Project Helm Gains Momentum

Long Island Uninsured and Underinsured Secure Health Coverage

Felipe, a gay man from Sag Harbor, came to Project HELM with his Spanish-speaking parents, who had not yet received their citizenship, and were both uninsured. His mother had been injured during Superstorm Sandy, and the hospital bills were huge. They were fearful that another accident could force them into bankruptcy. Project HELM enrolled the couple into Emergency Medicaid, a program that provides limited medical coverage in emergency situations to individuals who are not eligible for other insurance coverage because of their immigration status.

According to Elizabeth Munsky, Certified Application Counselor for PROJECT HELM (Healthcare Enrollment for the LGBT Market), a project of The Long Island GLBT Services Network, it’s people just like Felipe and his parents that truly benefit from the new healthcare insurance marketplace. “They were so relieved to know that they would be covered if there was another medical emergency, they hugged me,” said Munsky. “Unpaid medical bills is the number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States, and one of the most important reasons to get enrolled in the new healthcare insurance marketplace. No one plans to get sick or injured, but if it happens and you’re uninsured or underinsured, the medical bills can drain your finances fast.” Munsky explained in an information session held at the Long Island GLBT Center in Bay Shore last month, “This is my driving reason to get our community enrolled in affordable insurance under the Affordable Care Act.”

Project HELM holds drop-in hours at all three of the Network’s centers for Long Islanders seeking more information about the Affordable Care Act, and to help them get enrolled. For many individuals and families, it is the first time they’ve been able to get insurance.

During its info sessions, Project HELM staff and volunteers are on-hand to answer the many questions about the Affordable Care Act, describe the expanded health benefits (free preventative screenings, mental health coverage, expanded prescription drug coverage), and enroll individuals through the New York State Insurance Marketplace. The next scheduled information session is set for Thursday, December 12th at 6:30 p.m. at The Network’s Garden City location. In honor of World AIDS Day, the session will feature information on how ADAP (the AIDS Drug Assistance Program) works with the New York State health insurance marketplace.

Upcoming Deadlines:
Individuals who enroll in the new healthcare marketplace by December 23rd will see their new insurance begin on January 1st, but the enrollment period is extended through March 31st, 2014. For those who enroll after December 15th, insurance coverage will start the following month.

Project HELM Drop-in hours:
– Wednesdays, 5-8 p.m. in Bay Shore, 34 Park Ave.
– Thursdays, 5-8 p.m. in Garden City, 400 Garden City Plaza, Suite 110
– 2nd & 4th Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in Sag Harbor, 44 Union Street.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact The Long Island GLBT Services Network at 516.323.0011 or 631.665.2300, or email

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