Hundreds of thousands of Louisiana residents don’t have health insurance. The number ranges from about 600,000 to 900,000.
The federal health insurance exchanges opened for enrollment on Oct. 1. The idea is to get uncovered people into an insurance plan, with a mix of government subsidies and a co-pay from the recipient. However, many people below the poverty line will still need to rely on Louisiana’s safety net hospitals.
WWNO’s Listening Post project set up digital recording stations in Mid-City, Gentilly, a health care fair in the Tremé, and a senior citizens meeting at the Harmony Oaks housing development in Central City to hear some local voices on health care issues. The Listening Post asked people to answer these questions:
- What was the last big health issue you or your family had?
- How and where did you get help?
- How much did it cost, and how did you pay for it?
Here are some highlights:
Wayne Benjamin (aka Wild Wayne — the afternoon host/DJ on New Orleans' Q93) describes a hospital visit for his young daughter's severe stomach pains. The problem turned out to be minor, but he was charged over $1,000 due to an insurance mixup.
Gloria is in a senior citizens group at Harmony Oaks. She says that after Katrina she had a blood clot and had to walk across the bridge from the West Bank to go to the hospital. She had a triple bypass, which she paid for with Medicare and Medicaid. "The health issues over here for the elderly are really really poor," she adds. "The don't have transportation; they have to wait until their family members come to go to the doctor. And I think that is really sad."
Jamal from the Headquarters Barbershop says that he had to get surgery on his hand, but he didn't have any insurance so he had to pay the $5,000 out of his own pocket. Furthermore, the surgery left his hand permanently impaired. "I think that by me not having insurance, I wasn't able to get the top notch health care that I would have had if I did have insurance," he says.
Other participants lament the lack of healthcare facilities in New Orleans East and lack of coverage for people coming out of prison.
Those are your voices, as recorded by WWNO's community media project, the Listening Post.
If you’d like to participate, and share your voice, stop by our permanent Listening Post locations at the Norman Mayer library in Gentilly, or the Headquarters Barbershop on Broad Street. If you’d like to host a Listening Post at a community event, send us an email at email@example.com.
The Listening Post is a collaboration between WWNO and the international media development nonprofit Internews.