Belinda Sherley is pictured in January 2022. (Photo credit: Belinda Sherley)
More than 2 million Americans across 12 states make too little to afford health care insurance but are barred from qualifying for Medicaid. Out of options, Belinda Sherley in Quitman, Georgia, couldn’t afford to seek medical care and almost died as a result.
As the full-time caregiver to her husband, Belinda cannot work to access health insurance, nor can she qualify for Medicaid. She is one of around 300,000 Georgians in the Medicaid coverage gap. Over the years, Belinda has been refused treatment or could not afford needed health care multiple times. Last year, she nearly lost her life from organ failure due to untreated anemia.
I still owe thousands from the ER visit that saved my life. It’s all been turned over to collections now, and I’m getting letters weekly asking me to pay up. I can’t afford it, though, so I just ignore them. It’s all I can do.
Closing the Medicaid gap is estimated to save $2 billion in medical debt annually, but more importantly, it would save 7,000 lives each year. As states continue to refuse federal investments to expand Medicaid, Congress must act to permanently close the coverage gap.
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This storybook features women in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire whose stories center on issues from prescription drug pricing and health insurance, to child care and paid leave.