BALTIMORE — Jose Crespin has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years.
He held various construction jobs and paid taxes but being an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador he can’t get social services.
Crespin has diabetes which has caused various health issues including the amputation of his leg earlier this year.
He doesn’t speak English, so he used a translator to tell us his story.
“The more difficult for my illness, diabetes during this time is not having a regular doctor, not having regular visits to a doctor,” said Crespin through his translator Viviana.
Now, Crespin lives with his sisters, who take care of him.
He can’t find a job because he uses a wheelchair to get around and doesn’t speak English.
“It’s been very sad for me and [to] see me without my leg, [to] see me in the wheelchair,” said Crespin through his translator.
Crespin has $58,000 in medical debt today, with no way to pay it.
He feels with health insurance this would’ve been avoided since he’d get regular check-ups to manage the diabetes.
“Of course if I had health insurance, this wouldn’t have happened,” said Crespin.
There was a bill in the Maryland legislature that would give undocumented immigrants access to the Maryland Health Exchange, but it died in the Senate because the committee chair tasked with bringing it to a vote thought more research needed to be done on the topic.
“I have to remind you, this bill was designed for people who are working and paying taxes in Maryland. They may be undocumented in terms of citizenship at this point but they are contributing to the Maryland economy,” said Delegate Bonnie Cullison, a Democrat from Montgomery County and lead sponsor of the bill.
Delegate Cullison says she plans to reintroduce the bill this year.
Until then, people like Crespin are stuck paying out of pocket for vital health care needs in Maryland.
Read More: Without insurance, Maryland’s undocumented immigrants struggle with medical debt