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Making Too Much for Medicaid, Not Enough for Tax Credits

By: Karen S., Brevard County

At the beginning of 2013 I was working a full-time job and had health insurance. I am a medical transcriptionist which requires me to sit at a desk and type for 8 hours a day. I suffered a neck injury that required me to have surgery. The recovery was longer than expected. Usually people take physical therapy and recover in about six weeks, but my recovery took a year.

Our work is based on production, and I had a hard time keeping up after my surgery. By the end of the year, I had been let go on my job. I had unemployment benefits for a while, but no health insurance. When I left my job, I applied for health insurance through the Marketplace, but do not make enough money to get the subsidy. I am concerned that my neck will count as a pre-existing condition, and I will never be able to get health insurance. I now work part time from home doing the same type of work, typing while sitting. I am an independent contractor, so I am not able to get any health benefits through the job. I still don’t make enough money to qualify for the subsidy to get low cost insurance through the Marketplace.

My training is in medical transcription, and it’s hard to get another type of job. I’m afraid that if I try to get another job, they will find out about my neck injury and not hire me. They may think that I will be a liability for them.

I have still not recovered from my neck surgery and need to see a specialist. I’m part of the Brevard Health Alliance program where I can pay $10 per visit to see a general doctor. This is a helpful program for conditions like the flu, cold, or primary care, but it does not cover you if you need to see a specialist. I also lost part of my hearing because of the type of work I do. Having a headset on for 8 hours a day has had an impact on my hearing. My local vocational rehab program was able to get me a hearing aid, but it took about a year. I have applied for social security disability but have been turned down four times.

I had dental insurance when I was working. I hadn’t seen a dentist since I left my job in 2013, but recently found a dental plan just by Googling it. The company was on the AARP website, but their fees were too high. I was able to sign up and now pay $12 a month for dental insurance. I will get a reduced price on dental services. I’ve not had time to make an appointment just yet.

I need to see a specialist in order to get better. Healing my neck will help me get a better job. This neck injury has totally changed the trajectory of my life. After losing my job, I had to sell my house because I couldn’t afford the mortgage. I moved in with my 94-year-old mother. Losing my home was devastating. That was a huge loss for me. I had planned on having my home paid off by retirement. Now I have no idea what will happen when I retire or when Mom passes. If I had been able to continue working, I would have a safe retirement.

Now, nothing’s safe.


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