(Interview 4/2011. Oil on canvas, 40 ins. x 30 ins.)
How many times have I heard, "Young people are healthy. They can go without health insurance."
Seems such a ridiculous assertion. I've painted portraits of several young people who have died because they could not get proper healthcare. I'm profoundly upset about it. I'll never shut up about it.
I was thrilled to hear back from Kenzi. She is insured and grateful.
Kenzi emailed me. "I do have Medicaid and I have to say having it is great. It takes care of my mental health meds, and all the dr appts I go to!"
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) funded Medicaid expansion. Medicaid is a state/federally funded program. Before the Affordable Care Act, eligibility was restricted to a narrowly defined subset of the population -- children, individuals with disabilities, pregnant women, and very VERY low income adults.
A provision in the Affordable Care Act called for the expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid eligibility would be determined by a person's income. Low income adults with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level could qualify for the program. In 2021 that comes to about $18,000/year.
Kenzi qualifies for health insurance coverage under the ACA's expanded Medicaid program.
I'm thrilled. Obamacare is working as it was designed to in Kenzi's case. In 2010 she was relying on the kindness of a friend's mother (a nurse) to help her manage some of her medical problems. Today, Kenzi has real health insurance and gets the care she needs.
Artist Note (Aug. 2012)
I spent a good amount of time with this subject, but I can see that I had not yet learned to tell the whole story by including more details. I remember thinking that young people certainly need health insurance.
Freelance Photographer, Graphics Designer, Musician/Performer, Nanny, age 25, Uninsured
Kenzi has relied on a pro bono clinic and a friend's mother, a nurse, to get healthcare.
She has a mild skin condition and was referred to a kind dermatologist, someone who would treat her without health insurance.
At one point, Kenzi bought health insurance from the individual market for two months. But as an admitted former smoker, she could not manage the higher premiums.
At 23, this uninsured young woman was hit by a car. The driver's auto insurance coverage maxed-out at a $5,000 payout for the accident. After the settlement money ran out, this uninsured and injured subject had to find her own way to medical care for ongoing issues as a result of the car accident.