'If I got sick now, I'd just have to die'

'If I got sick now, I'd just have to die'

June 4th, 2013 by The Knoxville News Sentinel in Local - Breaking News

Tia Long, owner of "Little Sisters Gifts" on Clinton Highway, creates a pair of earrings in her shop on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Long has been selling jewelry in the Knoxville area for 25 years. She has not had health insurance for 20 years, and is holding out another year to qualify for Medicare.

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

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Twenty years ago, when her daughters were young, Tia Long had health insurance.

"We had to," said Long, who has owned Little Sister's jewelry and gift shop for 25 years. "But it got to be way, way, way too much" for her to afford on the income from her little store.

The policy ran her about $250 a month back then, and it had a lot of exclusions, she remembered; for example, it wouldn't cover her thyroid medication or endocrinologist appointments, saying that was treatment for a "pre-existing condition."

"We just ran out of money" and had to drop the coverage, she said.

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