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A $1 Raise Leads to Life in the Coverage Gap

By: Elizabeth B., Escambia County

My husband and I have three beautiful children and enjoy living in the Florida Panhandle. My husband works full time in the lawn care and pest control industry and his job does not offer health insurance. Fortunately for him, his backaches from being on his feet eight to ten hours a day are easily relieved with aspirin. I, however, am not so lucky. I suffer from serious medical conditions and live in constant pain.

Because of my husband’s income our family qualified for State assistance. We all had Medicaid for insurance and received food stamps. This was a huge relief for us. I was able to see a primary care physician who treated my condition. I was also able to see a dentist and got dentures to fix my dental problems.

Last year we celebrated when my husband got a $1.00 an hour raise. What we didn’t realize was that his increase would change everything. We were now ineligible for State assistance. Our food stamps were cut off immediately. My husband and I were no longer eligible for Medicaid. At first, the state put us on a Medicaid plan where we would pay a portion of the fee, but the fees were way too high for us. After six months they cut our Medicaid assistance off completely. I was without a doctor and still could not work.

My health problems make it damn near impossible for me to find a job, which makes money tight for our family. I am not able to stand for more than three or four hours at a time. I’m constantly putting in applications, but when I tell a potential employer about my standing limitations during interviews, they tell me flat out that I’m not employable. For them, I’m a liability, a fall-risk. A work from home job would be awesome, but we don’t have a home computer. It all feels like a vicious cycle.

I’m thankful that my children continue to receive Medicaid. Because of the insurance they receive the immunizations they need for school, get their checkups, and see a doctor when they are sick. We had some trouble finding a pediatrician through our Medicaid HMO last year, but we have been able to sort it all out. I finally chose a doctor for them at our community health center, and they have been receiving the care they need. I feel like with the health center, God forbid, but if something serious happens to them, the community center can refer me to a specialist.

With school about to start back I’m thankful that I can walk about a quarter block to take the kids to the bus stop and back. That’s my limit. Once the kids are in school, I’ll start looking into free or low-cost clinics that will hopefully take me on as a patient. I still need to have my dentures adjusted, so maybe I can find help with that. It’s tough because most clinics require the head of household to show up and fill out intake paperwork. This means that my husband will have to take a day off work to go with me. When I asked about weekend hours, I found out that, sure, some clinics are open on the weekends. However, the Intake staff don’t work on the weekends.

Again, every turn I take there seems to be a big stop sign in my face. I know that without healthcare, it’s impossible for me to get better. I feel like I’m in a horrible cycle. There’s got to be something done. The system’s definitely broken.


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