Erin Heald


PROFESSION: Disabled/Homemaker
LOCATION: Pendleton, NY, AGE: 31


I was in an accident at work, and they had to amputate my leg above the knee.  When my worker’s comp ended, and the pain management doctor refused to see me.  His office told me, “We don’t take that insurance.”  I said, “Can’t you even send me a prescription for one last time to wean me off the medications? They’re opiates—I can’t just stop taking them!” But they refused.





In Erie County, my insurance—which was through Medicaid—covered a prosthetic running leg, so I could get some exercise.  But when I moved to Niagara County, none of the insurance companies would cover my leg. They actually asked me, “Why isn’t walking sufficient exercise?” So because I had moved from one county to another, I had to pay out of pocket for my prosthetic, which cost me $2500.  The only reason I could afford it was because I had a settlement from my accident.  


Some people on Medicare and Medicaid never get a prosthetic because their insurance doesn’t cover it.  They just have to live in a wheelchair.  If you’re old and not active, the insurance companies just decide you don’t need to walk. The current health-care system is just too complicated, too expensive, and just not fair.  Health care should be treated as a human right—and that’s why New York needs to pass the New York Health Act.