How Public Health Care Saved My Family
My divorce took its toll in many ways, but health care was one of the biggest. Per my divorce agreement, my ex was supposed to pay for health insurance for my kids, but I was on my own. He bought some lousy health insurance for them — lousy meaning that it had a huge deductible and was a typically obnoxious HMO that didn’t pay for things it should have. Whenever I took my kids to the doctor for regular maintenance (they are remarkably healthy), I would get whammed with bills for ordinary, customary lab work: $100 here; $100 there. Flu shots? I had to pay $30 each for those — not covered. Note that since I was the one taking them to the doctor and signing the forms, all of the bills went to me – not to the ex who was supposed to be paying. I always worried that they would suffer some illness or accident – not only because I don’t want them hurt but because I knew the resulting fees might push me over the edge financially, as such things have for so many Americans.
My nine-year-old son did suffer one illness – plantar warts on his foot. Not alarming, you think? This is a garden-variety, very contagious kid ailment that needs to be handled – my son was in pain and limping. He had to go for several visits to the doctor and have nitrogen sprayed to freeze and kill the warts. Each visit, after the insurance company paid their piddling share, cost me another $100 or so. A couple of warts and I’m out about $350.
My own health care was a different story. Despite my work experience before having children, and my volunteer work while raising children, and my diligent searching, I was unable to find a reasonable full-time job with benefits (by reasonable, I mean a job commensurate with my skills as opposed to, for example, working at WalMart). Plenty of people would hire me for freelance work or temp work with no benefits. So I had to go without health insurance for a while. I went for years without going to the dentist; this caused me some serious (and expensive) problems later. When I was accepted to grad school and had to make the decision whether to go, the health insurance that was included with the tuition (which was paid with student loans) was a major incentive to say yes.
Meanwhile, the stress of my abusive marriage and divorce and resulting financial situation was manifesting in some physical ailments. All of my exercise and dietary efforts weren’t helping. I had a stress pain going up my neck that had me practically paralyzed. I was anxious and depressed. What a relief when I started school and suddenly had health care again. I got all my annual exams and was referred to a chiropractor who cured my pain.
Then the ex-husband was indicted for fraud and my children’s insurance, lousy as it was, was in jeopardy. I applied for Connecticut’s Husky health insurance (you can’t imagine how much time I spend filling out paperwork because of poverty – a full-time job). A few months later, a package arrived in the mail saying that we had all qualified for the Medicaid insurance, and thank God, because I was graduating and losing my health insurance. This was a surprise to me, as I hadn’t even applied for it for myself. They just gave it to me.
I called them and said, “What does this mean? We all have insurance? I hadn’t even applied for it for myself.” I was dumbfounded by the idea of the State actually paying our insurance.
The guy I spoke to said, “You got it, Take It!”
And so we went on public health insurance. The thing everyone is so afraid of. I can’t tell you what a relief it has been to have this. We found a doctor’s office in Stamford that is a bit hectic but the service is pretty darn good. Prescriptions, which used to be a major expense, are suddenly free, although some of them are challenged, somewhat arbitrarily it seems. My son had strep throat – we had to see the doctor twice, got excellent care, and finally got antibiotics — and I haven’t received any bills. I was able to get a full physical exam, including blood work. The blood lab made a bureaucratic error and sent me the bill instead of Medicaid – it was $903! This is for just ordinary annual physical blood work. Of course just seeing that bill nearly gave me a cardiac, and I was in a panic until I called and found out it was a clerical error that I was billed instead of Medicaid (I’m hoping it’s solved — you never know). But why in the hell is it so expensive in the first place?
The Medicaid includes dental, but this isn’t such a happy story. I went to a Medicaid dentist and they did x-rays, then the lightest of cleanings, telling me that the real cleaning that I needed would cost $150 per quadrant, or $600. It’s like a bait-and-switch operation. So I took us all back to our regular dentist and charged it on my credit card.
So my experience in general with public health care has been very good. Thank God my children and I have health insurance.
When I went back to town social services and mentioned this to the director there, she said, “Now you have to worry about losing benefits if you earn too much.”
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 2 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook
- 10 Shaq Confident He Will Eventually Make Funny Quip on TNT