A health disparity between residents of Pierce and King counties?

TACOMA  --  Some people in Pierce County say their health care isn’t cutting it. They want more services. They want better access to care. And they just want to live healthy lives.

“You don't know if you can pay rent or if you can get your next doctor visit.  It’s scary and its stressful,” says Mykel Ann.

Mykel suffered a stroke just three years ago.  But what she says was even scarier, is what came next.

“It’s hard, it’s really hard. You have to make a choice and then the bills pile up,” says Mykel.

Mykel is one of more than 100 people who turned out for a community meeting on health care at the Center for Spiritual Living in Tacoma Tuesday night.  This was a chance for people to voice their concerns and offer ideas on how to improve Pierce County’s health care system.

“There's more community help in King County. I think there’s more resources out there and more people willing to help in King County,” says Mykel.

A recent study found cancer and heart disease were the leading causes of death in Washington state. But the rates of death are higher for Pierce County when compared to King County.
The same goes for adult obesity rates, diabetes and even smoking.

The study also found the death rate from cardiovascular disease is 30 percent higher in Pierce County than in the rest of Western Washington.

Mykel believes the high cost of health care is keeping some people away from the doctor.

“Your credit goes out the window because of the bills and they don't care; they just keep tacking it on and the interest just gets higher and higher,” says Mykel.

According to the Washington State Healthcare Authority, the price and cost of health care is a national issue, not just one in Washington state.  They acknowledge there is work to be done.

“I want to see people go to the doctor without being scared of the medical bills. to catch their cancer before its stage 4 or before they have a stroke or a heart attack,” says Mykel.

Organizers say they plan to hold similar meetings like this one in the coming months.