By Shantel B., Alachua County
I haven't had health care insurance since March of 2021. I actually worked in healthcare at Shands Hospital. I would work in the Emergency Room as a patient care technician and in guest services. I ended up moving to a different department that was administering COVID testing to the public. I was not getting hazard pay and thought that was really unfair. I tried to get hazard pay and tried to get all of my co-workers on board, but no one would follow me. I didn’t want to seem like a lone wolf, intentionally creating problems, so I left the company as a whole. Every since then, it's been hard to even get a physical, which is why I’m at the Equal Access clinic today. Luckily, I am getting a new job, so I’ll get offered health insurance coverage. But, having health care tied to a job is just ridiculous to me, in a sense, because everyone is a human. Everyone should receive health care.
Living without health care coverage over the last few months has been kind of shocking and a blessing at the same time. I'm not typically a sick person. I'm a young 28-year-old. I don't have any background of having health issues. So, I'm on the luckier side. I haven't had anything traumatic or anything like that happen to me. Usually, I take a lot of preventative measures. I don't wait until things happen. I’m just thankful that I didn't get into a car accident or something like that. At the same time, I’m not taking a bunch of risks. I’ve just been living life as normal as I can.
When my health coverage at my new job comes through, I’ll get back to into my routine of my preventative health care. At my age, I like to get a lot of preventative tests done, like mammograms and STD testing. Hopefully, I'm able to jump back into that cycle. I like to check my cholesterol levels. A lot of people don't think about stuff like that. But working in health care, I'm always trying to stay ahead of things. I want to make sure my health doesn’t get to the point where I'm in the emergency room or having to wait a long time for care or treatment. Once I get my health care, I'll be happy to go to the doctor for a quick check up.
Choosing healthcare as a career path has really made me knowledgeable about the back end of health care. At one of my previous jobs, I used to be the clerk who would take patient’s co-pays and ask them about their health insurance coverage. I learned about all the different insurance plans and was able to see the unfairness of it all. I try to make sure I do have healthcare so that I don't get caught up with a bunch of bills.
I’ve seen firsthand that the Medicare and Medicaid programs could be much better. The services that are offered to Medicare and Medicaid patients are not top notch. I don't think anyone should have to have money coming out of their check every single month to get top notch care. We should find a good system to offer health care for all. No one should have to wait in long lines or have to deal with long wait times. People shouldn’t be relegated to specific clinics and have to drive far for care. Everyone should have access to good, quality care in their own neighborhood.