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Public Policy and Administration


Hilda Shepeard


AbstractThousands of middle-class families living in Essex County, New Jersey, cannot afford health insurance, but little is known about their experiences regarding this lack. The purpose of this research study was to explore the lived experiences of uninsured middle-class families who could not afford state or any other type of health insurance in Essex County, New Jersey. The theoretical framework for this study was based on Smith’s rational choice theory. The research question explored the lived experiences of uninsured middle-class families. Purposeful sampling was used in this phenomenological study to select 10 participants from families residing in Essex County with either a single-parent, two-parent, grandparent(s), or other nonparent(s) who had custody of and were responsible for a child or children. Participants must have resided in Essex County and (a) had a combined income between $50,000 and $80,000 from 2020 to 2022, (b) did not currently and had not had health insurance for at least 1 year prior to recruitment into the study, (c) read and fluently spoke English, and (d) were between 26 and 64 years old. Individual interviews were conducted with Zoom using a researcher-developed instrument. Coding was done using thematic analysis to identify data patterns. The participants repeatedly shared that the premium of health insurance was too high. The potential implications of positive social change from this study include promoting affordable health programs that can provide low-cost to medical care, which could lower death rates, create better health outcomes, and improve the lives of middle-class families in Essex County, New Jersey, to enhance their peace of mind.