Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the Ides of Medicaid

Today I received my Medi-Cal re-determination papers. They come every March and the fact that I received this years on the "Ides of March" is pretty fucking telling.

I don't talk about insurance woes very often because...well, it's just not something I've really been able to laugh about. Ever since turing 21 in 2003 I have had a roller coaster ride dealing with the Social Security Administration and Medi-Cal, California's own special brand of medicaid. Going through the wringer with both of these institutions has put a lot of regret, anxiety and stress on me. I had more panic attacks in the 2006-2007 than my in my whole life combined. I was assaulted with nonsensical notices and changes at every turn and for two solid years I refused to go near the mailbox. Every penny I earned was scrutinized, judged and come every paycheck, a decision was made to either reduce my benefits or keep me on. I was a hamster in a wheel, running and running and running. Unlike the hamster, my life actually depends on it.

After being able to logically sit back and assess the situation I've figured out the matter by which we are judged so fucking mercilessly. You see, unlike Medicare, which actually takes MY HEALTH HISTORY into consideration and cannot ever deny that I'm a person who will need constant, life-long care, Medi-Cal judges me purely on financial matters. This makes sense to a certain degree. Medi-Cal was created to help those of us with low-incomes to receive & finance medical care. Pretty nice, right?
There are two dark points to Medi-Cal and I'll address both

1) Social Stigma brought on by Fuckheads
You hear it all of the time; some asshole scamming "the system" to freeload off of taxpayers money so they can sit on their ass all day and contribute nothing to society. This is probably the main reason why I don't publicly speak about my being on Medi-Cal. I don't want the bullshit judgment that comes along with it.
I'm not going to lie, though. There are definitely a bunch of twats who scam the system. I don't know any of them personally by name and I couldn't pick them out of a line-up, but I know they're there. It's due to these dregs that Medi-Cal sends out these re-determinations papers and examines every single penny earned. This is why I don't think the TSA is all that intrusive. I deal with this insurance bullshit on a regular basis. The pat-down is a lot friendlier and welcoming.

Secondly, and the more alarming flaw with being on Medi-Cal:

2) Beneficiaries have to remain poor to receive benefits. Always.

Unless some magical windfall happens like the lotto or a great aunt leaving her fortune to us, or The Job of Your Dreams is landed with enough of a pay to cover our medical expenses, Medi-Cal sets us up for constant poverty and failure to dig out of the hole of financial despair. I would need to make roughly double, maybe even triple, the amount allocated to Medi-Cal beneficiaries in order to cover whatever Medicare does not. That's purely medical costs I am taking into consideration - not living expenses.

My problem is - where is this magical job that is going to be super cool about me missing work for medical appointments? About taking time off for surgeries and subsequent healing process? What if, like my last surgery, I get an infection and I'm out of commission for 4 months?
This is why when I quit my career in child care I knew, ultimately, I could only be an agent of one. A freelance writer. And y'all know just how rare those are nowadays.
So it's been slow going and everything from my bank account to how long I travel is domineered and dictated by a force I cannot be without.

Trust me, there are moments where I have given serious thought to turning in my US citizenship in favor of a country that has more appealing healthcare. Ultimately, though, I want the USA to work it the fuck out.

It is unquestionably the shittiest part about growing up with a congenital heart defect. Brace yourselves, adolescents, you are in for a bumpy ass ride.

LEAVE your comments, questions, fears or rants on the medicaid system!

No comments:

Post a Comment