Meaghan Carlson and her husband, K.C., of Gardiner have been without health insurance since February, when working more hours at her part-time job put them over the eligibility limit for MaineCare. Meaghan, 34, now works part time for the city of Gardiner, but the job is ending in January. K.C., 34, works part time at a farm in Gardiner and is looking for a more permanent position.

Their 2-year-old daughter is still covered under MaineCare, so Meaghan said they didn’t think it was a big deal that they lost coverage.

Since losing insurance, however, Meaghan said she and her husband racked up more than $10,000 in medical bills with back-to-back illnesses.

Meaghan fell ill with an intestinal infection soon after losing coverage. Then, K.C. was diagnosed with pneumonia and a blood ailment.

The bills are down to $5,000 to $6,000, but the experience made Meaghan realize the importance of having health insurance.

“I have a folder this thick and it’s all medical bills,” she said, holding her fingers an inch-and-a-half apart.

“I don’t think it’s something you can imagine unless you’ve been through it,” she said.

Meaghan estimated that insurance could have cost them at least $300 each a month, if not more, before the Affordable Care Act. She said she needs to research more about how the law and exchange — or marketplace, as it’s called — work, but they plan on buying health insurance off the exchange. An online subsidy calculator estimated she and her husband may only have to pay $160 a month, a total they could afford, she said.

Rather than dealing with multiple bills whenever they need health care, Meaghan said she would rather just have one bill for insurance.

“It’s just so, so overwhelming when you’ve already been really sick,” she said.