Where Do You Turn When Options Are Few?

When Edward* first came to Doctors Care, he had been struggling for years with depression and substance abuse. He did his best to battle the overwhelming challenges in his life, but was unaware that diabetes had been added to his long list of burdens. Edward had no idea what his strange new symptoms meant, and because he lacked medical coverage, his diabetes remained undiagnosed. While he tried to manage the tremendous obstacles in his life on his own, without access to medical care, Edward lacked crucial, life-saving information about his condition. It was a battle he simply could not fight on his own.

Although health reform has improved access to health care for many individuals, other marginalized populations continue to struggle like Edward. Circumstances like immigration status and issues around incarceration prevent some people from obtaining Medicaid or getting much-needed financial assistance in paying for insurance. For those who continue to fall through the gap, lack of access to care is costly and potentially devastating.

Without coverage, many individuals like Edward delay essential care until a condition becomes acute, resulting in much costlier treatment and needless suffering for the patient. Rock bottom for Edward came when a friend found him unconscious, in a diabetic coma. Like many in his situation, Edward was forced to get care in the most expensive way possible – the Emergency Department, where he was informed he had diabetes. For Edward, at least he finally had a diagnosis. He knew he needed help, but was unsure where to turn.

Eventually Edward was introduced to Doctors Care where he found the help and support he so desperately needed. He was able to enroll in Doctors Care’s Access for the Uninsured program, which connects low-income, uninsured individuals to affordable specialty care through a network of providers who bill on a sliding-fee-scale. Edward found a provider who agreed to treat his diabetes and give him the tools he needed to manage his condition. He met with a Doctors Care Health Navigator, who took the time to listen and help find solutions to the challenges that prevented him from living a healthy lifestyle. He was connected with resources to help with his depression, substance abuse, and other issues. Edward finally had the support and direction he needed to find his way to better health.

Helping people like Edward overcome obstacles to health care access is what Doctors Care does every day. However we couldn’t do it without the generosity of our network of volunteer providers. The need for more volunteer providers is great; the Access for the Uninsured program can only succeed when we have enough providers willing to step up and care for those who still fall through the gap. Each person we encounter has a unique story with a variety of complex issues. But with the patience, compassion and teamwork of Doctors Care Health Navigators and our provider network, we get to see inspiring outcomes like Edward’s happen every day.

*name has been changed