By Shayla N., Alachua County
I had Medicaid when I was a kid. I lost coverage when I turned 18 years old and just didn’t have insurance anymore. Insurance is expensive, even if you get it through your job. I would prefer to pay my bills over paying for health insurance.
I work full time at a local store. Well, I work 36 hours a week – three twelve-hour days. My employer offers health insurance, but in talking with the people that work there, it’s not worth it. They have told me about how much they have to pay out of pocket when they go in for a doctor’s visit. They end up paying $100 a week for the insurance but have to pay $300 for a doctor’s visit. It’s just me and my fiancé and we have other bills to pay. We both have car payments and go to school.
It takes me a long time to get to the doctor. I’m at the Equal Access clinic now and it’s the first time that I've actually seen a physician or gotten a checkup in two years. During that time, I’ve definitely had colds and stuff like that. This time I had a UTI, and I’d never had one before. I looked up free clinics and free health care services and this clinic popped up.
I’ve learned that you have to push through the sicknesses. You have to keep going to work even if you can't afford to go to the doctor. I’m very particular about my debts, so I’m careful not to build up medical debts. If I feel like I can just push through, I'm not going to the Emergency Room - even if I’m throwing up. I’m not going to get charged $900 for just walking in the door.
If health care were affordable, I honestly think I’d be happier and healthier. It would be nice to be able to rely on health insurance; to be able to go to a doctor’s visit and not be thinking ‘Oh, my God. How much is this going to cost me?’ That's a stressor in itself.
If I could say one thing to legislators, it would be to not penalize kids. If your parent has a low income, and you get insurance coverage all the way up until your 18th birthday, it’s not okay for you to lose it just because you’re now an adult. Because now, I also have to pay for myself to live. We're still humans. We still need help.