Health plans offered vary depending on where you live with rural areas having fewest choices

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - Options in the Health Insurance Marketplace will vary depending on where you live.

There will be fewer choices for those who live in rural areas but more options to choose from in metropolitan areas.

For example, there are 86 plans to choose from in Palm Beach County.  Compare that to Okeechobee County where there are just 31 plans available.

Cynthia Holmes understands having limited choices.

She was uninsured when she felt a lump in her breast. 

"I had triple negative breast cancer," Holmes explained about her eventual diagnosis.  "Had I had free mammograms being done, I wouldn't have been at Stage 2 cancer."

She turned to the Dr. Fred Brown Children's Health Center for help.

Leah Suarez, the Director of Special Services for the Florida Community Health Centers, made it her mission to find free cancer care for Holmes.

"We've always lacked resources because we are rural," Suarez said.  "We've always had to send people out of our community to get specialty care because of limited resources.

For Suarez, it was personal.  She was 18 when her mother died of cancer.  She didn't want another mom dying and leaving behind a daughter.

"My mother didn't have to die," Suarez said.

"Thinking I would not have been there for my daughter would have been horrible," Holmes said.

Holmes thanks Suarez for her help finding free cancer care at the Moffitt Center in Tampa.  While there is cancer care available in Okeechobee County, Holmes wasn't able to see those doctors because of being uninsured.

"It's not about poverty.  It's not about politics.  It's about people getting care when they need it.  It's about people not dying," Suarez said.

Holmes says she's alive today because she found that free care.

Now she is confident she won't have to worry about finding care once she's insured under the Affordable Care Act.

The plan requires insurers to provide a basic level of care which includes preventive services such as vaccines, mammograms and wellness checkups.

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