How Medicaid Helps Heidi Care and be Present for Her Son

Last updated: May 23, 2024

My relationship to the Medicaid program began about six years ago.  I hadn’t had health insurance since finishing college in 2002. The way I dealt with that was to not get care when I needed it.  I got into a very bad bike accident but didn’t go to the hospital because I was afraid of the expense. I just decided to suffer. I had pretty severe back and neck pain and a likely concussion that affected my ability to work. I regressed back into depression, which I’ve struggled with since I was a pre-teen. I reached a breaking point. I was doing a lot of self-harm and having suicidal thoughts. My life was unraveling; I couldn’t work, I couldn’t afford rent, I wasn’t eating.  I got connected with the Blackstone Valley Community Action Program’s (BVCAP) Mental Health Center.  At first I paid out of pocket on BVCAP’s sliding scale. This limited how often I could go in and talk with someone based on what I could afford.  And so, BVCAP was instrumental in getting me signed up for Medicaid so that I could get the more intensive treatment I needed. 

“Medicaid matters because it helps me to keep my equilibrium to care for and be present for my son.”

Heidi Born, Mother, Artist, Educator

Before I got signed up for Medicaid, I had no idea that I was eligible. I just didn’t know anything about it. I thought Medicaid was only for families with children or for the severely disabled.  I confused it with Medicare, the coverage people get when they retire.  But, with BVCAP’s help, the door opened for me to get Medicaid. It saved my life. I don’t know where I would be right now without it.  Medicaid means I’ve been able to go through treatment in a place that I can rely on and not have to worry about the financial aspect of it. Having that burden lifted was really helpful for the rest of my life. It enabled me to move forward with work and to be a part of my community.

Some time after getting coverage, I felt a lump in my breast.  Unlike when I had my biking accident, there was no financial fear in going to the doctor to get it checked. My doctor took this seriously and I had a mammogram and ultrasound.  I was OK, but I realized then how important Medicaid was to women’s care.  Women without coverage, or with limited coverage, let these things go because of the cost. 

I’m still at BVCAP. They’ve seen me through it all, including my pregnancy. They are my medical home and, with my Medicaid coverage, I get great care.  Medicaid paid for my pre-natal care and delivery costs.  After Emory was born, I had some trouble with breastfeeding. Medicaid paid for me to see a lactation nurse for help.  We found out that Emory was tongue-tied and couldn’t latch, so I was able to take him to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor who resolved the problem. 

I try not to think about what it would mean if Emory and/or I lost our Medicaid coverage. For me, it would take a toll on my mental health. If I’m not able to care for myself and maintain my medications, then I might not be able to take care of my son. I feel like I can weather any sickness or injury, but there’s only so much I can do about how my brain works. The problems would just snowball. For me, Medicaid matters because it helps me to keep my equilibrium to care for and be present for Emory.