Michaela Goldstein is a graduate student at the University of South Carolina living with a mental illness. She lost her Medicaid health insurance when she relocated to South Carolina from California in 2021. Once in South Carolina, her coverage options changed.
As a young adult without children, she is not eligible for Medicaid in South Carolina, and her lowest cost health insurance option has a $9,500 premium. As a result, Michaela was in and out of hospitals for nearly 9 months before becoming a student at the University. During this time, she was unable to access the critical services, such as therapy and prescription medications, she depends on to help her manage her mental illness. She feared leaving her house, delayed care, and stressed about maintaining her mental health. Her only access to healthcare were emergency rooms, which has left her with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills.
“I’m scared that my life is on the line. It’s scary. It impacts every part of my life… it makes me scared to leave the house. Medicaid would mean that I could seek medical attention when necessary, and that I can reduce the stress I carry around about getting injured and maintaining my mental health.”– Michaela Goldstein, West Columbia, SC
Although she can now access mental health resources on campus, she does not have access to the psychiatric services she needs. Without Medicaid expansion, thousands of young people living with a mental illness like Michaela continue to go without the full range of health services they need to thrive in their communities.