I am a nursing assistant who works in private homes through an agency. I have been doing this since 1998; I really love the hand-to-hand contact with the patients. We get really close to the patients and we know a lot about them. I enjoy working with people – it just doesn’t pay much. It’s really hard work, too. You have to help put people in bed, move people, always been on your feet. It can be really exhausting.
I recently had two MRIs that my insurance didn’t pay for. It was for back pain, they thought it might be a pinched nerve. The insurance paid for part, but I have to pay $2000 for the two tests, plus bills for my blood-work. I can’t pay all these right now, but I pay what I can. I’ve been making my own payment plan, just putting into the debt what I can afford to do, but it is a lot.
If I’m sick I just have to suck it up and go into work. At one point I had another client and was working a lot more hours, but I lost that when I had to take time off – they gave it to another person. I got a flu shot this year, so hopefully I won’t get the flu; I might get a cold, but I still have to go to work. I don’t get sick a lot, but I have to be on the watch for it, because I can’t afford to miss work. If we have a cold and have to work, you have to wear a mask the whole time. Most of our clients are seniors and can catch things really easily. Their immune systems are really vulnerable. If you don’t wear the mask, you can contaminate the whole crew!
If I get sick, I just pay out of my pocket. I get health insurance on my own, but they charge me an arm and a leg and don’t want to pay for blood-work or anything. The doctor keeps giving me these tests to do, but the insurance doesn’t want to pay for it. Sometimes I just can’t do the tests because I know the insurance won’t pay for it. I switched insurances because I thought that would help, but it didn’t really make a difference; I have new insurance now, but it’s only been for six months, and I pay $140 per month for it.
If I had paid sick days, at least I could have time to recover mentally and physically when I’m sick – because you need some rest when you’re sick. It would help me be more secure financially, because I could plan my income better and know that being sick wouldn’t mean I’d lose money. Please help our country and my state of Maryland enact paid sick days legislation.