"I keep telling myself, 'Don't have an accident.' It is my biggest concern."
— Amy Kepic
May 1, 2013 (Butte Falls) — Amy Kepic lives in the small town of Butte Falls in rural Jackson County. She's 30 years old and she has two part-time jobs – one as a cleaning person for The Landing community center and the other as a caregiver for a client with disabilities. She is trying to get more work, but for now, she doesn't make enough money to pay for medical or dental insurance.
She worries about her own health. She worries about the big "What if?" What if she got sick or had an accident and had to go to the emergency department and had big medical bills to pay as a result?
"I keep telling myself, 'Don’t have an accident.' It is my biggest concern. If I got seriously injured, holy moly, I wouldn’t be able to cover the expense," Kepic says.
"When I went to the doctor, the doctor said that adults can lose their hearing if [infections are] left untreated. That scared me."
~ Amy Kepic
Kepic goes to the Community Health Center in Butte Falls to get her prescriptions renewed. She said she has slight bipolar disorder and takes medicine for it.
The center lets her pay on a sliding scale, something she is very grateful for, but it’s still difficult for her to afford a visit. Recently, she debated whether to go to the doctor for an ear infection.
"I almost didn't go in because I already owe for some health care costs. I couldn’t really afford to go in at that time. But it hurt so much, I finally decided I had to. When I went to the doctor, the doctor said that adults can lose their hearing if [infections are] left untreated. That scared me," Kepic says.
Changes in 2014 could bring relief for people like Kepic. Federal health reform provides funding to offer the Oregon Health Plan to more people. And in October, Cover Oregon will offer individuals and small businesses a central marketplace to shop for health insurance and access financial assistance to pay for coverage.
Told about the possibility of gaining health coverage, Kepic said, Kepic said, "That would be awesome."
"Community Health Center has been really great," she says. "But I would like to be able to go in more often. I have never really sat down at length and talked with a health care provider."