‘I would have gone bankrupt’ without Medicaid
As someone accustomed to taking care of herself, June, 63, delayed going to the doctor as long as possible. On a Friday in July 2016, she began experiencing sudden pain in her back and right side. She toughed it out until Sunday night when she finally realized she needed immediate medical care.
As she drove herself to the hospital, all she could think about was the medical bills that would pile up. Just a few weeks prior, she had been laid off from her clerical position at a mining company, and she had no health insurance, no savings and no family members to help her. She worried high medical bills meant she would lose her condo in Anchorage.
June’s care team in the Emergency Department found that she had a severe kidney stone that blocked her kidney from functioning normally, and, as a result, she developed a life-threatening infection and sky-rocketing blood pressure. After she was treated for her infection, June had surgery to remove the kidney stone.
“When I was in the ED, someone came in and told me I might be eligible for Medicaid, and they helped me enroll,” she said. “I didn’t even know that was a possibility. I had no idea.”
Thanks to Medicaid, June was able to get her kidney issues treated – including follow-up appointments and treatment for a kidney stone recurrence six months later. She says she received “first-class treatment” from her care team at Providence Alaska Medical Center.
“Medicaid isn’t just for destitute people. It’s for people like me who have worked hard but just don’t have the money,” she says, explaining that she’d mostly worked as an administrative assistant, but those jobs are tough to come by for someone in their ‘60s.
June supports herself on $1,650 a month from social security. She lives bare bones, doesn’t allow herself any extras and is still paying off her student loans. Once a week, she goes to the Food Bank of Alaska. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself – that’s just the way things are.
But June says she knows, without a doubt, that if she hadn’t had Medicaid, she would have gone bankrupt.