I’m Covered Stories: Getting the Facts Herself

Posted July 10, 2014
By Judy Sarasohn, Public Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services

Like most folks, Ruth Ann Conley never expected that her life could turn upside down so quickly. A divorce. A bad economy. She got laid off, and she lost her home. And then she learned health insurance would cost her more than $400 a month, which she couldn’t afford.

She now works as a barber in Huntsville, Alabama, and travels every weekend to sing with J. Curly Speegle and The Deal at a Nashville blues club. Her jobs don’t offer health benefits, so Ruth Ann, 53, has been without coverage since 2008.

“I was skeptical. I did the research. I got covered. It saved my life.” Ruth Ann Conley. HealthCare.gov.She had to make difficult choices. “There were times it was either put gas in the car, buy groceries, or get a shot because I was on the verge of pneumonia,” she told me.

Ruth Ann didn’t see any hope, even when her boss posted a sheet about the Health Insurance Marketplace. Her friends and colleagues had been negative about the Affordable Care Act, and she was skeptical.

But she reluctantly looked at the information and finally did her own research. She found that with financial assistance available through the Marketplace, she could enroll in a silver plan for only $54 a month.

With her insurance card in hand, Ruth Ann went to a doctor after a mole on her arm turned black. The mole actually was basal cell carcinoma, and she only had to pay about $70 of the more than $600 cost to have it removed.

“I did the research. I got covered. It saved my life,” Ruth Ann said.

She’s also been able to go to the gynecologist for the first time in 10 years. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, her Pap smear and bone density tests — both preventive services — were covered at no out-of-pocket cost. The bone density test caught osteoporosis in her hips early enough to make exercise and medication more effective as treatments, she said.

“I went home and cried,” Ruth Ann said. “Here I am a conservative Christian and I’ve allowed media and other people to influence me [against the Affordable Care Act]. …I am a hard-working, tax-paying citizen. … I don’t understand how people could be so heartless to say a person like me should not have affordable health insurance.”

If you, like Ruth Ann, were without insurance for a long time, check out these resources to help you understand your benefits and make the most of your health coverage.

And if you don’t have insurance, you may qualify for a special enrollment period that allows you to buy a private health plan through the Marketplace before open enrollment in November because of special circumstances, such as getting married or divorced, losing a job, or moving to a new area. You can also go to HealthCare.gov to see if you qualify for Medicaid.

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

Content last reviewed on July 10, 2014