I’m Covered Stories: A Just-in-Time Convert to Health Insurance

Posted July 15, 2014
By Judy Sarasohn, Public Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services

Before Robert Mandler Jr. would tell his amazing story of recovery, he insisted on fessing up: “I was not in favor of Obamacare. Last year I was not going to get health insurance. I was going to pay the penalty.”

“But I have to come clean,” he told me the other day from Florida’s Gulf Coast. “I was wrong. I’m very grateful to be where I am now.”

You see, after living a healthy life and not having much to do with doctors, Robert, 47, realized late last year that he had a growth on his tonsils. He got covered through the Health Insurance Marketplace and made his first doctor’s appointment for January 2. It turned out he had a late stage cancer.

His radiation and chemo treatments ended in April, and Robert says he’s cancer free now. He has to have a corneal transplant, because of a complication of the disease. But he says he’s lucky: He hasn’t lost parts of his jaw. Other people haven’t been so fortunate, he said, recalling a man he knew who died of tonsil cancer.

Robert chose a platinum plan that with the financial assistance available through the Marketplace costs him $118 a month. His treatment expenses are running about $200,000, but thanks to his insurance, he only had to pay a $2,000 deductible and about $1,500 in co-pays. He says without insurance, he would have gone bankrupt or died. Robert also points out that because of the Affordable Care Act, an insurer couldn’t deny him coverage because of his pre-existing condition.

Noting his Argentine roots, Robert says it’s important for all Americans, including Latinos, to know they have the right to check out their options for affordable, quality coverage through the Marketplace.

 “Health insurance saved my life and is giving me a new life. Until you experience something like this …” Robert said, overcome by emotion and unable to continue for a few moments.

After a rough winter and spring, things are looking up. In May, he was well enough to expand his bread distributor business. He’s working on regaining his full strength and energy. He’s even joined a gym and walks on a treadmill.

“Part of my experience is great access to care. I would not have had access to any of this if not for the health care law,” Robert said. “I must be one of the luckiest people in the world. I’m going to live and work and be productive.”

You may be able to enroll now in a Marketplace plan before open enrollment starts again in November because of special circumstances, such as aging off a parent’s plan at 26, having a child, or a change in immigration status.

Why wait to get covered? See if you qualify today.

Content last reviewed on July 15, 2014