Less than a year ago, Francis Campos-Dunn was still working at a county hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area, helping patients navigate the often-maddening bureaucracy required to draw on their health insurance. These days, she has a new set of problems to navigate: how to manage her own care without any insurance of her own, having slipped into an unfortunate but fast-growing slice of the population–Americans who have lost their jobs and now lack health coverage.
Back when was still working, Campos-Dunn, 42, earned $4,000 a month, enough to make her co-payments for regular medical care. These days, she depends on $300 a month contributions from her 16-year-old son–money he earns at a part-time job–just to pay to the rent. When a recent seizure left her with two broken teeth, she skipped the required treatment and opted to have the teeth pulled instead, because she lacked the funds–a choice that would have previously seemed unthinkable.
As the Great Recession has sown unemployment and downgraded work even for those people who have held on to their jobs, the number of Americans lacking healthcare has swelled beyond 50 million, according to a sobering new report from the Kaiser Foundation.