Tad N. resides in Alachua County. He recently moved from Pennsylvania to Florida hoping to find employment in the entertainment industry. Shortly after moving to Florida, he sustained a serious back injury, lost two job opportunities and was unemployed and unsured. He had been covered by Medicaid In Pennsylvania In PA where he was able to access the services he needed for depression, anxiety and PTSD. He started rationing his medications, skipping days and reducing the amounts. Tad stated “there was like a lot of resources in PA, when it came to medicine and getting like extra help out there, I noticed that Florida is lacking when it comes to assisting people.” He simply wanted to get the care that he needed to get back to work and not have to worry about his mounting medical debt.
Tad found out about the Equal Access Clinic through help from his family and said, “I was seeking services mainly for the back issues and with getting refills for the medications I’d been on, so luckily, because of the wonderful people at the UF Equal Access Clinic, I’ve been able to get some free health care.” Tad further commented, “if Florida was to expand the Medicaid program, that would definitely help me get back on track to being a productive member of society.”
Like nearly 500,000 other Floridians, Tad falls into the Coverage Gap because he is a single man, he does not qualify for Medicaid and because he is currently unable to work, cannot afford health insurance. For 10 years, Florida’s state legislators have had the opportunity to expand Medicaid to cover Floridians earning below the poverty level while saving the state $200 Million a year. Florida is 1 of only 10 states that has not expanded Medicaid and it’s time to give Floridians the security of health coverage. Navigators across the state of Florida are available to assist individuals like Tad to help find affordable coverage enabling them to receive the care and medications they need to return to and lead healthier lives. Get connected to a Florida ACA Navigator at www.coveringflorida.org.
“Because of the wonderful people at UF Equal Access Clinic, I've been able to get some free health care. If Florida was to expand the Medicaid program, that would definitely help me to get on track to being a productive member of society." - Tad N., Alachua
Read more of Tad's story below or share your own story here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 27 years old and recently moved here to Florida, about a year and half ago. I was really excited to come and had a lot of different work opportunities. I'm somebody who works a lot in the entertainment industry. So, moving to Florida was a big opportunity because of all the entertainment things that happen down here.
Previously, I was working for an interactive art museum that was in the previous state that I was living in [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. It was a wonderful job and I wanted to take those sorts of opportunities down here with me. I ended up having a really bad back injury when I first moved down here and it actually prevented me from working. I lost two different jobs while I was here because of the back injury that kind of ended up resulting in me being bed ridden for quite some time. It was pretty devastating for me to go from working in installing all these big artworks and doing all these crazy things to not being able to have any sort of job. It was also a really big deal for me since I had just recently moved down here and I didn't really have a spot that I could go to for anybody, at least not that I had knowledge of, to help me out with like Medicare.
Have you experienced health care affordability issues in the past? Have you ever been uninsured for any long period of time before?
I've been uninsured for about a year and a half now…since I moved to Florida.
I was on Medicaid for quite some time. I spent most of my late teens and all of my early 20s in Philadelphia and was going to college and was able to get covered via Medicaid there. That was like super helpful when it came to my mental health issues and any other sort of problems that I had. It was also super helpful when COVID was going around and I was able to get vaccines and all those things keeping me safe and able to work during a lot of those environments.
So, it's been a mix between Medicaid and private insurance. When I started getting more money from my job, I was able to have my own private insurance.
What choices have you had to make in your life as a result of not having insurance?
So, I was trying to eek out the last little bits of whatever medication I had, skipping days, which turned out to not be good. I didn't like to know that at the time, because I wasn't able to see any medical professionals to talk to so I thought it one of the best things I could do, you know, space things out. And it turns out that that wasn't like beneficial for me either until I was able to get to UF and talk to some people about it.
Struggling to be able to find people to give you the necessary medication that you need is sort of a scary situation to find yourself in. I was taking a lot of things for like depression, anxiety and PTSD. So when my back injury popped up, and I wasn't taking any of those medications, suicidal ideations and all those types of things started and ended up coming back because I didn't have access to the medications that I was taking previously.
There was like a lot of resources in Philadelphia, when it came to medicine and getting like extra help out there, that I noticed that Florida is lacking in when it comes to, like assistance for people.
Have you tried applying for Medicaid or for insurance through the Marketplace since arriving to Florida?
I've done the Medicaid application and was denied mostly because I don't have any children and they still consider me to be able to work.
If I was to get something like Medicare, or Medicaid, it would greatly help me in furthering myself to be able to get the care that I needed to get back to work and not have to worry as much about the, like medicine prices and not have to worry as much about any of like, the medical bills that I'm saddled with, that I'm struggling to be able to pay for because of those types of things.
How did you find out about the Equal Access clinic? Have you been able to get the services and the medications that you need?
I found out about the Equal Access Clinic a few months into living here. It was kind of when I was at, like my worst when I was trying to Google. And then I was just trying to find somebody, anybody who could help me out with the problems that I was going through because the pain was just getting too much to bear. And I eventually came across the free clinics with help from my family members who are like, maybe there's like a free clinic or something like that.
[I was seeking services at the Equal Access Clinic] mainly for the back issues that I was struggling with. And I was also struggling with getting refills for my medication that I was on when I first moved down here.
From everything that they have been able to offer me, I've been taking as much advantage as I can be, and luckily, I have been able to get back on the medications.
So luckily, because of the wonderful people here at UF I was able to get some free health care. But ultimately, it sort of, like developed into me needing ER occasionally and saddling me with some health care bills that I am still struggling with. And I still right now don't have a job. And I'm still recovering from not only having to deal with the chronic illnesses that I was dealing with previously, but also now dealing with other things that pop up because of this back injury.
How would your life change if Florida were to expand the Medicaid program and you were to qualify for it?
I would definitely say that it would help me get on track to being a more productive member of society, for sure. If I was able to get Medicaid, I wouldn't have to worry as much about the struggles of worrying if I'm going to be able to pay off the bills and if I need to use the ER. Also, I would be able to focus more on my health and ensuring that I could eventually get to a point where I could work again. And I think that's extremely important because it helps keep people economically stable…So I would definitely say that Medicaid would be beneficial hugely for me and ensuring that I could move forward with my life.