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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It helped to save his life: Universal health insurance in Massachusetts

Tim [not his real name] was not feeling well, but didn’t see a doctor because he had no health insurance. He was uninsured for several years before he contacted Health Care for All’s HelpLine. The counselor helped him apply for benefits over the phone. Tim says, “Without Commonwealth Care, it would be nearly impossible to find an affordable health insurance plan.” Since becoming insured and seeing a doctor, Tim was diagnosed with diabetes and is being treated. It’s clear to him that getting insurance through Commonwealth Care and finally visiting a doctor helped to save his life.

The flip side of Tim's story from the files of Health Care for All is seen in a story from my aunt's life. The timely diagnosis and treatment of diabetes may well have given extra years of active life to my aunt, Anne Troutman, as well. A very high-energy woman into her 70s, she loved to travel. She didn’t treat the poor circulation in her feet, and required an amputation of her big toe late in life. That greatly reduced her ability to get around, and her quality of life. We don’t know how much she knew about her diabetes and self-care, for she died, not long afterward, of a heart attack. Clearly, a doctor could have helped her, as Tim’s doctor is helping him.

Advice: Ask your friends if they have health insurance, and refer them to the HelpLine at 800-272-4232 if not. The HelpLine answers questions about healthcare in Massachusetts, including co-payments, health insurance rules, directions, program eligibility, and much more.

Read another story about care for the uninsured.

Thanks to Amy Franz for the source story in the Fall 2008 newsletter of Health Care for All.

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