Obamacare Gave My Mom Peace of Mind

Obamacare Gave My Mom Peace of Mind

Story tools

A A AResize


Photo: Aurelia Ventura/La Opinión

Traducción al español

Health care reform is already helping people struggling to get health insurance. I know -- my mother is one of them.

I was 10 when my mother was diagnosed with chronic lupus, a disease in which the immune system goes awry and attacks healthy tissue. This meant she was among those with "preexisting conditions," making it difficult for my family to get health insurance. The Affordable Care Act, which recently celebrated its third anniversary, is about to make life much easier.

Mom migrated from Mexico to the United States when she was 17, settling in Watsonville, Calif. Being undocumented and not knowing the language, she had few employment opportunities. She worked in the fields and packing industries of Salinas Valley for the next 30 years of her life.

Fortunately, my mother got legal residency when she was in her 30s, which allowed her to pay for health insurance through her employer. Then, at age 40, she was diagnosed with chronic lupus. There were mornings when she woke up almost paralyzed, with no feeling in her left arm and barely able to get out of bed.

I have a lot of memories of visiting my mother in the hospital, bringing her costly treatments and acting as a translator between Mom and health care professionals. At age 16, I started working to help my family since our insurance didn’t cover most of Mom’s hospital bills. Mom tried to enroll in different health care insurance plans that could better address her needs, but she was denied as a result of her pre-existing condition.

That’s about to change. Beginning in January 2014, people like my mother wil be able to purchase health insurance and not have to worry about being denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

My mother’s illness got worse in 2007, when my father was hospitalized due to a brain aneurism. She was hospitalized as a result of excessive stress, complicated by a flare-up of her lupus. In those days, I was visiting both of my parents in the hospital at the same time.

My father died during brain surgery, which put our family in serious financial need. Now working part-time and still uninsured, my mother sees the opportunity of the Affordable Care Act as a beacon of hope. The changes in Medi-Cal’s eligibility requirements as a result of health care reform mean that my mom will now be eligible to enroll.

The expansion of Medi-Cal could help millions of people. We need Governor Brown to do what’s fair for all Californians, to have the state continue to supervise Medi-Cal and continue to allocate resources for our counties, to guarantee a solid safety net for those who are uninsured, including the undocumented.

We are now in the process of signing my mom up for our county’s Low-Income Health Program, which acts as a bridge to Medi-Cal for people like her who have the right to join the program in January. Soon, my mom will have the security of having health insurace and knowing that her illness will not ruin her economically. Millions of Americans will soon have the same peace of mind, thanks to health care reform.