Haji Culton

Festus, 2021
Haji Culton of Festus smiling for a photo while looking over his left shoulder.

“My main concern at this point is my health. I have a 12-year-old daughter. I need to be here for her. My health is a necessity.”

Haji has been living in Festus, MO without insurance for just over 10 years after losing his job and health coverage. In that span of time, Haji was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and has seen his health decline. Without health insurance, he’s had trouble consistently seeing a primary care physician and affording his medication. He’s gone long periods of time without the care he needs, forcing him to wait until he has no other choice but to go to the emergency room for treatment for severe symptoms. “It’s hard to keep working if you’re sick all the time. I was trying to get disability. I was denied twice because I don’t have enough medical documentation because I don’t go to the doctor.”

Before expanded Medicaid, Missouri boasted the third most restrictive Medicaid eligibility requirements in the country, making it nearly impossible for parents to qualify and completely impossible for adults without children. “I make probably $500 to $1000 a year. I’ve had diabetes for five years. In those five years, I’ve probably been to see a doctor six times because each visit is $130. And then they want bloodwork done. That’s $500. They want MRIs done, which is like $1000. Without insurance, there’s no way.”

In the wait for expanded Medicaid to be implemented on July 1st, Haji has finally been able to access some medical services to manage his diabetes at low to no cost through COMTREA Health Center. “I go to the doctor every three months to go over my diabetes. Then I have a counselor who I see, and she is helping with my diabetes as well. Just recently, I’ve been able to get medication without paying for it, which is wonderful. It’s been a tremendous burden lifted off my shoulders as far as trying to function in society without finances.” 

When asked what qualifying for Medicaid would mean for him, Haji said, “Everything. My main concern at this point is my health. I have a 12-year-old daughter. I need to be here for her. My health is a necessity. [One of my friends] always says, 'Health is a human right.’ It truly is because if you don’t have money [for health care], you can’t do anything. You just die. And I can’t do that.”

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