Jameka Jackson of Little Rock, Arkansas currently works part-time at Arkansas Hospice, a non-profit organization that cares for people with terminal illnesses–but the 24-year-old is also looking towards the future. Jameka is enrolled in nursing school and has her mind set on a career as a pediatric nurse, working with infants and toddlers. A few years ago, Jameka was uninsured for a period of time and says she's grateful that she never got sick. Later, she got insurance through her job, but having $120 taken out of her paycheck every two weeks was too steep a price. She eventually landed on a cheaper, individual plan–but when she was stricken with appendicitis and needed emergency surgery, it turned out she was responsible for a large portion of the cost of her care–$900. Now, a year later, she's still paying those bills.
Jameka's nursing school requires students to have health insurance that meets certain guidelines, and making sure she can meet those conditions and stay in school is an added concern. Recently, Jameka got a letter from the State of Arkansas letting her know that, as a participant in the SNAP program, she is also eligible for Medicaid. Jameka just had to sign and return the letter to get enrolled. "I'm really excited," said Jameka. "The letter was a God-send. I have one less thing to worry about so I can focus on school and paying off my loans." Jameka adds, "Right now I'm stable, my bills are paid. But, I know from experience, random things can happen."