Van is a 56 year old resident of Sparta, Missouri. He and his wife, Renda have many health concerns with varying access to care. The couple applied for Medicaid a few years ago but because they owned a home, their application was denied. Both Van and Renda have a variety of illnesses that they try to manage despite their limited access to care. Van qualified for SSI disability seven years ago and relies on this for the oxygen he uses full time. His disability check is also how he and his wife are able to pay their bills and buy their groceries. Van states, “we are so lucky to have this disability check, our illnesses keep us from working and it’s the only way we survive but we are barely getting by, at the end of each month we have about $3 or $4 left in the bank”.
In attempt to alleviate the financial burden of their care, Renda and Van applied for Medicaid a few years ago. At the time, they owned a house and were denied. While Van navigates his health concerns in a well-respected hospital, Renda is less fortunate. She is currently uninsured and struggles to find affordable care for the restless leg syndrome and neuropathy in her feet she suffers from. Renda also relies on blood pressure and thyroid medication and has had surgeries to remove a hernia as well as a hysterectomy which she was granted financial assistance to cover the cost. She was granted financial assistance to cover the cost.
The couple wants people to know how hard it is for elderly people to access care in Missouri. As Van states, “there really aren’t healthcare options for people without disabilities and before the age of 65. Older adults have a lot more possibility for health problems and that begins much earlier than 65. If you develop an illness around the age of 45 and you can’t get on Medicare until 65, you’ve been sick for twenty years by that point. That’s not right, it really feels like older people have been forgotten”. Van and Renda have since moved from their home and into an apartment to keep their living costs low. They have reapplied for Medicaid and are waiting to hear back. They are hopeful that their new financial situation will increase the chances of them getting approved this time around. As Van states, “getting Medicaid would change everything for us. My wife could get the care she needs to keep herself healthy instead of waiting til she was sick. We could have more money to live off of, it really would change our lives”.