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The Faces of Health Care: Jenna R.


"My life has completely changed ... I can breathe deeply without coughing. I can walk to work without taking a break. I can play with my dogs. I can sleep through the night. I'm even working up the nerve to ride my bicycle. Only a few weeks ago, I felt like the best years of my life were long behind me. Today, I feel like I haven't begun to live."


The cough was manageable at first, the symptoms were mild. But for Jenna, a 43-year-old teacher from Sacramento, CA, the symptoms grew increasingly worse over the past five years. Then, in 2012, she lost her job. As a woman of Cherokee descent, she was able to get some care at the Indian clinic but had to pay for prescriptions out of pocket, so her treatment options were limited. Her asthma got so debilitating that she could not walk from her car to the grocery store without taking a break. She was hospitalized for five days. Her increasing inability to care for herself, her pets, or her home drove her to such desperate straits that she considered ending her own life. 

But in February, she went online to California's Marketplace (Covered California) and found insurance that would cover her asthma. Before she knew it, she was hospitalized again but this time she had insurance that covered prescriptions. Her doctor gave her a prescription that she could finally afford -- and it's changed her life. 

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