Story Bank: Erica, Waterville

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Erica, 29, Waterville

Erica's family was looking for a change of pace and decided to move to Maine when she was in high school.When Erica entered college, her family faced economic hardship. 

“I fell into a weird spot income-wise,” said Erica. “I didn’t receive a Pell Grant. I wasn’t eligible for anything but loans. Meanwhile, my parents declared bankruptcy. I got through sophomore year and couldn’t go back.”  

While in college, Erica had been experiencing pain in her hands. Her doctors thought that she might have been experiencing symptoms of arthritis.  

Despite the pain, Erica knew she wanted to go back to school. When she was younger, in Mississippi, she used to spend time with her grandmother at a local hair salon every Friday. She always enjoyed and cherished that time. Erica decided to enroll in cosmetology school in hopes that she would find fulfilling work. 

After years of manual work in hair salons, the pain in her hands and arms has become much more intense. Suddenly, the work that she loves, that she has trained so hard for, has become nearly impossible. Erica can no longer see clients whenever their schedules allow. Instead, she can only meet with clients when her pain has been managed.  

Her doctors believe Erica may be experiencing degenerative arthritis, but are still unsure of her official diagnosis. Without health insurance and a diagnosis, Erica has not been able to get the health care she needs. “I hear people talk about the expense [of health insurance],” said Erica. “Without care, I’m heading for disability which is very expensive. I try to take it a day at a time." 

Erica has been without health insurance for three years and neither Erica nor her wife qualify for MaineCareor can afford private health insurance. 

Erica's wife, also uninsured, requires medications to help regulate her Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety. Without them, Erica’s wife has difficulty managing her work. 

Erica wishes to be able to manage her nerve pain, obtain the help she requires, and get the medications her wife needs. Because she cannot afford private health care insurance and does not qualify for MaineCare, Erica is forced to work part-time, in pain, struggling with the financial burden of medical debt.