Oklahoma has the nation’s second highest rate of people without health insurance. Like Tim Cundiff of Stillwater, the uninsured risk financial ruin from a medical calamity.
Cundiff has been uninsured since 2013, when he changed jobs and joined a small local company that does not offer health insurance to its employees. Cundiff said he doesn’t know where to get coverage and does not believe he could afford it anyway based on what his friends pay. He was diagnosed with cancer last year and racked up more than $200,000 in medical bills that he can’t pay. He may have to file bankruptcy.
In 2017, 14.2 percent of Oklahomans – well over 500,000 – lacked health insurance, slightly up from 2016 but lower than the 17.7 percent reported in 2013, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. Only Texas has a higher rate. The national rate was 8.7 percent in 2017.
In this video series, Oklahoma Watch profiles individuals whose quiet struggles in life reflect some of the larger issues facing the state. The series is made possible by a sponsorship from the Chickasaw Nation.