Dying to See the Doctor - Young People and Health Reform

Last week’s Supreme Court decision about health care reform means new possibilities for youth. Looking to gauge the potential impact of the new law on young people, De-Bug asked folks what their worst health-related experience has been and whether they were able to receive care.

Claudia Gil, 22: The worst medical/health insurance experience was being 9 months pregnant, first time mother, having contractions at the medical office trying to get coverage.

I was not approved because I was missing one bank statement, even though everything else was in order, and I informed the worker I was in labor as we spoke. This was after being approved for Medi-Cal and then told it was cancelled because I turned 21. I was reapplying for coverage I had already been approved for, just because my age changed.

My daughter was 3 weeks early and born later that day. And I was not approved that day.

Anjai Vashisht, 24: I was a 24-year-old broke college student at the time. Kicked off my parents’ insurance for being "too old," the insurance provider told me. I got a terrible virus that had me bed ridden for an entire week. My father dragged me to the hospital because I didn't want to end up with a huge bill.

I was in so much pain I couldn't even stand or sit. I laid flat on the chairs in Valley Med ER for 17 hours straight to be seen. I kept getting bumped. I honestly felt like I was going to die. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced at the time.

When I was finally seen, they put me on a gurney and announced they had no rooms. I was pretty much ignored and passed over. After another six hours I was discharged, still in pain but a little better, without much explanation of what was wrong with me.

Later, I was sent a bill of over $1300 for services. I was never even told what they were doing on me.

Never again.

Cesar Flores, 24: As with all government policies, I seem to have more questions than answers. Will it serve all people? Even undocumented? How long will it take for it to start? Will the insurance be full coverage? Does it include dental?

Fortunately I've always had health insurance so when I broke my tibia, broke my upper arm bone in two pieces and dislocated my shoulder in a hit and run with a passing car as I was crossing the street, I was able to get some payment relief, although my father still needed to pay off some lingering fees.

The thing that I hope is for the nation to be as educated as possible from the government as to what exactly this insurance would cover and who will be covered.

Kaylore Fenner, 21: When I was young, around 12, I visited LA. My cousins [there] dragged me out to the local park for some relay racing. My brother and my cousin raced toward me, holding out their hands for me and my sister. My hand was tagged and I zoomed way ahead.

Final leg and all that stands between me and the finish line is an empty cement cylinder made into a tunnel. Duck my head, don’t trip, and I’m home free. I'll blame my youth but for whatever reason my timing was off with the duck and running headfirst into the sharp edge of the cylinder tunnel put a deep gash in my head. I didn’t have health insurance and remembered my parents’ saying, "If you break your arm I’m not taking you to the hospital."

I haven’t had any long lasting effects from the incident besides a scar and a funny story, but health care reform, especially in the "universal" sense brings memories like this to the surface with thoughts of what if and what would I or my parents have done differently had health care been affordable to us.

Would I only have a funny story, and no proof?

Daniel "Ookie" Zapien, 22: The only story that comes to mind would be when I was 17. I was leaving a party with a couple of my friends, when I jumped on the roof of the car to “ghostride” and the driver tried to drift at that same moment.

I remember flying head first into the tar street and rolling backwards. The driver just kept driving as I got up right away and fell back down to the floor. I tried to get up again but kept falling, till I fell into a bush.

Some of my friends from the party came out and picked me up, and escorted me to the car as the driver shamefully came back. I was then driven to my house where I threw up and my pops took me to the hospital. I couldn't think or walk really, and I had to wait in a hospital's uncomfortable chair for two hours before my blood pressure was taken. I then was seated for another half an hour before I was asked to go see the doctor.

Obama’s new health care policy should help some young people who get in accidental situations like I did.

Luis Balles, 19: The worst health related experience I ever had was when I got stabbed twelve times. I was in bad shape. I was worried about them billing me for the hospital costs. I didn't know if my health insurance covered it, but fortunately it covered everything.

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