Living Uninsured and Mostly Unemployed {Guest Post}

coupleFor the past 4 years, my husband and I have been without health insurance due to either waiting for pre-existing time limits to past or being laid off at work and having to wait for another time period of coverage to begin. 4 years ago we lived in SC and my husband had a great job with excellent insurance benefits. Then I inherited a home in MS and we thought this would set up up for life: having a house paid for. So we moved. Big mistake. At first I found a job that lasted 3 years but my husband couldn’t find work at all. He kept having to work with Manpower for 3 months here and 3 months there. I had the worse insurance you could ask for. $3,000 prescription deductible per year plus they had the year of waiting for pre-existing illnesses clause. Then it paid hardly nothing when it did pay and the out of pocket was astronomical. And it cost $800/month to boot! It was horrible but it was all we had. We might as well as had nothing! Then I got laid off. Then I got 2 more jobs and got laid off of those two jobs as well so we didn’t have insurance during those times.

Our monthly prescription bills are $1,200. We buy our pills by the week. 7 pills of one kind, 14 of another, 7 breathing treatments of one kind, 14 breathing treatments of another. It sounds crazy but I get an unemployment check of $230/week and now my husband has finally gotten a job which he is in training actually for, and he gets $300/week so we have to break everything down to what we can pay for on Mondays and then what we can pay for on Wednesdays. And that has to include food and gas and bills. I was looking for a job for 4 months to no avail. I applied at over 100 nursing jobs but no one would hire me. There just aren’t any jobs out there. Then my health got bad. I almost died. I stopped breathing. I was diagnosed with COPD. I spent 5 days in the hospital uninsured. The research I’ve done shows that people without insurance are charged 4 times as much for healthcare than those that are insured so I’m not looking forward to seeing that hospital bill.

So here are the diagnoses of my husband and myself just to let you in on what types of medicines and how much medicines we have to take:

Chris: hypertension, gout, esophageal spasms, depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, hyperlipidemia

Marla Jo: hypertension, insomnia, depression, anxiety, glomerular sclerosis (30% function of kidneys) antiphospholipid syndrome (blood clotting disorder), sjordrome syndrome (autoimmune disorder), COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), chronic bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, hyperlipidemia, hypertriglycerides, chronic fatigue syndrome.

So then we take medications for each of these conditions each day and have to watch our diet and try to exercise regularly when we feel like it which honestly we are both prone to being regularly exhausted so its hard to get up and walk but we do try from time to time. We had to sell our treadmill so getting out to walk is extremely hard to do.

We left MS to move to GA when our daughter moved thinking that GA would have a better job market but it hasn’t. We lost our home here and has been living with our daughter now for 2 months. If it wasn’t for her we’d be homeless. We lost our car. We had to give up our puppies. We’ve sold everything we own almost. Well, everything that anyone would buy. We still own our bed and dresser and couch and recliner and table and TV. We sold everything else trying to pay bills and pay rent. Finally we just had to move in with our daughter. It was such a humbling experience. We have been so depressed. Finally my husband found a company that trains people how to drive big trucks and they accepted him in to their program, he passed the test and he has been driving in training for a month. Then he hurt his ankle and now he is back home on workmans comp in therapy, but he is still in the program but doesn’t get paid while he’s off. It’s like just one more thing to knock us down, to keep us down. He would have had only two more weeks on the road driving before he would have been through if this hadn’t have happened. Now we don’t know what’s going to happen.

We are 57. No one wants to hire us. I think its age discrimination. I’ve been a nurse since 1977. He’s been in the same field for 30 years and worked all over the world and is a master at his craft. But we aren’t young any more. And people treat us differently when we go in to apply. If we send in resume’s we never hear a word. If we apply on line, we hear nothing. If we take a resume and go in and fill out an application, they have a certain attitude like they are overlooking us somehow. It’s the same feeling I get since I’ve gotten fat, versus how I was treated when I was slim. I’m over looked and treated differently now. That’s how I feel now when I go in to apply for jobs now. The same way. Maybe its my weight. Maybe its not my age. But I think it my age. Because everybody else in the room with me will be young people and when I look around the places at who is working, it’s always young people. Where are the older people working?

I never thought I would be in this situation at my age. Unemployed and uninsured. It is so discouraging and so depressing. I have worked all of my life, raised two daughters on my on, treated everybody fairly, helped so many people, even let people live with me, gave people things, even gave away a car before to a family and I end up with nothing. I am not feeling very hopeful, am I?

But I can change that with the stoke of my finger. Today is a new day. I am feeling better. I have all the medication I need for the week and my daughter loaned me $50 this morning to last me till Monday when I get paid again. My husband is going to work this after noon on light duty, he is at the doctors right now and I think he has to have physical therapy on his ankle a few more times before they release him to go back on the road and then we can get back on track. I do have a roof over my head and though I don’t have a lot of food I do have some and I can always eat with my daughter if I need to. I have the love of my husband, the love of my daughter and her husband and their support and I have to hold my head up high and tell myself things are going to get better and in a couple of months we will have health insurance again and my husband will have a regular payday each week, it won’t be much, but it will be something. I may not be able to go back to work but we will learn to live on our budget. Anything will be better than this.

So if things aren’t going well for you right now, just remember, tomorrow is another day and all you can do is put one foot in front of the other, make one movement of some kind in a forward position, say something positive to yourself over and over until you make yourself smile and do something for somebody else that is worse off than you today. Even if its just to encourage them. Or compliment them. Or fold their clothes or clean their room. Just do something for somebody that gives of yourself so karma will have something to give back something positive to you. I’m not saying we deserve what we are going through. The economy is bad. Millions of people are going through the same thing we are going through. And it is tough. But we have to be tough right back and be positive and willing to wait it out. And take a deep breath and smile a big smile and tell someone you love them. I love you and I don’t even know you. But I know you are out there reading this and you are understanding where I am coming from and you are feeling me and so I am loving you for that. Thanks and I love you. Until next time…Have a nice cup of Jo!

times like theseAbout the guest blogger:
Marla Jo Zeller writes at Random Tandom Expressions of Depression and tweets @mjozeller


  1. Best of luck, Marla Jo. I hope things get better…

  2. Thank you, Maria Jo, for this post.

  3. I wish your family great luck and success. Please know we’re thinking about you.

  4. Living uninsured or underinsured is stressful in and of itself, trying to find a job when you’re in your fifties, total hell. I know just where the writer is coming from. Never thought I’d be in this position, never thought I’d have to worry about this–but hey, stuff happens. hopefully for all of us things will turn around. I laugh when I hear them talking about unemployment improving. It may be improving for younger workers but if you’re over 50, …good luck. One thought for anyone with multiple health issues…try applying for disability. They almost always turn you down the first time but it’s worth keeping on top of, and reapplying. I’ve heard this from other ‘over 50s’ out there, and they also said to talk to your welfare office about health insurance if you’re unemployed. Good luck to everyone looking for work out there.

    • I appreciate your comments and sentiments. I am starting the disability route soon and having had a friend go through it I plan to hire an attorney to represent me like she did the second time around, the first time. My first appt is in one week. I still have to get all my doctors statements though. This appt is for finances on my medical bills at the hospital to get disability on it. It’s a start on something. Then I have a doctors appt in a week and other doctors appts after that to start getting statements. My husband is hopefully going to be employed in 2 weeks with great insurance benefits so that will be covered. That is my main concern really. I never thought I’d be without a job being a nurse but it is what it is as my daughter says. Good luck to you too.

  5. What a honest post. Sending up good thoughts and prayers to your Family

  6. things do get better. may be a snails pace. But i promise it took me almost 5 years to start seeing the light and I feel 2012 will be a good year. Coming from someone with 2 degrees and a job markets that is brutal. My motto so far is Im going to make it , I will get hired , I will survive..
    Lots of hugs

  7. Dresden, this is my mom and I just want to say thank you for giving her another outlet. Blogging has been a great medium since she started a couple of weeks ago to help her get things out of her head and off her chest. I appreciate you identifying with her and showing her this type of support. *hugs*

    Mama, I’m glad that I am in a position to be here when you need me. I love you.

  8. I hope that you and your husband settle into a job soon and this becomes a non-issue.

  9. Thank you for sharing your story: it has really opened my eyes to the difficulties so many face in their 50s and beyond. I’m glad your daughter has been able to help you in your time of need. Wishing all the best for you and your husband.

  10. Praying hard for you and your husband Marla Jo. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.

  11. I hope it gets better! My Mom and stepfather have been so close to this kind of issue so many times. It’s scary.

    We love you too! Hang in there.

  12. With respect… I can feel the depression after reading this post.. I offer a different version.. I’m over 50.. I’m a nurse.. and I have two jobs.. neither fulltime so no benefits but I work 60 hours a week. It’s not the places I would chose to work. It’s not the hours I would chose to work. It’s not the pay I think I deserve but it’s a job and I give them 100%. I sacrifice. I’m divorced. I support two grandchildren below the age of 10 because their dad died in a car wreck and their mom became addicted to prescription drugs. I don’t have the luxury of being tired. I have insurance and it’s not the best and it’s expensive. I volunteer at homeless shelters and am reminded of how blessed I am. I take my grandkids and we do yard work, etc. for the truly elderly in our neighborhood. It’s a sacrifice to pay for the gas for the mower. My youngest gave up her birthday present so we could afford a used weedeater!! I was so proud. Sacrificing for others is priceless. I am happy. My heart overruns with Joy. Life’s not easy but I wasn’t raised with the expectation it would be… What I have and what I don’t have is mine to own… my intention in posting this comment is to encourage you to look outside of yourself and your own problems (as real as they are) to somehow find the energy to give back to your community.. because in giving you will receive so much in return…

  13. Please check out the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan: Georgia (Obamacare)
    premium for 55+ is $470 but includes rx coverage

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