Without health insurance, this woman would not have received the treatment she needed to survive.
In April 2014, Marion N. Seidel was given the news no one wants to hear: “You have cancer.” She had a cancerous tumor on her tonsils that had already started affecting her lymph glands — a potentially dire situation.
Regular readers of Eclectablog or those who saw my IGNITE talk at Netroots Nation 2014 may remember Marion, whose doctors gave her just one year to live if she didn’t start treatment right away.
“Without Obamacare, I’d be dead in 12 months,” she told me in June 2014, when I first told her story.
Because she couldn’t afford health insurance, even with a part-time job, Marion wasn’t sure what her future would bring when she was first diagnosed. No doctor would start her treatment if she didn’t have insurance. But Marion was able to find coverage at Healthcare.gov for just $20 a month with the help of tax credits, so she was able to begin the treatment that could save her life.
Because of that treatment, Marion’s doctors have something very different to tell her today: “You are cancer-free.”
The last 17 months haven’t been easy, though. Marion endured grueling treatment that included chemotherapy and radiation, the side effects of which still linger. She was forced to quit working and go on disability, and without any income to pay her bills, she lost her house. But even when her health insurance premiums went up to $200 a month (still with the help of tax credits) in 2015, she managed to keep paying her premiums and out-of-pocket costs with assistance from her hospital’s charitable program and donations from friends — something she says was not easy to ask for.
I lost my dignity asking people for money to survive, and I have nothing left but the clothes on my back.
But I’m alive and I’m healthy, and my daughter still has a mom. I’m doing very well and I still believe that Obamacare saved my life.
Although she did incur some out-of-pocket costs, Marion says she never had a problem with her insurance, which she estimates paid out $500,000 for her treatment. She also says her doctors provided excellent care.
In recent months, Marion has been able to return to work a few days a week and hopes to increase the number of shifts she works as she continues to get stronger. She’s living with a friend until she can get back on her feet, since her disability benefits will end in January, but she’s eager to regain her independence.
Marion is concerned about what her insurance might cost in 2016, because she can’t afford any more than she’s paying now. But she’s going to look into finding a plan that fits her tight budget.
Despite a journey she describes as “a trip to hell and back,” Marion has a hopeful perspective on her life.
Don’t ever give up. Try the best you can to stay positive. A positive outlook helps tremendously. Despite the situation I’m in now, I still consider myself pretty happy and very grateful to have gotten the care I needed to cure my cancer. I’m getting stronger and I’m still here.
Insurance open enrollment for 2016 continues through January 31, 2016. To buy or renew coverage that starts January 1, you have to sign up by December 15. Get started today at Healthcare.gov.
Did you get covered recently? Tell us your story for a future post!
[Photos courtesy of Marion N. Seidel.]