Meet the Everyday Nebraskans who would be helped by WIN

WIN_FB_banner_v2As the Nebraska Legislature debates LB 887 – the “Wellness In Nebraska Act” – today we’ll introduce you to the real, everyday Nebraskans who would be helped by the health care access in this bill.

Check back throughout the day to meet more of our friends and neighbors who need WIN to pass so they can afford life-saving health care.

Martha Bonine

Age: 51
Hometown: Omaha

Martha is a working Nebraskan who earns about $2,000 per year with seasonal and part-time work. Although she has a Master’s Degree, she has been unsuccessful at finding full-time work due to her age. Now, she is no longer eligible for unemployment assistance and because she is underemployed, she relies on the generosity of a friend for housing. Right now, Martha is ineligible for Medicaid because she is a childless adult and she earns too little to qualify for tax credits that would make health care affordable for her – the cheapest plan available is over $400 per month.

WIN will provide health insurance coverage for Martha, to allow her to stay healthy while continuing to look for full-time work.


Todd Ruhter

Age: 46
Hometown: Grand Island

Todd has worked in the restaurant service industry for more than a decade and has never been offered insurance by his employers. He has been living with HIV/AIDS for twenty years and was faced with $80,000 in medical bills to treat pneumonia when his HIV progressed to AIDS.

Now Todd is fortunate to receive funds through the Ryan White Foundation to cover his AIDS-related medical expenses, including labs, medication, and doctors’ visits. However, Ryan White funding does not cover Todd’s unrelated medical expenses, and he earns too little to be eligible for tax credits to pay for the cost of insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Without WIN, Todd will be facing a future where he is forced to delay routine medical care as he grows older because he cannot afford the high costs of a doctor’s visit.


Oksana Kling

Age: 49
Hometown: Omaha

Oksana is a married mother of four who worked at AAA until she suffered a health crisis that required major surgery. The recovery period was longer than her medical leave would allow and as a result, she lost her job.  Since then she has run a home daycare service. Her husband is a full-time student at UNO who receives student loans.

The family’s gross income has been between $7,000-$12,000 the past few years, leaving them ineligible for tax credits in the Health Insurance Marketplace and unable to afford health insurance. Last year, Oksana’s kneecap broke loose after suffering a fall and she has been unable to afford the necessary surgery that would allow her to recover. A lack of mobility as a result of her injury prevents her from continuing to operate her business and she has recently been unable to afford rent on her home. WIN would change Oksana’s life by allowing her to receive surgery so that she can rejoin the workforce.


Whitney Carlson

Age: 26
Hometown: Lincoln

Whitney is a full-time student at UNL. She currently relies on student loans to make ends meet and is no longer eligible to be covered under health insurance through her parents. She applied for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and was told that, although she is not eligible for tax credits to make her insurance more affordable, she would qualify for Medicaid if Nebraska expands its eligibility. She falls into the coverage gap. Without health insurance, she worries that a broken bone or an unexpected illness could leave her with thousands of dollars of medical debt, on top of her student loans. WIN would let Whitney access affordable health care as she finishes her degree and then enters the workforce.


Paul Rolf

Age: 59
Hometown: Fremont

Paul is unable to work because of multiple medical conditions, including very low blood pressure and brain seizures which make mobility difficult. He cannot write without his hands shaking and is unable to walk more than a block at a time. Despite these conditions, Paul has difficulty affording his medications because he does not qualify for Medicaid and has been denied any premium assistance on the new Health Insurance Marketplace due to lack of income. Passage of WIN would allow Paul to access necessary medications and stay healthy.


Justin Harris

Age: 37
Hometown: McCook

Justin is a married father of four young children who, several years ago, started his own landscaping business.  He makes about $31,000 a year and is the sole provider in his family since his wife cares for their four children.

One of those children, Justin’s son, has a developmental disability and a weakened immune system that requires specialized care. Justin’s family received Medicaid until last year, when the business’ income grew – even though their debt had also increased. Now Justin’s family is ineligible for Medicaid and has too little income to access affordable private coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Without health insurance coverage, Justin’s family must pay $7,000 for a tubation procedure to remove his son’s adenoids, entirely out of pocket. This is on top of thousands of dollars of medical expenses they already owe.

WIN would allow Justin to be an entrepreneur and still take care of his family’s health care needs. Without affordable health insurance options like those available in WIN, small business owners like Justin are left in the dust.


Amanda Gershon

Age: 31
Hometown: Lincoln

Amanda has worked consistently since she was 16 years old, despite facing a number of health problems, including endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, pelvic congestion, fibromyalgia, Raynauds syndrome and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Last year, Amanda tested positive for autoimmune arthritis and has spent hundreds of dollars for necessary doctor appointments, tests, and prescriptions. Amanda has paid for all of these costs out of pocket because she is uninsured, does not qualify for Medicaid, and does not earn enough money to qualify for tax credits in the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

Because Amanda has had to spend all of her income on her medical needs, she has been unable to pay rent in three years and relies on friends and family for housing and necessities. Additional tests, which are necessary for her continued treatment, will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars that Amanda cannot afford. WIN will let Amanda manage her chronic illness, increase her quality of life and allow her to work full time.



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