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Stuck in the Middle: Working Without Health Insurance

By: Sara D., Pinellas County


I’ve worked in the healthcare industry for over 20 years. I work seven days a week, one full-time job and one part-time job. I’m not making minimum wage, but I’m also not making enough for me to live on. I cannot afford the health insurance that my company offers. I also make too much to get any assistance through local health clinics, Medicare, or Medicaid. So, I'm stuck in the middle and live without health insurance coverage.

I suffer from chronic migraines and asthma. My medications are very expensive. Since I don’t have a physician right now, I don’t have access to prescription refills. I have a little medication left from my last doctor, and I use it sparingly. I’m so afraid that I will run out. I have no choice but to hold on to what I have. So now when I get a migraine, I take lots of Ibuprofen instead of using my medication. I know that if I run out of this medication, I can’t replace it.

I’m not sure what more I can do to help myself. All the social service programs that offer medical services on a sliding scale say that I make too much money. Health insurance through the Healthcare.gov Marketplace costs $150 a month and there’s a $2,600 deductible. No one that I know has an extra $150 at the end of the month. I can’t afford to add another bill to my plate. I recently moved to safer neighborhood and my car insurance went up. It seems that every turn I take to improve myself, it gets harder.

I recently chipped a tooth and went to a local dental clinic. It was a very expensive visit. Afterwards they told me that, based on my income, any future visits will cost $70 per visit, and that’s before any work is performed. I won’t be going back to the dentist any time soon.

Back when I had insurance there were time that my migraine medication did not work. Even then I would have to go to the Emergency Room and get the IV pain medication in order to relieve the pain. My biggest fear right now that I will get another one of those massive migraines and have no choice but to go to the ER. That will bankrupt me. There is no way that I can afford an ER stay. I will probably end up losing my house and have no a place to live until those bills are paid.

Something must change with our healthcare system. Right now, in order to have health coverage, it’s as though you must do extremely well, or you must do so much worse, that there’s a deficit. There’s no middle ground where there needs to be one.


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