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: Billings, MT
How long have you been uninsured? 2 years
What is the reason that you are uninsured?
Pre-existing condition, and unemployed
How has not having health insurance impacted your life?
When you have a congenital heart defect like mine it isn’t a matter of if things are going to take a turn for the worse, but when. In my case it just happened at the wrong time and place …
The financial burden has, of course, had its effect on my every day life. It has made my wife and I choose between paying bills that allow us to have a roof over our head and food on our table or pay the doctors that saved my life. While I will be forever indebted to the cardiologists at Billings Clinic and UW Medical Center, I am the breadwinner of my family and must act accordingly.
I deal with medical bill collectors day after day who want only to be reimbursed for the services they provided and of which I desperately needed but have no means of paying them because of the way our current health care system is set up. In my opinion this is unacceptable and needs to change.
How do you obtain routine care?
By only visiting the doctor in emergency situations, which is no way to live.
What have you done/will you do in the case of an emergency?
The only thing I can do, rack up more personal debt.
What do you want people to know about life without health insurance?
It is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by the American people. We need to stand together and fight for a change.
What do you want the government to know about life without health insurance?
Those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be born with good health or have a government health plan for our families need you to act as our fellow Americans and fight for us as our leaders to assure that we all have the opportunity to seek medical guidance. It is in your hands now to fight for the underdog and show other nations that we can stand united and look after our own …
(Photo credit: Tiffany Randich)
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.”