Marlyn Saona, BMCC

My name is Marlyn Saona, and I am a student at BMCC. My major is business management and this is my last semester at BMCC. Once I graduate, I plan on transferring to a four-year college to get my Bachelor’s Degree. 

For healthcare, I rely on my mother’s health insurance. For the most part it is fine, except when I needed braces my mom’s healthcare was not adequate. I needed braces in order to present myself to the world professionally. However, braces are very expensive and my mom’s insurance did not cover them. My mom and I kept going to many different orthodontists to see if we could get them for free, but they said that we didn’t qualify for free braces and that we had to pay for them. It ended up costing around $3,000 in total and my mom had to pay out of pocket. My parents paid little by little each month but it was stressful to pay for them on top of other bills my family already had. 

I also wanted to share my cousin’s experience with healthcare in NYS. When my cousin first came to the United States two years ago he was 21 years old. He wanted to get a physical but he did not have health insurance. He had no other option but to pay full price for his doctor’s visit and it was very expensive. Since then, my cousin hasn’t been able to go to the doctor because of how expensive it is. He doesn’t get check-ups because he is afraid of the bill. Healthcare should not be so expensive that people are avoiding necessary doctor visits just because of the high costs. 

Aging out of my mom’s health care worries me because I want to continue going to the doctor but it is too much money. Hopefully by that time I will be able to afford insurance, but I should be able to get it whether or not I have a job because health care should be a human right. 

I think everyone should get healthcare because you can get sick out of nowhere and you should go to the doctor without having to pay exorbitant costs for it. In NY a lot of incidents happen out of nowhere. Students especially should have guaranteed healthcare because they are supposed to be focusing on school, not whether or not they can pay their healthcare bills. Everyone should have the same healthcare options no matter what their income is.

Angela Shin, Hunter College

I am a senior attending Hunter College and thanks to having health insurance, I am able to visit the doctor to get my yearly shots and go to the dentist to get my check ups without having to worry about the cost. I am one of the many people out there that are fortunate enough to have medical insurance to cover the expensive cost of healthcare. But, even with insurance, sometimes people still need to cover the rest of the fees for their surgery or medicine that are expensive. In fact, I once changed my primary doctor and visited a new doctor’s office to get a check up and a blood test. A few weeks later, I received a bill asking me to pay for visiting the doctor. I was confused because from what I know, my health insurance always covered my primary doctor visits. In addition, there are many people in the United States that do not have medical insurance. These people either have to pay for the expensive checkups and medicine out of their own pockets or cannot afford to pay for it at all. I have heard many horror public health stories where people are refusing to take the ambulance or refusing to get treated when they are sick or injured due to hospital bills ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. People would rather suffer alone and hold in their pain which can be fatal and even lead to death than have a tremendous debt due to the lack of proper health insurance. 

Medicine, like insulin, is highly needed for people with diabetes, and hospital bills from treatments, checkups, and surgeries should not cost so much to the point that people are refusing to go to hospitals. I have a friend who once asked for my dentist because she said the dentist she goes to in Manhattan charged too much for simple checkups. My brother in law says he doesn’t like going to the dentist because the last time he went to take out a few of his teeth, it cost him hundreds of dollars due to the lack of health insurance. As his father has the same issue with insurance, his father hesitates to go to the dentist even when he has severe tooth pain. There are people who are hesitant to go to hospitals when they are sick due to their immigrant status as the lack of health insurance means paying a lot of money for treatment. 

I wish that the higher ups who represent us Americans would care more about their people than money. There are other countries out there that have better healthcare than America, where they value their people more than money. I get it, money is important as it helps the world function. But it is hard enough for people to make a living, especially during this pandemic. There needs to be more affordable and accessible health insurance for all, despite where they come from, their immigrant status, age, gender, employment, and etc.  People’s lives matter more and it should be a priority. After all, what is money if there are no people around? 

Isabellah Paul, Hunter College

My name is Isabellah Paul and I attend CUNY Hunter. I live in a household with a single mother of four and complications regarding my mother’s health insurance has made things difficult for my family and I to receive basic services. My mother works as a government employee and so she is granted health insurance by the state. While we are listed under her insurance, there are often instances when I receive services and get a bill sent to me in the mail for any extraneous expenses expected to be covered covered by my mother’s insurance, but not. These bills often can go as high as $400, money that I did not expect to pay out of my pocket. 

As a full time college student funding most of my monetary expenses independently, it can be difficult paying bills for routine services such as a checkup, physical exam, or even receiving shots or a COVID test. Being under my mother’s insurance would prompt one to think that most expenses would be covered other than the copay. However these laboratory bills, of which my mother never receives when she goes to the doctor or urgent care, pose as a major fiscal inconvenience and burden to me, as a student. 

Advocating for better healthcare and promoting more accessibility for basic services proves an important step in reforming public health. Health insurance drastically impacts the ability of individuals to receive affordable treatment, and extraneous bills and payments make it difficult for people to fund such services. The public health sector has a significant impact on individual’s ability to carry out their daily lives. Improving healthcare would have a significant effect on its accessibility and affordability, thus aiding more of the population. 

Nicole Cordero, Hunter College

I’m a junior at Hunter College majoring in Political Science with a minor in Women and Gender Studies and a minoring in Legal Studies. After graduating college, I plan to attend law school to get my J.D. and become a licensed legal attorney.

There have been a couple of times where my loved ones needed better health care but weren’t able to get it. During my senior year of high school, my father got very sick and was diagnosed with a disease that affected his kidneys, and his body broke down proteins. It was a sporadic disease that not much of the population dealt with, so it took a while to figure out what was happening to him and why. He grew weak, lost and gained extreme weight, and had to fight through unemployment for medical reasons. He mostly got his healthcare through his job. He needed to get more help medically, and it was scary that at this time, in the early phases of his illness, he couldn’t go to the doctor and get the help he needed earlier when his life was at risk. He also had trouble getting the medicine he needed to treat and maintain his illness after being diagnosed. The insurance he got at his new job didn’t completely cover the medicine or his treatments, so he’d have to cover the rest out of pocket. It has always been an issue for my father to get full healthcare coverage and find good health insurance that would help him.

I do have health insurance, and I’m covered mostly through my mom from Medicare. I have HealthFirst, as do my sisters. Aging out of my mom’s health insurance plan is scary, and I’m not looking forward to making that huge transition. I am not struggling with the high cost of medical bills or medical debt, but I know my father is dealing with medical debt from the previous situation. Not having a job or not working while incapable of doing so due to medical reasons was very difficult, and my father had to take out loans to pay for rent and cover medical bills. It was a tough time, but my father is significantly better now and has the medicine to treat his illness.

Shady Tadroos, SUNY New Paltz

I’m currently majoring in Theater and Communication as a minor. I am a fifth year student at SUNY New Paltz. After I graduate college, I am looking into the acting industry and trying to become an actor. I am covered through my parents’ health insurance, and I am concerned about losing my health insurance. I know that we had to change insurance a bunch of times, because we stopped being eligible for the previous ones. My parents have not held a job that provided us with health insurance. Thank God my family and I have been healthy, so we are not struggling with high medical bills or debt right now. Even though my family have never struggled with health care, I know people have broken their finger and can’t go get checked because they only have Medicaid and don’t get as much coverage. I believe that considering how advanced this country is we should have a better health care system. If you put a little more taxes towards medical care instead of other things, I believe it would make a huge difference in the quality of care. Universal health care is good because everyone has the right to live and lead a healthy life. We have no control over health, and having people pay that much to get help is absurd. Specifically people that are struggling financially and don’t have access to health insurance. You’re just adding more stress with debt if they choose to get the help that they need.

Kisbel Estevez, SUNY New Paltz

My name is Kisbel Estevez. I am studying Sociology with a concentration in Criminology, and a double minor in Deaf Studies and Communication. I am a senior at SUNY New Paltz. I plan on attending Graduate school in Manhattan. There have been many occasions where myself and/or my family members have needed medical assistance but we’re told our insurance wasn’t accepted so we were turned away. We were forced to deal with it ourselves most of the time. I am covered through my mother’s job, I have Health First Medicaid. I am very much concerned about losing my health benefits; health benefits are not something that comes easy to minorities in America, sad to say. I am struggling with costs of medical bills. Hospital visits can be overwhelming. It can be a back and forth dispute between hospital expenses and my insurance covering it. It is very unreasonable how we are not able to have accessible healthcare for all when many other places around the world are able to achieve this. Universal healthcare is a good idea, because a universal system doesn’t rely solely on government funding. It can provide better coverage for every person. We need to put more efforts into providing a more accessible healthcare system which provides TO ALL.

Jessica Ezem, SUNY New Paltz

My name is Jessica Ezem. I am a Theater major with Concentration in Performance and Minor in Black Studies. I am a Junior at SUNY New Paltz. I have an idea of what I want to do after I graduate college but I have no concrete plan. My family and I have never encountered the issue of not receiving healthcare when needed. I have health insurance covered by Medicaid under my parents. I fear I’ll lose coverage from aging out of my parents plan. I know sooner or later I will have to apply and have my own plan. My family does not struggle with medical bills, but I do have people close to me that do because of their insurance coverage. We need a more equitable health care system; everyone should have access to resources to take care of themselves and their health. The determined factor of life and death shouldn’t be based on the amount of money a person makes. Someone shouldn’t have to decide between paying bills for their health or paying their rent bill. Universal healthcare is a great idea; it ensures healthcare for all. 

Aryssa Hernandez, SUNY New Paltz

My name is Aryssa Hernandez. I am studying Psychology with a concentration in Biology. I am a Junior at SUNY New Paltz. I plan on obtaining a master In Psychological Counseling after college. There was a time my grandma needed healthcare and wasn’t able to get it. My grandma was unable to get healthcare due to her residence status. She had to pay out of pocket for her bills which was a hardship on the family. I have health insurance through my parents’ jobs.

I am also concerned about losing my health benefits due to aging out of my parents plan, because my parents will no longer be able to keep me on their plan once I turn 26. 26 seems far but it is around the corner. My parents have never lost a job that provided us insurance, but I see them put up with a job they hate in order to keep their health insurance. My family has not experienced COVID medical bills or long term symptoms, but as someone who used to work in the emergency, this was very common. Health isn’t a privilege, it is a right. Many are stuck in a toxic work place just to make sure that their families have health insurance and this takes a mental toll. Additionally, it causes the pile up of medical bills which can cause detrimental effects on a family. Universal healthcare is a good idea because it would act an equity as health is a right and access to healthcare is also a right.

Sukyung Kim, Pratt Institute

I am a Communications Design student with an emphasis in Graphic Design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. My family struggles a lot with healthcare because a lot of hospitals and medical services near us don’t use our insurance, so even though we’ve never been denied medical services, we still struggle a lot to find in-network services. My parents’ jobs don’t provide insurance, so we all have to apply by ourselves, and it’s expensive. Currently, I am using the school’s student insurance; I switched because of complications with my parents’ insurance, but going through the school is harder than using other insurance companies because I didn’t receive any guidance – I have to find the information out on my own. 

I used my school insurance last semester, but the bill (which included the last bill from the past year until now) wasn’t charged until a week ago in a bulk amount of over $1000 rather than in the smaller, but more frequent, amounts that it was supposed to be charged in. I have to settle the bill in a week, otherwise I’m going to be charged an extra $200 fine; I’m also unable to register for my classes next semester because of this fee that I have to pay, so I’m stuck because I can’t get this amount of money on such short notice.

A more equitable healthcare system would be less burdensome for families that have issues to worry about besides healthcare. So many different things in life require insurance, and that costs a lot of money on top of expenses like rent. With universal healthcare, we wouldn’t have to worry as much about hospital bills; we could just focus on recovery instead of stressing over how much debt we may have after recovery. Under a single-payer system, no one would have to worry about whether or not they will be treated, no matter how significant the illness is. It’s better to focus on life and death without the variable of money and feelings of stress due to the potential of leaving debt for family members.

Jade McKinney, Pratt Institute

I’m a first year student studying film at Pratt Institute. After school, I’m going to become a director and open my own production company. I have needed healthcare and haven’t been able to get it. Very recently, the plan I was on changed from covering my prescriptions and pharmaceuticals to a different setup. The new plan covers me and my parents, but not my prescriptions, and I need my prescriptions to be able to function. Going into the pharmacy, standing in line, and getting told that I couldn’t get my prescription- not even getting a call from my insurance plan to tell me what’s happening with my plan, not even a heads up- was a lot. I was told that it changed because my dad had retired, but I don’t stay in touch with my dad, so I wouldn’t have known.


I have government insurance, and it used to allow me to go anywhere in the country and get covered when my dad was on active duty. Now, because he’s retired, I can only go to certain military bases or hospitals to get covered. I’m very concerned about losing benefits due to aging out of my parent’s plan. With my current insurance, I have it as long as I’m in school until I’m 25, but if one day my dad decides to take me off his plan, he could. So every time I go into the pharmacy, I have to wonder “Am I going to have healthcare today?” Or I have to call my main practitioner and ask, “Am I still enrolled with you?” It’s really intense.


I believe that it’s important to have a more equitable healthcare system in New York because healthcare is a right. People deserve to have access to hospitals and to other things that they need, and they shouldn’t have to be struggling to pay bills or worrying about if they can eat or get their medication. That’s not fair. People deserve to be treated, even if they’re just scared they might be sick and want to go in for a checkup. There’s no price you can put on somebody’s health. That’s why universal healthcare is important- because at the end of the day, when it’s profit versus health, there shouldn’t even be a competition. It should be health every time, a public good every time.