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: San Francisco
How long have you been uninsured? 6 months
What is the reason that you are uninsured?
I am uninsured because I am a part-time worker. My weekly hours fall just below the 40-hour mark, so I don’t qualify for insurance.
How has not having health insurance impacted your life?
Without insurance, I put off routine visits to the doctor. I try to make it for my annual visit to the gynecologist. Because I don’t have insurance, I utilize the free clinics in my city, which means long waits and a different doctor every visit. I can’t afford to see a dentist. If I were to be involved in an accident, I don’t know what I would do.
How do you obtain routine care?
Routine care is not an affordable option for me.
What have you done/will you do in the case of an emergency?
Luckily, I have not had to make a trip to the emergency room. But I am terrified of that day. My bicycle is my primary form of transportation. If I were hit by a car, I honestly do not know what I would do. I could never afford a hospital bill. I would probably spend the rest of my life trying to pay something like that down.
What do you want people to know about life without health insurance?
Life without health insurance is terrifying. I am scared of being in an accident. I am scared to get sick. I have to suffer through illness, hoping that the average cold won’t progress to something more serious. Every day is a gamble without health insurance.
What do you want the government to know about life without health insurance?
I don’t think it is fair to deny someone health insurance. I work hard. I put myself through school. I contribute to my community. I have pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and I still don’t have health insurance. Health care is a right, not a luxury. I am tired of living in fear. I want the access I deserve-not to expensive treatments, tests, etc. I want to know that if I am sick, I can get help.
(Photo credit: Giana Pieraccini)
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.”