More of Your Voices: Coverage Matters to Maryland Families

With just days left until the January 31 deadline for 2017 coverage, you’ve been sharing your own story of how coverage matters to you and your family.

We’ve talked with Marylanders who need coverage because of life-threatening illnesses or to access important preventive care, many who are saving money with the help of financial assistance like tax credits, and others who value the peace of mind of protecting their loved ones from the unexpected.

We're sharing some of their stories this week. You can also tell us yours, and hear from more Marylanders like you.

Melvin enrolleeMelvin helped his terminally ill sister get covered in Maryland.
Melvin's sister, who lives in Maryland, has terminal cancer and was about to lose her health coverage through COBRA.

Melvin, who lives in Virginia and is his sister's Power of Attorney, was able to get her a health plan that will allow his sister to continue to see specialty doctors and get the particular medication she needs. Melvin was “very pleased” with the in-person assistance he received.

Amy G. of Columbia is thankful for coverage after she faced $35,000 in bills for cancer treatment while uninsured.
The expense of unexpected medical bills is something Amy of Columbia knows well.

She recalled becoming increasingly ill after her husband left and she didn’t have insurance. She sought care at Howard County General Hospital.

“The doctor said, ‘You’ve got cancer,’ and literally walked out the door,” Amy said.

Transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital, Amy had a 10-hour operation to treat ovarian cancer, and then an additional six operations after she contracted the MRSA infection while hospitalized.

The bills totaled $35,000. “It was so depressing, so overwhelming I didn’t open any of the mail,” Amy said. “In one piece of mail the ambulance bill was $400 or $600 just for transporting me.”

Family helped her pay off the debt at the time, but it could have easily put her under financially, she said.

A short time later, she was able to get covered during a health fair where Maryland Health Connection was participating. Her navigator told her, with relief, “You’re enrolled now. If something happens to you on the way home, you have insurance.”

For her 2017 health plan, Amy visited Door to Healthcare’s office this week in Columbia and praised her navigator, Rose, for being patient, helpful and knowledgeable. “It’s very nice that they have these accommodations,” Amy said of in-person assistance at the regional office.

Tonya of Montgomery County said her family has saved more than $700/month on health insurance.
Tonya said she has a pre-existing condition and is self-employed. Previously as part of the state's high-risk pool, she spent more than $1000 each month for a high-deductible plan. Now her entire family is covered and pays $300 per month for health coverage.

Tonya said coverage through the Maryland Children’s Health Program also has provided critical services for her young son, who has autism. “I didn't know three years ago how important health care for my son would become… If the [Affordable Care Act] is repealed, not only will my entire family lose health coverage, but my son will lose vital services to help him maintain his communication skills, and tear apart our family.”

Susan M. of Montgomery County said Medicaid coverage offered treatment — and hope — after severe visual impairment.
Susan, now 59, is nearly blind due to severe closed-angle glaucoma and was able to get health coverage thanks to the expansion of Medicaid in Maryland. Her coverage has paid for four eye surgeries, specialist visits, follow-up exams, and prescriptions that otherwise would cost nearly $1,000 per month.

Insurance also has allowed her to receive counseling and occupational therapy to cope with her visual impairment. Susan said she cannot see her face in a mirror, and has learned to walk with a white cane.

“I experienced total blindness in the months of recovery from my surgeries, and the only thing which got me through those months was the hope and expectation that I would retain some sight in the future. Without the ACA or something very like it, I would not have that hope.”

About Maryland Health Connection

Maryland Health Connection is Maryland’s official health insurance marketplace for individuals and families to compare plans and enroll in health and dental coverage. It’s the only place to get financial help with health insurance. See if you qualify for financial help like tax credits or Medicaid/MCHP to make health insurance more affordable.

Visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov to enroll, or download our free Enroll MHC mobile app for Android and iPhone. Open Enrollment for 2017 is November 1 to January 31.

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