Oklahomans going without healthcare

Thursday, October 23rd 2008, 5:56 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CTIY -- With tough economic times, some Oklahomans are struggling to pay for many of their basic needs, including healthcare.

Doctors said it's becoming more of a problem because of higher food and gas prices. Many are having to make the tough decision between putting food on the table and buying medicine.

"It's time I get a new prescription, but I couldn't get some of them because they'd be over $100, almost $130," Gloria Nolen said.

Nolen struggles with paying for hundreds of dollars worth of medicine every month, but with financial crisis, it's medication she can no longer afford and her health is failing.

"I don't know if that's why I'm in the hospital so much," Nolen said.

Dr. Gary Riggs from St. Anthony's Medical Center said Nolen's case is common, and over 600,000 Oklahomans are without insurance, and they simply can't pay for medication.

"It's been a problem in Oklahoma for quite some time," Dr. Riggs said. "They sometimes have to get a medicine that's not as good for their condition, and sometimes they'll forgo the medicine altogether."

It's a problem plaguing not just the elderly, but people of all ages. High gas and fuel prices cause health to be put on the back burner, but there is some hope for the healthcare problems plaguing residents.

"Our point here is to provide medication for people who need it, even if they don't have the means to pay for it," said Travis Humphrey from Health for Friends.

Local clinics like Health for Friends are serving Norman residents and helping those without insurance or low-income families with free health check-ups and affordable prescriptions.

Lately, they're seeing a spike in visiting patients.

"It's sort of an inner struggle trying to help and having very little resources to do it with. Sometimes it's very frustrating I guess, but we've helped a lot of people and we'll always continue to help," Humphrey said.

Help is out there, but for Nolen, this is an uphill battle for her health which she continues to fight every day.

"I just have to live with it. That's all I can do, I mean, I'd like to be able to get it, but if you can't, you can't," Nolen said.

Dr. Riggs also mentioned if this problem continues, there will be even more demand for medication and that could drive up healthcare costs for everyone in the long run.

For more information on local clinics or how you can help, click the links to the right.

There is also a free clinic from Pam, a Pastor of Crossings, for medical, dental, and limited behavior help. The clinic is by appointment only for people without health insurance. For more information, call 749-0800. The clinic is located at 2208 W Hefner Road.