Thursday, July 18, 2024

Putting lessons from my parents into practice

It wasn’t until I became an adult that I finally understood what my parents were trying to instill in me and my four brothers as children: compassion and service. Not as an extension of what you have, but in spite of what you don’t have. The wisdom of my parents’ lessons and my inclination to help intersected once I became a facilitator with the State of Nevada’s Division of Child Family Services. As a facilitator, I was tasked with the responsibility of reunifying children with their families.

For me, it was like getting a glimpse behind the curtain. I was shocked at the number of factors that potentially play a role in a family’s collapse. Whether it was finances, addiction, mental and physical health problems, violence, or any number of outside influences they had no control over, it became glaringly obvious that people needed help — and helping people felt natural to me. So I dug in deeper! Looking for a way to help more people, I lobbied for a representative position in Nevada with the United States Senate under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

In this role, I dealt with constituent services and monitored federal legislation, which essentially meant I was working within the community, listening to their wants and needs and relaying that information back to the Senator. Working in the community, I became an advocate for a number of causes and began volunteering regularly on a wide array of community projects. Whether managing the Minority AIDS Initiative for the State of Nevada, participating in the annual Nevada homeless counts or hosting a community-centric television show called “Neighbor to Neighbor,” I got involved. It was during this period that I became interested in health care and, in particular, Anthem.

After regularly meeting Anthem employees and seeing their booths and advertising at many of the events where I volunteered, it was clear that health care and working in the community were deeply linked at Anthem. This wasn’t health care as an extension of what you have; this was health care in spite of what you don’t have. This was creating solutions before problems arose, and I wanted in. I helped families and communities throughout the State of Nevada for 12 years and in April started my newest adventure as a marketing director for Medicaid business at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana. Helping people within the community became a part of my DNA years ago. I am fortunate to work for an organization that follows the same approach. In addition to the thousands of community events we host each year around the state, another way we help those in need is through the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0, which was implemented earlier this year. In February, thanks to the efforts of Gov. Mike Pence and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), adults ages 19 to 64 with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, would qualify to receive health care coverage.

This was a big moment for the people of Indiana. It means more than 289,000 additional Hoosiers now have health care coverage thanks to HIP, which includes 125,000 residents that receive their coverage through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana. HIP offers members a Personal Wellness and Responsibility (POWER) account within HIP Plus, which allows individuals to make contributions to cover their health care costs. Contributions are based on a sliding income scale and bring additional services such as vision, dental, prescription drug coverage and maternity services.

It also helps people learn how to better manage their care. Now people are more involved, better informed and more proactive in managing their health. And the results have been powerful. Nearly 89 percent of those with POWER accounts are satisfied with their health care, and three-fourths of our members have been selecting HIP Plus. I would be remiss in not sharing a member story of someone I met at one of our events. She is a single mother of two children with disabilities, and she had not had insurance for quite some time. When she qualified for HIP, she went to the doctor and found out she was diabetic. This member was able to get her diabetes under control and also received new dentures. She told me that HIP has made her a better person and a better mom. Now that I’m here in Indiana, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the diverse communities in the Hoosier state. Much like my days working for the Senate, I’ve spent a great deal of my time learning the intricacies of the state, listening to what people need and running that information back to the office to determine how we can help. In the coming year, I look forward to getting settled in, possibly joining a local rugby team, being of service personally and professionally through Anthem Indiana Medicaid and, most importantly, making my parents proud.

Marcus White is the medicaid marketing director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana.

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