limbo

I have mentioned a few times on this blog that our financial situation is occasionally a little precarious. As part-time, seasonal instructors at colleges, we are never guaranteed classes, and some semesters, we just don’t get them. This semester was one of them. I have an online job that I fall back on during these times, but it is part-time, and it offers no health coverage. J has now been actively searching for work and applying for jobs for the past three months with not even a phone call for an interview. It’s always a crap time to be out of work when our degrees and experience pigeonhole us to a very specific level and type of teaching, but right now, with the waves of layoffs and hiring freezes, it just flat sucks. She has been applying for jobs far beneath her experience and qualifications, but there are simply no bites. We both pick up temporary test scoring gigs from time to time, but again, these offer nothing in the way of stability or health insurance.

As a result of all this, we’re living on my little salary, a little bit we saved from the fall semester, and J’s unemployment, and we’re making ends meet. It’s tight, but it’s manageable. After so many years of this type of living, we know how to live on a budget.  Until the end of March, we had J’s health insurance from the university, which was okay. It was crap insurance (because for some reason, part-time seasonal instructors get crap insurance), so we now have medical bills for every ultrasound and test they ran, but at least the office visits were covered. For us, COBRA is not an option. Well, it is, technically, but it would cost us a thousand dollars a month, and this would mean choosing between a roof over our heads and crappy health insurance. Clearly, we choose the former.

As of the beginning of April, however, we have no health coverage. This is often the case in the first half of the year, but this year, I am pregnant, and this is not acceptable. We are fortunate in California to have a couple of programs for middle and lower income pregnant woman.

For months, I have known that if J did not find full-time work with benefits, we would be applying for the middle-income program, and I was happy with that. When applying for such a program, one has two options: prove one’s income via current check stubs, or prove one’s income via last year’s tax forms. Here is where our limbo began. When I sat down to apply, I discovered that our current income brings us thirty dollars under the minimum income to qualify, and last year’s tax forms bring us a couple of thousand dollars over. This led me to call their information line to find out what happens in these cases, and I was promptly sent to a call center in India where my questions did not fit the script the operator had, and so, I was told to apply anyway to see what would happen. I have to wait ten days.

If I don’t qualify, my application will be sent to Medi-Cal, where I also may or may not qualify. I am just thirty dollars under their uppler-level income cutoff. Next month, when J and I score tests, we will be a thousand or more dollars over, and this cycle will continue until September when J begins teaching again or when she finds a job. The anxiety produced by all of this is beyond words. I just want some fucking health coverage.

I have, for a long time, been a big proponent of universal healthcare. As someone who works in a field where healthcare is only provided to the lucky tenured few, I know what it is like to be my own doctor, to hope that I don’t get too sick during the off months because if I do, I’ll end up in the community clinic where they’ll assume I’m a drug-seeking junkie should I have any pain. Healthcare really shouldn’t be something for those in certain professions or those with perfect health (don’t get me started on being denied private insurance for “undiagnosed wrist pain”), but for now, in the good old U.S. of A., that’s precisely who it’s for.

So we may end up on Medi-Cal. My first feeling when I realized this was shame–shame that we can’t seem to find a more successful path, shame that somehow we’re not taking care of ourselves, or our baby. But we are, and there isn’t any reason for us to be ashamed. We pay into this system every year, and if we are to benefit from it, we’ll hold our heads high, and hope for the best. The greatest thing about it all would be that we would definitely be covered for prenatal care and birth at the birth center we want to transfer to. Our classes would be covered at the birth center, and our baby would be enrolled in a health care program for children when s/he is born. These are all such positive things that I’ll be happy if it works.

I think it’s important to talk about this, as personal and as uncomfortable as it all is. There are so many of us struggling to have our families. We struggle financially (and in so many other ways) just to get here, and then we struggle again once we’re here. But there doesn’t need to be shame in that (although I know plenty of people out there who believe otherwise), especially in these hard times.

We should know in a week where we stand. Until then, it’s limbo.

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13 Comments

Filed under health care, Pregnancy

13 responses to “limbo

  1. Jodi

    Very brave of you, my love, to write about such a difficult topic.

  2. A.

    I have the greatest admiration for your courage, and pray that you are taken care of.

  3. nutella

    Wow, hope the limbo issue resolves itself positively, and soon! You are exactly the people that these programs are meant to help.

  4. poppycat

    Mind blowing isn’t it? I feel shame around this subject – shame that as a country we find this acceptable. Shame that our fellow citizens are actually arguing against universal health care out of greed and political affiliation.

    I am sorry you have to deal with this and there is no shame in accepting from the system what you have been paying for your entire adult life. That is what it is there for. Let’s hope more of us don’t find ourselves in the same situation as it can happen in the blink of an eye no matter our education or income level.

    Have faith that you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.

  5. Please don’t feel ashamed about taking a benefit that you are fully entitled to. Health care in this country sucks, sucks, sucks. It’s outrageous that it doesn’t support everyone, job or no. I posted this article on Cali’s blog when she wrote a similar post – it’s a good perspective on what you’re talking about.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/29/AR2008072902652.html

  6. MT

    You have no need to feel ashamed. I too am using state insurance.
    We pay into it and if we need it we can use it. Thats what it is there for. I hope everything works out for yall. And you don’t have to wait to long.

  7. I’m going to suggest something ludacris. (I know I spelled that wrong.) Oh. It is too silly. But did you know that Starbucks offers health insurance to barristas? When you stop laughing, you can come over here and whip me with your doctorate. Or, you know, brush up on your latte skills. Thus ends the world’s least-helpful comment. Evah.

  8. I hope you find a way to not feel ashamed. You really should not. The system is there for people like you, and potentially me, who are between jobs or can’t find jobs. I hope you find peace about this afterall you have been paying into this system for a long time now.

  9. Amy

    No shame. The medical coverage is there for a reason. If it can help you out, why not take it. I too hate the stigma that goes with receiving help but sharing stories like this will help us all be more understanding.

  10. were in the same boat =(

  11. alimis

    I am sad that you feel ashamed…there is not need for that. You deserve good health care for you and your baby AND, you do pay into this health care system. THis is your health care too.

    One of his moms—didn;t know that about Starbucks. that is awesome, what a resposible company.

  12. Michelle and Jen

    We apologize for not commenting any support lately. We’ve been bad at being good local community blog supporters 😦 About your entry. If being part of a group makes you feel any better, I had to do this with our son. I think that the only time anyone should feel any shame over it, is when you’re one of those people who only has children to use the system for money.

    Otherwise, that’s what it’s there for. To help out when you need it. And, like many have already said, you’ve paid in your dues, and now, you need it. We’re pulling for you that you get approved, and please, dont feel any shame. You’re doing what’s best for you and your family. With loving support….other bay area parents 🙂

  13. There was no more shameful moment in my life than sitting there, applying for Medi-Cal for Kayden and, ugh, emergency food stamps. Somehow, the VA lost my paperwork, my case was closed and I was suddenly, after 5 years of being on VA Compensation, no longer receiving benefits because some doctor who questioned my status as a veteran (because I’m a female) said my knee injury from combat was because of my weight (137 lbs). So, he denied my claim and the VA was so backlogged, they wouldn’t get to correcting it any time soon.
    I finally got in touch with someone who promised it would be 2-3 weeks. I went 2 years without a paycheck. Not sure how we did it, but my shame has disappeared. It’s one thing to need it knowing you are going to work to make things different, it’s another to need it and know you can change your life, but stay in the system because it’s easier…

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