Laura – depression and substance abuse,
Santa Rosa, California*
Molly – thyroid and vision problems; her son Jason – severe dental problems
Barbara – breast cancer
Kathleen Sarmento is the Director of Nursing at Santa Rosa Community Health. She not only knows what Medi-Cal Expansion has meant to the community-at-large, but also has first-hand, very personal experience: four of her family members have greatly benefited from the coverage.
Daughter Laura, age 28
Laura suffered from depression and had other issues that were getting in the way of her life. She was doing poorly in school, missing classes and even failing some. She started drinking and often felt suicidal.
When she turned 24, she could no longer be on her mother’s insurance and suddenly became uninsured. Finding appropriate treatment—and an insurance plan to cover it—was critical to her survival. When Medi-Cal expansion occurred, Laura applied and was thankfully accepted.
In the three years that she has had the coverage, all of her health care needs have been met and her life has turned around. Medi-Cal has covered her visits to a psychiatrist and therapist as well as all of her medications.
“Laura’s doing amazing now,” reports her mom. “She’s a 3.0 student, getting ready to go to nursing school, and is clean and sober. If it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act, she wouldn’t be able to function – she wouldn’t have health coverage or medications – nothing. I am so grateful for this.”
Step-daughter Molly, age 30, and her son Jason, age 6
Molly, a single mom and waitress, was also covered on her parents’ insurance plan until she was 24. Like many young people, she didn’t think about the need for health insurance. But then she began to develop a series of health issues – thyroid problems and issues with her vision as well as her back. She had to stop working when she sustained a wrist injury. In addition, her son Jason’s mouth was full of cavities. His teeth were simply rotten and sometimes he cried all night because of the pain.
Molly finally signed up for Medi-Cal. She and Jason became patients at Petaluma Health Center, and started on the road back to health. Today, Jason’s teeth have been fixed, Molly is back at work, has corrective lenses and is on medication—and the care is covered by Medi-Cal. “None of this could have happened without Medi-Cal,” says Kathleen.
Sister Barbara, age 61
Barbara’s husband is a veterinarian, and they live off his stipend, but they are very poor. They were uninsured, and didn’t know about Medi-Cal and its expansion program (not an unusual occurrence in this rural community, where it’s difficult to navigate the health care system.)
Recently, Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her disease is very aggressive, so, with family member’s intervention, she was signed up for emergency Medi-Cal. Diagnostic work was performed and a plan was made for her to begin chemotherapy and radiation.
Sadly, it may be too late for Barbara – she is very ill and radiation is no longer a possibility. “But she is getting care,” explains Kathleen,” and will continue to get the care she needs. Without this health coverage, she might be getting no care at all.”