Raised in Guatemala, Bartolo arrived in the U.S. in 2013 at the age of 17. He would have been eligible for the children’s health insurance known as Child Health Plus (CHIP), but didn’t apply because he was frightened about the effects on his immigration status.
Then, and for several years after, Bartolo did not attend to his medical needs. He had some problems with his eyes and knew he should consult an ophthalmologist. He had also never gone to a dentist in his life. "I was too scared to apply for any coverage."
Bartolo was eventually approved for an Employment Authorization Document, but wasn't aware that it made him eligible to apply for NY State of Health (NYSOH) coverage.
Thinking he might qualify for Emergency Medicaid, he made an appointment with a Navigator at Make the Road New York, a CSS Navigator Network agency. To his surprise and delight, the Navigator told him he was eligible for regular Medicaid. “Having health insurance means I no longer need to worry,” he said enthusiastically. “I know I can seek the care that I need.”
Bartolo is going to school now and working part time as a sushi chef’s assistant. He's glad he enrolled in health coverage. "I finally felt like I could assimilate to life in the U.S. Health coverage is part of being an active member of society. It's a sign of belonging."