We asked you a few weeks ago to sum up your experiences with health care coverage in six words. You boldly took up the challenge.
We were overwhelmed with responses -- more than 120 from Minnesotans who shared their stories of success and frustration (mostly frustration) searching and paying for affordable health care.
Or going without. Minnesota has one of the highest rates of citizens covered in the nation, but we're still seeing people rolling the dice.
Nutritious food's expensive - that's OUR insurance.
That's how Jennifer Bezek of Watertown summed up her health care story. She told us:
Last spring my husband's coverage through work was to be bumped up to over $750 per month, while the employer payed $250 ($1000 total), and there are only two of us! This was beyond our budget, so he dropped our coverage, and a month later he was laid off.Click on the map icons to read responses from across Minnesota then send us your story and we'll map that, too.
Since then we have invested more time and money in our organic garden, but we are not able to grow and preserve all we need. Nutritious food and supplements are not cheap, and we find we have nothing left over for sick care insurance. So OUR health care insurance is our own common sense, research and hard work.
Until one or both of us are able to find gainful employment, this preventive effort will have to suffice!
View Your Health Care Story in Six Words in a full screen map
The recession has hit middle-income families particularly hard. Many people had coverage through their employer. Losing a job means going without or shouldering expensive coverage on your own. More than 100,000 Minnesotans went without coverage in 2009 compared to 2007.
"High-deductible HSA. Fear major illness."
Tammy Woodhouse of Minneapolis works at a small business. "After a layoff that cost us group coverage, we enrolled in a high-deductible HSA (health spending account) plan. Premiums and out-of-pocket expenses amounted to 15% of our gross income last year. For that, we received 4 well visits, 4 sick visits, labs and prescriptions."
"The financial implications of a major illness are terrifying," she added.
"If we earned less, we'd be richer!"
That's how Julie Pfoser, a homemaker from St. Paul, summed up the dilemma.
"I was previously an insurance professional, but left the field to be a stay-at-home mom to our 3 children. My husband gets insurance through work, and we pay more than we can afford for private coverage for the kids," she said.
"I have been without health care coverage for close to 4 years. We make too much money to qualify for any kind of state assistance, but not enough to be able to afford coverage on our own."
Here are my six words: Job questions: Prior conditions covered? Affordably?
Those were vital questions when I took this job a couple years ago. One of my kids has significant health needs. Happily, the answers were yes. But those questions will drive my employment decisions for a long time to come.
I'll be following up with many of the folks who've shared their stories to learn more for future posts.
Click on those map icons above and you'll get a good sense of what your neighbors are going through. You may see yourself there, too.
If not, share your story.
What's an insurance company have to do with my health? I don't understand the connection.
My health depends on me and affordable health care.
Eating right and exercise is all I can do.
I cannot afford the insurance cost.