When you hear that millions of adults in this country lack health insurance, whom do you picture?
The unemployed, certainly. And the underemployed: those twenty-somethings working at McJobs and earning less than [DOLLAR]20,000.
But here's the picture we often miss: 48 million adults went without health insurance in 2005 -- and 67 percent of them are in households in which at least one family member is working full-time, according to a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that researches health-care issues. More than 9 million of these working adults make more than [DOLLAR]35,000 a year -- yet they can't afford or don't qualify for coverage. More and more, they're people just like you.
They're new parents like the Barrs, in Denver, small business owners who, because they don't qualify for group-rate policies, paid for maternity, delivery, and postnatal care with credit cards. They're like the Duckworths, in Mi Wuk Village, California, parents of five who make too much money to be eligible for state aid but who can't afford private insurance and are now postponing medical care while they wait for a new employer-based plan to kick in. They're fathers like Eric Woodland, in Springfield, Ohio, who's lucky enough to have a job with a major corporation that provides health insurance for his family -- only it doesn't cover his daughter's asthma care.
In short, they're parents who are doing everything possible to provide for their children's health and well-being, but when it comes to that most fundamental of safety nets -- health insurance -- they're helpless to stop the unraveling. Read on for their stories.
Melinda Marshall, mom of three, is the author of Good Enough Mothers: Changing Expectations for Ourselves, published by Peterson's.