Without health insurance, an illness or even a minor injury could turn your world upside down. But thanks to the Health Insurance Marketplace, millions more Americans now have the opportunity to enjoy the security and peace of mind that comes with being insured.
People like Savanah. She’s 23 and lives in Tampa, Florida. She recently shared her story with us:
“I am a waitress, a student, and a lifelong Floridian. At the end of last year, I was unemployed, uninsured and living in my college apartment, which I could no longer afford. I had bills piling up and I needed to work. Unable to pay for another month’s rent, I began looking for jobs near my mother’s house. I figured that by moving in with her, I might be able to stabilize my budget.
I managed to get a full-time waitressing job, something to pay the bills until I could afford to go back to school or get a better job elsewhere.
Things felt like they were finally under control, but then something devastating happened: I fell down the stairs and broke my ankle during my move back home.
I didn’t know what to do. I knew I couldn’t afford any more bills, and certainly not ones the size of hospital bills. I also knew I couldn’t afford to take time off from work, as I was only just starting to get all my old bills taken care of.
Left with no other choice, I figured I’d just have to work around my injury. So, I called my dad, who had sustained several ankle injuries during his teen years, and he coached me through it. Although I took care of it the best I could, the next several weeks were rough. Waitressing on a broken ankle is not a fun task!
This could have been so much easier had I only had insurance. But although I had applied the previous fall, I was denied for having “pre-existing conditions.” At the time I thought it was laughable, seeing as it had a lot to do with me being a female who had also dealt with an anxiety problem in college, nothing I would think of as a pre-existing condition. But it turned out to be no laughing matter.
None the less, I managed to get through my ankle injury without acquiring any medical bills and for that I am truly thankful.
But my younger brother has had a different experience. You see, he was born with a true “pre-existing condition” called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). This condition, which is present at birth, is one where the left side of the heart does not fully develop, and requires several immediate surgeries to reconstruct the heart to function properly. My brother has always been a huge success story of this condition, seeing that not only is he healthy, but he has always been one of the most athletic people I know (much to his doctors disapproval). He has been against the odds at every turn in his life, and he has always refused to think of himself as sick. I thank my parents for never treating him that way either, for it made all the difference.
With his condition, no insurance company will offer him coverage (at least not for anything less than a truckload a month). So he has been uninsured for the last 4 years, which made the last 6 months extremely rough on my family, as he has had not one, but two health scares. First with a very minor heart attack and then with a minor stroke, both of which required a hospital visit and then a visit to his cardiologist. I haven’t seen the bills yet, but my mother told me they were well over $10,000.”
Savanah is among the millions of Americans who visited HealthCare.gov to explore her coverage options last week. She’s excited for the chance to get her own insurance for the first time in her adult life, and for the security that comes with that.
There are a number of ways to shop for coverage in the Marketplace. You can call the call center at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325), or use the Find Local Help feature on HealthCare.gov to find people in your community who are trained to help you understand your coverage options and enroll in a plan.