"We keep our documents in a safe place," she said, so she had them ready when applying for coverage for her children.
Navigator Doris Allen, from Covering Central Florida, helped sign up Gotay's younger son for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the older one in a private insurance plan for $33 a month after a subsidy. Maria Gotay was already covered by Medicare because she has a disability from fibromyalgia.
"We were very fortunate to meet such supportive people," said Gotay. She recalled arriving at the health center and falling in Allen's arms crying hysterically. "I never wanted to leave Puerto Rico, I never imagined being at the edge of dying."
"During the hurricane, we were all together, our house was damaged and flooded, but it withstood Maria's onslaught," said Gotay.
She brought her sons to Orlando because her two daughters were already living there. Her husband stayed on the island, caring for his father who shows signs of Alzheimer's, she said.
She said she has enormous stress and fear following the hurricane, and has been seeing a psychiatrist in Orlando to get help. However, she will return to Puerto Rico this month, while her boys stay in Florida to begin a new life.
(Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.)
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