By: Val S., Pinellas County
My husband and I recently moved our family of seven from Ohio to Florida. I’m a Florida native, so it was nice to return home to be close to my family. My husband is a disabled Veteran and Florida is well known for its incentives for disabled Veterans. We felt like it would be much more affordable to live in Florida. Once my husband’s disability was approved, we purchased a home here, our first! We thought this would be a good move for our family, but it has been a bit of a nightmare.
In Ohio my children and I qualified for Medicaid as insurance. I have primarily been a stay at home mom, raising our five children. When my husband became disabled, I also became his caretaker. We had been living on my husband’s fixed income, but we weren’t struggling. Ohio offered lots of programs to assist families on fixed or limited incomes. For example, we were enrolled in a program where our electric bill was set at ten percent of our income. This helped me plan and budget for our family. In Florida, we don’t qualify for any kind of help, but we don’t make that much money. I don’t understand it. I knew that Florida had not expanded Medicaid, but it never dawned on me that we wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid in Florida. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
It is hard to cover our monthly expenses with my husband’s income. For months I’ve tried to get a job. But I’m older now and don’t have a degree, because I stayed home with our children. My children need to have regular access to a doctor. Some of them have ongoing health issues. Recently I fell inside of a store and tore my meniscus. I’ve been going back and forth with attorneys but was finally able to get my surgery approved. The store will cover the cost, but that’s the extent of my healthcare coverage. My husband and I can hardly afford to cover our living expenses, yet alone health insurance. Right now, it’s hard putting food on the table. I just joined a food sharing program and drive an hour each week to pick up food for my family. Last week they gave us a case of potato chips. That was nice. My kids aren’t usually able to get potato chips.
I’m concerned that Florida has a big gap between those who have insurance and those that don’t. Moving here has been a big eye opener for me. It’s sad to see that there is still a problem with access to healthcare. I love being home, but I can hardly afford to live and care for my family.