By Lina C., Alachua County
I’m a disabled, single mom with three children. My 23-year-old son is disabled, like me. He suffers from lower back disease and sleep apnea, among other illnesses. He’s not able to work because of his lower back disease which, unfortunately means he does not have access to health insurance. Without health insurance he’s not able to see a doctor or get the medications he needs to deal with his illness.
My son had Medicaid for insurance when he was younger, but that ended once he turned 18. He didn’t start having problems with his lower back until he was around 21 years old. It didn’t start off as excruciating pain, like it is now. The pain gradually got worse over time. Now, when he’s in pain, we wait it out as long as we can before getting help. Last week he was in a lot of pain, but not bad enough to go to the Emergency Room. He stayed in bed for about two weeks because he couldn’t sit up or move. When the pain gets too much for him to bear, I take him to the Emergency Room. The bill from our last visit was $3,000. It’s going to take me a lifetime to pay the bills from his ER visits. Since he doesn’t have insurance we also have to pay out of pocket for his medications. They cost at least $100 each. We can’t afford that.
My son has been officially diagnosed as having a medical disability. There is no cure for his disease. He needs physical therapy and daily medications. We have applied and been denied for Social Security Disability several times. On our last call with the Social Security office my son told them that health insurance would help him better manage his pain so he could go to work. He wants to work. We will keep applying. I feel like our fight for his health insurance will probably last forever.
For a single parent with three children, it’s very difficult. My Social Security Disability is our only income. There is no help for people who don’t have insurance and live on a fixed income. It’s impossible to get medical help for him. There are a few free evening clinics that I could take him to, but I can’t drive at night. He is not able to drive either. I’ve called Shands, but they can’t help.
As a mom I worry about him. I have lower lumbar disease. He likely inherited his back disease from me. I’m not able to walk for long periods of time. Taking a light stroll is impossible for me. I even have to cook while sitting down. At the same time, I will do anything to help my son.
I believe that we need Medicaid for everyone. There should be some sort of insurance to cover people when they need help. How can sick people go to the doctor and get better if they can’t afford it?