Sunday, July 12, 2009

Andrew in Minerva, Ohio

Andrew in Minerva, Ohio
Originally uploaded by walk4healthcare

I met Andrew and his family at the Dairy Queen in Minerva. They have a complicated story. First, there are four members of the family. The youngest daughter who was too shy to get her picture taken (even with her parents and older sister holding the camera) is hidden behind the three. So she’s in the picture, but invisible (a parable for the uninsured). Her story will come soon enough.

First, Andrew. He's a trucker, worked for CR England for four years and during his employment (when he had health insurance) he had an operation for a total hip replacement. “I’ve had this problem for years,” he told me. “Pain in the hip—both hips actually—and it became dangerous to use pain-killers for a long time. So, I was glad to have the operation.” But the company laid him off ten days after the surgery and he lost his insurance. The complained for wrongful termination and he was actually offered a job to return (Andrew knew the company was at fault) but this 'new job' did not offer any healthcare insurance. So he had to quit. “My recovery is still slow,” and with such a complicated surgery, follow-up is necessary. But Andrew can’t afford the $300 fee for any of the appointments with the surgeon.

Now the story of the little girl. I didn’t get her name—let’s call her ‘Jane Doe.’ Her mother told me, “She’s got a terrible problem with her teeth, the dentist said bacteria is eating at her teeth and it could go to her brain.” But because the family lost their coverage, “We’ve had to cancel the operation.”

So, why is ‘Jane Doe’ hiding from the camera? Is it because she’s a shy four year-old? Or because she's already old enough to be embarrassed about her teeth? Or perhaps she’s traumatized by the whole situation, even if she doesn’t fully understand it. Or is she simply invisible much like many of the other uninsured.

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