New enrollee sees immediate benefits of Medicaid expansion

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Sylvanister Childs said he constantly worried about his health when he was uninsured. Fortunately, he was part of Oklahoma’s newly expanded population that qualified for Medicaid coverage, which proved useful for him as soon as he was approved.

“The same day I got my card, half of my face was swollen because I had an abscess in my tooth, but I was told I could get that addressed right away,” he said. “I was able to go to the doctor and get antibiotics. It cost me nothing. If I didn’t already have Medicaid, I don’t think I could’ve done that. It worked out perfectly.”

The Oklahoma City man works for himself remodeling and updating homes. He said that before receiving Medicaid coverage, he would avoid going to the doctor if possible. However, there were times where he had to make difficult decisions.

“Sometimes I had to make a decision of whether to go to the doctor or pay a bill because I didn’t have insurance or anything like that,” he said. 

Sylvanister only has one lung and suffers from asthma, which can often be irritated in his day-to-day work.

“I can be outside and get close to a particular type of tree, and that affects my asthma,” he said. “I can hardly breathe. I lose strength, and it makes me weak.”

Because his work is physically demanding, Sylvanister knew that a medical emergency could affect his livelihood. 

“If I’m down, I can’t make money or support myself,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest benefits of Medicaid, being able to stay healthy so I can work – especially because I work with my hands.”

He said Medicaid has also given him some peace of mind.

“Being able to go to the hospital to get even simple things addressed helps me tremendously. It takes a big burden off of you. It frees you up. It gives you a little bit more control over your life,” he said. “Without Medicaid, I would be in not too great a shape, but right now, I’m in pretty decent shape.”

Sylvanister is also grateful that thousands of other Oklahomans will be able to receive Medicaid.

“Do you know how hard it is to tell a family member or someone you love that they can’t go to the doctor or you can’t get them some medicine? That’s the biggest thing. It gives you hope. It gives you esteem,” he said. “I don’t know the correct way to say that, but basically it makes you feel a little better about yourself.”

Though the Medicaid enrollment application has many steps and can be intimidating for people, Sylvanister said the Oklahoma City (OK) Chapter of the Links, the group that helped him enroll, made the process simple. 

“It was probably going to be way harder if I tried to do it myself, but they did it so smoothly and they were so nice,” he said. “I want to thank them again.”

Sylvanister Childs and members of the Oklahoma City (OK) Chapter of the Links who helped him and other community members enroll in health care under Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma.


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Miguel Rios worked as OK Policy's Storybanker from May 2020 to January 2022. His career in communications began at Oklahoma City University where he graduated as a Clara Luper Scholar with a B.A. in Mass Communications. Before joining OK Policy, Miguel worked for Oklahoma Gazette, Oklahoma Living magazine and the State Fair of Texas public relations team. Through his diverse work experiences in various areas of communication, Miguel has become dedicated to providing a voice and platform to those who are often overlooked. A proud Mexican immigrant, Miguel carries his passion for empowering marginalized communities in every arena.

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