Sarah* is from Wichita. She spent her career in law enforcement and is now retired. She has a 29-year-old son who suffers from addiction. It’s because of him that Sarah began her advocacy for Medicaid expansion, even though talking about his addiction is painful for her. Sarah’s son has no health insurance and there isn’t an option that he can afford. As a single adult, he doesn’t qualify for Medicaid. Sarah has become an advocate for him and other Kansans like him who fall into the Medicaid coverage gap.

(*Sarah agreed to share her story publicly under a pseudonym to protect her and her son’s identities.)

Sarah says her son wants to get help for his addiction, but without insurance it just isn’t possible. He doesn’t qualify for subsidies for marketplace insurance, so his health care would all come out of pocket. The cost of treatment would be too much for him or Sarah. Sarah’s son couldn’t work for over a year because he couldn’t get treatment and his health continued to suffer. He needs an in-patient treatment center, but it’s not doable without insurance.

While advocating for her uninsured son, people have told Sarah to try to get her son to qualify for disability. He would be able to be on the Medicaid program this way and have insurance for his health care. Sarah says “my son isn’t disabled” and she wants there to be an option for health insurance in Kansas for his needs. Sarah wants a solution that’s going to work for him.

Sarah is frustrated that her son can’t get any care. She says that her son goes through episodes and he ends up seeking care at the hospital. There he can’t be turned away, but the bills that they receive for that care are tremendous. She refuses to accept that there aren’t any options to help people and she hopes by sharing her story, other families won’t have to go through what hers is going through. She believes that her son deserves health insurance for care and hopes that “maybe some good can come out of this.”

Do you or someone you know have a health insurance story to share? Email marissa@expandkancare.com.