Trauma, Trials, and Tough Decisions

When we first met Kelsey in November of 2018, she had not been eligible for help through West Virginia’s Medicaid Expansion because she made just over the income limit.  Kelsey wants to be financially independent and stand on her own two feet, so she started taking all the extra hours she could get at her job.  At $11.00 an hour and even with the extra hours, she could barely cover all her bills and she could not afford health insurance.

Without health insurance Kelsey could not afford her medications and coverage for her behavioral health therapy sessions. So that made it harder to keep working.

Then about a month ago Kelsey’s hours were cut back. So, she reapplied for Medicaid and heard back from Medicaid earlier this month that she qualified and was approved for health insurance.  But if her hours increased again, she would cycle back off Medicaid because she makes too much money.

Ironically, Kelsey wanted to work and wanted to gain financial independence, but she faced the “catch 22” choice of working less but having health insurance or working more and losing health insurance.

Kelsey lost a sibling to the opioid crisis, supports her nephew when she can, and is trying to move on in her life – past traumatic experiences as a child. Her medication and her therapy help her keep her life on track.  The frustration and anxiety over the risk of losing her health care coverage shows when she shares her story.

Recently Kelsey lost her job.  As is true for many West Virginians, a stable job with stable hours is hard to come by.  With a “go get it” attitude she has already applied for three local jobs at several larger chain stores in the Parkersburg area. But competition for any minimum or low wage jobs is tough. But for right now she is grateful to be covered by Medicaid while she looks for a job. Kelsey can rest easy temporarily, “I’m now unemployed and that [HB 3136] would impact me – like, I thought to myself ‘I just got in there [back on the Medicaid program] – I don’t want to lose it again.”

Kelsey says that with Medicaid coverage, she can look forward to receiving her much-needed mental health services – the services that help her cope with past trauma along with staying healthy and ready for the challenge of job interviews and the stress of starting a new job.

Medicaid is the helping hand up for West Virginians like Kelsey and her family, who are trying to move forward and lift themselves out of poverty.

HB 3136 would have taken that helping hand away from Kelsey and many others like her.  Special thanks go to the allies, partners, storytellers, and decision makers who stood in opposition to HB 3136 during this 2019 legislative session in West Virginia. 

West Virginians Together for Medicaid also thanks Kelsey for standing up for Medicaid by sharing his personal story. 

If you are interested in sharing your Medicaid or CHIP story, reach out to us on Facebook ( or Twitter @WVTFMedicaid by sending us a message or give our Story Collection Coordinator, Lara Foster, a call 304-702-6708. Your story can help more West Virginians understand how important Medicaid is to our state’s families.

West Virginians Together for Medicaid