I’m going through something I’m a little anxious about. Nearly the whole thing is TMI, so you know… Don’t read if discussions about the workings of the female body make you squeamish.
in February of 2014, I wrote a post detailing our medical insurance nightmare.
Here’s a the timeline:
- November 2008 – Leave job with great insurance knowing Jay also had great insurance.
- February 2009 – Jay loses job to lay off, we all lose great insurance.
- February 2009 – July 2010 – Pay out the nose for Cobra, then cannot afford it anymore, lost insurance. Get kids insurance through Healthy Families, Jay and I go without.
- July 2010 – Jay gets new job – we still can’t afford employer’s insurance as premiums = 80% of take home pay. Kids still on Healthy Families.
- Sometime in late 2011 – Healthy Families is discontinued, kids absorbed by Medi-Cal.
- Late 2012 – Affordable Care Act comes into play. Kids up for renewal on Medi-Cal. We fill out forms to add Jay and I. Kids renewed, Jay and I in some sort of limbo.
- January 2013 – Call Medi-Cal, “What’s going on with me and Jay.” “We have no record of you.” “But we were on the same form as the kids you just renewed.” “Sorry. Not Sorry.” Forwarded to Social Worker. Three weeks of phone tag ensue.
- February 2013 – Social Worker can’t find my paperwork. Give social worker new paperwork. That takes me a week because you have to give them EVERYTHING to steal your identity. Copies of DL, SSN card, Birth Certificates, Paystubs, Bank Account Statements, Federal Tax Returns, etc. In hardcopy form.
- March 2013 – Send paperwork certified return receipt. I get a voicemail. “While I got your paperwork, we are not allowed to look into Medi-Cal cases until we receive the paperwork from the state. We don’t know when that will be. Goodbye.” So – find out she lied to me. I think she had me do all the extra work (I’d already done on the original forms) as a delaying tactic.
- April 2013-April 2014 – Call monthly. No word. Start receiving paperwork in Arabic. Correct it. Be told that Jay has “immigration issues.” “How do we correct that? He has to have an annual FBI background check for his job… Pretty sure he’s good!” “Don’t know, he’s listed as ‘other.'” Do not pay tax penalty as the fees were waived for 2013 taxes.
- May 2014 – Call monthly. Find out we’ve been being bounced from Covered California to Medi-Cal and back again. They look at income differently and we’re right on the border line. Covered California says we make too little for them, bounce to Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal says we make too much for them, bounce back to Covered California. Finally get approved for Covered California for insurance. Pay premium. Receive cards. Go to look up a doctor and my login no longer works. Find out that insurance has bounced us out – literally kicked us out, no refund on premium. “Medi-Cal believes you may qualify for them! You’ll be reviewed in the next 30 days!”
- May 2014-May 2015 – Call weekly to monthly trying to figure out what’s going on. Oh, there was a computer glitch. Our technical team is working on it. Months go by. It’s fixed! But you need to do a new application with Covered California. Oh, too bad so sad, the enrollment period is over. Pay tax penalty – like it’s my fault that they’re all screwed up. Insult to injury.
- May 2015-Present – Apparently that insurance we had for 1 whole month saw us during enrollment. But our case looked SO WEIRD in their system that they passed it to their Covered California liaison. This liaison contacts us. They work for the insurance company, not Covered California, however, they work WITHIN the Covered California system. They listen to our whole story. They fix us. We now have insurance.
So… We finally have medical insurance. I literally waited two months, paying the premiums, before making appointments because I was afraid they were going to kick us out again. We have both visited the doctor for the first time in 5 years. What’s going on with us medically is another story for another day. But for now (and I’m not holding my breath), the saga is finally over.
So, yeah. We were outta commission on the blog due to malware, and that’s fixed. But we were also outta commission because because of dealing with family stuff. So let’s do a general update on the last 6 months shall we?
All the Death. My mom died June 16th. I wrote about that. In terms of the logistics and practicalities after a death, that part was easy. I saw more clearly than my father did that the end would come sooner than later, and so I pushed for him to be prepared. My mom had some extremely unusual health conditions all her life. She was even written up in medical journals at one point due to an extremely rare (for the time) surgery she had on her heart. As a result, she wanted to be donated to science. I was able to find a reputable organization that did that, and made all the pre-arrangements for that. In case you’re curious, they take a complete health history, and then match the person to various studies that their donation will be appropriate for. Then, when your loved one has passed, you call them instead of your local mortuary. They make arrangements with a local mortuary for transportation. They speak with whomever your official “declare” person is. In our case, it was a hospice worker. Then the mortuary comes and takes your person to the science center. They do their tests and studies, and then about 8 weeks later, they cremate your loved one and return their ashes, along with a summary of the studies they were a part of, and what good those studies are for, so that you know what their contribution did. It’s only a summary though – getting details, apparently, is a security thing for the studies (there are rules about releasing details of studies currently in process). In her case, my mom was totally and completely against having a funeral. She hated them, and didn’t want one, and so we honored her wish. That was difficult for the kids. So, when the anniversary comes around, I’m going to arrange for a tree-planting or a bench or something that’s tangible for the kids.
The details were fairly easy, because my parents had a trust, so everything just converted to my father. The only person she actually left anything to had passed (my brother who died several years ago). No, she didn’t leave any items to me. I’m not sure why. I’m not bitter about that, just… confused. I’ve been helping my father with other details… Changing names on the accounts and such.
6 weeks later, my aunt died. She lived in Las Vegas. She didn’t have a “real” will, but she had an unprocessed one so we tried to do what she wanted as far as we could. She didn’t have any assets, so we didn’t have to go into probate. My parents owned her house (she rented from them). So I had to handle ALL THE PAPERWORK for her death. Her bank accounts, her utilities. Her friends for the most part were absolute vultures, and I was so disappointed in their display of the lack of humanity. I’m still dealing with medical bill folks who don’t understand that A) She is dead and B) She didn’t have an estate. Somehow we were able to sell her house in literally 2 weeks. Which meant a whirlwind round trip out of state for our family to clear out her house. And we then had a 3 vehicle (I drove the 20′ truck) caravan to move her stuff out of the house back home. That was fun. (/sarcasm.)
4 weeks later, my mother’s ex-husband died. They had no contact, so this shouldn’t have been a “thing” except that she was still beneficiary on a military life insurance policy. So not only did we not get the money (because she died first), I had to jump through hoops to prove that mom was dead, and so was their son, for absolutely no benefit to us. Yay government.
1 week later, one of my mom’s best friends died.
So – essentially the summer sucked ass.
Joseph eventually totally lost it. He was injured in summer school, then all the death above, lost his therapist, got a new one, lost a psychiatrist, got a new one, lost the new one, and got ANOTHER one. It was too much. He was arrested (There’s a whole story there I simply don’t have the energy for), another 72 hour hold, court… It all sucked. But we finally came out of that with a definitive diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Between the hormones of puberty (which hit like a ton of bricks), and one of his meds stopped working, led to a bunch of triggers, which led to a definitive diagnosis. That led to changes in meds and therapy. Since the end of December though… He’s changed. Either something clicked in his head, or we finally have the right triangle going with meds/therapy, or all of the above… He’s doing really well. I actually got a call from school (which of course makes me hold my breath) but it was a “What happened to your son?” in a good way. They were concerned by the drastic turn-around, which they’ve never seen before. Did we change something at home? No. I WISH I knew what the magic bullet was, so we could continue doing THAT, but I don’t know, and he’s not saying. So, he’s in a really good place mentally. Not so much physically… His thyroid is basically stopping in functionality, and that has nothing to do with his current meds. So… we’re in the process of trying to correct that and the testing process to see if it’s working etc. We’re probably going to sign him up for football next month. Community, not school – his special school doesn’t have sports teams. He needs the physical outlet, and he also needs the structure, and teamwork all that entails. Plus, with his thyroid not functioning properly, and one of his meds lending itself to obesity and diabetes, he needs more than PE to keep healthy.
Logan is… Logan. He ran/walked a 5K. For fun. He recently went to PA for a week with his 5th grade class as part of their American History. He’s easily amused, understands his limitations, tries to work around them, all with a smile on his face.
Poe may be losing his job fairly soon. The location he currently works at is closing and coming under new ownership, which will not use the company he works with as a vendor. Once the transition happens, his company said they’d transfer him, but I don’t trust them, so we’ll see how this goes.
And me. I think I’m finally okay. My mother’s death hit me pretty hard. Harder than I anticipated. I’ve known we were on borrowed time for years, and knew then end was coming. I was prepared for that. Plus, essentially I’d lost her quite a while ago to Alzheimer’s. So, I thought I was prepared. So when the grief hit so hard, it was confusing. And then I had to deal with all the paperwork, government crap, paperwork, and details, and bureaucracy, and red tape with all the deaths, that I didn’t get to grieve. I had to go straight into robot mode. I had all these grieving people to help through the process, all the administrative stuff, the court and hospital stuff for Joseph… It was all too much, and I just shut down. Left right left right. Make this call. Send this form. Not lose clients. Rinse, repeat. For months. I’m finally, finally out of the fog of that. I couldn’t write about any of it since someone decided to hack my site.
But that’s the update. And I’m back.
I need your help in understanding what Obamacare would mean for my family. Please note: I am NOT looking for political opinions. They abound, and I have my own. I’m actually looking for what this literally, practically, logistically means for my family.
Here’s our current situation. My husband’s income (not including my own which fluctuates dramatically) is about $475/week. My husband’s employer provides insurance. At about $350/week (yes WEEK not MONTH). Without telling you our actual expenses, but you can be assured that they are the same things that others pay… Rent, car insurance, utilities, food, gas, student loans, etc. We are frugal. Our truck is paid for (and 20 years old). We no longer use our credit cards, but we’re still paying one off. I coupon, use online deals, etc. Most of my clothes have holes in them, because I pay for clothes for my kids (with coupons) since they really are weeds in human disguise. In other words… We’re careful, methodical, and thoughtful with our money.
Income Approximate (as mine varies) per month: $3,500
Remaining: $200 – currently put towards “extras” or extra debt, and when the debt is gone it’ll go into savings.
If we bought my husband’s employer’s insurance:
Income Approximate (as mine varies) per month: $3,500
The math doesn’t work – needless to say, we can’t purchase my husband’s health insurance.
My kids, however, have serious medical and mental health issues. Aside from the annual/semi-annual dentist and pediatrician visit, one of my kids has an annual echocardiogram (about $1,500 a year), an electrocardiogram (about $500 a year), one of my kids has a monthly psychiatrist appointment (about $1,800 a year), and his meds ($900/month). So our medical costs NOT including regular well-child visits, OR sick kid visits, is $1,217/mo, $14,600/year. With the well child visits, vaccinations, and when they get sick, it’s obviously more. As a result, we use state subsidized medical insurance for the kids only. I do pay a premium for them, but it’s prorated based on our income. My husband and I haven’t seen a doctor, dentist, or ophthalmologist (I wear glasses), in about 4 years. We would go to the emergency room if we have to for something like a broken bone, or stitches, etc – but thank God we haven’t had to yet. It would probably bankrupt us. For everything else? We suffer. I’ve tried free clinics in our area, but it’s a first come/first served kind of thing to get an appointment, and I’ve yet to actually be able to talk to a real person to try and get an appointment. I kind of need to see a gynecologist desperately.
So. My understanding of Obamacare is… You are required to have health insurance. If you don’t, you pay taxes as a penalty. If you don’t have health insurance, you can use the government health insurance (which doesn’t exist yet). So my question is… Since it doesn’t exist, when do we start getting penalized? How much will the government health insurance cost? What will this (and when) look like for my family?
Again – I’m not looking for political opinions here. I’m looking for what this means, as it stands now, for my family. When I’ve looked into it, I’ve gotten totally confused. Does someone have a website that breaks it down into “real life” for you?
So, I lose at NaBloPoMo. I really did try, and then real-life kicked my ass in ways I’ve been unable or unwilling to talk about to this point.
First, my parents decided to usurp my parental authority. THAT WAS FUN. That’s a new dynamic I’m not used to – they’re usually very good at letting us be parents, and letting them be grandparents, and not blurring that line. It’s a pretty significant line seeing as how they’re together with the kids a lot, and we live right next door, so boundaries in the relationship are important.
So Thanksgiving. Yeah. My parents were no-shows. So, that was fun. Because of my mother’s health issues, AND my mother’s mental health issues, I have no idea if “mom’s sick” is actually, “mom’s sick,” or if it’s “we’re pissed off at you and so we’re going to pull the martyr/passive aggressive card to punish you.” Because my emotional maturity surpassed theirs about a decade ago, I truly, truly do not know which is the case. Yes, my mother is very aggressively ill. But has been so for the last 6 years. And because of her alzheimer’s she has a tendency to revert to past behavior (ie what made my difficult childhood difficult) there’s really no telling. I feel like a total bitch for not taking “mom’s sick” at face-value, but there it is.
Topping that – I made end of life arrangements for her on behalf of my father. Nothing like saying, “Yeah, she could go tonight. Or she could go 5 years from now. What do I do?”
And then Poe didn’t get an important promotion he really wanted, and I lost a client. I didn’t totally lose it, so I’m making progress in terms of how financial security plays a role in my own anxiety. But! The person he relieves is leaving and he’s stepping into the role, so it looks like he might be getting an inadvertent promotion anyway which is a good thing. It hasn’t happened yet, so we don’t know for sure, but if it happens, that’s a good thing for us.
And finally the big one.
I don’t talk too much, anymore, about my kids on my blog. At a certain point, their stories become theirs, and my mentioning them is really an invasion of privacy. I’m not totally sure where the lines are actually drawn, so I’ve just been going with my gut. But the latest “episode” in the saga of Joseph has really effected me, and so I’m sharing. Technically, he had 3 diagnoses. ADHD Inattentive Type, Social Anxiety, and “Mood Disorder.” The mood disorder was really depression – except that he didn’t fall into the time constraints to be diagnosed as such.
Well… Until he expressed suicidal thoughts.
There’s nothing quite like the gut-punch that is a 12 year old wanting to commit suicide because he feels like he’s too much of a burden to you.
He, however, has a tremendous team around him, and quite frankly, good parents who give a shit. And so, with further talking and testing, he’s no longer diagnosed with “Mood Disorder” but with Clinical Depression. We think it was probably always there, but a more mild form. Enough that his current medication helped with it (although he’s on it for other reasons). But puberty has hit with a vengeance, and we think that’s what finally tipped the scales into full blown Clinical Depression. Since his issues are of a brain chemistry variety, and Clinical Depression has to do with brain chemistry as well, adding hormones to the mix just blew the whole thing up.
He is safe – always was between us and the team – thank God. But as his mom… Dear God. A burden? God. We are, actually, very careful with our words around here. Always honest, but always, ALWAYS with the knowledge that words wound, and especially wound people with sensitivity and anxiety issues.
I’m so glad he was born to us, as opposed to anyone else in our families. Our families are rife with mental illness ranging from anxiety to Depression to BiPolar Disorder. Our family is rife with suicides. But also – our family is rife with not speaking about it, not getting help, not medicating where actually necessary, ignoring the symptoms, and labeling as “Bad.” I thank God that Poe and I decided we were not going to continue on our families’ path. It means we’re pretty much ignored and ostracized. Too much truth telling is scary for them.
But if we weren’t who we are? If we didn’t make that decision? Would Joseph be dead?
While I’m am grateful for us and his team catching it fast, and I’m grateful there is help for him, and I’m grateful we don’t stick our heads in the sand…
Some days I just want to scream. I want to scream and bury my head and not get out of bed. I want to get drunk and forget everything. I want to be alone and not have to deal with anyone or anything.
I can’t do that.
And everyone else expects that from me too.
But really… At what point do I get to lose my shit?