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Getting Behind the Numbers on Access to Care – Toplines/Survey

Getting Behind the Numbers on Access to Care Project Randomly-Selected Verbatim Responses

Harvard School of Public Health, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago

October 1996

Methodology Note:

Survey respondents who reported that they were uninsured and/or had problems getting needed medical care or paying medical bills in the past year were asked the following question during their interview:

I would like you to tell me in your own words what happened to you as a result of the problems you have experienced. We are especially interested in the consequences of your [insert: not getting medical care that you thought you needed/time without insurance/problems in paying medical bills] on, for example, your physical or mental health, your family relationships, your employment or your household finances.

They were then asked to rate their consequences as “very serious”, “somewhat serious”, “not very serious”, or “not at all serious”. We have divided responses for the uninsured and insured by type and severity of problem and randomly selected several responses in each category for presentation here. Editorial changes are marked with brackets.

Insurance Status: Uninsured People Problem Group: Getting Needed Medical Care Self-rating of Severity of Consequences: Very or Somewhat Serious
Sex Age Response Male 43 There were things that we should [have] gone to the doctor for but we didn’t. My wife has some illness that can’t be identified and now we can’t get medical coverage for her because of it. The doctors don’t seem too interested because of the lack of medical coverage for a pre existing condition. It’s shown me that the care is poor because of that and the lack of interest of doctors in patients that don’t have health insurance. Female 50 I worry because I’m single and I’m pushing 50 and I live alone and if anything would happened how I would get medical attention and I don’t know who would find me. I know I’m limited as to what I can do as far as physical labor. Male 38 It’s not fair to pay taxes to the government and not be able to get insurance for the family when those not working get everything for free when I have to take money out of pocket for medical expenses I don’t [have] money left for the family and other expenses. Female 45 I wanted to have children before my marriage broke up. I was trying to get health insurance to cover my husband who had had colitis and no one would cover him. It effected us more emotionally than any thing. Male 42 Just severe cough, bronchitis. Would have cost me about $300 to get help and I didn’t have it. I’m in pretty fair health so no consequences but at my age, probably coming in the future. [Has] not really affected me in any other way. Female 47 It was a procedure; I got a bad pap smear back and I needed to get another one done; lt was about 300 dollars. I realized that people need insurance because now I have a serious medical problem; I’m diabetic. I knew I was sick; too stubborn to go to doctors office like I was supposed to. Male 50 There was lot of pain [back pains] and I felt very bad. I felt nervous and problems sleeping. My penitentiary record made me lose my job and kept me from getting another one. I finally went to the county hospital. I went long enough just to get out of pain. Female 45 Government agencies have you go out and get $5.00 jobs and then they take away your health insurance. I get paid tomorrow and can I afford to pay health insurance. Mentally it make me mad they can’t understand why these woman won’t go to work, your better off not working than going to work. [Family relations affected?] Yes, but I don’t think you got enough paper to write it down. Female 36 I have a lump in my breast. It makes you scared at times knowing that something serious could happen and you’re not covered. It bothers me from time to time. Male 59 Not having insurance about 3 years ago I have pain in my right leg and I had to go to the county hospital to get a shot. You feel helpless. I had to go to the hospital and it’s so expensive back a little while ago I had food poisoning and I had to go to [personal identifier omitted] that was like $250 for maybe an hour or so I paid it but it took a while.

Insurance Status: Uninsured People Problem Group: Paying Medical Bills Self-rating of Severity of Consequences: Very or Somewhat Serious
Sex Age Response Female 31 My two daughters have a problem with eyesight and I don’t have the money to go to the eye doctor and my children have a toothache and I don’t have the money to take them to the dentist. If I pay the doctor I don’t have the money to pay the rent and I won’t have a roof and its important to get food. Female 22 I was in a car accident, I had back and neck injury. I needed to go chiropractic care so I did and my insurance dropped the claim, and because of that I could no longer get chiropractic which makes my back worst than it was originally was. Male 32 Most of it was ’cause I was self employed. Kept tryin’ ’til I got care. Got a little upset then I felt a lot better when I finally did get it. No other effect. Female 49 It put a hardship on me by not allowing me to buy the things I needed like clothing and house notes. Stress and worry if you don’t make a payment they will send you to a collection agency real fast. I asked my brother for the money to pay taxes for my home. Female 45 It took all of my extra money to pay for my medical bills. My husband left me because of all the medical bills we had. Nothing else. Female 20 Really like I said I ain’t got no job and when I get a job I can’t hold on to a job and my mom she’ll help me out a little bit cause she have to pay rent and light bills. The money she gets she has to use for my brother and sister. Male 46 I was hurt from an accident in [personal identifier omitted]. I was off for 3 years and my bills piled up then because I was unable to work, it probably cost me my marriage. No money and being laid up for three years. I never went back to my job, I had to be trained for another job. I have my own business now and I have problems paying for health insurance. Now, health insurance right now is a luxury these days. I need to get my daughter covered now. Male 26 Financial debt for a long time, mentally don’t care too much for the country any more, physically ok [Family relationships?] just fights over money, makes you afraid–makes you afraid to go to the doctor. Female 63 I had to give up my home & move into an apartment. I was pretty upset about moving. Male 36 I have been attempting to get medical insurance and just before my insurance expired, my daughter was operated on and the bill was never sent in. I had some other bills too. After surgery the insurance company had discontinued my coverage, the hospital sent me all the bills, I could not get the insurance company to pay the bills until several months later after receiving bills even though the surgery took place when I was covered. There were follow up bills and check ups that I could not pay for because I was unemployed. I have had trouble getting both of my daughters covered because they have high allergies and need shots, but the insurance companies don’t want to cover them. My employer told me that I will probably get laid off again this summer and I know that I will have trouble again then getting insurance coverage. It was very frustrating and stressful. It also added stress to the family, various reactions caused the girls to break out but we could not do anything about it because we did not have insurance. Public assistance would not grant me any assistance because they claimed that I had too many assets. I had to hold some money in the bank because I was unemployed and I needed to hold some money for expenses.

Insurance Status: Uninsured People Problem Group: Both Problem Getting Needed Medical Care and Paying Bills Self-rating of Severity of Consequences: Very or Somewhat Serious
Sex Age Response Female 51 I don’t go for any preventive or regular checkups because I can’t afford it. Arthritis will not let me work, very bad spells where it is impossible to go out and function. I live on a small widow’s pension a few dollars a month. Male 26 I am no longer active because I have to curtail my activities because of my asthma. My wife and baby have to live with my mother

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.