Elena's #GetCovered Story: Pursuing Her Dream to Farm
Ed. note: This blog is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Blog. The original post date was January 6, 2015.
The St. Luis Valley can be very cold and the life of a farmer here is not easy, but that has always been my dream. My family arrived in the valley in the 1860's and was among the first Hispanic settlers to come here. I'm the sixth generation of a proud family of farmers.
It was a hard dream to pursue without health insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I was able to stay on my parents' plan until I turned 26, but when I aged off the plan, I took a "town" job that came with health benefits.
What I really wanted, however, was to farm with my father. Getting Marketplace coverage allows me to do that.
Health insurance is so important, particularly for somebody like me because of my work with farm equipment and animals. A ram once knocked me over on my back when I wasn't looking, and my first thought was, "Oh, no, I really hurt something." Things like that can happen without you expecting them.
I've been lucky so far, but a lot of people in this area don't have insurance and have had more tragic outcomes. We had a neighbor who passed away a few years ago with cancer because he didn't go to the doctor when it might have helped. Without insurance, he kept avoiding the costs, and by the time he finally did go, it was too late.
Signing up for Marketplace coverage was straight forward, and the customer service folks were very helpful. You can find out whether you can enroll through the Health Insurance Marketplace or a State-Based Marketplace by going to HealthCare.gov and typing in your state's name where it's asked for on the site.
I found a plan offered through my state that was really affordable for me and have since renewed it for 2015. It's great coverage: I can go to the doctor when I need to and it covers most preventive services that I need. In fact, I've already used my insurance for a well-woman exam.
I also think it's particularly important that Hispanic people get quality health coverage. We face health disparities in areas like diabetes and asthma, and having affordable, accessible care can help prevent and control some of these and other illnesses. Having insurance is the first step toward taking control of our health.
Open Enrollment continues until February 15. You can shop for coverage and select a plan at HealthCare.gov, or in Spanish at CuidadoDeSalud.gov. I got covered through the State-Based Marketplace in my home state of Colorado.
If like me, you previously signed up for 2014 coverage through the Marketplace, you should return to HealthCare.gov or your state's Marketplace to update your application and compare your options: You may be able to find one that better meets your needs for 2015 coverage. You can review the 5 Steps to Staying Covered here.
If you have any questions or prefer to talk to a person, you can call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) anytime, day or night, and get assistance in English, Spanish, or any of 150 languages. (In Colorado, where I live, you can call 1-855-752-6749.)
Today, I'm proud to work alongside my family, as generations before me have done. Having health insurance has given me the freedom to decide what I want to do with my life. Why not find out where that freedom can take you?