Local News

Franklin County Couple Without Health Insurance Faces Life-Or-Death Situation

Posted August 8, 2002

— In America if you are poor, your kids qualify for Medicaid. In North Carolina if you work, but you do not make a lot of money, your kids qualify for Health Choice, a state-run health insurance program for low-income families. But if you make an average amount of money, you do not qualify for anything. For one Franklin County family with terminally ill children, it is a life-or-death issue.

Six-year-old Claire Endicott and her 22-month-old brother, Alexander, may look healthy, but they are not. They have cystic fibrosis, but their parents, Kimberly and Brian Endicott, do not have health insurance.

"We were barely in the hospital room when a billing agent came in, wondering how we were going to pay for it. This is after we found out she's got an infection that could take her from us," Kimberly said.

The Endicotts support five children with income from a small home-based business. They cannot get health insurance because their children have pre-existing conditions and they do not qualify for government assistance because their income is too high.

"They have income caps on it that I just squeak over the top of. That's because I'm taking care of five children," Brian said.

Some have suggested drastic measures to help them qualify, but they said those are measures they will not take.

"We're not going to be forced to get a divorce, file bankruptcy or give up custody of them," Kimberly said.

Paula Wolf, a lobbyist for the Covenant with North Carolina's Children, said some children fall through the cracks.

"It comes down to a philosophy of whether you believe that health insurance and health coverage is a right or a privilege. We believe that it's a right," she said.

Kimberly also has cystic fibrosis, but she said she is not concerned about herself.

"I can deal with it. I'm older than they are. I've lived. They haven't. They've just started life," she said.

The family paid $22,000 out of pocket last year in medical bills. They are trying to start a non-profit organization to raise money to help their family and others in the same situation.

If you would like to help the Endicotts, they can be reached at:

343 Tarboro Road Youngsville, N.C., 27596

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