TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - With the cost of health care skyrocketing many Americans find it impossible to afford health care premiums and opt to go without health care coverage.
So what happens if you suffer a major accident and injury? How do make sure your protected?
WTXL spent some time with a young woman who suffered a spinal injury and is navigating the health-care system with no health care coverage.
"It was June 25th 2017 and I was coming home fairly late at night from hanging out with friends from Thomasville," said Sarah Kelly. "I was right past Pebble Hill Plantation and I over corrected the road had been wet because it was raining earlier, I slid across four lanes and the median and hit a tree."
Banged up, Sarah Kelly was rushed to the ER, her T5 and T6 vertebrae compressed. She broke her C2 and C3 vertebrae in her neck, 8-ribs and her collar bone during the crash, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.
Kelly would spend the next two weeks in ICU trying to get feeling back in her body, while racking up over 100-thousand dollars in medical Bills. It wasn't until she was transported to Shepherd Center in Atlanta that reality set in.
"When I got up to Shepherd was really the first night that it hit me on what had happened," said Kelly. "I was coming off all the pain meds, the surgery had been done and I really started to have a panic attack.
Compounding an already tragic situation, Kelly would navigate through the health-care system with no health insurance. According to a poll, close to 33-million Americans do the same every year.
"So many people don't have insurance, and you are one accident, one parking lot, one anything away from your freedom being taken from you and not having the funding to protect yourself," said Kelly."
Kelly is fortunate enough to have a support team including family, friends and local organizations who've helped during her. For many knowing where to turn to can make all the difference when tragedy strikes.
"Friends and family have been huge, this entire community in Tallahassee that know about it have been outpouring it's really been a humbling experience," said Kelly. "With the Florida Brain and Spine Trust in Tallahassee and all over Florida, they have been able to step in and help with finances when we couldn't make some of those ends meet. "
As Kelly continues to deal with the cost of her health-care, she's focusing on getting better. Therapy sessions are grueling but necessary. It's all part of getting her on her feet, trying to find some normalcy again.
"She's fighting to get her strength back, she is fighting to get her legs back and it's that fight you see every single day for things we take for granted," said Kelly.
"There are so many things they have to tackle before they let her be independent. But I know she is ready to get back to work," said Anna King. "She's the hardest working girl I've met and she's known for her independence and I'm just ready for her to get that back."
"Future now, we're looking to go back into the retail side of a career maybe as a merchandiser or buyer," said Kelly. "I'm looking at maybe going back to Florida State in the fall for another degree and just continue on therapy until I can't go anymore."
Sarah says, the best place to start looking for help is Medicaid, although that itself can be difficult to navigate, there are organizations out there that can help you.
If you want to get involved in Sarah Kelly's fight you can go to her Go Fund Me page.