Story written and submitted by Zac:
As far as my story goes, I’m not the most dramatic case study with how Medicaid will help me, but I am one of the many Missourians whose life will improve thanks to this amendment passing. I’m a part of the new “gig economy,” which means that I work for four different companies teaching and tutoring part time without any of the benefits or job security that even a part time position may offer to workers. If I get sick, for example, I have no “sick time” as a gig worker — that is just time and money that I’m sacrificing. And without health insurance (because gig work doesn’t offer insurance or benefits) I am not going to be able to afford to go to the doctor to get the medication I need to make a speedy recovery, so I rely on over the counter medication and a prayer to push through the symptoms. I have been so fortunate working as a substitute teacher to avoid the flu, strep throat, and even pink eye (common in my profession) in the last year of working. But every day that I entered a classroom, I knew that I ran the risk of catching something that I could not afford.
This is where we would assume that Medicaid would kick in and help offset my lack of access to benefits, but up until now, I did not qualify. I was making under $20,000 a year (I’ve scarcely made above $15,000 ever in my lifetime) but because I am single and have no children or disabilities, I did not qualify. I tried to re-enroll in the ACA, but my rates ballooned to over $300 a month — half of my rent payment every month. It just didn’t make sense. It feels bad being in the gap, I worked so hard to get where I’m at and I just happen to not make a lot of money. I still deserve to pay my bills. If I get sick, I deserve to survive without having to rely on family members to pay for my medicine. When Medicaid expansion goes into effect I won’t have to rely on people that are also struggling financially. I will be able to help myself when I’m sick AND pay my bills.