to not have health coverage, but…I was OK in taking the risk. My husband was a student at the time… he was working full time and going to school full time, so we were really pinching pennies.”
Shortly after losing health care coverage, though, Kristine started having a lot of medical issues.
“My hair started thinning, I was having a lot of problems with my skin, and there were some other issues, too,” she said. “I kind of ignored it for a long time, but I just felt like something wasn’t right. Then, I found a lump in my breast, and that was very scary.”
She called OneWorld, since she knew she would be able pay for medical services based on what she could afford. After completing the necessary paperwork, she qualified for reduced charges, so she began receiving care right away.
“OneWorld was able to get me a mammogram with funding from the Komen Foundation, and it came back clear, so that was a huge relief,” she said. “Then, I did a lot of bloodwork, and it came back that I had hyperthyroidism. So I started treatment for that.”
Kristine was accustomed to being treated at private practice clinics, so she expected OneWorld to be different; however, she quickly found that she received excellent care at OneWorld.
“This place is just like any other medical facility or physician’s office that I’ve ever been to,” she said. “My care was not any different in terms of quality, so I was very impressed with that… I was getting my prescriptions from the OneWorld Pharmacy, and I started looking around and noticing all these services. There’s an office to help people with the Marketplace, there’s an office for WIC, there’s a Quick Sick clinic … It just became apparent to me that this was a fully-functioning health care system and community providing a full range of services to people who need them.”
Not long after Kristine was treated at OneWorld, her husband graduated and got a new job, so their family had health insurance again. She says she considered going back to the doctor’s office that she would have gone to before, but instead, she decided to stay at OneWorld. She now regularly sees Dr. Katie Sagrero, who she says is “fantastic” because she really takes the time to listen to her patients.
“I’ve got doctors here that I like, I’m familiar with this place, I’ve received good care and I like contributing to an organization that is doing good things,” she said. “I tell all my friends about this place…it’s a shining example of how it’s supposed to work.”
Because OneWorld helped her during her family’s time of need, Kristine now encourages her friends with insurance to support community health centers with their business.
“If people truly believe that everybody should have health insurance, that everyone has the right to have access to good health, this is place to start,” she said. “We can’t really control a lot of what’s going on at the federal level, but we have power over our day-to-day decisions as consumers … If you’re consuming health care, you have to pay for that service anyway. And if you’re lucky enough to be able to pay for that service, maybe you should go to an organization that’s actually doing good things for the community, as opposed to the ones that are just huge conglomerates of money and power.”
Kristine says that her time without insurance taught her to not take security for granted and to not look down on people who need financial assistance for medical care.
“Throughout my life, I’ve learned that you never know what’s going to happen,” she said. “You can be rich, but you might not have all your ducks in a row, and you might not be financially secure, and you can lose it all. My husband and I literally did find ourselves in that position, and it was really a wake-up call. That is the other reason I choose to stay at OneWorld: I’m not going to bet that it won’t happen again … My thought is, I may need help again, so why not stay here and support this organization that helped me while I’m able to be a full-paying customer?”
To learn more about OneWorld’s payment options and the Sliding Fee Scale, click here.