I am a direct care worker at a day activity center in Maine for adults with developmental disabilities, where I have worked since 1998. I am married and have two children.
My job is a good job, and I don’t want to leave it, but I wish the insurance were better. I’m lucky to have health insurance through my employer, but my plan isn’t as good as it used to be. The contribution taken out from my paycheck is bigger and my coverage has decreased, making my health care bills bigger.
Also, this insurance plan covers only me. There is a family plan available, but it is prohibitively expensive.
My children had health insurance when my wife worked for the state. At other times, we have paid for them to have catastrophic coverage just in case, but that was very expensive and we still had to pay all their regular health care bills out of pocket. There have been times when our children haven’t had health insurance because we could not afford it. I have often felt torn between my love for my job and my need to provide for my family.
Agencies nowadays often offer jobs that pay more per hour but offer no benefits. The people I work with often take those jobs, and talk about how they are better, because they don’t understand the value of health insurance.
What I see is that people like us—direct care workers and other people working at low-wage jobs—just don’t expect to get health care. It seems to me they think they don’t deserve it. People think you don’t go to the doctor unless you’re dying, and then you go to the emergency room—and figure out later how you can get out of paying a bill you can’t possibly afford.
The Affordable Care Act is a good step in the right direction.