Coping with the recession

February 6, 2009 4:07:51 PM PST
The recession has put millions of Americans in survival mode and for different people that means different things. It seems we're bombarded with dismal numbers everyday, but as too many Americans know, this recession hasn't meant just cutting down on shopping or Starbucks, people have lost their jobs and their homes. At a recent check-up a couple of weeks ago, doctors found a lump in Annette Gibbs' breast. They have told her there is a strong chance it may be cancer, but her fear goes beyond the diagnosis.

"If I did have cancer, I couldn't afford the operation to save my life and I was worried about not having the insurance to cover it," Annette said.

Annette has been out of work for a year. Her husband, Ronald, was laid off from his manufacturing job last month and the health insurance he received is gone.

Ron says COBRA is not an option.

"It's a thousand dollars a month, a little more than a thousand, and we can't afford that," Ronald said.

The Gibbs were already at risk of losing their home. Now, in addition a mortgage, utility bills, and getting food on the table, they are faced with the prospect of a mountain of medical bills for any treatment or surgery Annette may need.

"If you are in a situation like this and it's like no ending and it's like a wall, you can't get through that wall, what else are you going to do? I don't want to be out on the street," Annette said.

Today, the Gibbs sought help at an information fair in Center City. The Philadelphia Unemployment Project offered dozens of jobless Pennsylvanians information on how to keep their houses, pay their utility bills, and get health insurance while they endure this economic storm.

"We're here for the people of Philadelphia to let them know that they're not alone," Deborah Jackson-Smith of the Unemployment Project said.

"I've been working since I was 13, I pay taxes, and I feel as though if I'm doing all this for the government, my taxes are helping them to do their job, why can't they help the people? And we need help," Annette said.

The Gibbs are hoping the proposed stimulus package passes because their COBRA costs would be cut by 60 percent.

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