Krissy Williams, Pratt Institute

I am a junior at Pratt Institute with a major in Creative Writing and a minor in Psychology. After college, I hope to pursue a job in creative writing.   

My family and I qualify for Medicaid although we’ve had to switch to metro-plus because Medicaid wasn’t as accessible for our needs. Due to the limitations under Medicaid, I really struggled with being able to access certain doctors and therapy because a lot of therapists didn’t take my insurance. It took me months to find the care I needed. In one instance this caused me to go into debt, because I went into a therapy office thinking that they covered me. However, days after the session they informed me that it was not fully covered by my insurance and gave me a bill that I couldn’t pay off for months. I’ve also noticed the more advanced therapy treatments I need like EMDR are inaccessible to me because it is only for people who have the funds to pay out of pocket. My family and I also struggled with getting our prescriptions filled under Medicaid as many pharmacies, for example Walgreens didn’t accept our insurance.

I think we shouldn’t have to be upper class or rich to have good care. Lower-income individuals are always at the short end of the stick when it comes to these things. Therapists don’t take insurance because the health care system doesn’t pay them enough. In return this causes therapists to overcharge and only cater to upper-class people which leaves us with nothing. This is not fair to those who have chronic illnesses who cant afford to pay for treatment. It’s ridiculous we have to pay to get the help we need to live.

Madeline Loo, Hunter College

I am a sophomore at Hunter College studying media. I’m planning on working in the design field in the future like with UX/UI design. My aunt hurt her back during covid. It was right after she canceled her healthcare insurance, because she couldn’t afford to keep paying for it. She couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket to go to the doctor, so she just stayed at home and did home remedies to help her back. I have insurance covered though my parents’ family plan. I am concerned about losing insurance when I age out of my family’s plan.

During covid, my mom was switching jobs and lost the insurance for the family. We had to be extra cautious not to get sick or hurt, because then we would have to pay out of pocket even for a yearly check up. By having a more equitable health care system and universal health care, everyone can have access to the most basic human care, like a yearly check up or even going to see a dentist. By having those available, people can be more protected and more healthy.

Jodi Lewis, Hunter College

My name is Jodi Lewis and I am a junior at Hunter College student with a major in English Literature, minoring in Human Rights. After graduation I plan on attending graduate school in order to attain my dual degree Masters in Public Administration and Health Administration. There was never a time that I can remember that a family member was denied healthcare, however I am currently without health care because I am not a citizen of the United States nor am I a green card holder. As a result I am currently on Obama Care where I receive healthcare and medication at a reduced cost, which I have to renew each year because of my status. I am concerned that there may be a time that this benefit will no longer exist and I will have to pay for health care which is expensive. As a student who pays out of pocket and out of state tuition, which includes paying for my own books and transportation, I think it is important for healthcare to be easily accessible to those who experience financial hardship especially students like me. Health is a priority and a human right to everyone regardless of their status. The cost of living in New York is very high, and the last thing that I want to think about is not being able to see a doctor because I don’t have insurance. Having to factor in paying for rent, food along with school expenses, sometimes I feel stressed.

Azania “Sammie” Maitland, Hunter College

Azania “Sammie” Maitland is a rising Junior who majors in Political Science and minors in Legal Studies at Hunter College. She hopes to work for the State for 1-2 years prior to entering grad school to study Public Policy. Knowing the challenges that uninsured or underinsured New Yorker’s are facing, she feels privileged that she has a family that is more or less able to get by. As a full time college student she is insured via Medicaid and has struggled with the gap in adequate dental coverage. She’s a self-professed dental-phobe due to some bad experiences in the past, because finding a quality dentist with her insurance is a challenge. Unfortunately, the costs for dental work out of pocket can be astronomical. It worries her, if she gets a cavity, an infection, or needs something like a root canal – that she wouldn’t be able to get appropriate care to fix the issue.

Alexandra Bisagni, SUNY Cortland

I’m from Long Island, New York. I was always set on going to Cortland ever since I was a kid so I was very happy when I found out that I had been accepted. I wanted to go to SUNY Cortland for as long as I could remember because growing up my mom’s good friend that went to SUNY Oneonta told me that Cortland was a good state school to go to for exercise science. I’ve always wanted to major and get my degree in exercise science and this seemed like the best place for me to do it.

Besides school, I often worry about my health insurance and coverage. Growing up I always remember my mother struggling with healthcare for her and I. I am still currently under my mom’s health insurance however, it doesn’t do much for us because it honestly isn’t that great and it adds more stress into our daily lives. There are often times that I don’t even have health insurance since my parents are in and out of jobs and had to wait to be able to get coverage until they were employed. It made our lives very difficult, and still does. I’m 22 years old so I am becoming very concerned when I turn 26 and need to get off my mom’s health insurance. Although I do not personally handle my own medical bills right now, I often feel the stress of my mom and try to help her out as much as I can since I know she struggles.

I believe that health care should be free as it is in most European countries. I think it is extremely unfair that some people get worse health insurance than others just because they don’t have a job that’s as good, or a job at all. In fact, health insurance should be better for those that are unemployed living at a disadvantage due to the fact that it is proven that people living at a disadvantage encounter more health issues. I think that health insurance needs to be reconsidered.

Frank Denteh, SUNY Cortland

I am a SUNY Cortland student in the second year of my undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Science for Biomedical studies. I was born in Ghana and moved to the Bronx at a very young age. I chose to attend SUNY Cortland for many reasons, but finances were not a focus of mine. Cortland was appealing to me because it was far from home while also being close enough to be comfortable. When I came to my first open house before I confirmed my attendance at Cortland, I learned that the campus size and class and club opportunities were ideal for me, and I was set on where I wanted to go.

My mother is a nurse, and my insurance is through her job. The biggest stressors that have occurred for my family and I is medical debt and payments on medical debt. A big problem that my family has faced is feeling rushed to pay and having the idea that consequences will come from not paying them on time. I have a firm belief that equal health care is important to a successful society. Healthcare is one thing that our government can control and is a basic human need and right. I think that if the government wants to provide for the people and provide advocacy for the people, their first focus should be on making a form of state-wide healthcare. People struggle with so many things in everyday life and healthcare shouldn’t be one. People should be able to rely on their healthcare to be available and simple to use. Equality is a very important idea for me because I think that if New York state will be providing insurance it should have equal and basic plans for all. People get taxed for things such as fixing roads or community construction but not for healthcare and that’s not right.

Valerie Guerrero, SUNY Cortland 

I am a SUNY Cortland student in my fourth year. I am a dual major in Spanish and Sociology with a concentration in Criminology. I was born in the Dominican Republic where I lived until I was 12 when my mother decided it would be better for us in the United States. I currently live in the Bronx when I am not away at school. I have been at SUNY Cortland for my entire college career. I chose to go here because my high school volleyball coach attended SUNY Cortland and they promoted this college all throughout high school. Along with that, I wanted to go away to school, and Cortland provided the best EOP program for myself and my family.

In my family, insurance is through my mother through the government. There have been many times when a member of my family needed a prescription, but insurance wouldn’t cover it, so we simply just went without it. When I was in high school, there was a point when I didn’t have insurance, and we weren’t able to get our annual physicals; the school almost kicked us out. At this time, I didn’t have insurance because my mother was switching to a different insurance company due to my sister going upstate for school at it being too far for the insurance to cover. 

Recently, I went through a tough situation with medication from my insurance company. An uncommonly known fact of birth control prescriptions within the United States is that to refill a prescription of birth control pills a patient needs to attend an annual appointment with their OBGYN. When it was time for me to attend my appointment, I was in the Dominican Republic, and instead, I made an appointment with a doctor there. I was not aware that the United States doctor would not accept this visit and still wouldn’t prescribe my pills. If I were to go off these pills, since they’re hormonal, it would affect my body in multiple ways even if it were only for a few days. So, prior to running out of pills, I decided to go to the closest planned parenthood to me. Because of the type of insurance that I had, I was worried that I would have to pay completely out of pocket. Before insurance, the visit, tests, and my prescription would cost over $100 on top of the $105 I had already spent on transportation to and from the facility but luckily it was covered. If my doctor and insurance could have made an exception one time, I would have been able to avoid all of this. 

I feel that we need to make a universal, single-payer form of health care for so many reasons. With a universal form of healthcare, my mom wouldn’t have had to change my insurance because my sister went away to school, my family could have always gotten the prescriptions they needed at a decent cost, and I would have never had to go to planned parenthood which some insurance companies do not cover. If I am working and paying taxes in this country, I believe insurance shouldn’t be something I need to be concerned with.

Gabriella Lubrano, SUNY Cortland

I live in Staten Island, New York. I wasn’t always set on going to Cortland to be honest. I grew up going to private Catholic schools, so I always expected to go to a smaller school for college as well. But as it turns out, I ended up at Cortland and I couldn’t be more grateful! I am graduating from SUNY Cortland this semester, however I do intend to go to grad school hopefully in the fall. 

Although I am constantly stressed out about school, I also often stress about my insurance and health care coverage. Growing up I always remember my parents struggling with healthcare for my sister and I. I am still currently under my dad’s health insurance, however it doesn’t do much for me due to the fact that it isn’t too great and it adds more stress into my parent’s daily lives. Even after using our insurance at doctor’s visits, my parents still have to pay a costly amount which makes our lives very difficult. I often try to help them while I can since my sister is not yet old enough to work, but it is often very hard since when I am away at school I don’t have a job. I’m 22 years old so I am becoming very concerned when I turn 26 and need to get off my father’s health insurance. Even though I don’t take care of my medical bills right now I see the stress my parents and family get from it. 

I believe that health care should be free for everyone. It is not fair in any way that the people who don’t have as good a job have worse health insurance than those that do. In fact, it should be the other way around because those that do have good jobs have a higher chance to afford medical bills than those that do not. People often do not realize the stress that healthcare and insurance constantly are put on to a family.

Nicole Masaki, Canisius College

I attended college out of state (primary residence was California, but went to college in New York), thanks largely to the scholarships I received from a private college. While in college, I was on my mother’s health insurance plan she had through her job. Despite her working for a municipal government and in a unionized role, we still could not afford more than the lowest cost plan. And while I was in high school, it was great for local care especially because I do not have major health concerns. 

But when I went to New York for college, I quickly learned that the health insurance plan I thought worked for me, only worked because of where I was located. While in college, I did not have access to a primary care doctor or preventative healthcare. During the fall semester of my junior year, I woke up one morning and my shoulder was stiff and sore: it even hurt to put on my jacket or backpack. Several days went by and one night I suddenly got very dizzy and my whole arm went numb. With both sides of my family having heart conditions, I knew this wasn’t the time to worry about coverage: I needed to go to the emergency room. We called our campus’ Public Safety and they drove us to the emergency room that was only a few blocks away from campus. 

When I checked in, they of course asked for insurance. So I handed them my one and only insurance card. In California this was all I had ever needed. But the staff working asked where my second card was, she was only familiar with New York health insurances. 

Shortly after I was seen, I explained to the ER nurse what I had been experiencing the last few days and the reason I came in today–family history. I was hooked up to a heart monitor, a nurse pricked my finger to check my blood sugar levels and I was taken in for an x-ray. Thankfully I was not seriously ill: only a pinched nerve. I was asked if I wanted a prescription for a higher dosage of ibuprofen than what I could get over the counter. I declined, I was back to worrying about the cost. I went home and did my best to rest, well the best that a full time college student could rest. 

Two weeks later my mother called me. She asked why I hadn’t given the hospital my insurance– She had just received a bill for the full cost of my hospital visit. After calling our insurance company, they informed us it was not “medically necessary” for me to go to the emergency room. Of course they didn’t take into account that at midnight the only health care open was the emergency rooms, and I would not have known it wasn’t medically necessary unless I went to the emergency room. After months of fighting both our insurance provider and the local hospital, we managed to get our bill down to the $500 maximum for emergency visits. 

My first job after college was environmental justice based community organizing in the San Francisco Bay Area. My first question was not how much I would make, room for growth, or company policy–It was healthcare coverage. The cheapest plan available to me was $300 a month. I was expected to spend ¼ of my monthly income on health insurance “just in case”. With rent, high cost of living, and my six month grace period on my student loans coming up, I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance through my employer. And the Department of Education would not take “sorry I need health insurance” as a valid reason to not pay back my loans. I have never in my life felt so fortunate to be a healthy adult with no chronic health conditions. 

I have personally seen how flawed both the healthcare provided is and the health insurance industry. We need a healthcare system that is easy to understand and works for all people. When individuals are seeking healthcare whether that be preventative, treatment for long or short term conditions, or emergency care they should be able to focus on their health and wellbeing not just what they are able to afford before going broke.

John Gualpa, BMCC

It is my second year at BMCC and my major is business management. My goal is to finish my associates degree and pursue a career in real estate. I am doing business because I find the classes interesting. My plan is to eventually start my own real estate business. 

I am thankful that my parents have quality health insurance and I am able to be covered under their insurance plan. However, my cousin is not so lucky and I would like to talk about his experience with the healthcare system in New York. 

My cousin is 19 and has health insurance under his parents plan but his parent’s plan does not cover many health care costs. While playing football my cousin dislocated his shoulder and his health insurance didn’t cover the costs of medical exams so he had to pay $2,000 out of pocket. His insurance also does not cover the full cost of medicines that he needs. For example, when a medicine costs $180, he has to pay $100 and his insurance only covers $80, less than half of the cost. 

He often cannot count on his health insurance when accidents happen. One time at work my cousin got in an accident and got a piece of metal in his eye, and his insurance does not cover eye doctors, so he had to pay $200 out of pocket for the exam. 

Next year, after I graduate from BMCC I will move out of my parents house and get a job. I will look for my own health insurance coverage then. I believe that universal health care is a good idea because it will help out a lot of low-income people who don’t get paid well at their jobs. It will help people pay for other expenses such as rent, groceries, and paying for their children’s school supplies instead of worrying about the high costs of healthcare. The current price of some medicines is ridiculous. For example, eye drops can cost $300 if insurance doesn’t cover them and this makes basic healthcare needs inaccessible to all. This needs to be changed by passing universal healthcare in NYS.