Week 12 ~ September 7, 2005
~ Blessed By the Patron Saints of Medicaid and Fat Pants
Hurray, hurrah, hurray, what a great week! I am going to stubbornly overlook my child's evil plot to make me throw up now every day after work (oh, how I regret all those times last month I glibly said, "oh no, the morning sickness hasn't been bad at all - just a little nausea, that's all!") and proclaim this the best week yet. I had resigned myself to the thought that I wouldn't find out the results of my application for Medicaid for another month or so now. When I picked up the random mail from my parents' house, I didn't look twice at the envelope from the State of Colorado. In my mind, I just assumed it was another bill to pay, student loans, some drudgery like that. My darling mother, slightly hovering over me, said that it felt like it had a credit card in it, and that I should open it right away. That piqued my interest. I ripped it open, and there it was, my beautiful, shiny, new Medicaid card. I was thrilled, of course, and so much more relaxed now knowing that I'll be getting the good medical care for my baby that I can't afford on my own.
It wasn't easy, though, believe me.
When we had first found out about the baby, one of the standard worries we had was "how on earth will we ever afford this?" I've been at my job for over a year now - it's great experience, but doesn't pay much. Aaron makes nearly double what I do, but we're still not rich by any means. We knew we'd have enough money to support ourselves and the baby, and keep a nice little home, but medical bills... that's a whole different matter. I had heard through a girlfriend that she had a friend whose wife had a sister with a cousin that knew a girl who had received financial assistance through Medicaid. Never having had a real burning need for Medicaid before, I was dubious. I had been under the impression that it was a program designed for the elderly, and though I might feel ancient sometimes these days, I am far from elderly. However, we were desperate, and my insurance does not cover maternity. So I did some research. A perusal of the Medicaid website led me to the vague understanding that there is indeed a program designed to cover the financial burden for qualifying expectant mothers - so now I knew it existed, and little more than that. I could not for the life of me find out exactly how it is that you went about getting into the program, what it covered, and more importantly, would I even qualify financially?
After a bit more research, we learned that you could pick up a Medicaid application at the Social Services department. We went by on an afternoon off, picked up the form, and proceeded to get everything filled out. For any of you going through this process, make sure you have a doctor's form stating pregnancy and expected due date (I just did mine at Planned Parenthood), a pay stub or financial statement from work, and copies of any insurance policy cards you might have. Once you get everything together and filled out, two suggestions: 1) Keep all your originals. Whether you're working with Social Services or your Health Department, they will accept clear copies, and prefer you to keep your original paperwork. 2.) Make copies of everything you fill out within the form itself! Most likely, you won't even need this, but I cannot tell you how much these copies saved my butt in the end.
With the form finished, I went back to the Social Services office to drop off the form and find out the answer to the all-important question, "what next?" I had been told that once your application for Medicaid was pending, you would be able to see a doctor for your initial checkup, through the Health Department. Up to that point, I hadn't seen anyone. The woman behind the counter at Social Services pointed me to a mail bin, told me to drop the application in there, and that was that. She offered no information about what my next step would be, how long the application process took, nothing - and believe me, I asked. So I figured that I'd give the application a good week to process, get my name in the system, before calling the Health Department to set up an appointment. The next week, I called. I explained the situation, that I was waiting for Medicaid to clear, and needed to have my initial check-up. That's when they dropped the bomb on me. Yes, you can seek medical help while waiting for Medicaid to clear, but you can't do anything without your Presumptive Eligibility (PE) card - you mean they never told you about this at Social Services? Are you sure you filled out the form? Where is it now? You turned it in and they didn't tell you about the PE card? Did you ask? And they didn't tell you? Etc., etc. The basic gist I was getting was, we can't help you, you need to start it all over again, and it's all your fault. Finally, after several attempts to talk to someone rationally about what I should do, and a whole lot of frustration, I was put through to my hero, Lorena, who made an appointment for me to actually come in, sit down, and get everything worked out.
Once at the Health Department, sitting across from Lorena, I felt much better. She was helpful, caring, and most importantly, impressed by me and my foresight to make copies of everything. One quick talk with her boss, and she even got clearance to use my copies of the original as my new application, instead of making me fill everything out all over again (needless to say, I had her make me more copies of my copies.) She went over everything with me to make sure nothing was missing, assessed that I did indeed fall within the Medicaid financial bracket, and got me my PE card, all within half an hour. She went over how everything works - my card, really just a printed sheet of paper, provided temporary coverage at any doctor I liked that accepts Medicaid. This was a huge relief, as I had been vaguely worried that government funding would be tantamount to government specified baby doctor, and, well, you've seen the people that work in the government offices, the DMV, etc... yikes. Lorena also gave me lots of information about other programs designed for pregnant women, including one called WIC that is really very cool. They supply a weekly fund for women to buy milk, cheese, bread and cereal during their pregnancy, knowing that these are items that tend to be on the more expensive side of things, but are quite necessary. Granted, we're not that hard off financially, but still, considering that Aaron's master plan is to stockpile sale diapers now, it seems to me that any little bit helps...
Anyway, Jennifer's lesson for those applying for Medicaid: try your Health Department first, and make an appointment. Talking to someone face to face will incite so much more desire on their part to help you as much as they can; it makes all the difference. Get your PE card, and use it! It may be nerve-wracking waiting the month or so to find out whether or not you'll qualify for full assistance, but at least in the meantime you'll be able to find out about your baby's health, which really is the most important thing.
So if anyone has any questions about the Medicaid process, feel free to email me. I'm no expert by any means, but I've been through the wringer with it, and come out much better off, thank God. Also, I'm not sure if Medicaid varies from state to state, but still, if you have questions...
In other, less serious news, my hysterical weeping seems to be dying down (everyone picture Aaron on his knees thanking God). Save for one unfortunate incident (everyone now picture Steve, my fat orange cat, falling off the bed when Aaron was climbing in, and me crying hysterically, on my knees trying to squeeze my fast-growing self under the bed to get my disgruntled, howly cat, and accusing Aaron of purposely trying to hurt him, at 5 something in the morning), the random tears seem to have dried up. Thank goodness. Now I can go back to just my normal, grumpy self. When something happens that I don't like, I pout, Aaron laughs at me for pouting, I give him a dirty look, and then get distracted by something else completely. Ah, sweet normalcy.
And finally, amidst all these blessings, there is one area of discord that has come out of left field. When we had first found out that we were pregnant, it seemed that it was within only a few days that we had settled on the perfect baby names, names that not only did we agree on, but that we both love completely. For a boy, Charles Daniel (after A's great-granddaddy Charles and my dad Daniel), called Charlie, which I think is adorable. For a girl, she'll be Olivia Jane (for my aunt Jane), and Olivia being one of my all-time favorite names - we'll call her Livvy when she's little and Liv when she wants to be mature and cool. I couldn't believe how easily it all fell into place, and how peaceful we were on the issue, until Aaron, and whatever strange creature it is that lives in his brain and makes him tick, changed their minds. It's not that he doesn't like our original names, because he does, and we're sticking by them. It all started innocently enough with him wanting to hyphenate our two last names for the baby. I've always been against it, honestly preferring for the children to take his name, but as he pointed out, his name is very common, and mine is a pretty, unusual Spanish name. I can't argue with that. But now, it's gotten worse. Not only is the baby already going to have four names (poor Olivia, her initials will be OJJJ), but now Aaron wants more middle names. So, if we go by his example, and favorite boy names (and no, I'm not making this up), poor, poor Charlie would be Charles Daniel Jebediah Elvis Alton Trent Richard, etc., etc. And that's not even counting the two last names!!! Aaron's argument is that it would be nice for the baby to have lots of names to choose from, that way they can always go by something they like. My argument is that, if we let the children name themselves, they'll pick something ridiculous. Case in point, I always wanted to be called Amethyst when I was little. * shudder * I point this fact out to him, and he laughs at me. Then he comes back with the fact that his mother is on his side. She's pro the multi-named, multi-initialed offspring. At this point, my only option left is to remind him, as sweetly as I can, that he has to live with ME for the rest of his life, and then give him a menacing glare. The argument usually stops here, because it's going nowhere, obviously, and also because methinks maybe my menacing glare is more laughable than scary, which makes it hard for Aaron to continue being angry with me. For the sake of Charlie or Olivia, I shall have to try and be menacing from here on out. Four names is enough!
PS - I would like to give a quick shout out to fat pants. I loves ya, fat pants! Well, I guess technically (and politically correctly) speaking, they're maternity pants, and I'm not fat. *Tries to ignore Aaron's voice in my head gooily telling me that I'm not fat, I'm pregnant, and pregnant is beautiful.* Humph. Anyway, maternity pants, hurrah! These are seriously the most comfortable things I have ever, ever worn. I was mortified to buy them, mortified to try them on, and then, once I did... well, let's just say that I haven't taken them off since they were ripped out of the shopping bag with great zeal. I love these things. LOVE THEM. I think I might just never stop wearing them, pregnant or no. I told Aaron this, and he did what he always does whenever I tell him, well, anything. He laughed at me, and reminded me of my previous dread to own horrible maternity clothes. I said that he just did not understand, and suggested he try them on. Immediately I thought better of this, citing "if he fits all 6'4", 200+ lbs. of himself into my pants, I'll just die" reasons. That aside, I still stand by the pants. íViva la pants!