I'm Uninsured and Watched My Parents Struggle with COVID Bills

By Em Arnold, Alachua County


I think it would be life changing to have access to healthcare, for sure. I was covered under my parents’ health insurance plan until my Mom lost her job during the pandemic. Given how confusing and tricky the health care systems are, I’ve been afraid to look for any options - even cheaper options because I’ve seen my parents struggle with health care costs.


My Dad got COVID and being without health insurance was very stressful. It all happened around the same time my Mom lost her job. It was a really horrible moment for my family. My Mom was frantically searching for health insurance as soon as she lost her job. She was so afraid my Dad would get COVID. When he did, the bill was like $10,000. I don’t know if my Mom was exaggerating when she told me that number, but I recently looked back at all of the text messages she sent me about the bill. She was definitely freaking out during that time. Things like that are really scary to me when thinking about healthcare. Luckily my parents are able to work now. My Mom got her job back, but she was demoted. Luckily her new job does come with health care benefits, but it’s not the same level. Still, watching my parents struggle with the bills was a lot for me to witness.


For me, I’m not able to go get check ups regularly because I don’t have health care insurance. It’s just too expensive. When I was attending college the school mandated that all students have health insurance. They even provided a health insurance option. Having the coverage was really helpful. I hurt my shoulder and the insurance covered my surgery and physical therapy. Since I’ve been out of school, I’ve not been able to do any follow up on my shoulder. It’s in really bad shape now, and I can’t move it in certain ways. That’s one example of what happens when you have health care but lose it. In the end your health decreases because of it. Right now, I’m unemployed and it’s been kind of difficult to find employment.


At the end of the day I feel like health insurance companies are really tricky and make you jump through a lot of hoops. I’ve been coming to Equal Access Clinic for the last few months. Before finding this place I didn’t go to the doctor. I didn’t know that anything like this existed. If I had health insurance, it would be really amazing. I would actually be able to check out what’s happening with my health. Usually if something’s happening, I just push it under the rug and don’t want to think about it. It’s stressful to think about how much it’s going to cost to go get it checked out. I could get my shoulder checked out so I can move and be mobile like I use to. It would just be really helpful. Thankfully nothing serious has happened. It makes me scared to think about my future and trying to get health insurance.