[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/05/sou.nc.health/art.dougsou.cnn.jpg caption="Doug Pegram, of North Carolina, is just one of many unemployed Americans struggling to pay his medical bills."]
On CNN's "State of the Union," host and chief national correspondent John King goes outside the Beltway to report on the issues affecting communities across the country. This week, King traveled to North Carolina to look at the financial crisis' impact on health care.
WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (CNN) - For Doug Pegram, it is on the one hand simple math: His medical bills cost roughly $300 a month and a health insurance policy would cost $550.
Programming Note: Watch "State of the Union" with John King, Sunday at 9 a.m. ET
"Two or three hundred dollars goes a long way," Pegram said. Especially when you are living on unemployment benefits.
Simple math, and a huge gamble: Pegram has a rare disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, that in some patients can be life-threatening.
"If anything happens, that's another story," Pegram told us. "But you have to do what you have to do sometimes, and you just hope for the best. And do it."
Life on the edge started in November, when Pegram lost his job at Hanesbrands Inc., the clothing manufacturer where he had worked for three years. Ironically, Pegram's job as a senior analyst included writing reports for Hanes management on sales and economic trends.
"Every couple months, it [layoffs] went through the company and a few people here and there and it got worse and worse," he said. "I knew it was in the future somewhere."