Incurring medical debt is not a choice, nor is it the result of one individuals’ action. We hope that by sharing these stories we will help reduce the stigma affecting individuals and families living with medical debt.
JeSeta lives in Alabama with her husband and their son who has sickle cell disease (SCD). When we spoke with JeSeta, she shared that overdue bills and the financial repercussions were not the priority as they tried to manage their son’s pain and other complications resulting from SCD. She also shared a revealing side effect of chronic health issues: it was very hard for her to keep jobs, often getting fired or being forced to quit to be able to stay with her son in the hospital. She has gone through various jobs and has never made more than fifteen dollars an hour.
Speaking with our constituents we have noticed that medical debt is often just one element of broader financial obstacles that folks have to face. By alleviating medical debt we are giving people some financial freedom to concentrate on other priorities, and uplifting their spirits.
“I am a wife and mother. My son, my baby, he’s 15, and he’s a sickle cell kid. When he was smaller, he was always going back and forth to the hospital. He was in the sickle cell clinic every 3 months to 6 months. He had a hip replacement and his gall bladder removed. We have accumulated lots of bills. My husband is a dialysis patient and has lupus, [making it that much harder.] Now that [my son] is older [we can manage his symptoms at home], but if it’s very bad, we must take him in.
I am greatly appreciative of the people who made donations, that have helped my family. This will give me the opportunity to not have to worry about leaving this debt for him to pay. [As his mom, I want him to be able to] take care of himself if I’m not here.
I don’t want to sound negative but a lot of the time my life has been a struggle so for this to happen is amazing. It’s a blessing.”