Letter: How my new health insurance helped me get my life back

March 22, 2022

Originally published in the Phoenix Business Journal

My life was changed forever in 2004 by a random drive-by shooting.

One minute, I was a healthy young businesswoman and the primary breadwinner for my family; the next, I was fighting for my life.

I was paralyzed just below the collarbone, and placed in a medically induced coma while my lungs healed. The severity of my injuries and length of my recovery eventually cost me my job and the health coverage it provided. My medical bills soared to over $1 million, costing my family our home and forcing us to declare bankruptcy.

Without insurance, I wasn’t able to afford the continued medical care I required. Thankfully, I found Medicare Advantage. Enrolling made a life-changing difference both for my health and my family.

Suddenly, I had access to the special equipment I needed at home to make my life easier, along with medications and complex care elements to stay healthy. None of it would have been possible without Medicare Advantage.

Thanks to my plan’s low premium and cap on out-of-pocket expenses, I could finally simply focus on my recovery without worrying about how I would afford my next necessary treatment. I had peace of mind for the first time since the shooting.

It has been nearly two decades since that fateful day. And while I still face considerable challenges, my health is stable and so are my finances. I’m not certain I’d be able to say that if it weren’t for my insurance plan.

Nationwide, there are 28 million seniors and individuals with disabilities who depend on this program – including over 637,000 Arizonans. It is essential that we keep these programs accessible and affordable so that people who are facing their toughest times can get past them. Just like I did.

I urge enrollees to make their voices heard by reaching out to their federal representatives. And I encourage U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, along with Arizona’s entire congressional delegation, to continue their support of this vital program.

Without Medicare Advantage, I’m not sure what my life would be like today. Let’s work together to keep this life-changing program around for decades to come.

Jennifer Longdon, a Phoenix resident, represents District 24 in the Arizona House of Representatives.