Tis the season…to have health insurance

December 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Lena doesn’t like to go outside with her coat on, even as temperatures rarely rise above the mid-thirties during the day. I say this to people, and then I’m inundated with parent’s stories of kids not wearing their coats. (Hi Mom!) Now Lena has a runny nose, and I’m not entirely convinced that it’s not because I didn’t force her into a coat more often, even though logically, it’s just that time of year, and she just has a common cold. What did I do!

Oh, lookie here, thank goodness Lena has health insurance! We can go to the doctor whenever, wherever (not really, we have to go to during normal business hours, to our doctor, poetic license, people.) And her visit is free. Any medication she goes on, is free. This is because this year (but not next), Lena is insured by Medicaid.

I am not going to lie, and I’m sure I’ve said it before, this system has worked for me. As a single entity, temporarily employed, I did not see one hospital bill during my pregnancy, while I sat among women asking, My bill covers an epidural, but if I don’t use it, will they still charge me for it? I pay for my own health insurance now, Medicaid really only covers pregnancy for adults with ease, although Lena is still on Medicaid, because I’ve enrolled her every year.

There’s an interesting article on Slate.com today, about why more people don’t use their free health insurance. And it makes some good points. It is, as literally as possible but not at all literally, a bitch to enroll for Medicaid. I remember being close to tears, meeting my parents for breakfast at Weaver street, asking them to help me figure out the application. And I am college educated. It is poorly worded, poorly designed, and yeah, a ton of it involved me actually having to drive to the office to show them my birth certificate, or social security card, or whatever. So you can see why people might be deterred.

But on the other hand? No. Yeah, this application was an incredible inconvenience. It still is, yearly, to reenroll Lena. Is it worth it’s inconvenience? Yes. Yes it is. Did you hear me the first time? FREE HEALTH INSURANCE. FREE DOCTOR’S VISITS. FREE MEDICATION IF YOU NEED IT. (Hello, rashes and ear infections, may you be few and far between.) Granted, I have incredibly limited experience with this, and I can only speak for myself, but I highly doubt that state governments are intentionally trying to deter eligible people from receiving medicaid. Especially for children. Most children don’t need Medicaid to cover things like blood pressure or diabetes or cholesterol medication. Most children are probably going to be like Lena. They go to the doctor when they’re sick, and then they get their little bottle of whatever ear infection antibiotic they need, and bam, done. You just saved a parent a sick day and lost salary for having to stay home longer with their kid.

I will say that a lot of these programs are under advertised, but I think that the biggest burden of responsibility falls on the individual. My Medicaid case worker is really helpful, as far as underpaid, overworked government employees go. She’s helped me figure out the paper work, she’s helped me retroactively apply for coverage when I didn’t give her enough information on my application. And there are a SLEW of non-profit organizations that will help people with Medicaid paperwork. I don’t want to go so far as to say there is NO excuse, because circumstances are different for everyone, and sure, a large part of it is just luck, and finding someone on a good day to help you out. So yeah, maybe the federal government paying for more Medicaid costs will cause more people to become insured. I won’t put my money where my mouth is and say it won’t, but the people that weren’t going to apply in the first place, still probably won’t apply. The people that don’t know they qualify still won’t know they (or their children) qualify, unless there’s a mass email from Obama or something, telling them that they should figure it out. Medicaid coverage for non-married pregnant woman is the jamz. Seriously. I met a pregnant grad student the other day who was worried about bills, and I was just like Dude, you have to check this out, and she did, and she’s eligible and applied for it. The problem was that no one told her about it.

Uhh so, forgive my blatant advertising for BEING INSURED.

Also, you know, get yourself tested for HIV while you’re at it. There is no excuse.

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