Sunday, August 30, 2015

I'm In Idaho's Health Care Gap

Last summer I injured my foot while walking. It hurt, but not much, until February of this year. Then the pain became intense at times.

The Gap

I no longer had health insurance. My "Affordable Care Act" insurance was cut off at the end of December 2014. They said I didn't earn enough money to qualify during 2015.

I was told to apply for Medicare instead - but my state, Idaho, didn't expand the Medicare program (more than twenty states opted out of the Medicare expansion) so I fell into what is called the "health care gap." Here in Idaho, 70,000 people are in the gap, without health insurance of any kind. My Medicare application was denied. No surprise.

I will stay in this health care gap until I'm 65, or unless I become disabled before then. I'm not disabled because I can still do my regular work, which is done sitting down, writing on the internet.

Because I have no insurance, I waited, hoping my foot would stop hurting. I researched on the internet and decided I had either a fracture, cuboid syndrome, or a bone spur.

After some months, I realized it wouldn't go away on its own, so I found a clinic with a price I could afford, and made an appointment. Because I was a new patient I had to wait over a month for that appointment.

Their x-rays showed I have a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of my right foot. I'm walking with a cane to keep weight off that foot.

The clinic was supposed to make a referral to a podiatrist for me, and I waited more than three weeks before the podiatry office phoned me. Then they gave me an appointment almost a month away. (Late September.) Whatever it costs, I will pay out of pocket or owe. I hope I won't need an operation.

That's how the Affordable Care Act is working (or not working) for this low-income American. It was nice the one year I had it; I was able to see doctors when I needed them and got things done I've been needing to do for the last five years.

Fortunately I work at home (on the internet) so I can stay off the foot most of the time. I go out only one day a week - on Sunday - to go to church and to go shopping. I have to use the little golf carts at Walmart because walking on their concrete floors tears up my foot, causing more pain. Today after church I went to lunch with a friend, at Shari's restaurant in Coeur d'Alene.

I don't know how long it will be before I can qualify for health insurance again. I hope next year they will reinstate it, though my income hasn't gone up much. I used to earn more, when I was writing for - but that site began to fail late in 2012 and went out of business as of October 2014, and I'm still working on building my income back through other channels. I don't understand how people make money quickly on the internet. For me it has always been a long drawn out process with incremental and slow increases.

Until last December I'd never heard of the health care gap. Now it is my reality.


Photo credit: Pixabay

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