Jennelle, Jefferson County

Jennelle is a twenty-year-old student studying Social Work. When she was eleven months old, Jennelle was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Jennelle was kicked off of her mother’s health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare, at the age of nineteen. Right around that time, she suffered a major flair up to the point of having to drop out of school for a year. Without health insurance, the monthly cost for medication to manage pain flair ups costs over $4,000. This cost was too much for Jennelle and her mother so she was left with no choice but to suffer through the pain and hope for it to pass. Jennelle describes the pain as “heart attack level”, stating that she sincerely thought she was dying as the inflammation spread to her ribcage and all she had to manage the pain was Tylenol and heating pads.
Despite the life interrupting pain she was in, Jennelle states that she was still “more afraid of the hospital bills than the pain”.

Jennelle eventually met with a social worker who suggested she apply for Social Security Income (SSI). She has been denied three times but has been granted Medicaid for the time being. Per the instruction of her social worker, Jennelle has to continue applying for SSI despite continual denial in order to keep her Medicaid benefits. If she does not have documentation that she is actively applying for disability, she will lose her Medicaid. Jennelle believes if Medicaid was expanded, she wouldn’t have to spend so much time jumping through hoops to protect her health care and could live a much healthier, happier life.