Every day Delta college students wake up and go to class like normal, but for Izamar Valencia, it’s a privilege.
Valencia was a 20-year old college student just five years ago.
She was taking classes, making friends and wanting to make a difference being a psychology student.
“I was really inspired to do it,” said Valencia. “So I decided I would really like to help others who have gone through similar experiences as me.”
However, things changed when Valencia entered her spring 2012 semester. She was forced to leave school mid semester due to her medical insurance.
“I was diagnosed at age nine. I had to leave because of my medical expenses in regards to my diabetes through what’s called CCS (California Children Services) and I was under Medi-Cal as well. However, I was reaching the age limit of cut off for CCS and I also no longer qualified for my Medi-Cal with not cost due to my family’s income at the time,” said Valencia.
For Valencia, she got the even shorter end of the stick.
“As a college student with a chronic condition who was only working part time it was a very scary time for me and the costs in order to take care of my medical expenses were going to be very difficult for me and my family, because I would now have to pay a certain portion of it,” said Valencia.
According to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food.
Only five percent of people who are diagnosed with diabetes have this form.
Due to health care costs, Valencia made the decision to leave Delta.
“I had to drop my classes and unfortunately received the W on all my classes since it was after the date where I could drop,” said Valencia.
Valencia paid outrageous out of pocket payments and couldn’t qualify for medical because of financial reasons.
She would go on to find a job as a Medical Personal Assistant to a Cardiologist.
However, she would still need to complete training at Kaplan College.
According to cardiologypa.org, “PAs” must complete an accredited PA program, pass a national certification exam, maintain continuing education and recertification, and obtain licensing within the state(s) they practice.
“But when I began to work full time after I left school and got benefits from my employer, I was hit with the harsh reality that even that would be difficult for me because my insurance, which was ‘Blue Shield,’ was only going to cover generic medications under my plan,” said Valencia.
Insulin, has no generic brand.
“One vial of insulin could cost as much as $80 or more,” she said.
People who struggle with Type 1 diabetes need insulin because their beta cells in their pancreas are damaged or destroyed.
Therefore, Type 1 diabetes patients have an insulin pump. According to American Diabetes Association, insulin pumps deliver rapid or short-acting insulin 24 hours a day through a catheter placed under the skin.
“I also had the $4,000 deductible to worry about which I had to take care of for my medical supplies,” said Valencia.
Once a Type 1 diabetic receives an insulin pump, the amount of vials needed could drive the cost up even more.
Insulin is required for people with type one diabetes, there is not a way of getting around it. People like Valencia are having to use insulin two-to-three times a day.
Studies have shown that three or four injections of insulin a day give the best blood glucose control and can prevent or delay the eye, kidney, and nerve damage caused by diabetes according to the association.
Simple addition shows that adds up to $320 a day of insulin.
“All this only made it even more frightening for me and kept me from returning to school for so long because of the expenses,” said Valencia.
However, Valencia has returned to Delta College, four years later. Only because of one reason – financial aid.
While combating this incurable disease Valencia’s family income levels dropped, allowing her to qualify for financial aid.
Therefore, giving her the opportunity to come back.
“I decided I would really like to help others who have gone through similar experiences as me. There are a lot of misconceptions about mental health so I would really like to make a difference and shed light on it,” said Valencia.
Now, she is 24 years old and ready to continue her pursuit of a psychology degree.