Medicaid Matters: Laura's story

After two cancer bouts, Laura owes her life to Medicaid

Who knew that doing laundry would one day result in not one, but two, painful bouts of cancer? Laura, now 50, lives in Walla Walla, Wash., and for seven years washed her then-husband’s clothes every day. She had no idea that his work-related asbestos exposure would transfer from his clothes to her body.

In 2013 Laura was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos fibers that settle into the lungs, abdomen or heart – and later develop into tumors. Although she worked as a manager at a fast-food restaurant, she soon saw that her employer-based insurance wouldn’t begin to cover the costs of her treatment, which included chemotherapy for six months, surgery and another six months of chemo.

“Cancer is not like a fever. It’s very expensive,” she says.

She applied for and first began receiving Medicaid in 2013. After her treatments, she was able to return to her job and restarted her regular health insurance. She worried cancer would return, but at least she wasn’t faced with enormous medical bills.

In 2017, her worst fears were realized. Laura’s cancer returned, this time with multiple tumors in her stomach. A financial counselor at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla helped her apply for and receive Medicaid for the second time.

Once again, Laura was able to receive life-saving cancer treatments and is back at work in her restaurant job. “Without Medicaid, I would have died both times I had cancer,” she says. “They’ve been very good to me, and they really help working people like me who can’t afford their medical bills.”

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