U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

West Virginia "Fast Tracks" Medicaid Enrollment

On January 1 the pharmacy was closed. But on January 2, Catherine Selen, a mother of two from Princeton, West Virginia, walked in, presented her new Medicaid card and was able to get prescriptions filled for the insulin she needs, not just to manage her diabetes, but to stay alive. "This is a big relief," she said, after a journey that has been difficult and frightening.  

Catherine's children, ages 5 and 3, participate in the Medicaid program, but Catherine, who works as a waitress, did not qualify. "Being uninsured is bad enough," she explained. "But when you have a life-threatening illness, and you are left just hanging in the wind … and also to be a mother … it’s really scary." Catherine's medication costs over $500 per month, which was more than her car insurance and her car payment put together. She had to get rid of her car to save money, leaving the family without transportation. She's tried all kinds of ways to get by: "I split doses, I asked doctors for samples, I even took medication from friends that was not prescribed for me." Ultimately, these measures did not work. Catherine was hospitalized twice during 2013. The second time, having gone without her insulin for two days, she ended up in the ICU.

After her first hospitalization in June, Catherine attended a community meeting where she learned that she would probably qualify under the state's Medicaid expansion. Catherine says she jumped on the website on October 1, but like many Americans, had trouble getting through. Then, in early December, there was a breakthrough. Catherine received a letter from the state saying her case had been reviewed and that she might be eligible for Medicaid. (The state had enough information from the children's case files and used that to determine Catherine's eligibility.) "All I had to do was sign the letter and return it. They didn't want more paperwork or paystubs -- that was it. I couldn't believe it!" Around Christmas, Catherine got a letter bearing her name and her new Medicaid number, and shortly afterward, her new card arrived.

Since that New Year's trip to the pharmacy, Catherine has gotten back on a more even keel.  Reflecting on her experience, Catherine says, "My kids have seen me sick and I want something better for them – I don't want them to remember me that way. Now, with Medicaid, I can get the medicine I need and I can get help with transportation to medical appointments." Catherine is back to work at a job she loves because she can take care of her bills and she can arrange time to visit her son's school and be active in the PTO. "I am not a number, I'm not an income level," says Catherine. "I am a real person – and I am just ecstatic!"