Chelsea, St. Louis City

Chelsea is a 25 year old resident of St. Louis. She has been uninsured for 7 years and relies heavily on herbal medicine, over the counter medications and advice from the internet to maintain her health. Chelsea can’t afford to do preventative care like physicals and says she has very little idea of where her health is at. She lives with roommates and struggles to stay healthy when someone in the house gets sick. Once, Chelsea traveled to Vermont and while there got a bad case of strep throat. She and her friends had plans to travel to Canada and tried to make across the border in time get Chelsea affordable medical care in Canada but she was too sick to manage the long drive and ended up getting care in the states. Her emergency bill was more than she could afford and it still remains to be paid.

Chelsea was diagnosed with severe allergies and asthma in college and was given two free inhalers but could not afford to buy any after that. She was in school full time and didn’t have a job but could not qualify for Medicaid. Chelsea has relied on other people’s access to inhalers to get by. There have been times where she could not breathe, had no access to an inhaler and knew she could not afford an emergency room bill so she simply slept it off and hoped she would breathe through the night.

While in school, Chelsea had the opportunity to study abroad in Taiwan and Czech Republic. Both times, she received healthcare with no hassle or complicated process to sign up. In Czech Republic, she received free therapy, something she wishes she could resume in the states but cannot afford. As Chelsea states, “to be abroad and have more rights to my health in a country that I am a visitor than in the country I am a citizen of and have paid taxes in for years is not right. It just doesn’t make sense”.

Chelsea dreams of getting her Phd in Black American Literature and becoming a professor. She is hesitant to apply to grad school though because she does not know if she would have health insurance as a graduate student or even as a professor. Before she decides, she is studying to get her TEFL, a certification that allows you to teach English abroad. While Chelsea believes it would be best to get the specific degree she wants in the United States, she is considering immigrating permanently simply so she can receive medical care.