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Uninsured Ohioans: The People Behind the Statistics

March 13, 2007


More than 1.3 million Ohioans don't have health insurance, and there's a new effort to put a human face behind that statistic, by collecting the stories of people living without health coverage. With the Governor's State of the State address coming up, Cathy Levine with Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio says policy makers need to hear these stories. She says she's heard from some state legislators that there's no health insurance problem because people can get the help they need in an emergency room.

"When they go to the emergency room, they face large bills that they can't pay. And they don't get good follow-up care because the emergency room is there to treat emergencies, not to provide ongoing medical care."

Levine has heard from people who can't afford vital medications, get needed surgery, or see a doctor for chronic illnesses.

Renee Myers of Bellaire used to get coverage through her husband's job in a coal mine, until he lost that job due to an injury. As a Head Start teacher, she earns slightly too much to get parent's Medicaid coverage, but not enough to pay for private health insurance for her and her husband.

"He has high blood pressure, and right now he's not even getting that medicine, because he doesn't even have a treating physician because he has no coverage."

Baptist Pastor Darrell Grayson in Springfield doesn't qualify for federal coverage for his family of seven, but can't afford private insurance premiums. He pays out-of-pocket for urgent care for his kids, and he prays that no serious health emergencies or chronic health problems come up.

"If something was to happen, we would be one major medical event away from being bankrupt."

Pastor Grayson says if eligibility were raised for the Healthy Start program, his five children would be covered.

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OH