Kansas Stories: Risse Zimmerman
“You need to take care of your people in the gap. I think there needs to be something for them that they can afford. I mean that’s your middle class workers. Those are your single moms that are working their butt off trying to stay out of the system to take care of their families, but yet when they get very sick there’s nobody there to help them.”
Risse Zimmerman lives in Wichita, where she raises her two children. In her late 30s, she experienced a series of health issues that rendered her immobile for weeks. Many times when she went to the doctor, she struggled to get a diagnosis and instead received more medical bills. She has had two surgeries, one for a torn meniscus that she lived with for nine months because she
could not get an MRI without insurance.
At the time of her health complications, Risse had to take much time off of work and could not afford much else besides a few groceries for her and her children. Unfortunately, she was told
she makes too much money to qualify for KanCare. She received no assistance for private insurance.
Risse had to ask her parents for help with some of the costs so she and her children could live, but even their help wasn’t enough. Fortunately, Risse now qualifies for an insurance plan through her husband’s work, and she is able to afford medical visits she simply couldn’t a few years ago.
KanCare expansion would have helped Risse with earlier diagnosis and treatment. She could have been able to afford doctor visits and medications that would have made her and her family feel more secure during her struggle. She believes that Kansans in the gap need taken care of and that they are working hard to take care of their families, but they need help from health insurance to do so.
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