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ACA’s Sixth Anniversary: Moving Forward Through Medicaid Expansion

Today, I have no monthly premium and I pay $1 for generic medications and $2 for brand medications.

When I think about Medicaid expansion, I get emotional. Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has been a lifesaver for my wife and me. Here is why.

I have a rare, genetic disorder that causes benign bone tumors. My father had it, and so did my grandfather. On a typical day, I experience a level 3 to 4 pain on a scale of 1 to 10. However, there has been a few times where the pain almost paralyzed me.

Ryan Week and his wife, Ariel.
My father has always been a huge help to me. While on my father’s insurance, I was able to have three major neck surgeries and a back surgery that cost over $100,000 dollars each. Once I had to get off of my dad’s insurance, though, my options were COBRA and buying my own insurance. Both were very expensive. So, when I heard about Medicaid expansion through the ACA, I got really excited. 

I consider myself lucky to be living in Maryland, which is one of the 30 states and the District of Columbia that have expanded Medicaid. Before Maryland expanded Medicaid under the ACA, buying health insurance on my own cost 50 percent of our monthly household income. This was a Catch-22 because our income was at the poverty level, but we still made too much to be eligible for regular Medicaid. So I hope that the remaining states follow suit, so that other people can get affordable, quality coverage and not be plagued by the same conundrum. 

Now, Medicaid in Maryland offers coverage to individuals younger than 65 who make up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That meant that Medicaid was expanded to include me. Today, I have no monthly premium and I pay $1 for generic medications and $2 for brand medications. And not only am I saving about $500 a month, but my wife, Ariel, is covered too. 

Ariel didn’t have health insurance prior to the Medicaid expansion. She actually didn’t have insurance for most of her life. She has a condition that requires very expensive medication — each pill costs hundreds of dollars. Medicaid has been a lifesaver by paying for her hospital bills, and her medication.  So, I am grateful that we are two of the estimated 20 million people who have gained health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. 

Together, Ariel and I are building our lives, despite our health obstacles. While working on our future, we still have a few medical bills that we are paying off. The ACA has made it possible for us to pay off our bills with the money that we are saving, which will allow us to keep building our life without the burden of debt.

Ultimately, my dream is to give back. I currently work as a tutor for young boys in the Baltimore area. I feel that a part of me never left the hospital, though. That is why I want to be a hospital chaplain once I earn my master’s degree in theology. And Ariel is starting her own business.

And none of this would be possible without ACA and the Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid expansion was a lifesaver for Ryan and his wife. Read their story: #20MillionStrong


ACA’s Sixth Anniversary: Helping Others Get Covered ACA’s Sixth Anniversary: Finding Hope and Security