Getting Healthy Thanks to the Affordable Care Act

There are times in Marie’s life, like when she’s sitting with her nurse case manager and reviewing strategies to improve her health, when Marie has to pause to realize how lucky she is.

“I’m grateful,” Marie says.  “I don’t take things for granted. I appreciate even the smallest thing because I know what it’s like to not have it.”

Just a few years ago, Marie was uninsured and sick.

“I had an asthma attack and it landed me in the hospital for a week,” the Pawtucket native remembers.  “My lungs were full of fluid, I couldn’t breathe and I had to have all kinds of treatments and things like that.  And the bill was like $13,000.”

Since she couldn’t pay, the hospital wrote off Marie’s bill. That was a momentary relief to her, but didn’t solve Marie’s bigger problem: she was in desperate need of regular health care.

Trying to “find ways to work it out myself” became Marie’s full-time job.

She wrote letters to pharmaceutical companies to ask for free prescriptions, and she’d take as many samples as her providers would give. At one point, a friend introduced her to a doctor who agreed to see her for $25 a visit.

“[The doctor] would say, ‘[Come back in] three months’ and I’d say, ‘Well, how about six months’, you know?” Marie says. “I was always kind of stretching it out, even though it was $25. That was still money that I didn’t really have to spend on a doctor. I had other living expenses.”

The minute she was able to, Marie signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“And so I ended up having Neighborhood; I got Neighborhood,” she remembers with a smile.  “And I was happy because I had heard a lot of people saying good things about Neighborhood, how every need that they had was met.”

From the start, Neighborhood met all of Marie’s needs, too. But a few months ago, she started having more and more trouble navigating her front stairs. She called Neighborhood looking for help — and she found it.

One of the options for people in Marie’s situation can sometimes include the construction of a ramp to make it easier for her to come in and out of her home. Angie, Marie’s nurse case manager, got to work immediately.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to meet her needs to be able to help her and to actually take some of the stress off of her,” Angie explained during a recent visit to Marie’s house.

The ramp would help Marie be able to get to appointments with the medical specialists she needs to see to continue her path to wellness.

“My main concern is being able to get out of this house, because I’m stuck here,” Marie says.  “So for somebody to say to me, ‘Well, you know, we possibly could put a ramp up so that you can get out of the house’, it’s like a miracle to me.”

In the meantime, Angie and the team at Neighborhood found a provider who can make monthly visits to renew Marie’s pain meds.

Angie explains the process: “I started asking, ‘Does anybody know who does that service?’  I made some calls; sometimes I didn’t get any calls back. We happened to find out at the VNA Care New England where she’s receiving her home care, that they actually have two nurse practitioners that go out, so that was great.”

These days, Marie’s getting the care she needs. And with Neighborhood’s help, there’s more to come.

“Neighborhood takes care of everything, so I have peace of mind,” Marie says. “And peace of mind is everything.”