At a health-screening event in Sarasota, Florida, people milled around a parking lot waiting their turn for blood pressure or diabetes checks. The event was held in Sarasota’s Newtown neighborhood, a historically Black community.
Local resident Tracy Green, 54, joined the line outside a pink and white bus offering free mammograms.
“It’s a blessing, because some people, like me, are not fortunate and so this is what I needed,” she said.
Green said she wanted the exam because cancer runs in her family. And there’s another health concern: her breasts are large and cause her severe back pain. A doctor once recommended she get reduction surgery, she said, but she’s uninsured and can’t afford it.
In a recent Gallup poll, 38% of Americans surveyed said they had put off medical treatment last year due to cost, up from 26% in 2021. The new figure is the highest since Gallup started tracking the issue in 2001.
A survey by The Kaiser Family Foundation last summer showed similar results. It found people were most likely to delay dental care, followed by vision services and doctor’s office visits. Many didn’t take medications as prescribed.
The neighborhood screening event in Newtown — organized by the non-profit Multicultural Health Institute in partnership with a local hospital and other health groups — is part of an effort to fill in the coverage gap for low-income people.
Tracy Green explained that her teeth are in bad shape too, but dental care will also have to wait. She doesn’t have health insurance or a stable job. When she can, she finds occasional work as a day laborer through a local temp office.
“I only make like $60 or $70-something a day. You know that ain’t making no money,” said Green. “And some days you go in and they don’t have work.”
If she lived in another state, Green might have been able to enroll in Medicaid. But Florida is one of eleven remaining states that haven’t expanded the program to cover more working-age adults. With rent and other bills to pay, Green says her health is taking a backseat.
“I don’t have money to go to the dentist,