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Waiting for a Cancer Diagnosis Without Health Coverage

By: Veronica S., Orange County

I’ve been living without health insurance for the last two years. My last job offered health insurance and, although it was expensive, I was able to make it work. Then, the premiums went up and I just could not continue to afford it. It was just too expensive. I tried to go through Medicaid and Obamacare, but they said I made too much money. My current employer does not offer health insurance.

I’m 51 years old and a single mom. All my children are young adults now. My youngest just graduated from high school. Even though they are grown, I know they will always need me. My kids are amazing.

At the end of August, I found a lump in my breast. I ended up in the hospital because it had gotten enflamed and was very painful. They performed a breast MRI, Ultrasound, and Mammogram. I had to pay for all of these out of pocket. The cost right now is up to $17,000 and that doesn’t include the labs or radiology. The next step is for me to schedule a biopsy, but we are at a standstill because I can’t afford to pay for all of this. I’ve applied for a program at the hospital that will pay for the biopsy, but after turning in all my paperwork, the wait is two weeks. I have to wait for two weeks to see the hospital will perform the test to find out if I have cancer or not. Can you imagine?

It’s hard not to think about the worst-case scenario. Where is the money going to come from if I need treatment? If this turns out to be breast cancer, then getting health insurance in the future is not an option because I will have a preexisting condition. If I’m having to pay for all of this out of my pocket, where will me and my children go? I tried to apply for Social Security Disability. To qualify I would have to quit my job. Then I would have to reapply to see if I qualify. From what I have heard the chances of being approved are slim. It all depends on what stage your cancer is in and if you are able to work.

I’m currently working in the medical field and have a hard time making ends meet. Many months I have to rob Peter to pay Paul, and I have to decide who is not going to get paid. My landlord is being very understanding, but what happens when that ends? Somehow the system says that I make too much to get help. I don’t qualify for financial assistance or food stamps. I make $16.60 an hour. I went to school and have the student loans to prove it. How is it even possible that I can’t get help when I need it? I’ve applied for loans, Care Credit, I’ve done everything and been denied across the board.

My parents are a good source of emotional support. They are amazing, but they don’t have the means to help me financially. They live on social security and that barely is enough for them to live on. My mom’s medications are $3,000 a month, and that’s with her Medicare. My dad is 78 years old and is still working to offset their bills. He and my mom have both worked since they were teenagers. They worked their entire lives, and they have no support.

I’ve worked since I was 15. I was born in this country, yet I can’t get insurance. My daughter can’t get insurance. There are all these rules and stipulations. You can’t be homeless, but you can’t be making enough to survive. I find it disheartening that people come here from other countries and get assistance and people that live here are struggling. I don’t think that anyone should be denied healthcare. Everyone should be able to go to the doctor if they are sick. But it is unfair that people who are born here should be pushed to the side, while people who are just coming here get full benefits. Again, I’m not saying that anyone should be denied, but the system should take care of those that have been paying into the system all their lives.

I’m going through a very scary time. I still don’t have a final diagnosis. God forbid it should be bad, how am I going to pay for that? Now I just have to sit and wait. It seems like no one is in a hurry. Bottom line, in the state of Florida don’t get sick.


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