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How I Lost BadgerCare and What Happened Next

Testimony given by Joyce Frohn at the Poor People’s Campaign March in Madison, WI, on March 2, 2024. Thank you, Joyce, for sharing your testimony with ESTHER in this blog post.

2024 Poor People’s March Wisconsin

In December of 2023, I knew that I might be losing BadgerCare.

I should first explain why I was on BadgerCare. My husband is on disability. He has an auto-immune disease that makes him not only unable to work but also in pain almost all the time. I am also a caregiver for my elderly parents who are in senior living and can’t move to assisted living until financial matters beyond my control are finished. Since I need to make sure they take their pills twice a day, I can’t take most jobs. I’m trying to make a living as a freelance writer, but that income is neither sufficient nor predictable.

During the pandemic, both my college student daughter and I could stay on BadgerCare. But as the post-pandemic “unwinding” began we were both worried. What pushed me over the limit was one simple thing: my husband’s disability check was increased.

That increase—$200 a month—wasn’t enough to cover the house taxes that went up, the fuel bill that went up or even the grocery bill that went up. But it was enough to kick me off BadgerCare.

The first note I got said I would be cut off at the end of January; the next one said I would be cut off at the end of February. I considered seeing if I could get a hearing. Then I went to fill a prescription and discovered that I had already been cut off at the first of the new year.

I only managed to survive because my husband uses one of the same inhalers that I do. I’m on some cheap drugs, like Metaformin, but the inhalers that I have relied on for my asthma for forty years would cost over two thousand dollars.

My husband and I scrambled to get insurance. The first exchange we checked into said that I was too late. The time to get new plans was over. The agent’s comment was, “Maybe you should just wait a year to get insurance.”

We finally managed to get a policy, and it only cost $250 dollars a month. So, his “pay increase’ cost us $50 dollars a month!

My daughter was safe because she was no longer counted as part of our household. Her part-time job wasn’t enough to kick her off.

Now we are behind on the house taxes and the electric bill, and we still can’t refill my prescriptions because the insurance card hasn’t come in the mail, yet.

I want to ask legislators what the good effect of throwing people off insurance and pushing more people into poverty could be. Unless the “good effect” would be the deaths of people like me?

—Joyce Frohn

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