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Laid-off Lab Technician. Joined the Other 48.6 Million Uninsured in 2010 (before healthcare reform)

Theresa BrownGold's painting "Uninsured before Obamacare" for her art project, Art As Social Inquiry.

(Interview 9/2010. Oil on linen 40 ins. x 30 ins. )

Update 2021

How the painting started.

Some paintings paint themselves. This is one of them. Sometimes the paint takes the reins and the hand takes direction from the brushes. We artists just take the ride.

I know from social media that this subject married the love-of-her-life. Got the nursing degree we talked about in our interview. And landed the nursing job as per her plan. I deduce from her good-natured posts that life is good.

I found this subject to be honest, sincere, and sensitive when I interviewed her. I usually see people at low points. So it's a thrill when I see they've managed to survive their troubles and even thrive.

Artist Note (Aug 2012)

The subject's former employer hired her back as a chemist. She is considered a contract worker (independent contractor) by her former employer which means she does not qualify for health benefits.

The subject is still uninsured. She now has an eye condition that impairs her vision and is not easily correctable with glasses.

In order to explore other treatment options, the subject is hoping to qualify for Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD), a state health insurance program for those who struggle with disabilities but still work.

The subject is not hopeful her employer will hire her back full time because she now has a nursing degree. She might not appear to be a desirable employee with her second degree in another field.


Theresa BrownGold's painting "Uninsured Before Obamacare" for her art project, Art As Social Inquiry.
A study. Oil on canvas 24 ins. x 20 ins.

(interview from 2010)

Laid-off Lab Technician for a large American Chemical Company, Age 30, Uninsured

The subject is a college graduate with a chemistry degree. She was employed as a lab technician for 7 years. The company laid her off in 2009.

Lay-offs were determined by seniority. The subject received a severance package -- salary for 3 months and health insurance coverage (Preferred Provider Organization w/ $20 co-pay) for 1 year for which she paid her usual contribution of $76/month.

The year of having her insurance premiums paid as per the severance agreement was ending. She became eligible for COBRA, a federal law giving employees the right to continue buying insurance from their former employers for a limited time. The subject could continue with her company insurance after the severance agreement. But she would have to pay the entire premium herself.

The subject could not afford the $300/month premium for the health insurance from her former employer ($377.92 in 2021 dollars). She let her health insurance lapse and joined the other 48.6 million uninsured people in 2010.

In May 2010, the subject experienced difficulty breathing. She was uninsured and trying to avoid a large bill. She went to a local clinic. The triage nurse said they were not taking any more patients that day and she should go to emergency room.

The idea of a big bill from a hospital emergency room still loomed large. Instead, she found another clinic that would see her for $40.

The subject will graduate with a nursing degree in 2011 at which time she hopes to get a job with health benefits. Until that time she continues to work part-time and go to school. In the event of a health crisis, her plan is to sell everything and move back in with mother


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