Medically Uninsured and the Homeless

  • Jennifer Vanderleest


Alice Crowley is a 34 year old who lives out of her car. She lost her house 2 years ago when her boyfriend left her and she could no longer afford their apartment. She lives by herself; her 4 year old daughter child was taken by Child Protective Services. She gets an occasional meal at one of the homeless centers, and on really cold nights will sleep in the center, but doesn’t like to go there. She panhandles sometimes, but doesn’t like how people look at her, or give her a hard time. Most of the time she eats what she can find in dumpsters behind grocery stores and fast food restaurants late at night. She sleeps most of the day because of her night-time foraging.

Ms. Crowley has no medical insurance. She has not had the documentation she needs to apply for Medicaid, and doesn’t really have the energy or ability to try to find what she might need.

She has diabetes, but rarely has money for medication. She has been told she should be on insulin, but doesn’t have refrigeration so can’t store it. When she has had needles they have been stolen. She receives care at one of the community health centers, but really does not like to go there. People stare at her and move away from her because she can’t shower regularly. She often doesn’t have the gas to make her appointments; she has missed so many appointments the clinic is threatening to kick her out.

She feels terrible most of the time, is depressed and considers suicide sometimes, but doesn’t have the energy or gas to go to the mental health center. Her regular physician is not able to prescribe psychiatric medication, and she is not sure she could afford it if he did.


Affordable Housing Homeless People Child Protective Service Fast Food Restaurant Homeless Person 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Vanderleest
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community Medicine, Arizona AIDS Education and Training Center; Institute for LGBT StudiesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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