Laura Ferreira and her 8-year-old son, Mason, traveled to Boston Wednesday, hoping to give President Obama a message about the importance of health insurance. When the president unexpectedly stepped off the stage at Faneuil Hall to shake hands with supporters, they got their wish.
Mason, a second-grader, was one of three Massachusetts residents Governor Deval Patrick had highlighted in his introduction of the president as people who had benefited from the state’s mandatory health insurance law. Like the federal law it inspired, the state legislation features an online marketplace where individuals can buy coverage.
Patrick told the crowd that the family needed health benefits because Mason has a rare genetic condition and they found coverage through the Massachusetts Health Connector, the state’s insurance website.
After the event, Ferreira said Mason suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome and requires $3,000 a month of growth hormone to treat the condition. The family lost coverage about three years ago when her husband left his job and started a valet business. Ferreira, 43, is also self-employed, as a hair dresser. The family could have kept its insurance plan under a federal program, but would have had to pay higher premiums.
Through the Connector, she found insurance that was more than $800 cheaper with no deductible. And the family did not have to worry about being denied coverage for Mason’s illness.
Even with well-wishers surrounding the president after his speech, the family was close enough to the stage that both Ferreira and her son were able to shake his hand. She said she told him his fight to implement the Affordable Care Act “was worth it.”
Obama asked Mason his name and age, but the next group of hands was thrust at him before Mason could tell him what was on his mind: He wanted the president to know that he hopes to be a professional wrestler some day.Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeLizK.