May 01, 2015
By: Keena Hicks, Philadelphia
As a part-time health aide, I care for two seniors, one with cancer and the other with Parkinson’s. It’s hard work, but I know I’m making a difference in people’s lives. Still, even though I help take care of their health, I was having trouble taking care of my own.
I’m a 48-year-old single mom in Philadelphia, I don’t get health coverage through my job and I can’t afford insurance on my own. Fortunately, my adopted 6-year-old son, Makye, whom I fostered since he was 6 months, is covered by Medicaid.
When I heard about affordable coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, I tried to apply for a plan last year but came away empty-handed. I didn’t qualify for assistance to pay for private coverage, and I wasn’t eligible for Medicaid because of Pennsylvania’s very low income limits.
It seemed crazy to me, but because Pennsylvania had not expanded Medicaid at the time, I fell into a “coverage gap.” I wasn’t the only one: Millions of uninsured hard-working Americans in states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility are struggling in that coverage gap as well.