March 25, 2024

Samia Chowdhury of Ontario, California, saw her work hours in the restaurant industry dwindle from full-time to less than 10 hours a week when Covid shutdowns began in the US in March 2020.

But the loss of work was not her only problem. As a type 1 diabetic since she was 12, Chowdhury could not afford health insurance after losing most of her work hours and couldn’t get on Medicaid through California. Instead, she relied on visiting medical clinics for insulin prescription refills when she could afford to do so and mutual aid from other diabetics around the US.

“I could barely scrape together the $35 for the visit,” said Chowdhury. “I could not make ends meet. I was essentially choosing either a roof over my head or my health insurance.”

She relied on the clinics for doctor visits, lab work, and had to ration insulin and supplies while struggling to make ends meet with rent and other bills.

“Because I have to take the quick-acting insulin more often when I eat, that would be the only prescription I would pick up. The only way I can describe the effects on someone’s body is it feels like your whole body is acidic, but at least you’re getting to tomorrow,” she added. “I was making a vial last for up to two months.”

She also had to go without other supplies, such as testing strips, and reused syringes until they became too dull to use any more. From rationing insulin during the pandemic, to previous periods in her life when she didn’t have access to…

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