This is part of a series intended to bring into focus the important role that Medicaid plays in the health of our patients, our organization and the larger community and what we all have to lose if proposed cuts to Medicaid are implemented.
The first thing that Sharon said to me was, “Medicaid matters because lives matter, for the rich, the poor, and the orphans.” Sharon and her husband are all too familiar with orphans; they adopted two, Sara and Richie. Sharon’s husband works in the tech industry and the family has private insurance but struggle with high premiums and a $10,000 deductible. They are a family not unlike many; in the past they have had to avoid some medical issues if they feel they can live without it, even knowing that it is not in anyone’s best interest.
Unfortunately, their daughter Sara has struggled due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, intestinal failure, and an Autism Spectrum diagnosis; all medical issues that cannot be ignored. Luckily, Medicaid helps pay for long-term medical treatments for children who have special healthcare needs, without regard to family income, otherwise the family might be bankrupt. “Families need access to [Medicaid] keep their heads above water because they need to work to survive,” Sharon shared. The IV fluids Sara needs to keep her alive cost $600 a day and at one point, Sara spent four months in a hospital in Virginia, the only one that could accommodate her conditions. Sharon and her husband couldn’t take care of their children without Medicaid.
CHIP advocate, Tamara, utilized the program for her daughter for two years. As part of a middle class family, Medicaid was not an option for them because they did not qualify due to income and there was no private insurance option that they could afford. The CHIP program is another excellent option for children because families can make any amount of money and still be eligible. “If CHIP was not in existence, I would have had to pay high prices,” Tamara stated, “I would not have been able to afford other things for my daughter.”
Crystal is mom to four active kids aged 5 to 13 years old. Medicaid is vital for this working mom and her family; Crystal has worked two jobs for five years, and neither job is able to provide health insurance for her. Having Medicaid has enabled her to keep up to date with her children’s vaccines, checkups, and other health issues that come up. “I would have to try to hope their little bodies would be able to fight off any illnesses they caught,” Crystal shared, “or end up charging medical bills, causing me to be in great debt.” In addition to the normal well-child checks and sicknesses that come up, Crystal’s son was diagnosed with ADHD. Without assistance, the family would be unable to afford his medication and bi-monthly appointments.
Three different stories, three different families, out of millions that utilize Medicaid every day. Medicaid matters to them because with it they know that their children get the healthcare they need to be well. For a closer look at the percentage of children covered by Medicaid or CHIP in your county, look at the interactive map from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute:
Percent of Children Covered by Medicaid/CHIP by County, 2011-2015
Watch for our next story to meet some additional individuals who have been affected by Medicaid. If you have questions about Medicaid or need help applying, please contact our patient benefits team at 717-846-6776.
Shannon L. McElroy, Family First Health Marketing and Outreach Coordinator
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