Post from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services blog:

I'm a fashion model and a cancer blogger. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I’m a cancer fighter, too.

Because of the law’s provision for expanded Medicaid eligibility, I’ve been able to get the care I need to fight breast cancer for the past two years.

I got covered in 2014, when I was 42. I had just returned from Italy where I was getting my master’s degree in Italian. I knew that a woman at age 42 should have health coverage. So when I returned to the United States, I checked out the Health Insurance Marketplace and got covered by Medicaid, part of NJ Family Care. The state of New Jersey had expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, and I qualified for it because I wasn’t working then.

At the time, I was a healthy woman and looking for a job. I went for a physical and a mammogram in August 2014. I was fine. Or so I thought. In October, I found a lump in my left breast.

I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Since then, I’ve had a double mastectomy, gone through chemotherapy and radiation, and had numerous procedures due to complications from reconstructive surgery. The cancer vanished for a few months until August 2016, when I was diagnosed with metastatic, or advanced, breast cancer. I will need treatment for the rest of my life. So far, immunotherapy has been shrinking my tumors. 

And Medicaid covered all of it. All of it. I’m friends with women on Facebook who are talking about facing bankruptcy because their health insurance – and savings – didn’t cover all the care they needed. Some lived in states that decided not to expand Medicaid.

As much as I would love to work and get a job with health benefits, I haven't been able to work since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m just not healthy enough yet to hold down a job.

I used to be a high school teacher before I went to Italy and don’t have much in savings. I feel incredibly grateful that my home state of New Jersey expanded Medicaid, allowing me to get covered.

The Affordable Care Act is keeping me alive.

If I didn't have the Medicaid coverage, I wouldn't be able to afford treatment for my metastatic breast cancer, and I’m going to need medical care for the rest of my life.

With all the talk of Obamacare repeal and changes in Medicaid, I'm afraid I won't have coverage.  And that terrifies me. I don’t want to die because I can’t afford health insurance. I’m sharing my story because #CoverageMatters to me, just as it does for millions of other American women and men. Share your own story on social media using #CoverageMatters.

I’m urging everyone who is uninsured to check out their options on the Marketplace at HealthCare.gov and enroll in coverage that meets their needs and budget. Open Enrollment for the Marketplace goes until January 31, 2017, but you need to enroll by January 15 for coverage that begins February 1.

Financial assistance may be available to help you get covered, and you might find out, like I did, that you’re eligible for Medicaid through your state. You can get 24/7 help comparing plans and enrolling in coverage by calling 1-800-318-2596 or find in-person assistance in your community at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov.

My #CoverageMatters because it’s saving my life.