STORIES

montana coverage matters

Debra – Arlee, MT

When my daughter was in college, she received the diagnosis we had been dreading – bi polar disorder. But thanks to good, early, effective treatment, she’s not just surviving, but thriving.

I’m Debra from Arlee, MT. I’m a board member of NAMI Missoula, part of America’s largest grassroots mental health organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In 1999, almost 18 years ago, my husband discontinued his treatment for bipolar disorder. Within weeks, during a manic episode, and despite all our efforts to get him help, he drove his car into the wilderness and simply vanished. He remains a missing person to this day.

Our daughter was seven years old at that time, and she was severely traumatized by the event. She was treated for PTSD and then for major depression. While she was in college, she received the diagnosis we had been dreading—bipolar disorder. But thanks to good, early, effective treatment, she’s not just surviving, but thriving. She graduated from university in 2014 with two bachelor’s degrees and high honors. Now, she’s back in college completing pre-med courses and planning to enter medical school in 2018. Her stepfather and I are so proud of her!

As a veteran, I receive healthcare via Tricare and the VA, so I was able to obtain excellent coverage for her during the first years of her illness. The ACA, however, did not provide the extension of coverage to 26-year-old dependents for those with military insurance, so she was on her own at 21. She initially got coverage through the health insurance exchange, and then through Medicaid when Montana enacted Medicaid expansion.

Without her current access to healthcare, I worry that her bright future will turn much darker. Please work to maintain access to affordable healthcare for my daughter, and for so many of our citizens in similar circumstances.