By Holly Glen Gearhart, Contributing Writer
If you are uninsured and have not visited the Washington Health Exchange website to sign up for insurance, you have until the end of this month to enroll. If you miss the deadline you will NOT incur a fine for missing the deadline for a year. The sign-up website and phone lines are overwhelmed, but it is worth the wait.
The Exchange has made a difference in the lives of two people I know.
One person who was paying more than $100 a month for only catastrophic coverage now saves that money after enrolling in the Washington Health Exchange and qualifying for Apple Health. Another, a small business owner who was paying upwards of $700 a month for prescriptions, now only pays a low co-pay for the same prescriptions after enrolling in the Health Exchange.
Remember, this is our country’s first attempt to ensure health coverage for every citizen, working or not working, young and old. Websites crash and phone lines get jammed when dealing with millions of people.
But medical coverage is very important. I knew a woman named “Anna,” a mother of two young children whose husband lost his job and the family medical coverage.
Under the old Medicaid system Anna and her family did not qualify for coverage because they had a house and land.
Anna never had a mammogram, even though her sister had died of breast cancer only five years prior.
One day Anna noticed a large lump in her breast and went to the doctor to learn she had Stage IV breast cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes. Only after the diagnosis did she qualify for charity help for cancer and she lost both breasts.
The family lost their house and their mother and wife; Anna died at age 50.
If she had had her yearly checkups and preventative medical coverage, her cancer might have been detected in its first and most treatable stages, and she might have survived.
No matter which policy you wind up with from the new Health Care Exchange, you get checkups, prescription plans and preventative care.
The person I mentioned above who got coverage and was able to save a vital $100 a month is now able to care for the family car and spends that savings on proper maintenance, making the road safer for all.
The small business owner was able to stay in business.
And for all you indestructible twenty- somethings; get enrolled. I was a rock climber most of my life and fell a lot. I didn’t have medical coverage and no money for treatment, so I never got proper care. In my thirties those old injuries caused a disc to blow and put me on a cane and off climbing and hiking for the rest of my life. I was one centimeter from not being able to walk at all.
For more information: http://wahbexchange.org/
CustomerSupport@wahbexchange.org – a representative can help answer your questions.