Many residents cannot afford health insurance

Monday, December 22nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Oklahoma City-AP) -- Lee Hill is like many Oklahomans who can't afford health insurance.

The 58-year-old self-employed manicurist hasn't had coverage for the past 12 years and relies on a network of friends to help her when she's sick.

That help comes from her clients, some of whom work in the medical profession and diagnosis her ailments or provide prescription drug samples when she needs them.

There are 650,000 Oklahomans who aren't covered by private health insurance and don't qualify for Medicaid.

Hill makes between $25,000 and $30,000 a year, so paying $300- to $400 a month for private insurance is unrealistic.

Oklahoma is one of 18 states where people without health insurance make up more than 16% of the population. Officials estimate 18% of Oklahoma adults are without some kind of medical coverage.

State lawmakers may try to tackle the problem during the upcoming legislative session.

Morris state legislator MC Leist says the idea of helping employers subsidize health insurance premium copays is being discussed.