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Real Marylanders’ stories: The life-changing importance of having health coverage

Time is running out to sign up for 2018 health coverage, and being insured remains critically important. We’re talking with real Marylanders about how having health insurance played a pivotal role in their access to quality care and also their finances.

It’s not too late to make the best decision for you and your family, and enroll now at MarylandHealthConnection.gov. The final deadline is Dec. 15. You may even qualify for financial help to lower your costs: 9 out of 10 people who enroll qualify for savings. Now is your chance to protect yourself and avoid unexpected medical bills next year.

Derrick S. of Baltimore County says having health coverage has been a “truly a blessing” to him, after nearly dying from a gunshot wound while he was uninsured.

Last year, he was struck by a stray bullet that wreaked havoc on his lower bowels and colon. “I almost passed away. The surgeons didn’t expect me to make it,” Derrick said, recalling that 9 out of 10 people with those injuries don’t survive.

While hospitalized, a social worker enrolled him in Medicaid, which covered his medical expenses. “I can only imagine what I’d be going through if I had to deal with those bills,” he said.

This week, after losing job coverage, Derrick visited Healthcare Access Maryland to enroll in coverage. He praised signing up with navigator Juan as a quick and comfortable experience. “I appreciate the program,” he said. “Without it I wouldn’t be covered.”

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Caitlyn C. of Upper Marlboro is relieved that now having quality health coverage means she can get eyeglasses for the first time in five years.

“To me, having health insurance is very important. You don’t know what could happen and when you will need it. … You need to be able to go get glasses or go to the dentist if your teeth hurt.”

Caitlyn, 25, and her boyfriend recently visited Prince George’s County Health Connect’s office in Capitol Heights to sign up for Medicaid coverage. Caitlyn changed her managed care organization to one with more health services in her area, and credited the staff with being professional and helpful.

“They gave us options I hadn’t even thought of. It was a really great experience,” she said.

Caitlyn also described the havoc caused by being uninsured, after her boyfriend, 31, was hit by a car this March when he didn’t have health coverage.

He spent time in the emergency room and needed physical therapy and other treatment long after the accident. “He thought he’d be OK to go without health insurance for a year.”

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A motocross accident in August for Brandon N. of Great Mills not only shattered his hip, but also wrecked his plans and could have left him with astronomical medical bills.

Brandon landed sideways on the track, and his doctor said he had never seen such a bad break.

Fortunately, Brandon, who manages a pizza chain and doesn’t have job coverage, was already enrolled in a health plan through Maryland Health Connection. His insurance covered surgery costs to repair his hip, especially important while the injury kept him out of work for a few weeks.

“I also like signing up online because it's easy and quick,” he said, and Brandon plans to enroll again for 2018. He knows health insurance is an essential part of his budget now.

Share your story with us!

Visit our website to tell us how getting health coverage or accessing financial help have helped make your life better. It’s more important than ever to get the word out.