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Many Oklahomans struggle to get by without health insurance

They are forced to make decisions about whether to buy medicine or pay the electric bill.
BY ANN KELLEY Published: September 29, 2010

— Sherry Page woke up from a leukemia-induced coma with almost no income or health insurance.

Page, 63, of Midwest City, said she quit her job in November at the advice of physicians. She was approved for Social Security benefits, but had no idea she wouldn't qualify for Medicaid or Medicare to help with health care costs.

She lives on about $1,100 a month, nearly half of what she once earned as an office supervisor, but it is $39 too much to qualify for help with health costs, she said.

"I can barely afford to put a roof over my head, let alone the four medicines I'm supposed to be taking," Page said.

One prescription alone costs $450 a month without insurance, she said.

"If I had known I was going to end up like this I would have taken my chances and kept working," Page said. "I would have died in that office chair if that's what it took."

Page was one of dozens of readers who responded to The Oklahoman's online question about health insurance. The responses were emotional and in some cases, desperate. Many claimed to be employed, but simply can't afford the cost of health insurance. As reader Tammy Richardson put it, "I have to choose between insurance or food, electricity, etc. They win over insurance."

Ambi Nellius, 37, of Edmond, said she recently injured her knee jumping on a trampoline with her children. She needs surgery, but without insurance it's unlikely to happen, she said.

Nellius works in a veterinary office, and is the mother of three children. She said she's contacted every charitable organization she can find, and all have told her the injury is more than they can help her with.

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