By JULIE MINDA
Patricia Blaze Jackson of Shreveport, La., had been uninsured for more than 25 years when healthcare.gov, the federally facilitated health care exchange enabled by the Affordable Care Act, went live in 2014. She signed up right away.
Jackson, now 60, had dropped her employment-based insurance in 1987, because, she says, she could not afford the premiums and high deductible connected with the coverage.
The divorced mother of six adult children says she generally was healthy during her time without insurance, but she did require care for illness in 2004 and 2008. She was unable to pay for that care, and she says the bills were turned over to collection agencies.
On healthcare.gov, she chose a plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. A tax credit brings her premium to zero.
Patricia Blaze Jackson
Within a year of securing insurance, Jackson had some serious health setbacks that made her very grateful for her ACA-enabled coverage. In 2015, she says she was hospitalized for three months after experiencing infections and other complications from unpassed kidney stones and a ruptured ulcer that required emergency surgery. She spent time in intensive care.
Last year, she was diagnosed with the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion. According to Medline-Plus, an online medical encyclopedia, when people have this syndrome, their body overproduces a hormone that helps the kidneys control the amount of water lost through urine. The body retains too much water, and it dilutes vital concentrations of substances in the blood. Sufferers can experience nausea, vomiting, headaches, balance issues, confusion, memory problems and, in severe cases, seizures or coma.
Jackson says she is under the care of several specialists and takes several daily prescription medications to manage the condition.
Though she lives paycheck-to-paycheck, Jackson says she's able to cover her co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses related to her medical care. "If not for my insurance, I would not be able to afford my medications and treatments," she says. "If I'm sick or not feeling well, I can call the doctor and make an appointment and not worry about having to pay an arm and a leg. I'm thankful for the marketplace and the doctors," she says. "I've had really good care."
Jackson says when she learned of the late-March failure of the House Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, she thanked God. "If they could come up with a plan that is as good as or better than what we have now, I would like that.
"But, I don't feel you should take away the plan if you don't have something else in place" that will work for everyone, she said.
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