Living with High Blood Pressure and No Health Insurance

Deontray A., Alachua County

I'm 34 years old. I currently live in a residential rehabilitation facility for alcohol and drug use. I believe I had insurance as a child, but I’ve been uninsured ever since I was 18 years old. I’m currently unemployed, but even when I was employed, I still didn’t have insurance because of its high cost. High blood pressure is a health issue that has affected my family over the years. My grandmother has it, my mother has it, and I have it. I hope to one day have some form of insurance that is affordable because it takes a lot of medications to keep high blood pressure under control.

Since I am uninsured, I have been paying out of pocket for everything from medications to doctor’s visits over the years. When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure around 2017 or 2018, I was taking trips to the Emergency Room a lot. Around that time, different medications were being prescribed as they tried to find the one that actually worked for me. Luckily, most of the medications that I was prescribed were affordable and I didn't have to stay at the hospital for long periods of time. Nonetheless, I kept having to go back to the E.R., so I ended up with high hospital bills.

When I went to Shands Hospital to sign up for a program that provides help with prescriptions, they gave me a list of clinics where I could go to be seen and get medications. That is how I found out about the Equal Access Clinic. I started going to the Equal Access Clinic in August 2021 and have been going there primarily to treat my high blood pressure. Even so, not having health insurance impacts all aspects of my life. If I ever need to have surgery or if I ever have to actually stay in the hospital for a long period of time, that’s money that needs to come out of my pocket. If I ever need some type of medication that I don’t have the funds for, being uninsured would impact me greatly then, too. Insurance is what would help me pay for that, but I don’t have it. The same goes for my oral health care services. If I need anything, I need to pay for it out of pocket.

If Florida expanded Medicaid and I were to qualify for it, it would be great. If anything serious were to happen to me or if I were to need some type of significant medical help, I wouldn’t have to worry because I would be covered. Just knowing that I’d be covered would be great to know.