Susana Septimo, a diabetic that depends on the ACA to survive
Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Susana Septimo’s survival strategy was to wage a constant balancing act. As a diabetic, she needed to constantly monitor her health through blood work and regular check-ups. She was also dependent on a daily dose of insulin. As a hourly wage earner without employer insurance, she also had to monitor her credit card balance and cash on hand to help pay for doctor’s visits and expensive medications.
“It was very difficult,” Susana said. “I really depended on doctors and clinics helping me out with free medications and low-cost blood work. Even then, it was a struggle.”
Susana, age 62, is a single woman who has been a diabetic for more than 15 years. She also suffers from glaucoma. Ms. Septimo works as a housekeeper and has no health insurance through her work employer. She finally got health insurance through the ACA two years ago.
“Thank goodness this health insurance is available to people like me,” she says. “It saved my life.”
With subsidies and cost-of-share, Susana pays $21 a month for a healthcare policy with a low-deductible that covers 94 percent of the cost of her medications, which include insulin pills during the day and an insulin shot at night. She has also been able to save her eyesight by taking eye drops that do not let her glaucoma worsen.
Before Ms. Septimo had health insurance, she depended on low-cost health centers and charity care, including donations of sample drugs provided by doctors. Even the low-cost fees of these public clinics were difficult for her to pay and she managed only by putting the fees for doctor’s visits and medications on her credit cards and paying the money back slowly over time. With her current healthcare policy she does not pay for her annual visits and only pays $1 for medications. (Without insurance, her eye drops that manage her glaucoma would cost $129. Her quarterly blood work to check her sugar levels used to cost her $150).
“Staying healthy allows me to continue to work until my retirement,” Susana says.
Ms. Septimo said that without adequate health care she would not have been able to to work and live independently. She is very grateful to finally have an affordable health insurance policy and not have to depend on charity care or donated medications.
“I now have the security and peace of mind that my health problems can be managed,” Susana says.