Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fun With Medi-Cal

Just about anyone who’s dealt with governmental health care in the United States has some sort of horror story about it. Mine involves my son when he was just 16 months old…

My ex and I had left him for the night with my parents when we were off on some excursion or another. He was at that stage in development where he wasn’t so much walking as running from place to place. He was showing off his new-found running skills for his “Paw-Paw” when he tripped trying to grab a ball along his path.

He fell face-first into an end table and busted his lip wide-open. It was a nasty gash, and one that would require stitches. He was bleeding everywhere and had no conception why he was bleeding or why he hurt so much. So my parents, freaking out, called me and took him to the hospital. I arrived shortly after he got there and surveyed the damage myself.

We were at the hospital for almost 12 hours with a wailing 16-month-old. It took them that long to get him into a room for his stitches. It was a horrifying experience, but that’s not really the worst of it.

You see, about three months prior, we had renewed our Medi-Cal coverage with the state. We’d been approved and received a new ID card and everything seemed on the up and up. Which was lovely, considering the sheer amount of hoops we’d had to jump through when my ex was pregnant just to get insured by the state.

I mean, I understand the state is destitute and doesn’t want to insure anyone. But it was a painful process, considering it was both of our first attempts at dealing with such a system.

So, shortly after my son’s hospital stay, we received bills from the hospital and a notice from the state saying that my son was not, in fact, insured. Confused, we called the state. According to their records, he was not insured, was never insured, and the state was not under any circumstances going to pay for his hospital stay.

“But what about this insurance ID card you sent us a few months back,” I asked.

“Sorry. That must have been a mistake,” the bored voice on the other end of the line said.

Thousands of dollars later, we’d been screwed by the state of California. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for Kaiser Permanente. I figured that if I was going to be screwed, I might as well be screwed by Kaiser like everyone else (Full disclosure, I have not been screwed by Kaiser during my son’s time with them).

My new job comes with an insurance option once my probationary period is over. I mentioned this to my mother this morning and was unexpectedly reamed for it.

“You wouldn’t have to pay for insurance if you hadn’t been so lazy to sign up for Medi-Cal in the first place!” she said.

In other words, my mother completely forgot how the whole Medi-Cal mess went down or simply doesn’t believe me. I tried to explain, but she didn’t really want to hear any of it. It really comes down to the fact that I’m the more disappointing of her two kids. I’ve made mistakes in my life and my sister really hasn’t.

But I digress. I got to thinking about all of this because of my BFF’s struggles with the California unemployment system lately. While I do understand the state’s desire to weed out those abusing the system, it really does seem like it comes at the expense of those who actually need help.

I’d just love to go back in time and kidnap the Governator to make him sit at my son’s bedside after his accident. Just to show him what kind of behaviors this crooked state encourages.

(Would you want to make this little boy cry?)


  1. its true. all of my friends currently getting unemployement have had to jump through some fucking hoops to get it done. its absurd to me that children in this state arent just automatically insured if their parents can't pay for it or dont work at a job where it's offered.

    then again its absurd to me that ive only had health insurance for 9 months of my adult life, so there you go.

  2. That story terrifies me. For 1, Lys has broke both her legs which required surgery and we have sifted through thousands of dollars of the resounding medical bills because of being caught off guard...2. June has had falls and spills but nothing really serious and I have now had 3 parents tell me that when it happens you will find out your "true" capacity for love, 3...actually this doesn't terrify me so much as enrage me. The comment about being too lazy to get Medi-Cal? WTF!!! Medi-Cal is the worst bullshit insurance system in the world...speaking as someone who has had their entire family on it at one point or another. Even if you have the sheer will to sift through the miles of bureaucracy, it's still doesn't cover nearly what the average wage earner needs to feel like he is not COMPLETELY FUCKING DROWNING in medical bills.

    Sorry for my language....

  3. There are SO many things wrong with 'the system', it's so horrible. I've seen patients get denied life-saving cancer treatments because a form was filled out wrong. It's disgusting.

    I'm glad what happened to your son was relatively minor (as minor as a bill from a hospital can be, which isn't very minor! lol), and I'm glad that your job offers insurance.

  4. Insurance is bullshit, end of story. No matter what side you're on. I had insurance, but it didn't cover one DIME of my $14k in medical bills from last summer. I now owe the state of Mass a couple hundred dollars on my 08 taxes to pay for those people with kids who are too poor to afford health care. (The program that I was ineligible for because 1. my company offered insurance as crappy as it was and 2. I have no children) I made 22k last year ($6k of which was NOT my wages but an investment), I am BROKE, I now make less than 12k a year. I can't pay my own health bills, why should I be paying for other peoples bills??

    Free health care is a lovely idea, but there's no such thing as free the money will have to come from somewhere. Someone has to pay the doctor's wages, equipment, etc. etc. As Massachusetts chose, it came directly in the form of an income tax. A tax I can't afford.

    I hate insurance. I want to go back to the good 'ol times of natural selection.

    You are really lucky to have a job that offers good private health care though, take advantage of it. Because NO one EVER wants to see that adorable boy cry! :)

  5. Sorry Darling, Canada wins in this instance. Our medical coverage just magically appears.
    (holy hell your son is ridiculously cute)

  6. No I wouldn't want to make him cry. I was on Medi-cal my entire childhood and then again when I was's always been a pain in the ass and the paperwork is silly. CA is the worse with this but I have always thought Children have the automatic right to Medi-cal although with ugly paperwork, but I thought it was the law?