Patrick is a 27-year-old bartender and server in the Joplin area who is in the Medicaid gap. He has a family history of medical issues, of which, he says diabetes is the most concerning. His father was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age thirteen. Patrick remembers enduring glucose tests every year until he was kicked off Medicaid at age 19.
When Patrick was 20, his father passed away – only 38-years-old. Because he made too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to afford private insurance, he too found himself in the Medicaid gap. He had no choice but to pay for his insulin out-of-pocket just to stay alive. Due to an accidental overdose of over-the-counter drugs for foot pain, he was placed in a medically-induced coma; the instruments used to keep him breathing caused MRSA to form in his lungs. He died of suffocation in his own front yard a few short days later because he was a diabetic that had to buy food to eat, but couldn’t afford the inhaler he needed to treat his lung infection.
Six months after his father’s death, Patrick was hospitalized after a mental breakdown. The resulting medical bills have impacted his credit and led him to use the “only if I’m dying” method of health care – visiting an urgent care or ER only of absolutely necessary. Patrick deals with migraines and neck pain as a result of car accidents for which the car insurance did not cover all of his treatment. He also takes medicine for ADHD and anxiety, but can only access his prescriptions through telemedicine and can barely afford to pay for those prescriptions after paying his monthly bills.
“But what happens when I need a medical doctor? What if I acquire the same disease my dad was dealt? What if it’s worse? I can’t even afford to see a doctor to find out, so what if I find out too late?”
Under Missouri’s current Medicaid requirements, Patrick could never qualify for Medicaid – no matter how low his income – because he is a childless adult. If Missouri chose to expand Medicaid, Patrick and hundreds of thousands of people like him would have the affordable health care they need to access preventative care and maintain their health.
“Expanding Medicaid would be life-changing for me. I know I could finally sleep without wondering if I’m healthy enough to wake up the next morning.”