If you’ve been following the debate around closing the coverage gap that leaves at least 54,000 Nebraskans without health insurance, you may have heard Lincoln resident Amanda Gershon speak.
Amanda has been very brave to share her story with state senators and the public. She has an unknown autoimmune disease that leaves her unable to work as much as she would like so she does not have health insurance and has not yet been classified as disabled, which would allow her to receive Medicaid coverage.
Amanda is one of those Nebraskans living a frightening, unstable life every day in the coverage gap.
Here is what she told the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on December 2nd.
My name is Amanda Gershon. Some of you may recognize me from last year. I have undiagnosed autoimmune issues. One in 20 Americans has an autoimmune. My own body is destroying itself. The damage autoimmune does isn’t reversible. There is no cure but there are medications that slow the progress and destruction. If my body continues without treatment it could affect my liver and kidneys to the point that I wouldn’t be able to take the medication. Sometimes leading to death.
I have no insurance. I make less than poverty. I don’t qualify for subsidies or Medicaid. The last year has been hard. I never expected to get this sick so quickly but here I am. I have applied for disability but I am stuck waiting for everything to go through. And as we know Medicaid isn’t instantly granted with disability. So I have to wait and hope I don’t get sick.
I’m losing my hair in clumps. I’ve lost 20 percent of my body weight in 3 months and I don’t know why and I have nowhere to go to find out. I hate the ER but I’ve been there 3 times this year. Twice because my heart wasn’t beating correctly. And I have to file bankruptcy again. I filed bankruptcy when I was 22 on $60000 in medical bills. I’m getting to that point again. And I can’t keep doing this. I can’t.
For the few years of my life I had health insurance I had good credit, I had a home, I had vehicles, I had food on my table, I had no worries. I was out of debt and had recovered from a bankruptcy. But with no insurance and back to that starting point again.
The worst part is I am not the only person who lives like this. Many people across the country and in Nebraska live this way. In Lincoln. In Omaha. In the small towns.
But the true cost of failing to implement Medicaid expansion can’t be measured in dollars. The true cost is in the time lost, too sick to hang out with friends, too tired to celebrate holidays with family, too low to help a neighbor.
Not being able to participate in the things that truly make us Nebraskan is the real cost.
Amanda also has posted some videos with more details of her story and struggle to get health insurance on YouTube.
All Nebraskans need health insurance to get the medical care they need. Closing the coverage gap is a common-sense solution that not only will bring billions of our tax dollars back to our state, but will ensure our friends and neighbors like Amanda can get quality, life-saving health care.