Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adventure in Health Care

There's been a lot of talk about health care and Medicare and Medicaid -- rightfully so given it's importance and the struggles in Congress. Yesterday I had discussions about it with various sources and I am at my wits' end. Life in Kay's World is never simple at the best of times and this is definitely not the best of times. Here is my story.

I have been struggling since last summer with dental issues. I have mentioned it here as a source of discomfort and embarrassment and how it's interfered with the quality of my life. I have also mentioned that I get little Social Security because I spent most of my life staying home to raise my children. Yesterday it all came to a turning point and I am throwing up my hands in despair and defeat. I am embarrassed to write this post and as I type, I am in tears as I have been for the last twenty-four hours and and probably will continue to be for a long time.

I am assuming that each State's department of human services work differently. Here in Ohio it's handled by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS --aka welfare). I deal with these idiots a lot because my income is so low I have no choice. The only programs I qualify for are food assistance and Medicaid. Don't get me wrong -- I really appreciate the help -- but I get very little of the former and Medicaid is, in my not so humble opinion, basically useless.

Yesterday I had my annual review with the sanctimonious bitch who is my caseworker. For years I was spoiled -- Miss Rosa was my caseworker and we had a good relationship because we could communicate and worked together. This one is nasty and I hope she rots in hell. I do realize that these people are overloaded given the situation in our county. We are all hurting but I digress.

My caseworker called promptly at the appointed time and went through the drill. I learned quickly that having one's paperwork in order was key so that was no problem and she rattled off what the various amounts of assistance I would receive -- no increase in food assistance despite the increase in grocery prices and my "spend down" is $218. WHOA!!!!!!! I went ballistic.

What is "spend down" you ask? It's the amount I have to pay if I wish to use Medicaid in any given month. My spend down was $115 and I couldn't afford that either but this is ridiculous. And it happened because my ex-husband retired and, as a result, my Social Security increased $106. In short, they are taking away 25% of my income if I use Medicaid. To be perfectly blunt, I never have $200 left after paying my rent, utilities, food (because try as I might, no one can eat on what they give me for that) and all the essentials like gas, paper products and cleaning and personal hygiene products, prescriptions, and car insurance, there isn't $200 left. The biggest things I have learned about the so-called welfare system is that it is neither well nor fair and is designed to keep people in its thrall.

Needless to say, I was a wreck when the review ended and had started having a panic attack for which I thanked the idiot profusely -- NOT! After I took my medication and calmed down to a semi-rational state, I started I called my Congressman's office to see if they could help. I was told that because Medicaid is a state program, it was illegal for them to talk to me. So I called my young punk state representative (a Democrat) and as usual, got his answering machine and so I left a message -- and as usual, he didn't return my call. (Guess who will never get my vote again -- he missed his chance to redeem himself.) I then called my state senator and he actually answers his phone himself. I explained my problem and he was properly sympathetic and listened to my problem/dilemma carefully. He gave me the name of the Doctor who founded a dental clinic -- which I didn't know existed -- at a local hospital and told me to call them and talk to the dentist and that he would call, too. He also took my name, address and number and said he will be in touch. I believe him as I've dealt with him before and he's been around a long time for that reason. He and I joked about his long career in state government and that we had more or less grown up together. Scott always gets my vote because he actually works for his constituents -- an interesting, albeit rare, concept.

I called the clinic and explained my problem and who referred me to the pleasant young lady there and learned that the dentist was not available at the present time (he spends a couple months working in South America in the underdeveloped areas) but said she would see what she could do for me and call me back. She hasn't called so I suppose I will have to call her back.

The bottom line is that until I can find a way that I can smile again, I am not going anywhere. Tomorrow -- my brother's Homecoming celebration -- will be my last public appearance except for necessary trips for subsistence reasons and frankly am wondering why I should bother with that. I think I am going to cancel my proposed move -- my caseworker was a bit taken aback at my mention of that -- and I won't be going home for a visit or anywhere else. I am tired and heartsick and wonder if I'll ever laugh or smile again. I am done. I can't fight anymore. I am too damned old and too damned sick to contend with all this. And I'm disgusted with petty bureaucrats and with a country that doesn't care. I can't help but wonder how many people have died from the issues I'm dealing with or any other health issues due to this alleged system and I wonder if I'm next.

I hope y'all are more fortunate than I am and are having a great day!!!!

Happy Blogging!!!!!



  1. Kay,

    Wow talk about a bad day! You could move to Colorado and take care of my mother and Duke and have a free place to live. lol I'm actually not kidding.

  2. Jan: Right! An old handicapped woman with the use of one arm taking care of another old woman.

  3. Anonymous1:47 PM

    After Maria was born, I went on welfare as a single mother. This was back in the late 1970s. I was treated very kindly and managed well on the money, food stamps, and medicaid. I was on welfare for almost 2 years before I married David.

    Maybe, you should get married or at least get a room mate to help shoulder your financial burden.

  4. Gigi: Single mothers are treated better by the system than old ladies -- they get everything. I live in a one bedroom apartment -- a roommate is not practical -- and if I had one, I'd have to report it and lose benefits because I have a small subsidy for my housing. And frankly, a roomate would drive me nuts at this time.

    Married? To who? No decent man wants a toothless old lady. And I will not marry unless I am truly in love. To do otherwise is unfair.

  5. I wondered when I read your comment on my post this morning and was worried enough that I planned to e-mail you if you didn't post something. I can relate to some of your predicament. I start getting survivors social security benefits this month and am more than a bit relieved and grateful for that. I am not getting any other benefits. I had not even thought of trying for anything like food stamps or assistance. Mom looked into it during one of my earlier bouts of unemployment and found that she makes too much money with her Social Security alone. Even during my repeated bouts of underemployment I never looked into it because as a household we couldn't qualify. I have been thinking of checking out Medicaid but it won't be worth my while if it takes a significant portion of my social security. I also need dental work but have no idea of when I might be able to get the work done. I wish we had an easy to understand system that provided adequate services to everyone.

  6. Dental is the thousand pound gorilla in the room of health care as it just isn't there for anybody who depends on Medicare and it should be because they know dental health is connected to bodily health. I hope you find an agency that will help you with it.

  7. I don't know what to say, except that I'm sorry you're having so much trouble. Is there any way that you can request a different caseworker?

  8. Mary: I'm not surprised that you understand. Do keep in mind that Medicaid has nothing to do with the federal gov't -- it is administered by the states so Indiana might actually make sense and do the right thing.

    Rain: I've done what I can and it doesn't look too hopeful. My life might as well be over.

    Betty: Thank you!!!! There really isn't a damned thing anyone can do. I called her boss and yelled and like all bureaucrats, he recited the same tired lines.
    I think I am doomed.

  9. Kay, I am really sorry that you are encountering what sounds like unfair and inhumane treatment.

    You'll be in my thoughts and (inconsistent) prayers.

  10. Kay, I am so sorry. I hate to read
    I am doomed" and "my life might as well be over", though, because I think your attitude about that will change - at least I hope it does. I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't. Hang in there, and continue to call your officials and anyone else who may be able to help.

  11. Judy: I've exhausted everything I can think of. I gave myself the day off because I simply couldn't face any more doors slammed in my face. This whole thing is ridiculous. Since tomorrow my brother will be back, I won't be calling around either. I want to enjoy his homecoming. I guess it all has to wait until Monday. Hopefully, something will turn up.
    Otherwise I will have to cancel any hope of a new apartment.

    Lorna: Thank you so much!!!!!

  12. Good old "means testing." Or maybe "mean testing" is more like it.

    I have to figure that they calculated this one carefully: you get $106 more, and they contrive to see that you don't get to use $103 of it.

  13. You did have a really bad day, Kay. I am so sorry, but even though you are ill, you sure have your spunk. You are very proactive in spite of being worn down to a nubbin.

    Like Rain said, dental is very problematic even in the paid health care world, including Medicare. I no longer have dental coverage and just hope for the best.

    I am so sorry that life is so hard for you, Kay. You look so beautiful in your photo it's hard to believe you don't want to even smile. I know you are Catholic. In Los Angeles Catholic Charities is such a wonderful organization. Do you have the equivalent?

  14. Kay, I'm catching up here. I am so sorry to hear about your troubles. This makes me so damn mad! You spend most of your productive years looking after other people, and when you can't do that any more you get thrown on the trash heap. It isn't right!
    I complain about the Swiss a lot, but one thing they do is provide SS benefits to mothers as compensation for the years they put in caring for children. I get Swiss SS on that basis, and it's more than my husband gets for the years he worked there. Imagine that. They feel that child rearing is socially important work that needs to be rewarded with a decent old age.
    The whole dental thing infuriates me. My dentist (I've mentioned this several times in several places) refused to treat my MIL, then age 95, now deceased, who just needed a cavity filled, because, as his lovely wife and assistant said, they did not want her "croaking" in the dental chair.
    Isn't that charming!
    It's a fact: even if you can pay for it, some dentists won't treat you after you get to a certain age.
    I see from reading above that things are looking up! Thank goodness.

  15. Chaz: I suspect you are right,

    Fran: It's worse than I thought as per a letter that came yesterday.

    Hattie: Gotta love the Swiss!!! If they counted the years I spent raising my decent responsible children and volunteering in the schools and community organizations, I would have a nice life.

    An interesting irony is that they count my 9-year-old car as an asset but they don't count its maintenance, gas, or insurance when figuring my benefits.

    Actually, things aren't looking up or so it seems re: a letter I received. The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be a train coming the other way. Sigh. If some people had their way, I think they would just kill me.

  16. dentists have been the bane of my existence from a very early age, and now that i'm three-score-years-and-ten, i kinda hope i get to die before i have to go have another root canal or something similarly fun. ten years ago, my dentist charged me $45 to re-bend a hook on one of my dentures, a procedure that took him all of three seconds. the dentures don't fit well at all now, so i save 'em for show--i.e., when i go out in public (and REMEMBER THE TEETH) or visit my children, whom i have mortified enough without showing up looking like a jack o' lantern. i figger i can always eat later. soup is good, btw, as you probably know.

    it's a bitch, baby...this getting along on hardly enough to keep yourself in rice and beans...without having to offer an arm and a leg to the medics, including the dentists.

    stay in touch, ok? we can figger something out....

  17. I am very saddened to read about all that stress in your life. I wish that I could help in some way. Last year, more than $2000 went to my dentist. He takes credit cards. Probably a stupid question, but have you 'googled' possible helpful agencies or places. Keep in touch.

  18. Me again Kay, you might check out a dental school. Can get work done pretty cheap and usually is done right, may take forever.


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