Statement of Krisja Hendricks

I got involved with this health care work when Rock the Vote asked young Americans to share their stories of how not having health insurance has affected their lives.  It was being said that young people were apathetic about health care and just didn’t need it. I decided to share my story in an attempt to debunk this myth.  
When I was 22, one month before graduating college I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  Luckily I was still a student at the time and my surgery and therapy were covered by my father’s insurance plan.  However, three months after I graduated I was kicked off the insurance and not offered COBRA.  I started to apply for many different kinds of insurance and was denied every time due to pre existing conditions.  I was able to get by with going to the local clinic and getting the bloodwork needed to monitor my hormone levels but wasn’t and still have not over 5 years later had the tests needed for cancer survivors.  

At age 23 and without insurance, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  Insurers definitely turned me away after that was added to my bill of health.  During my second flare up of Crohn’s Disease I had to move back home with my father because I could no longer work or take care of myself.  This was because I had waited too long to start the medication needed to control the flare up. There was no generic brand of the steroid I was prescribed and one bottle that lasted a little over 2 weeks cost around $250 for self pay individuals like myself.  All of this could have been prevented if I had had prescriptions covered and the proper care needed for such a degenerative disease. 

It has been over 5 years since my cancer diagnosis and I was finally accepted to health insurance this May.  I was so excited to finally have the specialists and all the tests needed for my conditions.  I was scheduled about a month ago for a colonoscopy and a whole body scan and 3 days before the first scheduled procedure, I got a call from my doctor saying I had no hospital benefits and had to cancel both appointments. 

I too was a healthy person once and within a year after graduating I went from being that healthy person to being a cancer survivor living with Crohn’s disease without insurance all by the age of 23. I am 28 now and still battling with health insurance.  I am still fighting to get the tests needed to monitor my health over 5 years later.  If I had been able to stay on my parents’ insurance until I was 26 at the time of my diagnosis I could have received the care I needed and know without a doubt that I am cancer free. It’s very important that other young adults don’t have to suffer the same way I did which is why the current House that includes the opportunity for young people to stay on their parents insurance through 26 years of age is incredibly important.  

I want to thank Speaker Pelosi for giving me this opportunity today and again to Rock the Vote.  They have played the most important role in enabling me to speak about my health issues.