"I work at a fitness center here in Marin, but they don't subsidize the health plan. Right now I'm raising two kids by myself and bringing in $2,400 a month. Once you start adding things up -- $1,350 for rent, plus groceries, utilities, gas for the car -- paying $300 a month for health insurance is insane. It's insane! If I break my arm, I figure that only costs about $800, so in the end it's cheaper for me to go without. You do hear about people who get really hurt and go bankrupt, but I have to take the risk."
"My kids and I are happy but struggling right now. Weirdly, we've become close through the financial strain. The truth is I would rather have Little League for the kids than have health insurance for myself. You have to do that kind of thing when you're a parent."
Fact: Nearly one in four women in the United States delayed or went without health care in 2001 because they couldn't afford it.
Maureen Hayes, 56, home health worker said, "I have recurring bladder infections, and for the past few months I've also had heart palpitations and light-headedness. I knew I should go to a doctor, but I didn't have the money: I lost my insurance last fall when I was laid off from a receptionist job after 11 years. One day I was having chest pains and thought about going to the hospital -- I was so scared, weak and worried about my heart. But then I remembered how expensive visits to the emergency room can be, so I didn't go. It took weeks before I made this appointment at the clinic. I'm already spending more than $200 a month on two medications and doctor visits, and I'd also like to get a stress test. Ironically, paying for it has become one more thing adding to my stress."
Fact: Latinas are more than three times as likely to lack health insurance as non-Hispanic white women.
Juana Lopez, 21, a stay-at-home mother said, "I'm the only one in my family without insurance. Even if my boyfriend and I got married, we still couldn't afford the extra $100 a month that it would cost to add me to his health plan. I used a clinic during my pregnancy with my daughter, Jennifer, but otherwise when I go to the doctor I have to pay. So I haven't gone in more than a year. For now, I focus on getting Jennifer taken care of. She's 18 months old and was recently hospitalized for dehydration. My boyfriend goes to school to get a teaching degree, and we hope that when he's done, he can get a better job and help us all get covered. Of course we worry, but I'm young and healthy now."
Fact: 2.4 million American women with college degrees have no health insurance.
Samareh Eskandaripour, 37, a teacher and graduate student said, "I lost my coverage 16 months ago when I moved from New York City to take care of my mother. My husband is working freelance now and doesn't get health insurance at his job; I'm in a master's program at San Francisco State University and teach full time at a Montessori school for $10 an hour."
"We were in New York on September 11, and it just wore on me. I've been severely depressed, and it's so frustrating to have nowhere to turn for help. It's been hell. I was prescribed antidepressants, but it's been a struggle to pay for them. Meanwhile, I never go to a gynecologist. And my teeth are literally falling out of my head."