‘Bare Bones’ Health Plans Can Lead To Huge Bills; Interfaith Communities In 2019; Shelters Preparing For Cold Weather

November 06, 2019
 

Alex Brandon/AP

The Trump administration has increased access to ‘bare bones’ health plans that don’t cover things like mental health care. We speak with an Illinois resident who’s on one of these plans and is now faced with a medical bill for $21,000. Plus, temperatures in central and northern Illinois are dropping below freezing this week. That’s led some homeless shelters to extend their hours and even open up warming centers early. And, a group of faith leaders in central Illinois are organizing a series of events called 'Cultivating Hope In Anxious Times.'

'Bare Bones' Health Plans

The Affordable Care Act set guidelines for what health insurers must cover. That includes a requirement that things like mental health and substance use disorders be treated no differently than other physical needs.

Ever since President Trump took office, he has made efforts to chip away at the Affordable Care Act. And even though bills to repeal it outright have failed in Congress, his administration has taken other steps.

One example is expanding access to a type of bare-bones insurance plan that’s exempt from the requirements for covering things like mental health.

In a recent story for Kaiser Health News, editor and correspondent Laura Ungar helped tell the story of Arline Feilen, a resident of Carol Stream who had one of these health plans - and as a result, now faces a medical bill for $21,000 for a five night psychiatric hospitalization. Both of them joined us.

One of Arline's friends grew concerned that she was in danger of hurting herself and they called 911. She started to worry about the cost "the very next morning."

"At that point I became a cog in the machine."

More reporting from @laura_ungar below: https://t.co/8Fxkgjyxk9

Interfaith Communities In 2019

What does it mean to “cultivate hope in anxious times?” And how do we actually do it? 

Those are some of the driving questions that faith leaders in the Champaign-Urbana area are exploring in a series of events happening this week at the University of Illinois campus along with local churches, mosques, and synagogues. 

We wanted to hear from some of the people behind these events. Imam Ousmane Sawadogo is Imam at the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center in Urbana. Rabbi Alan Cook is with the Sinai Temple in Champaign. And Reverend Dr. Sheryl Palmer is the Senior Pastor of Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign.

Shelters Preparing For Cold Weather

Last Thursday, many parts of northern and central Illinois experienced a snowy Halloween. And while it’s in the low 50s outside our Urbana studios right now, communities across the state are expected to see temperatures well below freezing tomorrow.

That’s why homeless services agencies are extending their hours, and in some cases opening warming shelters early, even though it’s only the first week of November.

Erica Smith is director of Helping Hands in Springfield. She’s at the studios of NPR Illinois. And Jennifer Jaeger is community services director for the City of Rockford.