Orange County Register
CSUF: Time to Get Covered, California
March 19, 2014
Editor’s note: Angela Gutierrez is pursuing a master of public health degree at Cal State Fullerton and during the 2013-14 academic year is a campus coordinator for the California State University Health Insurance Education Project.
Imagine you are 16 years old and in high school. Not instantly, but little by little, your back starts hurting. You start limping as you walk the 25-minute trek to and from school.
Your parents send you in for a massage, hoping that will help, since the LAC+USC Medical Center is a long drive and both of your parents work. But massages don’t help. Herbs and home remedies don’t help either.
Weeks go by, and your parents finally take you to see a doctor. After the exam, the physician tells you that you have a sacral giant-cell tumor. They run more tests. Thankfully, the tumor is not cancerous, but it will need to be removed.
After a 16-hour surgery, being bedridden for months, having to undergo therapy to re-learn how to walk, and still managing to take your Advanced Placement courses through homeschooling, you get alarming news. Your doctor tells you that the tumor may come back at any time and that you’ll need continual check-ups.
You’re a young lady with ambitions. You know that you’ll age out of Medi-Cal coverage at some point, so you ask a county social services counselor about options for health insurance. The counselor sees that you are a low-income female with a serious health condition. His advice: Get pregnant so that you can keep your health coverage through Medi-Cal.
This is a true story – the story of a teenager who wanted to go to college but was only seen for her low-income status and pre-existing health condition. Although this is the story of just one student I have met, many other individuals are struggling with their own health issues and also with obtaining the medical care they need.
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