There are the days Lilia Valadez spends in pain — vomiting, pacing, aching, screaming — and the days she spends anticipating when the pain might come again, keeping her from work and potentially requiring an emergency room visit she can’t afford.
Valadez, a 44-year-old living in the border town of Pharr, Texas, has a recurring intestinal infection and no health insurance. She’s nearly $25,000 in medical debt from visits to the ER — more than she and her husband bring in each year between his disability payments and her part-time job as a caregiver to the elderly.
The rest of her family qualifies for Medicaid, the government’s health care program for the poor and disabled, because her husband has a severe mental illness and her 3-year-old son is autistic. But while Valadez is poor, and sick, she’s neither poor enough nor sick enough to qualify for Medicaid in Texas. So she goes without care.