Now released and a free man, he cannot get the medically necessary brand-name medications needed to treat his schizophrenia. Instead, because he lacks Medicaid or other insurance, he can only get generic medications that are far less effective at managing his symptoms. And because he struggles to manage his symptoms, finding employment that accommodates his medical conditions has been challenging—hence the disability application, a process that can take several years to resolve.
In the meantime, Nelson wrestles with severe mental illness, struggling to survive, regularly selling his plasma in order to buy medications. “A lot of people do stupid stuff to afford medication,” he says grimly, “I’m not the only one who’s stressing because they can’t afford their health care.”