Sam, Jackson County

Sam is a father of two boys. His youngest, Trent, was born with congenital heart defects. Sam and his wife both work full time and have stable income. This has granted him access to health care he knows he would not otherwise have access to. As Sam states, “my family is working with the best of the best at the hospital. Its right down the street. I know not everyone has this access. Factors like where you are born and how much money your family has impacts everything, there is a ripple effect of privilege in your life before you are even born”. He goes on to say that because his wife received pre-natal care, they knew their son had heart problems and was sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Soon after being admitted, Trent’s heart stopped beating and needed immediate care. Sam is certain is son would not have survived had they not had information about his heart before he was born.

Trent’s heart condition requires frequent hospital visits. During one extended stay, Sam met a family that did not receive pre-natal care. Their child had blue feet at five weeks old, received an ultrasound at six weeks old after an emergency helicopter transportation where they discovered the child had a heart chamber four times the size of the others. Sam feels strongly that every parent should have access to pre-natal care and sees the ways in which his son has a much higher chance of a high quality of life compared to this other child simply because of the socioeconomic status he was born into. Something Sam believes is unfair.

Despite his family’s privilege, Sam has had to argue with his insurance company to get his son’s medical procedures covered. Before one of Trent’s more recent surgeries, Sam was sent a notice from the hospital that the surgery was not pre authorized by their insurance and would not be covered. The hospital required a down payment of $16,000 before proceeding with the surgery. The surgery cost $80,000 in total and the insurance company eventually agreed to pay this amount before Sam had to find the money to cover this expense. Sam wonders what families without insurance and unable to pay large sums of money for care are supposed to do in instances like this. He says the stress of this is not trivial. As he states, “I have high blood pressure and moments like this certainly don’t help but if I get sick I have a primary care doctor. I have someone to see and receive medicine or care if I need it. Not everyone has this, stress like this adds up and takes a toll on people”.

Sam is passionate about expanding health care for Missourians because he has witnessed first-hand the ways financial ability enhances or hinders people’s wellness and has a long term effect on their overall quality of life. When speaking to people in opposition of Medicaid expansion he finds the most common argument is, “why should we pay?” to which he responds, “we pay anyway. We (in the US) have a compassionate and highly effective health system if you have access to it. We, the tax payer, are going to continue paying for this imbalanced system if we don’t expand care”. Sam says his greatest hope is to see an “effective allocation of resources so people can make best decisions for their families. Not only is it the fair thing to do, it is financially beneficially for Missouri”.