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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Real Voices: Your Weekly Dose from the HCFA Helpline

Real Voices: Your Weekly Dose from the HCFA Helpline

October 10, 2008

Every week we highlight the voices of real people that contact our Helpline every day. Once a week you will be introduced to a family whose life has changed for the better due to health reform. If you or anyone you know needs assistance applying for free or low-cost health care coverage, please contact our Helpline online, or call 1-800-272-4232. Here’s this week’s story:

Mara is a married, forty-seven year old mother of a fifteen year old that has suffered from chronic depression for many years. Mental illness runs in her family, therefore it has always been extremely important for her to have health insurance so that she can receive mental health treatment. Before Commonwealth Care, Mara’s family couldn’t afford the astronomical rates insurance companies were asking her family to pay for private health insurance. This meant that Mara couldn’t afford the treatment or medication that she needed to control her health issues.

Mara happened to find out about Health Care For All through a newspaper and contacted the Helpline for guidance and help completing the MassHealth application. A few weeks later she was notified that she and her husband would be eligible for sliding scale, affordable health insurance offered through the Commonwealth Care Program. They now pay $39 dollars per month for each adult and their daughter was enrolled in MassHealth coverage.

Since activating her new health insurance coverage, Mara has been going to the doctor for regular visits that keep her treatment on track. She says that the care that she has received is excellent because her doctor’s office delivers her care in her primary language (Portuguese). Beyond the quality mental health treatment that Mara receives, she has also been diagnosed with a thyroid problem for which she also needs to take daily medicine to control. Mara had no idea she was also living with this health issue and she is so glad to have been able to find out about it just about time to prevent other serious consequences that can come with thyroid disease.

Both treatments were only possible for Mara because of health reform and the Commonwealth Care coverage that came along with it. Mara describes her own feelings below:

“I wouldn’t be able to get treatment for my depression or thyroid if it wasn’t for Commonwealth Care. The Helpline helped me in the best way. I was even helped inside my own house! If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have had the time to look for information ourselves because we are always very busy. Today I feel that my treatment has been so successful that I feel like I can help other people around me that suffer from the same problem. HCFA is the best, most efficient resource, and I’m so grateful for it.”

Monika Lira Malhoit