Faces of the Uninsured

September 20th, 2009, byStaff

46 million Americans do not have health insurance. They have jobs, pay taxes, send their children to daycare, keep a roof over their heads and live in fear that a medical disaster is just around the corner.

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.

Madera Glenn, 60

“I feel pitiful and embarrassed to be in this situation.”

Courtney J. Hixon, 26

“Things cannot stay the same.”

Lindsey “Bing” Perrine, 26

“We need to stand together and fight for a change.”

Summer Pendle, 32

“Life without health insurance is terrifying.”

Carl Albert, 32

“I haven’t had any routine care, which may impact my life in the future.”

Christa Vasquez, 31

“I have a pre-existing condition and nobody will approve me.”

Alaina Ronewicz, 23

“Everyone should have access to food, clean drinking water, and affordable health insurance.”


See more faces of the uninsured.

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.”


“Adults make up more than their share of the uninsured because they are less likely than children to be eligible for Medicaid — especially young adults whose low incomes make it more difficult to afford coverage.”
SOURCE: Kaiser Family Foundation

“The United States spent approximately $2.2 trillion on health care in 2007, or $7,421 per person–nearly twice the average of other developed nations. Americans spend more on health care than on housing or food.”
SOURCE: Congressional Budget Office

“The fraction of Americans without insurance varies substantially across ages, with the highest rates among young adults and the lowest rates among the elderly, virtually all of whom are covered by Medicare.”
SOURCE: Council of Economic Advisors

“More than eight in ten of the uninsured are in working families–about 70% are from families with one or more full-time workers and 12% are from families with part-time workers.”
SOURCE: Kaiser Family Foundation

  • really?

    Let’s be real with the numbers here. There are not 46 million uninsured Americans. There are an estimated 10 – 20 million illegal immigrants. So, that puts the number closer to the 30 million recently referenced by President Obama. There are those that make over 50K per year that just don’t want to pay for their own health insurance. So, we can remove more from the original figure of 46 million. The system we have is NOT perfect, but it is better than government-run healthcare. When has the government ever come under budget for anything? This is not about healthcare, it is about controlling more of our lives. A simple solution to providing health insurance to the 10 – 15 million people that really don’t have it is to allow the people with pre-existing conditions to have Medicaid. The President can do that with a signature. The second part of the solution is to allow health insurance companies to provide service across state lines. That would reduce the cost that we all pay. There also needs to be torte reform. I wish people would consider real solutions and not left-wing or right-wing rhetoric.

  • Charles Mitchell

    Since I was wrongfully fired from a 70k+ a year job I have been diagnosed with & sued for the treatment of diabetes. I have no way to purchase the test strips that are required to monitor my diabetes and the public health facility that I go to needs me to monitor my blood sugar for proper treatment. Two years ago I was referred to have a lifesaving hernia operation that I was told was paid for. I received a bill for $5k that I can not pay. I am being told by these same healthcare providers that at 53 it’s imperative that I have a colonoscopy, but I can’t pay for it and I know I dont to be sued a third time. Food for family or treatment?

  • Denise

    I love this this country and feel that it has let me down I lost my job and could not afford healthcare. Why are we taking care of everbody but our own cobra is a joke who can afford it? I believe in a public option. I believe thart there is an insurance monopoly. This will help break it. Help. Help. I am terrified of getting sick or hacing an accident. Don’t my taxes count for anything? Take care of home first! Please. Can anybody hear me!

  • Renee

    My husband and I have seen our savings wiped out twice due to medical costs; the first time it drove us to bankruptcy. We have three married daughters–they and their spouses all work–and all of them are having trouble either getting insurance for themselves or for our grandchildren. My mother, who is a Canadian citizen, worked here in the U.S. as an RN for almost 40 years. I also have a Canadian first cousin who is now a practicing doctor here in the U.S. Both of them agree that the Canadian system is better for patients, but the American system is better for practitioners and insurance companies because they can charge pretty much whatever they want. I have a sister with MS and other health problems who needs a weekly medication that costs $1,500 per injection. When her husband’s job changed insurance carriers, her medication was no longer covered (they used to pay part of it, now they’d have to pay it all). She has been without her medication for months leading to other complications.
    The proposal that Pres. Obama is putting forth don’t call for the government to “run” the healthcare system, as in Canada or other countries, but something has to be done to rein in an industry that puts profits over human lives.

  • Nikki

    I write to my legislators every few days, telling them to support the PUBLIC OPTION, and to use Medicare as a working example of socialized medicine…just extend that program to cover all of us.
    Citizens have some responsibility to take care of themselves too. That means not smoking, eating whole foods, breastfeeding, birthing at home or in free-standing birth centers,staying active and dying at home. There are no guarantees and those things will help. The governments job is to provide enough so that the citizens can get their health care needs met in case of illness or accident. Each has a role to play in health: citizens and government.

  • janet

    My sister was layed off her job at AT&T she has lost her home,car and she take medication that cost $75.000.00 every 3mos what is she to do

  • Sick of it all

    Maybe if the U.S. did not spend 51% of its federal dollars on past and present military expenses we could afford to insure its citizens. Those who yell loudest about not trusting the government to spend money well are the biggest supporters of the U.S. war machine. We spend more than the next 20 top military expending nations COMBINED. If you don’t trust the government then let’s stop sending our military all over the world so we’re at least not making other people sick (with depleted uranium munitions) or dead.

  • Andrew Culp

    I can’t support a medium that continues to shelter left wing politics, by only bringing limited one sided, misleading interviews, and information that is foundless in facts. I would be more than happy to write you my honest real life opinions from the stand point of a lower class citizen, who makes under the national poverty rate, but still provide for my family with health insurance. (by the way I have a pre-existing condition from Operation Desert Shield, and I havn’t been turned away from any insurance company or doctor. Come on Tavis….we are strong, and not victoms of every left wing boogy monster of the week. For every pitifull story of a person who lets things happen to them, there is a story of another who overcame and prospers. Don’t be a puppet, but instead proudly be the leader that God knows you can be. Show the “whole” story. Remember “Damn the man!” wasn’t a hatefull comment. It stood for the fact that some of us would make our own way, in spite of the system.

  • Baddscorpio

    It doesn’t matter what you naysayers say… Congress will pass a comprehensive health care reform bill with a public option. Turn off Faux news once in a while, get some fresh air, and think for yourselves!

  • Bateaux1999

    I don’t want healthcare pushed upon me just because “everyone” elses health is bad. I am not a perfect human being, but I am perfect in Christ who strenghthens me. You get sicker these days in hospitals more than you do in your own home and germs; i.e. Merca,flesh eating bacteria and staph infections have you dying right in your own feces.
    We have become dependent on insurers whose only goal is to get you “laid” while they get “paid”. Another example of the GREED AND WEALTH that prevades rich America.
    Take H1N1 Virus Scare: Did you know that you can purchase “Sporicidin” disenfectant lotion, hand wipes, home disenfectant from Amazon that will kill the H1N1 virus? *What do you think Dentist and Doctors are using to protect themselves? I tell you, they are using us as “Human Guinea Pigs” with no knowledge of the “future” consequences for our children. If parents teach proper techniques of hand washing when children are young, proper habits in the first place as teens and young adults we wouldn’t have another plaque upon us. Those people who are dying refuse to take the precautions nesessary to protect themselves. They go to the restroom and come out with unclean hands, they eat unwashed, or the family member refuses to use proper technique thus spreading germs, taking chances and killing themselves or their own. They are human “petri-dish-cultures” of never-ending growing bacteria. They wear tee shirts, no coats, and cough their stupidity upon the world. So WE have to protect ourselves…NOT GOVERNMENT if we want to protect our environment.
    **Did you know that a $150 blood test from LabCorp can find out anything wrong with the body. The blood is your determining factor.
    There have been so many cases of people getting unnessary operations, or debacled surgeries because information was displaced or labled wrong and mis-diagnosed. Then they fill you up with presciptions that put you back in the hospital or laid 6ft under. Sorry for your luck !
    When God put us on the earth he put the plants and animals needed to sustain life and nourish our bodies. I’m sick and tired of the Obama’s pushing something on us that we don’t have a “choice” about. I thought this was America?
    I do believe that we should help those who can’t help themselves because of ignorance, weakness, mental health, affliction and addictions, but don’t drug me up and cut off and out my parts so that we can all be equal? Equal with what and who?
    I came into this world with every part I needed to live and I’m leaving with everything God gave me.
    My Body does not belong to “Blue Cross and Blue Shield”, AIG, Met Life, ARRP, Singles Healthcare, Affordable Healthcare, or any that are traded on WALL STREET…. but is a Temple of the “Holy Spirits Healthcare Insurer of Heavens Gate and Free” and I treat it as such.
    To those that agree and believe differently, to each his own, My body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
    **I will donate my organs when I’m gone but I will not become a “Human Experiment” in the name of Healthcare and traded at the New York Stock Exchange.
    I am tired of the bottlenecks at the top, shoving more taxes and their decisions on me!
    Bottomed Out!

Last modified: May 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm