By Jessica Karina Guerra-Ugalde
I was thrilled and honored to stand behind the President last week as he talked about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefits all of our communities. Because of the immense pride I have in the ACA, I wanted to share my enrollment story and what it means to me. I graduated college in 2008, and did what college kids throughout the country do after graduation – I moved home and began looking for work. I worked as an intern and later as a temp- both positions did not offer any benefits. At that point, I was 22 years old, and I really did not think that anything could affect me. I was healthy and rarely got sick. Immediately after the ACA became law and was implemented, my mom went to her job to ensure that I was covered under her health insurance plan. A week after I received my health insurance card, I became very sick. I had to see a number of different specialists, had lab work done, and ultimately, the doctors were able to diagnose and treat me for pneumonia. If I didn’t have health insurance, if it wasn’t for ObamaCare, I wouldn’t be here today in good health.
The ACA is good for Latinas and our community because it has given young people like me, access to health insurance in a time when it’s hard to find work. It’s even more difficult to find a job that offers benefits. Because of ACA, I can go to sleep at night knowing that I can see the doctor whenever I want, without worrying about not having money to pay for a provider out of pocket or for medication. For young people graduating college, it adds stress to your job hunt to find a job that would offer you health care benefits. A few weeks after I got better, I was able to access all the care that I needed to make sure I was 100%. That included an appointment with the dentist, ophthalmologist, and my annual physical. When you have health insurance, you take even the smallest things for granted like seeing the eye doctor for contacts.
I believe that my experience, my story, is the story of many young people across the country. My mom says that the ACA, all the policy makers who worked to pass this law, and the people who have fought for the ACA have all saved my life and I agree. Thanks to this law, I was able to get the care I needed when I needed it.