Kansas Stories: Donna

Donna lives in Colby, KS. She’s a proud mom; though all of her children are grown, she loves talking about them. She is also divorced and a cancer patient. She worked as a para in her children’s school district until 2015. After that, she worked managing her father’s business.

Donna was uninsured from 2016 – 2020, just a few years before she qualified to receive Medicare. She had tumors in the lower part of her body and her doctors were concerned that they might cause her legs to break. They wanted to put rods in her legs to help support her. Care was difficult during this time – her oncologist was away on vacation and she didn’t know what stage her cancer was. She found another oncologist, had surgery, and finally started getting radiation treatments.

Doctors told Donna she would need to regularly receive shots and take specialized medication. She didn’t have insurance to cover them, so she wasn’t taking them as regularly as she should have been. She scraped together what money she could to pay for her medication, then rationed them to last as long as possible.

Her cancer metastasized, likely because she wasn’t able to regularly take her medication. She had to start using a walker.

Donna tried for four years to get Medicaid coverage. She applied many times, but her applications were either denied or not processed on time. She was still legally married and was struggling to get approved because she needed to submit information about her husband. After her divorce was finalized, she was able to get insurance. In 2021, she received a letter saying that she was being kicked off Medicaid because she didn’t meet her spenddown.

Donna experienced the difficulties that comes with trying to qualify for KanCare, and wishes it was easier to access. She wishes KanCare was more inclusive to those who need coverage, and will continue to advocate for expansion.

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