MIDWEST CITY — Sherry Page woke up from a leukemia-
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.
"Basically I've decided I'll have to suck it up and live with it," Nellius said.
Insurance meant vaccines cost more
Tami Hannah, 35, of Norman, said if she had preventive health care, her health would not be on the decline. Hannah said she suffers from chronic bronchitis and has four aching teeth.
"My biggest fear is that something is going to happen to me, and I'm not going to be able to take care of my kids," Hannah said. "But what am I supposed to do, stand out on a street corner and beg for spare change?"
Robyn Woody, 33, of Choctaw, said she and her husband, Bo, 40, are self-employed and at one time had major medical insurance to cover inpatient services. Woody said she canceled it because she felt they were being penalized for having it.
"When the receptionist at a pediatrician's office asked about insurance, I made the mistake of saying we only have major medical," Woody said. "Because we had some form of insurance we didn't qualify for the state shots. Instead of paying $40 for my son's shots to start school it cost us $300."
Woody said they pay cash for office visits, but a private physician has turned them away because they didn't have
Matias Menis, 30, of Norman, said he grew up in Argentina where health care is available to everyone. He said he can afford $22 a month life insurance, but not health insurance.
"I'm surprised that Argentina, a third world country, places health care at such a priority for its people, but here in the United States there are so many people who can't access it," Menis said.