Dying for Care is a nine-part series on a New York opera singer's experience living with throat cancer without health insurance. The Related Stories section features accounts of other uninsured Americans as told to writer Christine Show and the future of health care under the Affordable Care Act.
Janna Zinzi often clicks through offers on the daily-deal website Groupon inside her Flatbush, Brooklyn apartment.
The 32-year-old isn't looking for coupons for manicures or massages. Instead, she browses for health care services.
“I made a joke that Groupon has been my health insurance for the year,” Zinzi said.
Zinzi, a freelance communications consultant, has been without health insurance since she last had a full-time job with benefits more than two years ago. With roughly $40,000 in annual income, Zinzi is one of the millions of Americans who makes too much to qualify for Medicaid but can't fit the cost of private insurance into their budgets.
Federal officials say the Affordable Care Act, which will take effect in 2014, is designed to make coverage accessible for people like Zinzi.
Until then, Zinzi has searched for innovative ways to keep up with her health. On Groupon, she found a deal for a $55 teeth cleaning and X-rays. She then paid an extra $125 out of pocket for a cavity filling.
An eye exam deal cost $39.
Beyond routine care, Zinzi has avoided doctors, even though she has had constant foot pain for months. She used to regularly dance in performance art shows, but now stays clear of putting any pressure on her foot.
“It makes me a lot more careful about what I'm doing. I think, ‘I don't have health insurance, let's have a little perspective,’” she said. “It takes a toll on how you're living your life.”
With the health care law, New York leaders say people like Zinzi will be able to participate in the state's exchange, an online program to sign up for affordable health insurance. She will also receive a tax subsidy to help pay for her plan.
For Zinzi, that option will be a relief.
“There will be that security blanket,” she said. “I won't be as stressed out.”
Christine Show | All Rights Reserved