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: New Orleans, Louisiana
How long have you been uninsured? Five months.
What is the reason that you are uninsured?
I am starting a new … business … in New Orleans and only working part-time at another establishment. Part-time status doesn’t allow any benefits, or healthcare, but in order to focus more on my new venture, this is the difficult choice that I was forced to make.
How has not having health insurance impacted your life?
Being uninsured has definitely impacted my outlook on the present health reform plan. As an entrepreneur, you always have to look for ways to cut back start-up costs, while also keeping your staff happy and healthy. I am constantly searching for affordable dental and health insurance plans, although it’s close to impossible to afford any of these benefits, for employees or yourself …
Before relocating to New Orleans, the healthcare reform issue touched home for the first time when I became pretty sick and needed immediate care while on an internship … I was forced to receive treatment from a … hospital that served mostly low-income, or uninsured patients. It was my first … experience without insurance…
There was a distinct difference between my treatment at this hospital (for the uninsured) versus ALL of my prior treatments while being insured …
I was treated like dirt, and left in a waiting room for over 10 hours. I was misdiagnosed and told to come back to the hospital again the next day.
How do you obtain routine care?
… I haven’t experienced any major conditions, so I haven’t had to return to the doctor.
What have you done/will you do in the case of an emergency?
… I will be forced to deal with a public or county health clinic for the uninsured again.
What do you want people to know about life without health insurance?
It can be a bit scary. When you have a cold, or a low-risk health condition that can be cured by over-the-counter medicine, then you’re not so worried.
However, when you’re told that you have cancer or a terminal illness, where expensive medicines are required to survive, then you’re forced to pinch pennies in order to afford treatment. Then there are times, when you have to go totally without.
What do you want the government to know about life without health insurance?
Please work with President Obama on the reconstruction of our health care system. Although no plan is perfect, I am confident in our president’s new plan and abilities. … Things cannot stay the same.
For more on healthcare reform, tune in to PBS on Thursday, September 24th at 9pm for a 90-minute report. Tavis Smiley, NOW on PBS and Nightly Business Report are collaborating to produce the in-depth special called “PBS Special Report on Healthcare Reform.”