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Thanks to Oklahoma’s expansion of Medicaid coverage, Richard Patterson is able to address several medical and dental health concerns despite being unable to work due to a past injury.
At one point, Richard could afford Health Insurance Marketplace coverage through the premium tax credit, which lowered his monthly payment, because he met the income guideline eligibility. However, after an accident that shattered his pelvis, he was unable to work.
“I was also impacted by COVID, and I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said. “I was waiting for disability, and they had cut off the unemployment benefits. So I was at my wits’ end.”
“When you don’t have coverage, that’s like having a cloud over your head. With having coverage, you at least have hope of being able to deal with the situation that’s ahead”
Richard turned to the North East Resource Center where The Oklahoma City (OK) Chapter of the Links, Inc. was helping Oklahomans enroll in Medicaid.
“I appreciate the volunteers because I was one of the early enrollees in the process. They had some glitches but they fought through it,” he said. “We went through it together, and I was approved. Medicaid came right on time.”
Richard went through several procedures to repair his pelvis, and during the process, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“I got lucky, and it’s treatable. I now had the resources to address that. I had options, and it’s always better to have options. I was very grateful,” he said. “When you have health care, it’s very important that you monitor your health. For every condition that you come across, early detection is key in recovery, and it was beneficial to me.”
Richard has already scheduled necessary treatments because of Medicaid.
“I have surgery this month, and I have to have a hospital stay. I haven’t had an out-of-pocket expense so far,” he said.
We all need a little help sometimes, and to have the ability to have access to those programs is very much needed
He was also able to address dental pain that he was unable to get care for in the past.
“The dentists had to do some work on me and give me some medication. They will also be giving me some partials, and I’m getting a couple of teeth pulled. They gave me some different medicines to get my gums healthy and my overall oral health up to date. I’m appreciative of that because I was in a lot of pain, and I would just not really ever be able to deal or fix it. I didn’t have any viable solutions, which was actual professional treatment,” he said. “When I went to the dentist, I think I had a copay of four dollars.”
Richard said taking care of himself physically and having Medicaid coverage also improved his mental health.
“When you don’t have coverage, that’s like having a cloud over your head. With having coverage, you at least have hope of being able to deal with the situation that’s ahead,” he said. “Happy people are productive people, and healthy people are productive people.”
Richard believes that all Oklahomans should have the resources to take care of their health.
“Everybody should be afforded the opportunity to be all they can be so they can function at their utmost and be a valuable part of society. That has to do a lot with your health,” he said. “We all need a little help sometimes, and to have the ability to have access to those programs is very much needed. We all need a chance and an opportunity.”
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