Pamela Harris Licking County
In 2013, I had the opportunity to share my story at a Medicaid Expansion rally at the Statehouse. At the time, I had just been diagnosed with depression and Rheumatoid Arthritis. My four children, two of whom have mental health disorders, were all covered by Medicaid but I didn’t qualify because I made too much money. I was making $15 an hour and working 30 hours a week.
I loved my job teaching parents of children with behavioral health needs how to advocate for their families and I didn’t want to quit it. I didn’t have the insurance money to cover the doctor’s appointments, much less the medication I needed to keep the arthritis at bay. For several months I had to choose between paying the electric bill or paying for my prescriptions. With four kids, I couldn’t very well go without paying the electric so I lived with the pain of untreated RA and depression.
Finally, last year, after Medicaid was expanded, I was able to get insurance. This made a huge difference in my life and for several months I felt better than I had felt in a long time. I was able to focus on my family and my job and life was good… and then I had a mini stroke.
After three days in the hospital, I was sent home with a walker, a home health aide, and an appointment for physical therapy. Each day, I feel a little better and am able to do more for myself. I often wonder what I would have done if I did not have insurance. Without the healthcare services I received, I know I would not have been able to care for my children, return to work, or pay my household expenses. Instead, my family and I would have had to rely on government services to meet our basic needs.
I am living proof that Medicaid makes it possible for people to work and for families to stay together.