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For all the stories, full written consent has been granted for public posting. I am deeply grateful for all those who have spoken with me and it is a privilege and obligation to present them to the wider world in the interest of bringing the Voice of the People to the forefront of the healthcare reform debate. These stories speak to the heart and to the mind representing, in the fullest sense of the word, the spirit of \u201cgovernment of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.\u201d
Tamara told me, \u201cShe was lucky having health insurance.\u201d Knowing generally that lack of insurance was a problem, she didn\u2019t have any particular personal stories to share. But when I asked about health reform, she said, simply enough, that, \u201cMore should be done.\u201d
Gayla told me that she and her husband have been \u201cvery lucky.\u201d They\u2019ve had employer-provided insurance through Verizon\u2014\u201cpretty good insurance,\u201d she told me. but Frontier is buying the West Virginia assets of the company, so in \u2018the transition\u2019, as she put it, they have no idea what it\u2019ll mean for them. This is important because her son stepson has cystic fibrosis (CF). At age 23 he\u2019s a real survivor. He\u2019s done well but lately, from an insurance standpoint, it\u2019s gotten very complicated.
Based on doctor\u2019s orders, he\u2019s strictly limited to very light work, at a maximum of 30 hours a week. So essentially, as Gayla told me, \u201cHe\u2019s stuck with a part-time employment status.\u201d Insurance on his own is not a possibility,\u201d she added. \u201cAnd he can\u2019t get SSI because he actually can work a little.\u201d And while Verizon promised to cover him (as part of their employer-based coverage) even into adulthood, Gayla and her husband don\u2019t know if that agreement will be honored by the new company. She doubts that it will be.
Patrick has been on and off insurance all his life. \u201cMore off than on,\u201d he further clarified for me. \u201cMy credit rating is trashed because of \u2018medical stuff.\u2019\u201d And in the 80s he had a skull injury. \u201cI actually had insurance but not everything was covered so I just couldn\u2019t pay.\u201d He seemed relaxed for someone for whom the system seemed not to work\u2014forced into debt, even with insurance, and now suffering the consequence of ruined credit. But perhaps one gets used to such predicament.
Tiffany doesn\u2019t have a job, nor does she have health insurance. As a single mom, her daughter gets assistance through the state. For herself, she did have to go to the emergency room one time last year but as she didn\u2019t fill out the form for medical assistance in time (there was a three-month time limit ), she ended up owing $4,000. Now she\u2019s being taken to court by the hospital, Washington County. \u201cI get phone calls every day from the bill collectors,\u201d she tells me. \u201cAnd I\u2019m scared to go back to the doctor for anything including my \u2018frozen shoulder\u2019.
With some trepidation, she told me she knew somebody who was threatened with jail for not responding to court summons for a medical bill. \u201cIt's not a good situation to be in,\u201d she told me.
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