Letter to the Editor: Medicaid expansion needed
Friday, July 12, 2019
The consequences of North Carolina failing to close the health insurance coverage gap are evident for many of us.
I am a college-educated professional who was devastated by the financial aspects of health care and will be impacted professionally for the rest of my life. I am one of the lucky consumers of our nation’s health care, but I could barely afford these high expenses.
I have been battling heart disease since January 2003 when at 41 years of age, I had my first of seven heart catheterizations and four stents placed in my heart’s coronary arteries. Three years later, despite my best efforts of diet, exercise and medicine, I underwent a triple coronary artery bypass operation. I was laid off from my longstanding position at a company in Rocky Mount just 11 days before my bypass operation. When I received my layoff notice, I raced to my doctor’s office since I had not been feeling well and I had until the end of the month to ensure I got coverage through my company’s supplied insurance benefits.
After my operation, I left the hospital just after the first of the month, and I had to make all of my follow-up doctor’s visits in the timeframe before COBRA was activated; I had to pay full price for my medicines and my doctors’ appointments. This strapped my family financially, and though the insurance company eventually reimbursed me; this was a stressful time for us. I hurried to convalesce so that I could obtain employment. I needed not only wages — I needed health insurance.
Even once re-employed, I like so many people across our nation skipped medications some days, put off taking several altogether and prayed that these actions had no adverse implications to my health. I was attempting to reduce my family’s financial burdens. I, however, did not have to make the painful choice between medical care, food and housing like so many of our neighbors do every day.
Our state needs our legislators and the executive branch to work together and ensure affordable, quality health care for all North Carolinians. Every day we delay action, families who have no health insurance are suffering and dying. There are approximately 400,000 uninsured North Carolinians in the insurance gap. Their incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private insurance. These are employed families, people working in paying jobs whose combined incomes don’t cover their family’s living expenses and health insurance.
As a state, we must come together, make the health of our citizens a priority and find a solution that we all know is possible.