Financially, at one point, Florida Wright had a balance of more than one million dollars in medical bills that accrued from her visits and stays at the ER and hospital. One would think that with that cost of care, Florida would see significant improvement in her health, but unfortunately, she did not. All because she wasn’t insured.
“The insurance companies are inflating the costs,” said Florida, a resident of Pace, MS, financially and medically burdened because she did not have insurance. “We need some cap control on insurance so that everyone can afford it,”
Florida has always had asthma, and for a while, her condition caused her to have attacks severe enough to require ER trips roughly every three months. Whenever she went to the ER, they would transfer her to the hospital, where she’d stay for a couple of days or until her doctors thought she was better.
Florida also dealt with malignant hypertension brought on by a sudden rise in blood pressure which can affect many organs. For more than seven years, her systolic blood pressure, which represents the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats, never came below 200, showing that her condition was seeing no improvement.
The common theme here is that despite consistently having problems and going to the hospital, Florida’s condition never improved. She continued going to the ER for her asthma, and her blood pressure never decreased. Not being insured played a significant role in Florida’s never getting the necessary care to improve her condition, but it’s not for lack of trying.
When Florida first started having problems with her health, she applied for Medicaid disability as her conditions disrupted her life and made her make frequent ER visits. However, she was denied repeatedly. Without insurance, doctors did not give her the treatment she needed to improve her condition.
Florida can recount numerous times when she did not receive adequate care. There were times when doctors came to see her and spent very little time in the room. There were other times that doctors refused to refer her to specialists she needed because she was uninsured, assuming she would be unable to pay out of pocket. One incident Florida remembers acutely is being in a hospital needing a cardiologist. They said it would be $250 per visit, and she would need to come to his office before he would treat her because he needed to get paid, too.
“Just because a person is poor, just because a person doesn’t have insurance, doesn’t mean that they are irresponsible,” Florida said. “It means that some of us have responsibilities that others are unaware of. We all need insurance.”
Florida often felt doctors didn’t have her best interest in mind because she was uninsured. They often rushed her out of the hospital, and without information for follow-up treatments, she needed to get better. Florida has had an asthma attack, going to the ER on a Monday, and being discharged the following Friday despite seeing improvement in her condition. She was back in the emergency room the week before.
Due to not being referred to the specialists she needed and not receiving the follow-up treatments, Florida’s condition continued to worsen for seven years. Doctors brought her family in and told them there was nothing else they could do, thinking she would die. To get paid, Florida believes her doctors sent her sisters to the social security office, with their recommendation, to reach Florida on Medicaid disability. Eight days later, she was approved based on the same problems she was battling the entire time.
Although Florida eventually got health insurance, it was too late. The damage done is irreversible. She didn’t have the resources she needed to receive the preventative treatments and now has more diagnoses than most people can live with.