Statewide, there are an estimated 22,304 people homeless on any given night. This number equates to approximately 30 homeless per 10,000 people. Research shows about 60 per cent of homeless individuals across the country have no insurance even though they are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid due to age or disability status.
For Krystene Barnes, Humana Agent, these numbers are staggering, and she is making it her mission to help as many people as possible access much-needed health care. Barnes services Snohomish County and surrounding areas. She specializes in Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans, but her passion for helping others is at the heart of her business.
“My focus is on helping others, leaving someone better than I found them” says Barnes. “I spend considerable time visiting shelters, outreach locations or walking the neighborhoods where people live on the street. I meet with seniors, those with limited income, and those needing help.”
Barnes believes access to healthcare is essential and can be an assisting factor to recovery. This may not be their top priority while they are navigating the struggles of being unsheltered, but it is a positive and necessary step for people.
“Paying bills and putting healthy food in bellies can be challenging,” says Barnes. “Through Humana’s Medicare Advantage Plan, we offer dental, hearing and vision care. An additional benefit, the Healthy options allowance can be used to pay for non-medical transportation, general supports for living such as rent assistance, internet, utilities, social needs, even pet care and supplies.”
The Healthy Options Allowance helps to pay for essential living expenses and gives people freedom and flexibility.
“Some people I talk to at shelters and outreach locations say they don’t need health care. They need food and a place to live,” says Barnes. “They may not need healthcare now, but having the extra money for necessities is always welcome. Having this healthcare can be the integral first steps to getting additional resources. “
A preloaded visa card of $125 is given to program members, and the amount is reloaded every month. If the $125 is not used in any given month, it gets rolled over to the next month. This extra money allows members to save up for bigger expenses, like rent or extra food at Christmas.
Barnes meets many people in need with extraordinary stories of lives that took a different path than intended. She knows her mission is to give back to the community.
“I have an educator role when I am meeting with people. Those with low income, on disability, the unsheltered, we need to be present for them and help them get to a better, healthier place in their life.” says Barnes.
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