Making the Case for Medicaid Expansion in Florida: Hospital Worker and Mother of Four Forced to Choose between Feeding Children and Expensive Health Insurance

January 1, 1970

More than 1.2 million hardworking Floridians would be eligible to gain access to quality healthcare if Medicaid were expanded. In Miami-Dade County alone, 435,679 residents would benefit. Here is one of those stories. Jennifer Pinell –Admitting Representative, Miami

Jennifer Pinell admits patients in one of Miami-Dade’s busiest emergency rooms. Like many of the nation’s emergency rooms, the number of uninsured patients who visit the ER as a substitute for a doctor’s office visit has risen dramatically over the last decade as more people drop their health insurance because they cannot afford the high premiums and deductibles.

Ironically, Jennifer dropped her health insurance for the same reason.

“I could no longer afford it,” she says. “The monthly premiums were so high I had to drop childcare.”

Like many hardworking Floridians, Jennifer does not qualify for any full assistance, despite trying many times. The monthly premium for Florida’s health insurance for children, KidCare, is too expensive.

“I struggle daily to keep my children fed on what I make,” she explains. “I have to decide how I’m going to put food on the table for my children or provide them with the healthcare coverage they need. What mother wants to raise unhealthy children? What do I do? Feed them or have them starve and provide healthcare?”

Worst of all, she worries about her daughter’s future without healthcare coverage.

“My daughter, who is my youngest, may be facing a very serious disease. Unfortunately, we cannot carry out the necessary tests that would confirm whether or not she has this potentially life-threatening disease,” Jennifer says. “The tests simply cost more than I can afford. Whenever I take her to the ER, they refuse to do the necessary tests. They only treat the symptoms, not necessarily the illness.”

She continues, “Our legislators should be focusing on helping people like me that work hard and still can’t make it. I love my children and want the best for them. I work very hard as a mother to know that I am not able to properly provide for my children. It is very depressing.”