A 21st Century Journalism Project

Healthcare In America

In Defining The Problem on March 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm


When Ashley Perkins was 2-years-old, her mother divorced her biological father because he had a gambling problem. Her mother did not have enough money to support them so they moved into her grandmother’s house in Fairview, Pa.

Eventually her mother got a full-time job as a medical assistant. She made $9 an hour and worked long hours. She was barely home to take care of Ashley, and when she was at home she was sleeping.

Ashley went to daycare at Head start. The state paid for daycare. After working seven days a week for a month Michele finally found an apartment in a Section 8 Housing complex. Section 8. This program provides housing to families, the underemployed, the unemployed, and the elderly. Rent was based on her mom’s income. Ashley described the place as so small you could barely move. We had a living room which turned right into a kitchen; around the corner was the bathroom and two tiny bedrooms.” It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

There are many types of programs that involve healthcare. Some of the programs are Medical Assistance, CHIP, SNAP, WIC and Food Meals. The role of health program is to help out working poor families. These programs are used all over the country, and also in Pennsylvania.

In 2007 Medicaid covered over 29 million children. It provides services for children, including screening, checkups and treatments.

When there is no other health coverage, the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) serves as an important role for children in low or moderate income families. This program is for Pennsylvania children and teens who are uninsured. It covers children all the way up to the age 19. CHIP is free for most families. However, there is always a small fee for families with incomes above the free CHIP limits. According to the Kaiser Commission “Almost three-quarters (72%) of the 8.1 million uninsured children in the U.S. live in families with household incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.”

A few years later, Michele met someone. They soon got married and she got pregnant. Michele had a son. She stopped working and stayed home and took care of her children. It didn’t take long until Michele and her family found a house in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Her children received reduce cost lunch because she was not working. School lunch cost just forty cents.

National School Lunch Programs Indicators

There are over 101,000 public and non- profit private schools that participate in school lunch programs. In 2010 over 31 million children received a free or reduced cost lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals.

Michele and her husband soon divorced. In this case Michele and her two children had to move back to Michele’s mother’s house for a few more months. Since Michelle was not working there was no way that she could provide food for her children. Her mother had paid for the food for her children. The family applied for food stamps. Recent statistics on families using food stamps indicated that 14.2 percent of the U.S. population in February 2011 received food stamps. Michele was very pleased with herself when she found out that she would be able to support her family with a meal. She stated, ” The look on both of my children’s faces were  unbelievable.  I was able to put a meal on the table for dinner. As we all hugged each other I started to cry, but I was happy at the same time.”

There are so many benefits that can help out low income families. These programs not only help families succeed, but it makes people in a better mood. Michele’s family was in a tough situation, but they kept moving on. It is the little things in life that make a difference. When Michele’s family received the food stamps it was a very special moment in their life.

Michele received government support through the programs such as Medical Assistance, WIC, SNAP, CHIP, and Food Meals She and her children made it through tough times and her oldest child Ashley is now a college student at Edinboro University. None of which may have been possible had Michele not received help from her family and support services 20 years ago.

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