For many new health insurance enrollees, the prospect of affordable medical care has been little more than a distant dream for years.
Now that coverage is finally available, they can hardly believe it’s really happening.
“I’ve been living in fear for so long,” says self-employed painter Geoffrey Garza, who recently enrolled in a plan through Washington Healthplanfinder. “There’s still a part of me that thinks this is too good to be true!”
For more than six years he was uninsured, while he taught art classes for underpriviledged youth during the week — and coached tennis every weekend.
“I have what you’d call weekend warrior injuries,” he says. “My dad always asks me, ‘why don’t you just go to the doctor?’ And I have to explain to him, well, it doesn’t work that way for me. It’s not that easy.”
Garza repeatedly gets muscle strains and other tennis-related injuries.
He says he needs physical therapy to manage the pain — especially as he gets older — but without insurance, it’s been out of the question.
He just had to “get used to living with the pain.”
The spectre of getting in an car crash or developing a serious health condition has weighed on him — ever since he was booted off Medicaid in 2008.
Prostate cancer runs in his family, so lack of access to preventive screenings comes with higher stakes every year.
“I have really dreaded something serious happening,” he says. “I don’t make a lot of money, and having to pay for that would devastate me.”
When Artist Trust, ArtsWA and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture hosted a health insurance enrollment workshop for local artists this fall, Garza signed himself up immediately. At the workshop, he could get his application started, and look at his options, with the help of Public Health- Seattle & King County’s In-Person Assisters.
By picking a plan before the Dec. 23 deadline, Garza will have medical coverage starting on Jan. 1.