Medicaid Matters: Sylvia’s story

Life after an unexpected catastrophic illness

Sylvia had a life many would envy. At age 50 she ran a successful health care consulting business, with clients nationwide. “I used to say I drove to work in a plane,” Sylvia remembers with a smile. Her home was a beachfront apartment in Seattle. An art major in college, she sculpted and taught pottery classes on a volunteer basis. 

Sylvia took excellent care of herself with a nutritious diet and daily exercise. She was dating a great guy, Steve, a former Marine and fellow fitness buff. Life was pretty much ideal, until she suffered a massive stroke. 

“Initially the doctors weren’t sure I’d live,” Sylvia says. She did survive, but needed months of hospital care. Even now, 20 years later, the effects of the stroke linger, and she uses a motorized wheelchair for most activities.

Sylvia had always been financially responsible and had invested in a health insurance policy that covered all her hospital care. When she was finally discharged, Sylvia needed skilled nursing support, but the first two centers she tried didn’t provide appropriate care. Steve, whom she later married, cared for her at home, but was unable to manage everything required.

And because there was a cap on the total benefits her policy would provide, Sylvia’s wonderful private insurance ran out. That’s when Medicaid became an important factor in her life. Without Medicaid, Sylvia would not be able to pay for ongoing care.

Luckily, a hospital social worker referred Sylvia to a great facility with both high-quality nursing care and assisted living, which is still her home today. Sylvia has become an accomplished painter, and her work hangs throughout the facility.

Having Medicaid, “just makes so much of a difference in my life,” she says. It has been the difference between a happy, productive life and one limited by pain and illness.

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