“Thank you, Sally, and thank you St Benedict’s for not requiring that a person be stripped of their dignity before you’ll agree to treat them.”
“Do I buy groceries, get a mammogram, or buy the prescription medicine my child needs?”
Thousands of Boulder County residents are forced to make impossible choices that impact their health and well-being every day. Despite programs from the government designed to support expanded health services, thousands of individuals fall through the cracks each year. St. Benedict focuses on addressing these individuals who are medically underserved, typically the homeless and the working poor. According the most recent Boulder County Trends Report, approximately 8% of the population of Boulder County was living in 2014 without health insurance.
More and more frequently it is difficult for uninsured people to access the health care system and community health care centers. Nearly 40% of uninsured adults skip a recommended medical test or treatment. Compared with insured children, children without health insurance are 70% less likely to receive medical care for common childhood conditions such as ear infections and 30% less likely to receive medical attention when they are injured. Long-term care is simply not available to the uninsured.
The problem is getting worse not better. Many people just can’t afford health insurance. Out of pocket medical expenses for blue-collar workers can be up to 40% of their household income. Health care costs are the primary reason for bankruptcy in the US.
Between 1990 and 2000 there was a 76% increase in the Latino population in Lafayette (East Boulder County) and a 94% increase in the Latino population in Boulder.* Fear and mistrust, especially among undocumented persons, may prevent many from seeking medical attention. Major diseases such as diabetes and heart disease can remain untreated.
The number of uninsured and underinsured people is grossly underreported. There is simply no way to know how many peoples’ lives are actually at risk.
*Latino/a Research and Policy Center
St. Benedict Health and Healing Ministry P. O. Box 325 Louisville Colorado 80027 303-380-3132