For Mark Poole, having health insurance would give him the opportunity to live long enough to see his teenage daughter blossom into a strong young woman.
Without it, he fears for their future.
“I don’t want to scare my daughter, but if things don’t change, I’ll be dead in two years,” he says.
Poole was born with aortic stenosis, a congenital heart condition. In 2003, surgeons replaced a heart valve. Ten years later, he had triple bypass surgery and a new valve installed, which will need to be replaced eventually.
He also has diabetes and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), for which he takes expensive medications.
Poole raised his daughter as a single father. He made a career as a restaurant manager, making a good living in a job with benefits and health insurance.
Somewhere along the way, however, life’s challenges caught up with him. Declining health and bad luck in the form of a serious car accident left him impaired, disabled and unable to continue working full-time. Still, they persevered. When he couldn’t keep up in his old job, he became a gig worker making restaurant and grocery deliveries. His daughter got a full-time job at a donut shop.
And then came the coronavirus.
His daughter lost her job when the shop closed. Poole was forced to quarantine because underlying health conditions make him vulnerable to virus complications, putting him at a higher risk of death.
Still, he had Medicaid. But in April, when his daughter turned 18, he was terminated from the federal program that provides healthcare for low-income parents. To qualify for Medicaid in Florida, you must be pregnant, have minor children or be disabled. In 37 other states that have “expanded” Medicaid, low-income working adults without minor children, like Poole, qualify for the healthcare program.
Now, where does he turn?