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Erin S.

I am 33 years old and work as a personal trainer and yoga instructor. For much of my adult life, I haven’t had insurance and my health has suffered because I have had chronic muscle and skeletal pain that wasn’t treated.

I remember having my first injury in high school when I was 16 and running track. I had 3
physical therapy appointments because that was all that was covered by my father’s insurance and we couldn’t afford any more. As a result, that injury never really healed. In March 2020, I had a work-related injury and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder girdle sprain, and tennis elbow. I was hopeful then that I would finally get treatment. But trying to get care through Labor & Industries took months and months and after the referral delays and lack of providers, I simply gave up.

In April 2022, I was in a head on collision and had significant hand, neck, hip and shoulder injuries. Fortunately, the person who hit me had insurance and I was able to get treatment for the injuries from the accident as well as the old injuries that it exacerbated. But those benefits ran out. I am currently getting physical therapy twice a month because I am paying for it–actually, I’m charging it to a no-interest credit card. I should have weekly sessions, but I can’t afford that. I plan to stop the physical therapy a few months before the rate increases and try to pay it off before the interest rate hikes up. This isn’t the first time I have had to go into debt for my health. I was so afraid of the bill that I put off going to the dentist. When I finally went, I had 12 cavities. It took me years to pay off the $5,000 bill.

I believe that a lot of my chronic pain could have been resolved if I had access to good quality physical and mental health care. But our health care system doesn’t see it that way. As a result I’ve had to not only live with chronic pain, but I’ve had to go into debt to try to relieve it.

Help us change the health care system.