CINCINNATI -- The day 13-year-old Jyarie Bates lost his mother, he lost his health insurance, too. His grandmother, Lisa Bullock, spent $250 on his various medications -- forgoing meals and purchases of shoes and haircuts -- before she learned two months later that Bates's sudden unenrollment never should have happened.
"It was like a depression that came over," Bullock said. "When the Medicaid thing came through, we said, ‘OK, we can start to live now.'"
The scare Bullock experienced could be one parents and caretakers all over the country share if they don't enroll in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act before the Dec. 15 deadline.
The ACA's 2018 open enrollment period is shorter than any before it -- 45 days rather than 90 -- and picking the right plan for a family could be a tricky, anxiety-inducing process if done last-minute. That's why Deanna White, an advocate through Legal Aid of Greater Cincinnati, recommends seeking free help from an expert like the ones at her office.
"Having this kind of coverage provides people not only the opportunity to have things paid for but also peace of mind that lets us concentrate on other things," White said. "We're here to serve the low-income community."
Despite President Trump and other Washington Republicans' attempts to dismantle the ACA, White said it's important to remember that Obama's signature legislation is still the law of the land. Regardless of its future in Congress, anyone who enrolls before Dec. 15, 2017, will have coverage through 2018.