A few weeks ago, my cousin posted something on Facebook that had been making the rounds. It was a simple note from a doctor (real? fake?) basically stating that this doctor was against health care reform because the problem was not health care issues but the fact that Medicaid is a diseased program, that everyone who is on Medicaid is lazy and taking advantage of the system.
I have to admit at this point that while I appreciate that everyone has a point of view, I did not appreciate the fact that she then commented that the article was “so true” and a “must read.” So I defriended her. My own cousin.
Well, because she was well aware that for Potato (my son), and for thousands of other children, adults, and anywhere in between, Medicaid is the one program keeping the hope of healing alive. I would bet anything that a majority of families that use Medicaid use it because they have to do what it takes to keep going. And Potato and I, her cousins, who she was fully aware use Medicaid, need those programs to survive. For her to insinuate that broad generalization that all of us Medicaid recipients are lazy and wrong…..well, I can’t say I wasn’t hurt.
Shortly after this Facebook nightmare and a resulting blog post on my personal blog, I got the letter. The dreaded, you are no longer eligible for Medicaid, letter. The letter that basically brought my world crashing down around me.
Let me lay it out for you.
The hubs and I pay good money for the best PPO health care that our employer offers. It costs about $400 a month out of our paychecks. We have a $500 deductible, which we reached within the first month of Potato’s birth and subsequent hospitalizations. So, for health care alone, in the 19 months he has been on this earth, we have spent $8,600 out of our own pocket for health care.
And we love BCBS. They have taken great care of us. They never question charges, they pretty much pay anything at any doctor.
But, because they are a PPO, we pay very high co-payments.
In the past 19 months, according to our tax documents, we have paid over $15,000 in hospital and doctor co-payments. That’s just co-payments. $30 here, $20 there. In 19 months. Don’t even get me started on the $4000 in prescriptions as well as the recent bill for home nursing support.
But Potato requires more. Potato requires a monthly supply of feeding bags, specialized formula, oxygen, and both day and nighttime nursing care. This is above and beyond the cost of normal baby things: clothes, diapers, wipes, etc.
So here is a breakdown of the medical costs it takes to keep Potato alive for one year (minus doctors bills):
1 Can of Elecare (formula) = $33
He uses 26 cans a month = $858
For one year = $10296
Medical Supplies (oxygen rental and feeding supplies)
One month rental = $1000
For one year = $12,000
Home Nursing Care = $25/hr
8hrs a day / 4 days a week / one month = $3200
For one year = $38,400
Prevacid & Norvasc & Inhaled Prescriptions Out of Pocket = $60 + $20 + $300
Refill every month = $380 a month
For one year = $4560
So far, for non-hospital related expenses, we would be paying $65,256 a year just for the necessities to keep him alive. Add in hospital expenses, doctor co-pays, early intervention therapies like physical and speech therapy and the like, we are looking at a total bill of $100,000 a year just in medical needs (again, not including diapers, onesies, developmental toys, baby food). And this renews every year. This is not a one time charge.
Here’s the kicker though. As hard as Hubs and I work, our salaries combined do not equal $100K. Which means that just working full time jobs, the both of us, wouldn’t bring in enough money to cover the costs of Aidan’s care. Meaning, we would have to max out our credit cards, dip into our savings, and the like (been there, done that) to afford it.
So how do we afford this?
We seldom go out to dinner/lunch/breakfast, hardly ever buy clothes (yay for Mom’s hand me downs), and have had 2 Christmases, birthdays, hanukkahs, mothers and fathers day, and anniversaries in a row where we haven’t gifted each other (or Potato) anything. And we choose not to do these things because we have to save for the surgeries that cost a couple thou. Or for Potato’s schooling. Because that’s what it takes to survive.
You know what else it takes to survive?
Potato is the fortunate recipient of Medicaid in Virginia. So on top of our expensive PPO, which covers most of his medical things, we also receive Medicaid which covers a majority of the rest (it does not cover his new doctor in Maryland, nor does it cover his medications).
Medicaid gives us the day and nighttime nursing care, which makes it possible for me to work my butt off for a measly wage as well as sleep. Medicaid covers the cost of his therapists, which come every week from the county to get him ready for school. Medicaid covers his dentist bills for his rotting teeth and cleft palate due to the amount of time he spent on a ventilator and his incessant need to vomit. Medicaid gives us the peace of mind that we can take care of our son in the best means possible.
For many against government assistance, their argument is that it is a hand out, not a hand up. Well for us, for Potato, Medicaid pays for the tools necessary for us as a family to succeed. It allows us to work and provide for our family while keeping Potato out of a slimy day care that can’t attend to his feeding tube needs and gives him probably-fatal childhood illness. It allows us to know that we can keep the medical team of doctors we have assembled to give Potato the best care.
And if that isn’t a hand up, I don’t know what is.
So, if you are my friend, and you comment on this post or anywhere that Medicaid is an evil program that needs abolished or that you hate paying out of your taxes for it or blah blah blah…..then you are essentially condemning Potato to death. And you are no longer my friend.
Oh, and if you refuse to pay out of your taxes for government care of others that are disabled or need special care, then I simply quote my high school’s motto: Do Unto Others as They Would Have You Do Unto Them. Just food for thought.
(BTW, we did have our Medicaid extended. I increased my hours at work, and we have sold a lot of our belongings to afford the medical costs that BCBS is no longer covering. Due to this, I will no longer be blogging here or anywhere as both of my computers have been sold. I really appreciate all the love and support you have given me and my family these past few months. I, in turn, would ask you, in my absence, to turn all of your love, attention, and support to Parker and his mom, who are in a familiar boat, but require much much more than I could even write about. God bless!)