SW 070717 Nicky James Stauffer Cancer Medicaid 01

Nicky James Stauffer looks over at her husband Corey as their youngest son Cole, 3, plays on her phone Friday, July 7, 2017, at their home in Hooper. Son Cade, 7, is sitting beside her. Stauffer, uninsured, has been battling breast cancer since February, but has been unable to secure insurance to keep up the fight and worries about her future.

HOOPER — Corey Stauffer is grateful.

After months of futile efforts, he and his wife, Nicky Stauffer, learned this week that she qualifies for Medicaid coverage, after all. Nicky, who is fighting breast cancer, was the focus of a recent Standard-Examiner article about the perilous situation the uninsured can face if a health emergency strikes, needing treatment but unable to secure affordable health care.

“We didn’t get an explanation. I can’t tell you what happened to change their mind,” Corey Stauffer said Friday, as wife Nicky started the radiation treatment process she has needed. She called caseworkers and others helping her with her case last Monday, learning the news.

Whatever prompted the turnaround — Corey Stauffer suspects the article on his wife’s case may been the spur — they are thrilled and relieved. “Oh my God. Beyond belief,” said Corey Stauffer, a self-employed plumber who can’t afford insurance offered on the Obamacare marketplace.

The Stauffers, from Hooper, had fronted the medical bills for the woman’s initial treatment earlier this year. But they grew increasingly desperate as they unsuccessfully sought help to cover the cost of follow-up radiation treatment, worried the cancer would come back, absent continued treatment, and, in a worst-case scenario, cut her life short.

Many across Utah and the country fall into a similar category, uninsured but unable to tap into Medicaid or insurance offered on the Obamacare marketplace. It’s not a new issue. But it’s been the focus of increased attention as Republican U.S. lawmakers have been debating the possible repeal of Obamacare and its replacement with a plan that critics say could make it even tougher for the poor and uninsured to get affordable health care.

“I feel for all the people in that situation,” Corey Stauffer said, alluding to the pool of Americans unable to secure health coverage. “This is America, not a third-world country.”

For now, Stauffer plans to focus on his wife’s medical situation. After that, he’ll search in earnest for some sort of long-term coverage, even if it’s a more affordable, though less-comprehensive, catastrophic plan with a high deductible.

“The second that settles down, that’s one of my main concerns,” he said.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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