He's too poor to afford a doctor but not poor enough for government help. That's where they come in.
Life can be hard. But there are good people in this world, working tirelessly to make things better.
What happens when you're too poor to afford health care, but not poor enough for government help?
The answer to that question, of course, is that you might not get any health care or medication. 60-year-old Paul Schirb knows this firsthand.
To qualify for Medicaid, a person typically needs to live at or slightly above the poverty line.
In the state of Arizona, where Paul lives, a two-person household is considered at poverty level if they earn less than $15,930 per year. Arizona has expanded Medicaid coverage so a family living at or below 138% of the poverty line can qualify. Still, that means the upper income limit is $21,983 for a two-person family. Despite being unemployed, Paul and his wife exceed that limit because of Social Security income.
With how expensive doctors and medications are, how in the world is someone with such limited income supposed to get the health care and medications they need? Especially if they have any health conditions that require extensive treatment (but don't qualify them as disabled)? Those things can easily cost thousands of dollars a year.
The truth is that it can be nearly — or, in Paul's case, completely — impossible.
Enter: doctors with a passion for helping people.
Mission of Mercy
is a nonprofit that provides free health care, dental care, and prescriptions to people in need. That's right: free.
Because of the Mission of Mercy and volunteers like Dr. Ira Ehrlich, Paul gets his prescriptions and can see doctors.
Ehrlich is a retired Ivy League-educated cardiologist who has chosen to forgo a leisurely golfing retirement and instead dedicate his time and heart to people like Paul — the people who need him the most.
"I receive zero monetary compensation, but I receive a great deal of compensation in terms of the good feeling that I get being there, the ability to come home feeling: 'I've done something nice for somebody. I've made a difference.' That is compensation."
— Dr. Ira Ehrlich
It might be easy to see a story like this and say, "Oh, that's nice!" and move on, but take a minute to think about the impact. For Paul and thousands of others caught in the strings of a faulty system, Mission of Love and other organizations like it are providing a safety net. And saving lives.