Lue Raven worked as a social worker for more than 30 years, eight of them in Charlotte at a long-term care facility. When she was laid off at the end of 2015, she was left with no health insurance. Without young children or a qualifying disability, she wasn’t eligible for Medicaid under N.C.’s laws, and without income, she didn’t qualify for tax credits either that would have helped her afford health insurance through the Marketplace.
“This is the first time in my life I’ve never had insurance,” Lue said. “I worked all my life. It’s crazy that in the country that we live in, everybody can’t have insurance, especially when you lose your job. At this point, I’m at the mercy of the system.”
As a social worker, Lue has seen firsthand the impact of not having health insurance. When she began working with adults in Charlotte, lack of insurance became a huge issue for her patients, many times resulting in long-term health issues and sometimes even premature death.
“For eight years, I’ve seen people like this. It’s sad. People are dying because they don’t have health coverage,” Lue said. “Now I’m looking at myself and saying, ‘Wow, this is what they were feeling. Now I’m in this situation.’ We can live long if we have the right health coverage; we can live to our 90’s, and these people are dying at 60 or 70.”
Now, without health insurance of her own, she goes to the emergency room when she needs essential medications, like blood pressure medicine and antibiotics. She hopes to find a new job and get health insurance once again, but her deteriorating health has prevented her from searching for a job.
“I want to live. But how are you going to live if you don’t have your health? You have to have your health and your strength,” Lue said. “How am I going to look for a job if I don’t have my strength? How am I going to work anywhere? I can’t.”
Today, Lue speaks up for those who are in her situation. Expanding Medicaid would provide essential health care access to Lue and more than 300,000 low-income North Carolinians who currently have no other options available to them.
“This is a war right here. We’re fighting our own system and people are dying in the process,” Lue said. “All this politics mess, this is crazy. It’s not about the color of anybody’s skin; it’s not about how you look. It’s about us in this place together. We can do better.”