Medicaid Matters: Jackie’s Story

A daughter’s love and Medicaid

There’s not much Jackie wouldn’t do for her mom Irene. When Irene’s chronic illnesses became worse and she couldn’t afford the growing medical bills, Jackie jumped in to help.

“I could be in debt to help her and that’s OK, as long as I could still see my mom alive … for life is precious and we do our best to sustain that special gift,” says Jackie, who helped Irene, now 66, get access to care through various assistance programs. Jackie helped pay her mom’s medical bills for a while before costs overwhelmed the family budget.

For 10 years, Irene worked as a greeter at a large retailer in Anchorage before she had to quit in 2013 because of her health issues – including asthma, hypertension, diabetes, and a gastrointestinal condition called GERD. Before her job in retail, Irene had worked years ago in her native Philippines as a farmer and later owned a grocery store and restaurant. She was used to hard work.

Partners in better health: Medicaid helped  relieve the financial burden for Irene (left)  and her daughter Jackie, and it helped  Irene regain better health.

When Irene’s health worsened, Jackie – a nurse and quality analyst at Providence Alaska Medical Center – did everything she could to piece together her mom’s health care. Starting in 2013, Jackie arranged for an installment plan to pay the medical bills, applied for medication assistance, and used coupons and discounts available from some drug companies. But that wasn’t enough.

Fortunately, Denali Care, Alaska’s Medicaid program, broadened eligibility in the fall of 2015, allowing Irene to qualify for coverage. “I had prayed for Medicaid,” says Jackie. “I can’t tell you how thankful we were for Mom to have it,” she says. For three years Irene received her care through Denali Care and now is covered through Medicare after qualifying at age 65. Today, Irene feels better, and her complex health conditions largely are under control.

“Those three years of having Medicaid coverage not only helped with our budget, but it also removed the stress and anxiety for my mom and me,” says Jackie. “Health care is a basic right. Someone who is healthier and has an improved life … this also improves the community.”

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