In her dreams, 17-year-old Marieflor's smile stretches from ear to ear. Her teeth sparkle in the sunlight, matching the twinkle in her eyes as she laughs with her brother.
A year ago, Marieflor and her family thought that perfect smile was an impossible dream. Now, thanks to Washington's Cover All Kids law, the dream will become reality.
Born in the Philippines with a cleft palate and hearing loss, Mariflor is also mentally disabled. Her aunt and uncle, Marilou and Marcos Estigoy, who live in SeaTac, adopted Marieflor and her brother after their parents died.
The Estigoys both have full-time jobs—Marilou as a nursing assistant and Marcos as a SkyCap at SeaTac airport—but they cannot afford the cost of insurance for the family, which also includes the Estigoy's biological child.
"Without the state insurance, we couldn't get Marieflor the help she needs," says a grateful Marilou. "She'd have to live out her life this way."
The state health coverage is providing for long-overdue surgeries to address Marieflor's cleft palate and badly decayed teeth, and paves the way for a beautiful and lasting transformation.
One day soon, Marieflor will have the smile she's been waiting for her whole life. Maybe she'll smile shyly or perhaps burst out with an infectious grin.
"Either one will be perfect," says her aunt, smiling.