Mary Ann’s Story Reminds Us Why ACA Enrollment Matters

By Mary McClure
December 14, 2015

As you may know, we are nearing the end of Open Enrollment season, when individuals and families can sign up for health insurance. In fact, December 15, the last day to enroll for January 1 coverage, is quickly approaching. Despite some politicians’ efforts repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), NETWORK continues to uplift and support the pro-life policy that made healthcare accessible to millions who were previously uninsured.

We continue to hear stories from people whose lives were changed because they had access to healthcare. Recently I re-read one of these, the story of Mary Ann Wasil, which was first told in the NETWORK Connection magazine (First Quarter 2014, p. 4-6).

At 39, Mary Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer despite having no family history of the disease. Mary Ann, a mother of three girls, needed a mastectomy and chemotherapy to save her life. During her chemotherapy, she suffered a stroke, which required additional surgery. At the same time, Mary Ann’s marriage was ending. She had made the decision years ago to leave her job as a police officer to raise her daughters; she had held a few part-time jobs since then which never had benefits.

In 2011, seven years after her initial diagnosis, her cancer returned. The end of her marriage meant she no longer had health insurance, and with a “preexisting condition,” both Mary Ann and her children were uninsurable. The chemotherapy for her second round of cancer cost around $25,000 per session. The Affordable Care Act was lifesaving legislation for Mary Ann, who was able to find an affordable healthcare plan through her state’s marketplace that covered her despite her preexisting condition.

What a blessing that so many lives have been saved through affordable access to healthcare! Thousands of moms, dads, grandparents, and others are also gaining this coverage by enrolling in health insurance for 2016. If you have not signed up for an insurance plan, it’s not too late to gain January 1 coverage: enrollees have until December 15 to sign up and avoid the penalty.

These plans can be affordable. Many people are eligible for tax credits or financial assistance and many plans are $75 or less per month. While the website may seem overwhelming, free and confidential help is available from trained, local professionals.

With the Affordable Care Act, millions of people have gained health insurance through the marketplace and through Medicaid expansion. NETWORK continues to advocate for and celebrate pro-healthcare legislation, working towards the day when healthcare is genuinely affordable and accessible to people of all income levels, with particular concern for the most vulnerable members of our community.

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