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Unemployment in West Tennessee Hitting Rural Community Hard

changethatworksWith unemployment skyrocketing across the state, the health care crisis is becoming even more pronounced, especially in the rural areas of West Tennessee, where the unemployment rate has reached 27% in Perry County. For most people – especially in rural areas – losing a job means losing health insurance.

Jerry Callis, a truck driver from Trenton in Gibson County weighs in on the new realities he’s facing since he’s become unemployed:

At the present, I don’t have a job and I don’t qualify for any aid. If I have to go to the doctor, I have to pay full price for the service. If the charges went through an insurance carrier they would only have to pay the doctor a small fraction of what my charge would be. Where a doctor may charge me $100 for a service, they will only charge a provider about $25. Why should I have to pay $75 more just because it’s out of my pocket instead of the provider’s pocket?

My last visit to my cardiologist was about a 15 minute consultation for him to tell me that he thought I might have a blockage in an artery on the bottom of my heart and he wanted to schedule me for a stent; but he wasn’t sure that I would need one. That 15 minutes cost me $190. I had no insurance at the time to cover that. Two and a half years ago, I had open-heart surgery. After the dust settled, I was still over $3000 in debt and that’s with me paying a provider about $400 per month for coverage. Now I am out of work and I have no coverage. If I were to have another heart attack I would be stuck with the entire bill for services rendered and because of my history, it would be hard for me to even get the coverage that I need.

People die every day because they don’t have the coverage or the money to take care of an illness. People who have always had everything they need would never understand that. Come live my life for a year and survive on my income and see how long it will take them to change their minds about the current healthcare system.

Do you have a healthcare story to tell Tennessee about?  Click here to add your voice to the healthcare debate.

Mark Naccarato
Mark Naccaratohttp://www.seiu205.org/blog/Default.aspx
Mark Naccarato is Political and Communications Coordinator for SEIU Local 205, a labor union committed to improving the lives of working families across Tennessee.
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