A Massachusetts college student with diabetes is facing a tough situation: Either she stops going to college full-time to qualify for the insurance she’s currently using, or she opts for help from the state that isn’t going to give her the quality of life she’s used to. So what’s a student trying to get ahead in life to do — try to get an education on a part-time basis or get along without the insulin pump that helps her treat her diabetes?
Katie’s had diabetes since she was 9, reports CBS Boston, and her mom has been grateful to qualify for MassHealth. That coverage has allowed Katie to use an insulin pump to regulate her blood sugar, something that at $1,000 a month, her single mother couldn’t afford otherwise.
Things took a turn for the awful when Katie says she started getting phone calls after her freshman year at school, saying the appointments she had at the doctor weren’t going to work out if she didn’t have health insurance — she’d have to find a way to pay. But wait, what about MassHealth? Turns out, they pulled the plug when she turned 19 and began attending college full-time.
The somewhat good news is she can get help from the state — Health Safety Net covers insulin but not the pump delivery system. Her mom says injections don’t work as well as the pump, and could cause health issues in the future.
“It means the control of her diabetes is nowhere near as effective and long term, she could have major complications from blindness to kidney failure,” she said.
Katie does qualify for health insurance through UMass — but the $2,755 it costs isn’t covered by her financial aid, and her mother can’t afford it either. If she only went to school part-time she could get more government help, but then she’d lose her financial aid package. That’s a dilemma no one would relish facing.
Her case is far from ideal, and a local politician has weighed in on the situation without any solution in sight.
“It’s not a good choice to have to choose between full-time college and health coverage,” said State Senator Richard Moore, the Chairman of the joint committee on health care financing. “We really need to look into this.”
If MassHealth operated under the same rules as private insurers, Katie would qualify for her mom’s insurance plan until she was 26, prompting the question of whether states should also adopt similar rules for public health insurance. Those seven years could go a long way toward helping students finish their educations as well as receive adequate health care in the meantime.