‘After I went to the hospital they sent us a bill for $19,000. We had absolutely no way to pay. We don’t get to eat every day, because we’re paying back what we owe.’
I moved to New York from Mexico 21 years ago with my husband. We live in an apartment in Brooklyn with our two children. I work full-time in a bakery earning $8.55 an hour, but it has become harder and harder to get by. My husband works in construction earning $10 an hour.
About a year ago, I was at work when I had an accident. My hand got caught in a machine and I lost part of my right hand. Instead of being supportive and getting me help, my boss almost fired me and they didn’t put any money toward my medical insurance or bills.
After I went to the hospital, they sent us a bill for $19,000. We had absolutely no way to pay. Because of my medical expenses, I fell behind on my rent check, so my landlord filed a case in court. In the past month, I’ve had to go to court twice for not being able to pay our rent, which means more unpaid time that I have to take off from work. I just don’t know how I will get out of this debt.
Now, when we get to the end of the month, we can’t always afford food. We were on food stamps, but when my daughter got a job as a medical assistant, they took us off, saying we should be able to afford food. I think it’s really unjust, because sometimes people who really need the benefits can’t get them. We don’t get to eat every day, because we’re paying back what we owe. Some days I just have tortillas and eggs to cook.
Our wages are very low and our costs are very high. I just don’t know what else to do to pay off my debt. I tell my children to study hard so that they can get jobs that pay better than mine, so they don’t end up in my situation.