4:29 PM Eastern - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"I tell them to please get on the phone and call, and I tell them to do it NOW." #default

Chantel Mendez

PHOTO: SEIU 1199NE member Chantel Mendez. CREDIT: Unknown.

Chantel Mendez is a member of SEIU Local 1199NE and a part-time home care worker in Bridgeport, Conn. When Mendez was 23 years old and found herself without health insurance, she found that under the new healthcare law she could join her father's plan through his work. Happily for her, she had insurance when she was involved in a serious car accident a year later--one that would have left her many thousands of dollars in debt.

But when Mendez turned 26 and could no longer be covered under her father's plan, she found herself unable to afford a private plan; yet she didn't qualify for Medicaid from the state. She went two years without insurance, and it was a difficult time for her. "Whenever I had some sort of medical issue, I'd look it up online and start getting worried. Even if I thought it might be something serious, I'd tell myself that I'd wait a week and then see how it goes."

A few months ago, someone from SEIU 1199NE came to her door and told Mendez about another part of the president's healthcare law that was taking effect; and how it was allowing the state of Connecticut to expand its Medicaid program. Mendez got on the phone, and before long she learned that she qualified for Medicaid and would once again have access to affordable healthcare.

"During those years without insurance, when I had a problem I would debate whether I should go to the hospital or a doctor because it would be so expensive. One time I was having trouble breathing because of a return of my asthma, and a friend let me borrow her inhaler. She had a lot of extra ones, so for a long time I relied on those inhalers to allow me to breath. But now that I'm insured again I can actually be treated by a doctor for my asthma, and I can get medical help when I need it instead of waiting."

Now Mendez is taking time off from her home care job to work full time for her local union spreading the word about affordable health insurance. She knocks on doors and urges people to find out about their options, and not to put it off since you never know what's going to happen to your health. "I tell them to please get on the phone and call, and I tell them to do it NOW."

Spread the word

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