Spotlight on Women's Health

Stefania Fochi

An Interview About Finding Affordable Health Coverage: Stefania Fochi

June 30, 2014

Why is health insurance important? It protects you from paying a lot if you get sick or hurt. Plus, most private plans cover preventive services that help you stay healthy in the long run, like annual checkups and blood pressure screenings — all at no extra cost to you. 

Stefania Fochi wanted insurance for her peace of mind. She lived without insurance for four years and was nervous every day that she worked with heavy machinery in her family's business. What if something happened? Would getting sick or injured bankrupt her or her family? That's why she signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Read our interview with Stefania to learn how the Marketplace not only helped her find coverage that fits her needs and budget, but allowed her to follow her dreams.

Stefania Fochi is 25 and lives in Florida. She and her family recently opened their first empanada and pasta shop. With her culinary arts and Bachelor of Arts in Small Business Management degrees, Stefania's dream is to create an empanada empire across the United States.

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Q: How old are you, and where do you live?

A: I am 25 years old and I live in Sarasota, Florida.

Q: You lived without health insurance for four years while working with heavy machinery. What was that like?

A: It was a little nerve-racking and stressful. When working with the heavy machinery making empanadas and pasta for my family's business, I was always hyper-vigilant about not making a mistake. There have been times when I've been using the big, 2,000-pound kneader and almost caught my hand in it and thought, "If I had to go to the emergency room, what would I do?"

Q: Why do you think health insurance is important?

A: I believe health insurance is important because life is unpredictable. Unfortunately, if you get sick or have an accident, not having insurance could mean the loss a life's worth of savings. We don't plan for these things, but it can happen. 

Insurance also helps you get routine care. It's especially important for me because there's a history of ovarian cancer in my mother's family: my great-grandma died of it, my grandma had it, and my mom had it. Without health insurance, I wasn't able to keep up on my checkups. I was rarely able to go to a doctor in the four years since I quit my job with a corporation to start an empanada business.

Q: When you learned about the Marketplace, how did you feel?

A: I felt like there was hope. I felt like there might be a plan that would finally meet my needs and was within my budget. It also provided me with peace of mind because I knew having insurance would give me more financial security. A trip to the hospital wouldn't wipe out my savings.

Q: What was your experience signing up for coverage through the Marketplace?

A: I found that using HealthCare.gov was not terribly difficult. It took a few tries to find what I needed, but after I learned how to use the site, I was able to do what I had to do — find an affordable policy with great coverage.

Q: How has your life changed since signing up for coverage?

A: Since signing up for coverage, I have had an increased feeling of security. I don't have to worry and always ask myself, "What if something happens to me?" Instead, I can focus on what's most important to me, which is my business. I have also felt relief because I can afford my plan. It has low monthly costs and a low deductible.

Q: What can you tell us about your insurance plan?

A: My insurance plan is affordable! I am grateful to no longer be uninsurable. Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, no insurance provider wanted to cover me. They said it was because of my weight in relation to my height, but my cholesterol and blood pressure numbers were perfect. I also didn't have a pre-existing condition. However, the only insurance I could have gotten would have cost $2,000–$3,000 a month and it would only cover accidents, not routine care. I couldn't afford it. 

Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, I found a plan with low monthly costs — only $98! I also have a low annual deductible of $750. It's cause for celebration!

Q: What advice would you give to young people who may not think they need health insurance?

A: When young people generally think of insurance, they rationalize that they do not need insurance because they are young and healthy. They do not factor in the fact that health insurance acts as a safety net in the face of an accident. There's also the preventive aspect. Preventive care keeps us informed, healthy, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most private insurance plans must cover many preventive services without additional costs to us.

To learn more about health insurance and signing up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, please visit HealthCare.gov.

The statements and opinions in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health.