Health insurance is such a political issue, talked about all the time and so dispassionately, that it can be easy to forget just how important it is to some families. But, last year the Census estimated paying for health care pushed at least 10 million Americans into poverty.
In Washtenaw County, the Census estimates there are almost thirty-three thousand people without medical insurance. Three of these people are in the Romo family.
That includes Hunter Romo, a blond, bubbly four-year-old I met while he was coloring politely with his two cousins in the waiting room of the Washtenaw County Health Plan offices.
Hunter’s parents don’t make enough money to afford insurance. His dad, Felipe Romo, told me Hunter's medical expenses have added up to thousands of dollars. Hunter has asthma. His parents need to take him to the hospital every time it gets out of control, or he could die.
Hunter was lucky to find the Washtenaw County Health Plan, a social service agency that is like a cheerful friendly oasis in a sea of complicated programs, forms, and income eligibility requirements.
The Health Plan is a social-service agency behaving like a praise-worthy small business. It makes a lot happen with a little and has an office culture that encourages workers to look for simple solutions that can make a huge difference in the finances and health of a lot of people.