Mary Kesecker worked at Fleetwood Travel Trailer’s plant in Hancock, Maryland (on the West Virginia border). Her job provided good health insurance. When the plant closed in 2004, Mary found work at part-time jobs and started her own horse boarding business. This meant that Mary had no job-based health insurance for 10 years. While part-time jobs and horse boarding fees allowed Mary to make ends meet, it did not provide enough income to pay for a private, individual market health insurance plan.
In 2014, West Virginia was one of the first wave of states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Mary enrolled and went to a doctor for severe kidney stones. While getting treatment for her kidney stones, the doctor suggested she have a mammogram as she had not had one since she lost her Fleetwood job. The mammogram identified a breast cancer tumor. Mary was sent to West Virginia University Hospital to receive treatment over 6 months at the Betty Puskar breast cancer center. Today Mary is a breast cancer survivor who continues to work and run her horse boarding business.
Mary is reluctant to publicly share her very personal story. But she says, “Without Medicaid there is no way I could have paid for my breast cancer treatment and drugs. It was scary and physically hard – but at least I could focus on taking care of myself and not worry about how to pay my medical bills. I believe that Medicaid saved my life and now I want to help make sure it is there for others who need it.”