May 12, 2015: Andrea Jahen, 24, Austin, Texas
I spent the last 10 years fighting depression, virtually on my own. As a part-time waitress and college student, I couldn’t afford health insurance to get the care I needed. Some days, I couldn’t get out of bed. I had a sense of despair–but I’m so glad I don’t have to feel that way anymore.
When quality health insurance that I could afford became available through the Health Insurance Marketplace, I signed up for a plan that cost me $32 a month after tax credits. My coverage for 2015 went up $19, but it’s still affordable for me and has the benefits I need.
Having health coverage made seeking treatment for my depression easier. I was able to see a doctor who prescribed antidepressants, which cost me only $4 a month. Now I’m moving forward. I can get up in the morning. I can walk the dog. I can go to work.
With my insurance card in hand, I also went to the doctor for a checkup and got my first ever flu shot. Because of the Affordable Care Act, flu shots, annual checkups, depression screening for adults, and many other preventive services are covered by Marketplace insurance at no out-of-pocket cost.
And I don’t have to worry that my treatment for depression will prevent me from getting health insurance in the future. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers no longer can deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.
But despite measures in the Affordable Care Act that have improved options for health care coverage, Latinos remain the largest uninsured population in the United States. And many Latinos and other Americans who got covered like I did through the Marketplace don’t really understand their benefits and responsibilities and how to best use their health insurance. It doesn’t help to have insurance if you don’t know how to use it. If you have questions, there is “Coverage to Care”information and resources in English and Spanish at HealthCare.gov.
While open enrollment is closed until later this year, you may still be able to enroll in coverage or change your plan if you’re eligible for a special enrollment period because of a qualifying event, such as changing jobs and no longer having coverage from your employer; getting married; or having a baby. Also, you don’t have to wait for open enrollment to apply for Medicaid and CHIP.
You can call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) and get assistance in English or Spanish.
Depression for me was despair, a black hole. With affordable, quality coverage, I can move forward.
If you’re struggling with depression, you, too, can get the help you need. May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, so check out www.mentalhealth.gov, which features easy-to-understand information in English and Spanish about basic signs of mental health problems, how to talk about mental health, and how to find help before your condition worsens and becomes harder to treat.