I consider myself a strong, independent woman who does not cry “uncle” or give up easily. However, I am also a woman who needs the assistance of her government in order to live.
Due to hospital error in 1974, the birth of my son was complicated and I nearly died. In the following years I went to doctors who did not care because of my low-income status. I would complain of being tired, run down, and barely surviving, but no doctor took the time to find out what was really wrong with me. After 12 years of searching for an answer and growing nearer to death, I found out that I had Sheehan’s Syndrome and I lost my pituitary gland. I started medication which brought me back to life, but I also realized that I would need to remain on these medications for the rest of my life.
With full time work and health insurance provided by the company I worked for, I was able to maintain my health. However, after being laid off and losing my health insurance, I felt like I was doomed. One of my medicines alone costs over $1000 a month. No insurance company would take me. At one point I got on the Oregon Health Plan only to be kicked off because I had the audacity to get work that earned over the poverty level. I was facing death.
I went to Salem and talked to committees, gave interviews to newspapers, stood on the steps and told my story at rallies. After nearly a year of writing, talking, calling, emailing, I finally got on preemptive Medicaid. It costs me $100 a month to be insured and to be able to live.
However, it that wasn’t simple. I could not have over $2000 in assets or I would lose my Medicaid. I had a small $9000 IRA - it was all the money I had. But in order to keep my Medicaid, I had to withdraw the money and pay bills. Now I have no retirement at all - and this week I will be 62 years old, with nothing to my name. I would say that I am thankful for finally receiving the Medicaid and to be alive, however, it seems odd that in a country that is supposed to be as humanitarian and caring as America, a woman must go to nothing to have the insurance she needs to live. This doesn’t make sense to me. I have a Masters degree - I am intelligent - but I also have, through no fault of my own, a disease which requires insurance in order to get the medications and see the doctors I need to in order to live. Since I am unable to find a job teaching - which is what my Masters is in - I have returned to school and gotten a second Masters - this time in something that I hope I will be able to find work in.
In the meantime, I am supplementing my part time job with SNAP dollars as well as yearly utility assistance. You see, I refuse to lie down and die and keep up the fight for survival.
- U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder,” 2007 American Community Survey (accessed May 2011). Data came from the following tables: Statewide poverty percentages, GCT1701, Ratio of income to poverty level, C17002
- U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder,” 2009 American Community Survey (accessed May 2011). Data came from the following tables: Statewide poverty percentages, GCT1701, Ratio of income to poverty level, C17002
- Half in Ten analysis of Table 1, 2007 State Expenditure Report, National Association of State Budget Officers.
- Half in Ten analysis of Table 1, 2009 State Expenditure Report, National Association of State Budget Officers.
- U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2007 through 2008.
- U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2009 through 2010.