Snapshots from the Kitchen Table: Family Budgets and Health Care
This Kaiser Family Foundation documentary, “Snapshots from the Kitchen Table: Family Budgets and Health Care,” profiles several American families who are struggling to make ends meet. It depicts the narrow financial ledge on which millions of low- and middle- income working households stand even in normal economic times, and illustrates the central role that health care costs and coverage play in a household’s economic stability. Some of the families profiled have health insurance, others do not.
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In the spring of 2008, 60-year-old Ron Gaston was a shipping and receiving clerk in Wichita, Kansas, who earned about $30,000 a year and received his health insurance through his employer. He and his ailing wife were barely making ends meet, in part, because of medical bills. After our interview, Gaston had surgery for what doctors feared was kidney cancer, but the tumor was benign. Still, he incurred $15,000 in medical bills and then in late 2008 he was laid off from a job he had most of his adult life.
In the spring of 2008, 31-year-old Andrea deRoulet worked as a waitress at a restaurant in Wichita, Kansas, and was raising three children on her own. Her children are covered by Medicaid but she has no health insurance coverage because her employer does not offer it and she cannot afford to buy private insurance.
In the spring of 2008, 27-year-old Japera Smith-Stewart, married and a mother to three young children, worked as a temp in San Francisco. During her pregnancies, Smith was covered by Medicaid but when she got a job, she was shifted into the state’s Share of Cost program, which has high out-of-pocket expenses. Japera skipped taking her blood pressure medication to make her prescription last longer and she sometimes hesitated before taking her children in for their medical needs because of the cost. After our interview, Smith began working full-time for San Mateo County and has health insurance for the whole family.