By DAVE RANNEY
KHI News Service
GARDEN CITY — Until recently, 50-year-old Tammy Ryan had never had health insurance.
“I kept hearing about how everybody was going to have to have insurance,” she said, referring to the onset of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. “So I quit my waitressing job, which didn’t have insurance that I could afford, and took a job with the school district. I’m making less money now, but I have insurance.”
Ryan said she isn’t sure what her new policy will cover.
“I have a doctor’s appointment in a couple weeks, I’ll find out then,” she said. “There’s a lot I don’t know because up until now, I’ve never gone to see a doctor unless I was really, really sick.”
Ryan is a single mother who reared three children and now cares for three grandchildren. She said she’s been told she has heart disease. She may have diabetes, too.
“My mother, my youngest daughter, my brother and my sister all have diabetes,” she said. “I might have it, I don’t know. I feel alright now.”
Though she’s in relatively good health, Ryan said she has more than $10,000 in medical bills.
“I don’t have that kind of money, so I just kind of ignore them,” she said. “I know they’re there, but I don’t know what else to do. I’m barely making it as it is.”
Ryan said she expects to earn between $9,000 and $10,000 annually at her new job, which involves preparing and transporting school lunches. She works 35 hours a week.
“When I had my taxes done last year I got a note that said I should apply for Medicaid because I was probably eligible,” she said. “I went ahead and applied, but they said I made too much money.”
Ryan said the grandchildren, ages 5, 7 and 8, have lived with her “since they was babies.”
Ryan said she tries not to think too much about her family’s health care.
“I just hope and pray that things work out. I take everything day by day,” she said. “But when I do think about it I get angry. I’ve been a single mom most of my life. I raised my kids all by myself, and now I’m raising my grandkids. And then I see people who have more kids than I do and who aren’t working, and they’re on Medicaid and they’re getting food stamps. It doesn’t seem fair to me. It angers me.”