These are the faces of the uninsured. Look at their photos. Read their stories, told in their own words. And if you are one of the 46 million Americans without health insurance, share your story with us.
City of residence: Allen Park, MI
How long have you been uninsured? 2 years
What is the reason that you are uninsured?
Originally, my father had to take me off of the health insurance that he got through his work because it was becoming too expensive. However, now that I am a college graduate, living on my own, and without a full time teaching job, I still have no access to affordable health insurance.
How has not having health insurance impacted your life?
Not having health insurance is scary. When I was 16 years old, I was diagnosed with an AVM (or Arterio Venous Malformation). It was a birth defect, that was discovered after years of severe migraines. My neurologist and neurosurgeon believed that once the AVM was gone, my migraines would most likely disappear as well. After my gammaknife procedure and a few embolizations, my AVM was gone, leaving only scar tissue. And my migraines went away. For a few years at least.
My migraines began again a few months ago. My neurologist now wants me to get both an MRI and EEG to see what is going on in my brain to cause these migraines. These tests could cost me $1,500 or more, which is money that I don’t have. I saw how expensive my bills were for the procedures done on my brain when I had health insurance. Now my biggest fear is not that something could be seriously wrong with me, instead my biggest fear is that I may need more procedures that I can’t afford.
How do you obtain routine care?
There is no routine care for me. I don’t see a doctor unless I am sick. Luckily, I have found an amazing doctor. I’ve had to see him about 4 or 5 times in the last few months and he has not charged me one penny. I don’t expect that to be the case forever but nonetheless, I am so grateful to him.
What have you done/will you do in the case of an emergency?
In case of an emergency, I would have to either set up a payment plan with the hospital or max out my credit cards.
What do you want people to know about life without health insurance?
I believe that health insurance is a basic human right. Everyone should have access to food, clean drinking water, and affordable health insurance. If a person doesn’t have health insurance, that doesn’t mean that they’re lazy or uneducated. It means that the system is flawed. I’m not asking for charity, I’m not asking for someone else to pay my medical bills, all I’m asking for is the ability to get the same coverage that CEO’s and government officials across this country get, for a price that I can afford.
What do you want the government to know about life without health insurance?
If you are truly concerned with making the right decision for your constituents, for the people of this great country, health care reform has to be passed. All I ask of you is to listen. Listen to my story and the other stories on this website. Also, listen to all of the other stories that are being told across the country. If you truly listen, you can only come up with one conclusion, that the system needs to change. Although the voices against health care reform may be louder, the voices for health care reform are more clear.
For more on healthcare reform, watch the PBS special report. Tavis Smiley, NOW on PBS and Nightly Business Report collaborated to produce the in-depth special called “PBS Special Report on Healthcare Reform.”