Uninsured population rising in Florida

Over 45 million Americans, including 2.8 million Floridians, lack adequate health insurance. The amount of uninsured people continues to rise steadily throughout the nation.

One of the biggest concerns for medical professionals at the Bond Community Health Center is the poor and working students who are stuck in jobs that do not pay for health insurance.

“Back in 2000, MGT of America (a national consulting firm) did a report on the indigent health care status of Leon County,” said Zandra M. Glenn, an assistant professor of pharmacy at Florida A&M University, and a member of Bond Community Health Center’s staff.

Glenn said, “The study showed that 27,000 Leon County residents were uninsured, and 6,000 of those uninsured lived in the Bond community,” which is a predominantly black area in Tallahassee.

Kendra Lee, a student at FAMU, said she was once rushed to the hospital on her birthday because of a mass on her right lung. The mass obstructed her breathing, and created a dry cough that caused her to miss important school events. She said doctors have yet to diagnose her symptoms.

“Being uninsured in Tallahassee puts me in a bind because I have to go back home whenever I need medical care,” said Lee, 19, a business administration student from Woodbridge, Va.

“Proper medical insurance is so extremely important because one minute you can be breathing fine and the next minute you have a mass on your right lung; I should know because it happened to me.”

In 2000 the Florida Hospital Association reported an eight percent premium, the payment made by citizens to a specific health plan, increase.

In 2001, an 11 percent increase was reported as well as a 13 percent increase in 2002 and last year’s rates went up 14 percent.

Every year health care premiums have increased and so has the number of uninsured citizens.

The possibility of waking up one morning and seeing that something is medically wrong with her children has worried lifelong Tallahassee resident Alfreda Collins, who worked for Sprint for 25 years, and lost her medical insurance when she was laid off from her job.

“I think it is unfair for displaced workers, that have been in jobs for years, to have to wonder how their health needs will be met,” Collins said.

“Even the insured people in this state, and especially the elderly, who have insurance have prescription drug costs that they cannot pay and so health care concerns need to be addressed and relief needs to be brought to those who need it.”

Contact Malcolm E. Glover at malcolm2001g@hotmail.com