The Kids

The Kids

Monday, January 17, 2011

Life With Government Insurance

Last summer, we found out (without seeking it out) that the kids and I qualified for Medicaid.  Nothing like having two college degrees, a husband working a professional job and still qualifying for government insurance.  It was because of Noah on the way-our third child pushed us over the edge.

I have found pros and cons in my experience with this insurance.  Pros obviously being no co-pays and a free delivery of Noah.  The cons, however, have more to do with attitude.

I used to work for a doctor's practice so I know the assumptions that can come when a patient hands over their Medicaid card.  Some of the doctors in our practice even refused to see patients who had it because they knew that they would not get a lot of money.  For some reason, if you have Medicaid, then you must be someone who made some mistakes in life and the little money you do manage to scrape together is spent on more mistakes. 

Not true.  I know that is not true of our family, yet I still felt embarrassed bringing in my change of insurance to the pediatrician's office.  I felt like a statistic of "one of those families."

It was quite an experience switching doctors in the middle of my pregnancy with Noah.  I went from the practice that I have seen for seven years to "the clinic."  Oh, the clinic.  It is everything that you are picturing in your mind right now.  The waiting room was full of women who were yelling at their other children, who smelled of smoke, who did not speak English and who wore clothes that resembled pajamas.  They fed into the stereotype that comes with having government insurance.

I noticed that I was treated differently at the clinic.  The women working at the front desk were not friendly and it was as if they were expecting me to be a jerk.  When I smiled and spoke kindly, they looked surprised.  I noticed the same thing at the WIC office (yep, qualify for that right now, too).  I imagine I would be kind of mean, too, if I worked in a drab government office.  Still, I went from wonderful treatment with my former OB to feeling like I was in the way of the residents who were just hurrying on to the next patient.

My favorite story was when I went back for my six week check-up after having Noah.  No woman actually enjoys these exams, but it was even worse at the clinic.  For one thing, the tables are so not comfortable.  There are no reclining backs-just a flat table.  There are no stirrups with soft padding on them.  No nice pictures to look at while you try to distract yourself.  Secondly, it is a teaching place.  So, not only did I have super cute resident examining me, but he was teaching super cute student what to do.  While doing the check-up, he noticed I was due for a yearly exam and asked if the student could do it. 

Sure, why not?  Whatever shame I had left was thrown out when I delivered Noah in front of a bunch of residents anyway.  Sure, have a student give me an exam for his first time.  That's what I am here for. 

As I approach my final weeks of  being on Medicaid (the kids remain, but I only do if I am pregnant again-no thank you!), I look forward to being treated with a little bit of respect again.  Isn't that sad?  Being judged by the type of insurance one has? 

Try not to judge the person at the doctor paying with Medicaid or the person using food stamps at the store-it does not define who they are.


Jessica said...

amen! i have felt that way too when we needed to be on those things (still on WIC).

WigClan said...

thanks for providing a different perspective and reminding us all not to make blanket statements or judgments without seeking to understand first.

Heather said...

I got similar treatment at the unemployment office, Tammy. It's sad that people expect everyone who receives any type of government assistance to be a deadbeat or milking the system. We are real people who are in genuine need.