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.
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.
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.
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.
My name is Isabelle Pastore and I attend SUNY Cortland full time. I am a senior now, but I have been here since freshman year. I am from Long Island, more specifically Stony Brook. My Senate District is 2 and my Assembly District is 4. I decided to go to SUNY Cortland because my parents only allowed me to apply to SUNY schools. Cortland seemed like a good choice because I absolutely loved it when I visited. I toured a couple of other schools, but Cortland truly felt like home. A few of my friends were going to Cortland too, so I knew I would be comfortable here. I am majoring in Communications and I love it, but I’m not really sure what I want to do in the future.
Thankfully, my Mom’s job provides my family with really good insurance. My dad and brother both have diabetes, which is very costly. I don’t know much about how insurance covers their illness, but I believe most of it is covered. Although most of it is covered, it’s difficult to get the supplies they need and is still very expensive for us. The pandemic was a difficult time for my family and I. During COVID-19, my Dad unfortunately lost his job. Fortunately, my Mom also works so we still had an income, but it wasn’t enough for all of our everyday costs. It was hard for awhile and there was even a time where I thought I would have to transfer home to attend school there. Luckily, my mom is the one who gives us insurance, so we didn’t have to worry about that. I am very worried about paying for my own insurance in the future because I don’t know what my future holds and if I’ll even ever get a job. I think we need a more equitable health care system because it is very expensive and hectic. I know many people who don’t even have insurance because they can’t afford it. Healthcare is vital and everyone should be able to have it.