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.
For years, Regina Humphrey received health benefits under a New York State program providing insurance for children from low-income families.
When she turned 19 at the beginning of 2013, Humphrey stopped getting Child Health Plus. She and her family have no idea where to find health care now that Humphrey is an adult. She needs to be checked by a doctor every three months for nodules inside her breasts.
“It makes me feel bad. I'm hoping that nothing is going to happen,” said Humphrey, who lives in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
The perplexity Humphrey faces is something that health officials and community organizations across the state and country are likely to confront in greater numbers later this year. The Affordable Care Act will require all American citizens to have some kind of health insurance by the start of 2014.
For Humphrey, a graphic arts major at St. Peter's University in Jersey City, N.J., the health care law should make it easier for her to find insurance. Humphrey has already contacted Community Health Advocates, a group expected to be a part of the state's navigator program. Navigators will help uninsured New Yorkers find care through the state's exchange.
The advocates directed Humphrey to apply for Healthy NY, which provides discounted insurance for people without a pre-existing condition and other eligibility rules. But the program requires people to pay hundreds of dollars each month, beyond what Humphrey can afford.
“It was too expensive and it wasn't going to cover all of what I needed,” she said.
In the meantime, Humphrey echoed what is likely to be a major focus of people in need of coverage.
“I'm just hoping I do get some sort of health insurance,” she said. “It's kind of frustrating.”
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