Welcome to the working poor

It’s been an emotional morning.

Yesterday, Anya had an appointment with her “nose docko” (nose doctor). When she was three years old, she stuffed a button battery up her nose, and we didn’t find out for a couple of days. (She was already sick, so we just thought her sinus infection took a turn for the worse. Even the pediatrician missed the battery the first time around.) In that time, the battery ate a small hole in her septum. The hole is closing as she grows; at her last exam, it was around 2 mm. We’ve been in watchful waiting mode, going back every few months to make sure it’s healing as it should.

Anya adores her nose doctor. Which is absolutely amazing, considering the pain and terror she’s gone through in that office. It’s truly a testament to his professionalism and bedside manner. She speaks of him highly, and often.

So imagine how she felt when we were turned away yesterday because she’s now on Medicare.

I even offered to pay for the visit in cash. Not good enough for Billing.

Look, I know there are probably perfectly logical reasons why they wouldn’t see us. I don’t care. Billing, whoever you are, yesterday you made my kid cry. You made her think she did something wrong, and nothing I have said or done has shaken that belief. For that, I can never forgive you.

I, too, have cried over this. Because she is on Medicare for one reason: I am a responsible parent. When I was laid off, the kids and I lost our health insurance. We can’t afford COBRA (which costs nearly as much as our rent each month), and the insurance R’s company offers is both expensive and not great, so I went to healthcare.gov just as soon as I could to ensure our continued coverage. The catch is that R and I are unmarried; the only way my application would go through was if I excluded his information. So the only income being counted is mine. I just got laid off. Do you see the problem here?

I’m making a decent amount freelancing. Not as much as when I was working, but enough to get by on for a while. I’m actively looking for work, and hope that I will find something before the end of the year. But in the meantime, we need health insurance. And my “decent amount” isn’t all that much when it’s the sole income counted for a family of 3.

I was allowed to purchase insurance for myself. Really crappy insurance, but insurance. For the kids, I wasn’t even given a choice; my info was sent to Medicare. They were accepted immediately.

In the span of a month, I went from white-collar professional to working poor.

It’s been an educational experience, to say the least. I get materials every week or so, written at roughly a 5th-grade level, telling me how to take care of my kids. That I have to feed them something other than Twinkies so they’ll be healthy, and take them to the doctor regularly. I’m trying very hard not to be insulted, because common sense says that these materials exist for a reason. But I am insulted.

And, now, ashamed and angry. Because for the first time since I found out I was being laid off, I feel that my circumstances will truly prevent me from properly caring for my children. That nothing I can do is enough. I can have money, and I can have insurance, and my children will still be refused treatment.

And the waves keep on coming.

We slept poorly last night. When Kai woke me at 4 by laying across my throat and nursing (pfft…toddlers), my mind immediately started racing. I was unable to get back to sleep. I tried, and failed, to distract myself with social media. The platitudes, the humor, the complaints grated my nerves.

Anya woke in tears. Yesterday is still weighing heavily on her, and she is fighting off a sinus infection to boot. We had it out over minor things (hair brushing, clothes, the mere existence of dawn), and were both crying at the end of it. But we snuggled over sticky waffles, and I reminded her that she is my sun and moon and stars. When I dropped her off at school, she smiled and waved as she ran inside.

We will be okay. We are strong. We can get through this.

But we won’t be darkening Nose Docko’s door again.

And I’m a little more disgusted at the state of my country.


2 thoughts on “Welcome to the working poor

  1. I can’t pretend to understand the health care system in your country. There is plenty wrong with the system we have here, and I’m not necessarily an advocate of it. But I can say that what you and Anya experienced would not happen here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am, in theory, a fan of healthcare.gov — I think everyone should have access to affordable health insurance, and I think we are finally starting to move in that direction. We still have a long way to go, though. And how Medicare is handled in my state quite frankly sucks.


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