Wake Forest woman: Health law 'saved my life'
Posted December 12, 2014
Wake Forest, N.C. — Kim Jones went 10 years without health insurance before she was able to get coverage earlier this year through the Affordable Care Act. Now, she says, she has peace of mind knowing she can get the medical treatment she needs whenever something happens.
"I fell through the cracks. I think that's what upset me the most before getting the insurance," said Jones, 60, who works as a substitute teacher in the Wake County Public School System.
She doesn't work enough hours to qualify for health coverage through the district, and she couldn't afford to buy insurance on her own. So, she received basic care through the Open Door Clinic of Urban Ministries and put off anything beyond that, even though she had serious health issues.
"I would get severe headaches that would actually cause me to have to go and lie down. I just couldn't function," she said.
In August 2013, Jones fell while in New York and hit her head on the concrete. During an MRI at a hospital to determine if she suffered a concussion, doctors discovered she had a brain tumor.
The tumor turned out to be benign, but it was pressing on her optic nerve, and she could wind up losing her sight – possibly even dying – if it wasn't removed.
Still, she was uninsured and couldn't afford the surgery.
All of that changed in March, when she went on the HealthCare.gov website and enrolled in a plan through the federal exchange. With subsidies, she pays $20 a month for coverage.
“I’m just grateful that I have insurance because, without it, I would’ve have suffered for a very long time," she said.
Jones underwent surgery in August at UNC Hospitals, where the tumor was removed entirely.
"Had we not had (the Affordable Care Act), had it not been passed, I would still be in this situation, with this tumor, knowing I had it, suffering these different ailments and miserable,” she said. "It saved my life. It really saved my life."
Jones recently renewed her coverage for 2015 and encouraged anyone who is uninsured to go to the online exchange and sign up before the open enrollment period ends on Feb. 15.
"If they don't have insurance, they need it. They really need it," she said. "Without insurance, I wouldn't have been able to be followed up on. Without insurance, I couldn't go and get the medication that I need. So, it's still helping me."
On Monday, an enrollment event is scheduled at Pullen Park Community Center in Raleigh from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free expert help will be available to help people enroll or renew coverage.