Joanna, Springfield

Joanna is a 54 year-old woman from Springfield. In 1999, she went to the hospital with a serious case of meningitis and began receiving treatment from a neurologist. At that time, she was uninsured and was unable to pay the physician. Because of her inability to pay, Joanna was forced to stop seeing the neurologist in the middle of her treatment and was referred to a local, low-income clinic. The clinic, however, required her to pay $25 for every doctor’s visit, which inhibited her from continuing care. She tried to apply to Medicaid to get access to necessary care for her condition but was denied. Over the next 10 years, Joanna tried to get coverage through Medicaid but found no success. She worked intermittently throughout this time and made some income, but was never able to get assistance with health insurance. The meningitis had left her body weak, and after a series of medical issues, the doctors at the clinic told her that she was unable to work. For about 10 years, she did not work or receive Medicaid or Disability. During this time, she was forced to rely on shelters and even spend nights in abandoned houses. She eventually went back to work for a year, which further harmed her medical conditions.

As a result of having to work when it was deemed medically inappropriate and never receiving proper care, Joanna became 100% physically disabled and eligible for Disability. The lack of access to health care for both health maintenance and prevention has caused her to now suffer from 10 serious conditions. She faces various skeletal issues as a lasting result of improper access to follow-up care for the meningitis. She is constantly in pain from her various conditions, which causes her to experience extreme stress and anxiety. She was finally able to receive Medicaid assistance last March, but only after she was eligible for Disability. She fully believes that if she were given the opportunity to have Medicaid earlier on, she would not be as bad off as she is now.