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For Young Woman with Apple Allergy, Parents’ Health Care a Life Saver

For Young Woman with Apple Allergy, Parents’ Health Care a Life Saver

Written by Yurina Melara Valiulis

Evelyn Garcia is the only one of six siblings who has allergies. She is allergic to apples, walnuts, peaches and smoked turkey.

Her reactions are varied. Sometimes she gets hives all over her body. Other times she suffers from vomiting or diarrhea. She recently had an allergic reaction so bad that she fainted twice.

With the provision of health care reform that allows young adults up to age 26 to remain covered under their parentsí health insurance policy, Evelyn has been able to finish college while working two part-time jobs to cover basic expenses.

Since September 2010, some 250,000 young adults have been able to remain covered under their parents’ policies, according to the nonprofit organization Children Now.

“I’ve been very lucky to have health insurance my whole life. For almost 26 years, my mom’s insurance has covered the health problems I’ve had,” said Evelyn, who was interviewed a few days before her 26th birthday.

The last allergic reaction she had was in mid-January when she and her boyfriend went to the Staples Center to watch a Lakers game. She ate a caramel apple that they were selling at halftime and felt fine. For a moment she thought her mother might be right — her mother had told her that her allergy to apples is psychological, since she can drink apple juice without any problems.

“When I left the Staples Center, my stomach started hurting. A couple of blocks later, I told my boyfriend I had to go to the bathroom immediately. I felt like I had diarrhea and that if I didnít go to the bathroom right then, I was going to go in the car,” said Evelyn.

She ran into a restaurant to use their bathroom. Although she reached the toilet in time, she started vomiting and then passed out. She fainted on the bathroom floor, hit her head and lost consciousness for a moment. She doesnít remember how long she was unconscious. She woke up and yelled for help, but nobody came to help her. When she could finally get up again, the vomiting and diarrhea came back.

ďThe pain in my stomach was so bad I thought I was going to die, I thought my baby was going to die,Ē said Evelyn, who is 10 weeks pregnant. ďI thought I was having a miscarriage and that no one was around to help me. It was horrible,” Evelyn recalls.

After two more episodes of diarrhea and vomiting, Evelyn left the bathroom and met her boyfriend who was waiting outside. When she saw him she fainted again.

Her boyfriend immediately called 911. Paramedics arrived within minutes, and she woke up with stomach pain so severe she was writhing in pain.

It was almost 10 pm when she arrived at Good Samarithan Hospital, located a couple miles west of downtown Los Angeles.

“They took me to the nearest hospital, and did a few tests, including an ultrasound to check on the baby, and kept me there overnight for observation. I think they let me leave at 8 am the next day,” she said.

That night Evelyn did not have her health insurance card with her. A few days later the hospital bill arrived. The bill was for $9,800.

“My mom says health insurance will cover it and you have to send them the bill so they can get in touch with the hospital. If I didnít have health insurance I donít know what I would do. How do I pay almost $10,000 for a night in the hospital?” she asks.

Normally she only pays a $25 co-pay when she visits her doctor and about $100 in an emergency.

“This provision is an important benefit for young people. Generally this demographic is healthy and uses health insurance to cover preventive services or once in a while a catastrophe like an accident,” said Kelly Hardy, health policy director at Children Now.

With part-time jobs as a school assistant and a cashier at Big 5, Evelyn canít buy her own insurance.

“With my allergies I never know what will happen. I’m not allergic to turkey, but Iím allergic to smoked turkey. I can drink apple juice, but I canít eat apples. It’s really weird,” she added.

She earned her BA in liberal arts from California State University Northridge and is getting ready to get her teaching credentials. Evelyn thinks it will take another year to finish her studies so she can get a good job that offers health insurance.

More than 3.1 million young people in the United States have health insurance now, thanks in part to a provision of the health reform law that allows them to remain covered under their parentsí health insurance.

Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that 2.5 million young adults between 19 and 25 years of age have health insurance thanks to this provision. Before this mandate took effect in September 2010, young people had to prove they were in college or that they had lost their job in order to qualify.

This post was originally published by New America Media.

 

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Photo of Evelyn Garcia courtesy of New America Media

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30 comments

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12:09PM PDT on Apr 11, 2013

I'm very glad for it also, because I am 22 years old and I've been able to be on my parents' health insurance for a very long time. I never really used it that much, except maybe for a sinus infection here or an animal bite there - but last year I got pregnant, and 2 months later I miscarried. I was able to use the insurance, and if I hadn't had it, I would have had to pay tons of money. I only had to pay $500 thankfully.

12:23PM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

Thank you for the article.

9:27PM PST on Mar 5, 2013

She won't be able to teach math or science though. This is what shcools are recruiting very heavily for. They is a serious shortage of math and science teachers.

9:25PM PST on Mar 5, 2013

Now that(teaching) is a smart use of an otherwise worthless degree.

5:47PM PST on Mar 5, 2013

Obama Care is an issue that most everyone has an opinion on.

Probably 99% of people, (myself included) don't know enough about it, to have an informed opinion.

Most states have mandatory auto insurance, thus spreading the risk.

Health insurance same, same.

3:21PM PST on Mar 5, 2013

What grips my ass is the cost of the hospital bill -

3:16PM PST on Mar 5, 2013

She may have something like I have which is Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. EDS is a genetic connective tissue disorder that causes the body to make bad collagen. I am being evaluated for Mast Cell disorder that can often be related to EDS. Collagen is pretty much everywhere and can affect just about any part of the body. The symptoms can vary depending on which tissue is affected. My joints sublux and dislocate. My skin heals oddly and scars easily. Joint pain is an everyday companion. And I have reactions like this to some foods. I also have hives, swelling, throat closing etc from others. Oranges are especially bad though I am fine with lemons and limes. Awareness about EDS is very low, even among medical professionals. My point is, don't judge this young lady. Many of us have health issues that even medical professional don't understand well yet. It's also easy to fall into denial when we don't have an official diagnosis.

12:14PM PST on Mar 5, 2013

it cost to much to be sick in the US

9:15AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

noted, thank you

8:09AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

Hang on, she's 26 & still hasn't finished college & is living at home? She KNEW she suffered an extreme reaction to apples but still ate one? Why would anyone's health insurance cover stupidity? It's not as if she ate a tiny amount of apple hidden in something that looked innocuous, she CHOSE to have a WHOLE apple... then she's surprised when she gets a reaction? And she thinks it's OK because, despite a lifetime of experience, her MOTHER (not her doctor) told her that she's only imagining it. If this was a 6 year old I could understand it, if she was 16 there would be some excuse, but at 26 someone really should be able to exercise a little common sense... otherwise they're likely to win a Darwin Award!

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