Karen DiFelice, a Colorado nurse who lost her health insurance in January, has no health insurance and says she couldn’t pay the rental money for her home because of her medical costs.
DiFelice was airlifted to the hospital in 2017 when she suffered a heart attack, and her medical bills piled up in the ensuing months. But because she didn’t get health insurance as a resident of the Coors Field Native American neighborhood, she had no choice but to forgo needed treatment.
A justice for the indigenous people of Coors Field, Colorado! Pic. Katie Burgess Photography pic.twitter.com/nA0VyXo2IV — Kate Burgess (@YourIslandNM) December 26, 2017
Her employer lost its insurance and its COBRA coverage, meaning she couldn’t go back to work or pay rent. But the Coors Field native construction area doesn’t have health insurance, so the next best option for DiFelice was to enroll in a townhouse association.
It was difficult, and when she told the association her income wasn’t sufficient, she was denied housing. But then a kind fellow asked if he could donate to help pay her rent until her insurance was up. She was able to get to work, get it paid for and repay her charitable donor, eventually making good on his promise.
The Health Care Cost Containment Council reports that states that have adopted the Affordable Care Act, such as Colorado, have seen a “marked reduction in the percentage of counties that lack health insurance coverage” as a result of Medicaid expansion. Colorado is now one of only a handful of states with health insurance coverage for 95 percent of residents.
With Coors Field looking more like a movie theater than a city of new housing in its immediate neighborhood, DiFelice has taken to wearing union construction hats. She asks her friends to tell the conversation that a spokesperson gave them to invite her over to help clean up the neighborhood.
But the intersection with her health care woes is still the same: Waiting for insurance to pay for a doctor’s appointment.
“I’ve had to go over to the nail salon down the street to get my nails done,” DiFelice told The Coloradoan. “And I’m getting on in age, and I have to be careful walking down the sidewalk.”