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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

May 8, 2009

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 entry:

Janet first contacted the Health Care For All’s Helpline about 2 years ago. She needed help filling out health program applications, and four weeks later she was notified about her Commonwealth Care eligibility. About a few months ago Janet called back for assistance with the Eligibility Review Form, to make sure she would continue to have access to an affordable and quality health insurance. She says that since then she has been going to the doctor for regular visits.

But Janet was completed caught by surprise when she first started feeling her eyes watery and with a feeling like sand in them. It continued to worsen, and she started to see spots, have extreme irritation, swelling, sensitivity to light, and pain. It got to a point that she couldn’t even watch TV anymore. She says that all of this happened very fast. She felt all of these symptoms in three days.

She says that she is so thankful to have gotten to know about Health Care for All a few years ago, and to have received the orientation needed in order to understand her health insurance. Because as soon as she felt ill, she could immediately go see the doctor and received all the attention needed in a very efficient manner. Her symptoms were very similar to conjunctivitis. So she took medicine for this virus and for inflammation, but neither medicine worked. She needed a more complete eye examination to find out exactly the cause of the disease.

After all the exams, the doctors diagnosed her eye problem as uveitis, which is an inflammation in the middle layer of the eye. She learned that because it is a rare disease it is usually not diagnosed easily, and may develop suddenly. She soon had the proper medicine needed to treat the disease. Some shots and oral medicine completed cured the inflammation. Janet says that she is just so grateful about all the professional care she had, because uveitis can lead to permanent blindness. The doctor’s told her that there is no explanation of what can cause it. They say that it is difficult to pinpoint the causes. Here is what she had to say:

“I’m just so lucky to be a Massachusetts resident and thank God I got to know through a close friend about this amazing advocacy organization called Health Care For All. I just can’t imagine what I would do of my life if I had to pay out of pocket for my doctor’s visits and medicine. I think that we only realize about it when something bad really happens to us. The human being’s health is just so fragile. Anything can happen anytime and we definitely need to be prepared to take care of ourselves.”

Monika Lira Malhoit