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Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum: Health Care

Health Care for Me

Home Janellia Lejjena

Mother of Three and COFA Migrant

I am raising three beautiful children. My husband, Nakita, is a dedicated father who works hard to support our family. But times are tough and he’s struggling to find stable work and we live paycheck to paycheck. In 2015, I became ill with a fever but tried to treat my illness at home in hopes of avoiding an expensive trip to the doctor since we were uninsured. Despite my best effort, the illness quickly turned into pneumonia and I was hospitalized for three good days. I was unable to speak, move, and even breathing was painful. Later I received the bills from hospital, which on top of other medical expenses was a staggering amount for our family. My husband and I believe in meeting our financial obligations even when they are unaffordable so we made payments. Each payment meant less money for basic living costs like food, housing and clothing for my children.

I used to hesitate seeking medical attention until it was an emergency and I ended up hospitalized. Obamacare, offered us the opportunity to obtain medical insurance for the first time and peace of mind that we can seek medical care for our children and selves.

As a COFA citizen from the Marshall Islands, we are very excited to finally have medical insurance to cover our medical expenses. It has reduced our burden. Through insurance we can afford thanks to the tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, we have easy access to medical providers. We can be seen in the early stages of getting sick and can follow-up on our medical conditions.

Janellia Lejjena’s story was provided by the COFA Alliance National Network in Salem, Oregon.

*The proposed Senate health bill closes the door to COFA and other immigrant communities who want to buy insurance plans in the marketplaces. It goes even further than the House-passed bill making COFA citizens not eligible for tax credits to help pay for coverage. This shuts the door to marketplace coverage entirely to many immigrants like Janellia and her family.