Leah Newsom

20150422_Leah Newsom 01 low res
Leah Newsom, healthcare navigator

Who I am…

My name is Leah Newsom. I’m a healthcare navigator with the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis and I help people enroll in health insurance policies through the Affordable Care Act.

ObamaCare is really…

Some people know the Affordable Care Act as ObamaCare, but it is actually a law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and our job as healthcare navigators is to help people understand how the ACA affects them in their daily lives as far as their health insurance policies are concerned.

What led me here…

I had an experience when I was in my mid-twenties where I didn’t have health insurance and I experienced a pretty significant health issue, a medical emergency that led to about $20,000 in medical bills, and so I had first-hand experience of the fact that not having health insurance can be really detrimental to your financial situation. And I also felt from my experience that it was detrimental to the treatment that I received. I thought that I was treated poorly based on the fact that I didn’t have health insurance.

So when this job came up it sounded like something that just connected with experiences that I had had.

How faith plays a role in my work…

I don’t consider myself an overly religious person. I do think that it’s just part of being a human to want other humans to have access to the rights that some people have access to. I think it’s just more of a compassion for me. It’s more about compassion and empathy than it is about faith and religion.

I define healthcare as…

That’s a tough one. I think health care is a holistic approach of taking care of your physical needs, whether it’s hydration, nutrition, exercise, medical treatment, and also your emotional needs.

One thing that I think that’s really important about the ACA is that is requires all health insurance plans to cover mental health and substance abuse, which are two very well documented issues in, at least in our country.

One of Memphis’ greatest healthcare challenges is…

I think nutrition and just basic wellness as far as exercise and activity is a big one, I think, in a lot of the population that I see just in the city.

And then I think also having access to health insurance is essential to get quality healthcare in our city, in our country as a whole. If you don’t want to go into medical debt, if you have a serious medical issue, you have to have health insurance.

But what Memphis healthcare is doing right is…

I think that there’s a lot of good movement towards outdoor activities that are available.

And then I think the work that we’re doing as healthcare navigators. I think that it’s really important to educate people what the ACA is.

The biggest challenge in my healthcare work is…

I think the greatest challenge is the education piece. I think just explaining to people what the ACA is.

Health insurance is not an interesting topic, I will be the first to acknowledge that. It’s hard to get people out to educate them about it.

So that’s my biggest challenge.

The greatest reward in my healthcare work is…

I think helping people get access to something that they didn’t realize they had access to. I have cried with people before, multiple times. I get chills sometimes when I help people enroll in plans.

Learn more about healthcare navigation and the Affordable Care Act.

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