Mississippi Left Me Out
For many Mississippians like Rhonda White, a 51-year-old, Lincoln County native, living without health insurance is a daily, painful struggle.
White works at her job at a local fast food restaurant for a minimum wage salary to care for her disabled husband and her mother. She says that he income isn't enough to cover household expenses and health insurance, so she goes without.
"I live in pain and stay in pain, it's a balance of whether you take medicine and try to survive, or you eat, keep yourself clothed or keep the lights on, it's a matter of survival," she says.
In 2009, White lost several family members under the psychological and emotional strain, experienced a nervous breakdown. But without health insurance, she hasn't been able to access sustained mental health treatment. In addition, doctors at White's local community health center found tumors throughout her body, but without health insurance, she's been unable to pursue further diagnosis to determine whether or not they're cancerous or benign. Compounding are prescriptions for blood pressure regulation and antibiotics that White has been unable to afford to purchase.
White says she's constantly disappointed and frustrated as she seeks out help only to be met with road blocks to accessing this care because of her lack of health insurance.
"I've had bad experiences with hospitals, its like being brushed off, like I was nothing because I didn't carry insurance."
Not only does Rhonda's job not offer health insurance for part-time employees, but her income status disqualifies her from receiving subsidies to purchase health insurance on the health insurance marketplace and she is also ineligible for coverage under Medicaid in Mississippi.
The solution to Rhonda's problem with accessing health insurance is found in an expanded Medicaid program. With health insurance, Rhonda could access the specialized treatment and prescription medicines that she desperately needs.
"If I had health insurance, it would be like winning the lottery, because I would have that sense of peace," says White.
Make Your Voice Heard
We MUST put pressure on our Governor and legislators and tell them how important this is to the thousands of Mississippians that need health insurance. If you are in the Medicaid expansion gap, know someone that is in the gap, or if you support the expansion of the Medicaid program, find your legislator and contact them.