Destiny is a 22-year-old full-time student in Joplin who has been without health insurance since 2015. Growing up in a single-parent home, Destiny has long known the struggle to make ends meet, and as a child, Medicaid was the only option for health care for her and her siblings.
The day before Destiny moved into her college dorm, she had to have her wisdom teeth removed, as it was the last opportunity to do so before losing her Medicaid coverage. Because of the recovery time, she was unable to attend many of the orientation events at her school and fell a week behind in her classes. If Destiny had access to health care that wasn’t limited by her age, she could have chosen a more convenient time for the surgery that would not have adversely affected her experience as a first-year college student.
Destiny’s problems with being uninsured continued throughout her college career. During her freshman spring semester, she got into a bad car accident without insurance coverage. She was treated for a concussion, racking up thousands of dollars in medical bills that her parents tried to help her pay.
The effects of the car wreck lingered, and when Destiny had trouble sleeping, she had to undergo expensive CT scans and other tests to diagnose her suffering. Her last semester, Destiny got really sick. She paid for a doctor’s visit up front, but the doctor failed to accurately diagnose her. As a result, Destiny had to visit the ER, where they ran many unnecessary tests, leaving her with a $4,000 medical bill. She applied for financial assistance and spent 6 months waiting for approval.
As Destiny prepares to graduate from college, she faces thousands of dollars in student loans and around $6,000 in medical debt. She hopes to obtain a full-time position at the mental health center she currently works at part-time, which should give her the chance to have health care coverage for the first time as an adult. If Missouri had expanded Medicaid with the federal funds available under the Affordable Care Act, Destiny, and other college students like her, would have had the coverage she needed to graduate college without thousands of dollars in medical debt.
“Figuring out my medical costs has been emotionally draining, and I felt like a burden on my parents. I can see how going without health care keeps people like me in the cycle of poverty.”