“I will shortly be homeless”: Carolyn B’s Story

Unfortunately I think there are more companies than we think who either cut benefits or get rid of employees who "cost too much" with their insurance. I am an example of that. 

I lost my job Dec 20, 2012 (Merry Christmas) over being "too expensive" for my health insurance. I had 2 cancers in one year, have a PhD and taught and had to work full time though surgeries, chemo. They kept trying to push me to quit, finally accused me of taking the job just so I'd have insurance. 

I will shortly be homeless because my unemployment compensation has run out. Extended unemployment benefits were cut off in DC (although the state max after fed taxes was $196/week which does not get you very far and delays the train wreck), savings are gone, and to make matters worse I live in a state that did not expand Medicaid. I guess the plan is to let all the poor people die and solve the "poor" problem that way. Our governor is "proud" he didn't expand Medicaid. 

I am contemplating [going public with my story] although if I do that it may trash my job search since then it will be out there that one of my cancers has no cure (long life span though - follicular non-hodgkin’s lymphoma - the other two cancers were breast on either side 10 years apart). Actually if it gets out there that I even had cancer to begin with, that info alone might sink my job search.

For a supposedly civilized country we certainly appear be becoming more and more self centered as a society. Neither your family nor mine had any idea we were about ready to have the unthinkable happen. Stuff just happens sometimes. We buy insurance for that purpose. Sometimes we need to use it.

To support Carolyn B., please visit: http://www.gofundme.com/78d3nc

JULY 2015 UPDATE: Because my state did not expand medicaid, I have to pay full price ($798/mo) for health insurance. Takes all of my adjunct teaching to pay for that and my MD Anderson Cancer center payments on my bill there so they don't cut me off. I just had one of the courses I teach, that started last week, cancelled due to low enrollment. Now I won't make enough money the next two months to make those payments. I might as well live in a least developed nation for all the access to health care I will have then.

My choice is rent or health care. I chose health care because I have a cancer with no cure. Legally I am homeless, and in a couple of more weeks will actually be living in my car as the family whose basement I am living in is moving out of state. If I am lucky I will get the professional job I interviewed for several weeks ago, although I don't have enough money to actually move there. I now understand why medical bills are a leading cause of bankruptcy. If I still had my job (and I worked through chemo, they fired me after chemo) I would not be living through this financial nightmare, I wouldn't' be cutting corners on health care. Haven't been to the dentist or eye doctor in 3 years (and I wear glasses). I need to take care of other (more minor) health issues and I am not doing any of that because above all I need to keep my health insurance and access to cancer care.

Why, in the USA, must families have to worry about losing their health insurance when they actually have to use it? Why must families go through what Deanna Fei's family went through when they have a child with expensive medical needs? Why must people have to worry about being fired if they have an expensive illness or accident? Why is a human life worth so little that even using your insurance for a catastrophic event, insurance that you paid into to and is supposed to have no limits, means it is acceptable corporate behavior to try to get rid of you/your family as an expense? Why must people be forced to make a choice between which basic need they will take care of and which ones they will go without if they end up in a financial bind with health care?

I hope Deanna Fei's book helps raise enough awareness of these problems and the impact it has on individuals, families...that maybe this might start to change.