KHI News Service

Single mom in KCMO seeks benefit of preventive care

By Mike Sherry | January 06, 2014

Jeanette Pettijohn

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Jeanette Pettijohn is studying to be a special education teacher.

The 32-year-old Kansas City, Mo. woman attends classes at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley.

A divorced mother of four young children, she has a work-study job on campus that pays about $6,500 a year, which is still too much for her to qualify for Medicaid in Missouri, though the program covers her children.

She also is far below the earnings threshold ($23,550 for a family of four) that would qualify her for subsidized health insurance in the marketplace established by the federal health reform law.

Pettijohn said the last time she had employer-based insurance was in 2001 when she worked in collections for a bank. Medicaid covered her during her pregnancies and for a little while after each, but the last time she had that benefit was more than a year ago.

Pettijohn said she understands the value of preventive care and that’s one reason Medicaid coverage would be important to her, if she could qualify for it.

“Nobody wants to pay $100, $150 dollars to go see a doctor when they are not sick,” she said, “but then you have to think, ‘What happens if I don’t see the doctor and there really is something wrong and I could’ve prevented it?’”

She said there is history of breast and ovarian cancer in her family and would like to be able to get checked for signs. She said she also has serious dental problems but is unsure if she suffers chronic conditions such as high blood pressure.

She said she worries a lot about what would happen to her kids if she died from something that doctors could have caught early or prevented.

About six years ago, Pettijohn said, she miscarried at 16 weeks. She did not have insurance and she was waiting in a hospital emergency room when it happened.

Politicians that oppose expanding Medicaid must not know what it’s like to be poor, she said.

“I really think that maybe they don’t know what we go through because they don’t have to save and earn and whatever to buy a gallon of milk,” she said.

Pettijohn is among the thousands of people in Missouri and Kansas who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid coverage but don’t make enough to qualify for federal subsidies through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace.

“I’m dealing with it,” Pettijohn said. “What are you supposed to do? Just sit around and wait for them to do something. No, you move on.”

Related stories

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Profiles of the coverage gap: Kathleen Christian

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KHI News Service coverage of Medicaid expansion

Medicaid Access Coalition launches online "ticker" showing foregone federal dollars (2/13/14)
→ KHI report: Nearly 182,000 Kansans in the ‘Eligibility Gap’ (1/11/14)
House speaker says Medicaid expansion is "up to the governor" (1/10/14)
KS Senate president says Medicaid expansion unlikely to gain approval this session (1/7/14)
Profiles of the coverage gap: Kathleen Christian (1/6/14)
Efforts continue to expand Medicaid in Kansas and Missouri (1/6/14)
Hospital association hires former Bush HHS secretary to help craft a plan Kansas Republicans might support (12/23/13)
Iowa wins approval to expand Medicaid by using federal funds to buy private insurance (12/11/13)
White House officials hold call to urge Medicaid expansion in Kansas (11/21/13)
Republican governor talks up plan to expand Medicaid — his way (10/28/13)
Challenger says Brownback owes voters a decision on Medicaid expansion (10/22/13)
Nearly 5.2M Americans fall in coverage gap in states not expanding Medicaid (10/16/13)
Sebelius: Feds flexible on how states expand Medicaid (9/22/13)
Sebelius says Kansas and Missouri are missing the boat on Medicaid expansion (9/20/13)
Medicaid expansion coalition finds strength in numbers (9/17/13)
Republican Gov. Corbett proposes expanding Pennsylvania Medicaid (9/16/13)
Kansas lawmakers urged to consider Medicaid expansion by Wesley CEO (8/29/13)
Estimating maneuver could help more people gain from Obamacare: How the poor might qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies in states that don't expand Medicaid (8/12/13)
Report: States not expanding Medicaid stand to benefit most from doing so (7/18/13)
CMS won’t penalize hospitals in states slow to expand Medicaid (5/14/13)
Insurer Centene: We can do Arkansas-style Medicaid (5/14/13)
The Arkansas Medicaid Model: What you need to know about the 'private option' (5/2/13)
Nothing to be done about coverage gap in states not expanding Medicaid, feds say (4/29/13)
Brownback says he's listening to Medicaid expansion proponents, opponents (4/5/13)
Oregon shows costs of putting Medicaid enrollees in private coverage (3/29/13)
Governor urged to expand Medicaid eligibility (3/27/13)
Arkansas Medicaid expansion attracts other states' interest (3/26/13)
Senate president prefers options remain open on Medicaid expansion (3/25/13)
States urged to expand Medicaid with private insurance (3/22/13)
Senate budget amendment underscores opposition to Medicaid expansion (3/21/13)
Study: Kansas employers face millions a year in possible penalties without Medicaid expansion (3/15/13)
More than 30 Kansas groups pushing for Medicaid expansion (3/12/13)
Health insurers see big opportunities in health law’s Medicaid expansion (3/8/13)
Medicaid expansion supporters to step up lobbying efforts (3/7/13)
Budget committee hears resolution opposing Medicaid expansion (2/22/13)
Legislators focusing on Medicaid expansion cost estimates (2/19/13)
Kansas hospital group study predicts expanding Medicaid would generate 4,000 jobs (2/18/13)
Brownback officials release their cost projections for Medicaid expansion (2/8/13)
Medicaid expansion bill introduced (1/22/13)
Kansas hospitals worried about loss of dollars for charity care (1/14/13)
Brownback compiling own estimate of Medicaid expansion cost (12/20/12)
Group urges Brownback to expand Medicaid eligibility (11/9/12)
Debate begins on possible Kansas Medicaid expansion (10/25/12)
Amerigroup CEO says states ‘need’ to go along with Medicaid expansion (7/11/12)
Kansas hospitals ready to get on with federal health reform, spokesman says (7/2/12)
Kansas AG claims partial victory in health reform case (6/29/12)
High court upholds Affordable Care Act, but ruling puts limits on Medicaid expansion (6/28/12)

→ Kansas Hospital Association: An opportunity for the Kansas Medicaid program
→ Americans for Prosperity-Kansas: Well-intentioned policies do more harm than good
→ Health Reform Resource Project: The cost of not expanding Medicaid
→ Rep. Jim Ward: Medicaid expansion essential for healthier Kansas
→ Rep. David Crum: Reasons for opposing Medicaid expansion
→ National Academy for State Health Policy: Much ado about Arkansas: Medicaid in the insurance exchange

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