Caring For Fido, Caring For Herself -- Uninsured Pet Groomer Looks For Insurance

Oct 22, 2013

It’s been three weeks since the health insurance marketplace opened in Texas. While we don’t know exactly how many people have made it all the way to the finish line, it’s clear plenty are still stuck. As part of KERA’s series Obamacare 101: Making The Choice, we profile of a Fort Worth woman who’s been uninsured for more than a decade.


There are dozens of eighteen wheelers at the truck stop off I-35-W in Keller. But spotting Connie Puckett is easy.

Connie Puckett gives one of her dogs, Ted, a shower in her mobile grooming shop off I-35 in Fort Worth. Puckett loves her work, but hasn’t been able to see a specialist for her heart condition because she hasn’t had health insurance. Edit | Remove

  She’s the one with dreads and a doggie t-shirt standing next to a truck specially outfitted for pet grooming. Puckett not only bathes and combs, she’s pretty much the vet.

“There’s very little that I can’t handle when it comes to the dogs,” she says. “And I really kind of apply that philosophy, or at least I have up until this point, to myself as well.”

At 49, though, she says the health care self-service station isn’t as effective as it used to be.

“Now I’ve got a problem with my heart,” Puckett says. “That was the wake-up call for me.”

Uninsured And Out Of Luck

When Puckett felt her heart pounding irregularly in 2010, she tried to ignore it.

“I really should have gone to the emergency room,” Puckett says. “But I’m tired of using the emergency room as my primary care physician.”

Her doctor, who lets her pay in cash, said she needed to see a specialist. She started saving up and calling around.

“Because I didn’t have insurance,” she says, “I could not even get an appointment.”

That’s where Obamacare comes in.

Options On The Health Insurance Marketplace

Long before the Health Insurance Marketplace opened on Oct. 1, Puckett was paying close attention to Obamacare.

“I’m really the type of person that falls through the cracks,” Puckett says. “It’s not that I’m not willing to pay, its just that on a month to month basis, when the basic cost is more than my mortgage…the option I have is to pay my mortgage or get health care?”

So, as soon as the Marketplace opened, Puckett has been online trying to buy insurance. She’s finally managed to log in and create an account, but hasn’t been able to actually shop. Puckett says she doesn’t expect the plans to be perfect. She just needs something affordable to help get her foot in the door to see a cardiologist, then she can get back to work shampooing Ted.