Kelly is a Cape Girardeau resident, mother and student. Kelly has applied to Medicaid twice and each time she was making less than $20,000 a year. Like many Missourians, Kelly made every attempt she could to enroll herself in Medicaid but was met with long wait periods over the phone and was told she needed an appointment for someone to review her Medicaid case but was never able to connect with someone to do so. Kelly shares, “needless to say, I gave up. When I applied for healthcare, it quoted me $500/month. I am a reasonably intelligent person; I am on my way to finishing up my second degree. I should be able to understand and navigate this process easily”.
Unable to get through to anyone at the Medicaid office and unable to afford the high price of marketplace insurance, Kelly ended up uninsured. Kelly has two autoimmune conditions she needs to receive care for and once drove as far as Michigan to receive critical care at a clinic. She was able to get blood work and check her thyroid functioning there but was frustrated at how difficult it was to access this care. She shares that “it takes away your dignity. You feel small and worthless. This is supposedly a developed nation but you can’t receive basic medical care without going into debt…it’s just so evil”.
Kelly shares that there are many comorbidities associated with the autoimmune diseases she has. These, in addition to chronic pain from a car accident, have made day to day pain management very difficult for Kelly. She shares that there are periods of time where getting out of bed is difficult and she cries from the pain. Kelly currently manages her pain through herbal medicine, stress management and yoga. If Kelly had health insurance, she would seek care for what she suspects is a bulging disk in her back, a Well Woman’s check-up and autoimmune maintenance care.
She is glad that Medicaid has been expanded but is concerned that problems with Medicaid implementation will not resolve under the current administration. Kelly remains hopeful that attitudes are changing but feels we need to put different people in power to see sustainable change in Medicaid implementation in Missouri. As she states, “it will take a tremendous amount of life force to change public opinion. People feel the health care problem is far away until it’s right there in front of you. With COVID-19 and job losses, many more people are living the reality of no health care access”.