New insurance coverage already is allowing nearly 70,000 King County residents to take charge of their health, and as a result, improve the quality of their lives — often after years of neglect.
Rebecca Bartlett, a 31-year-old UPS employee and part-time custodian, says she’s most excited about accessing critical preventive services — like OB/GYN screenings, dental work and updating the expired prescription on her decade-old glasses.”I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in years!” she said, soon after enrolling this fall. “The last time was at a free health fair. I’m so grateful to have been given this chance.”
Bartlett, who is newly eligible for care under Washington Apple Health, has been uninsured since she was 17. She says finally being able to take care of her health will help tremendously in turning her life around.
Bartlett spent much of her adult life suffering through health problems and struggling with homelessness. She spent years watching other people in her position die from preventable illness simply because they could not afford to go to the doctor.
“I had to just desperately hope that I didn’t get sick or injured on a permanent basis,” she says. “But I have been one of the lucky ones.”
Rebecca says she becomes bedridden with the flu at least once a year, but hasn’t had the money to see a nutritionist or pay for vaccines out-of-pocket.
She also developed a deblilitating injury at her old housekeeping job that prevented her from working eight-hour work days. The injury forced her to quit that job, and with it, her primary source of income.
“This left me with barely enough money to afford rent, much less hospital visits,” she says. “Getting insurance could quite possibly have saved my life.”