In October of 2015, I stopped qualifying for Medicaid. (Medi-Cal in California).

Nobody bothered to let me know about this obviously important change.

I ended up seeing a doctor, to set up as a new patient, while uninsured.

Of course, there was no way for me to know that I was uninsured.

I was not notified by mail, email, phone call, text, or carrier pigeon.

I had to set up with a new doctor because my previous one got moved to a town far away from mine.

No one informed me of that change, either, even though I had an appointment scheduled with that doctor at “the clinic for poor people”.

I wouldn’t have known that my doctor no longer worked there until I arrived for that appointment.

I found out because I called “the clinic for the poor people” call center, in an effort to find out if Medicaid approved my doctor’s referral to see a specialist.

If I chose to stay with my current doctor, I would need to drive really far away, while sick, in order to see her at “the other clinic for the poor people” (and then drive back, while sick).  The other option is to take a bus (assuming the busses went there).

Doing so would take out my entire day and prevent me from working.

Obviously, no work means no money.  I can’t afford either option.

The call center guy, after hearing about my health issues, suggests a specific doctor.  I make sure said doctor takes Medicaid.  I am assured he does.  Said doctor works at “the clinic for the poor people” in my town.

In October of 2015, the SNAP program (also known as “food stamps”) suddenly realizes that, oh right, we did qualify for SNAP for the past six months.  After struggling to pay for food, without assistance, for six months, we receive the benefit we were supposed to be getting – all in one deposit.  We can eat!

Not long after that, after another series of phone calls, I learn that Medicaid approved my original doctor’s referral to see a specialist.  I call to make sure specialist takes Medicaid (he does) and to make an appointment.

Timespan between first seeing original doctor and appointment to see a specialist – exactly one year.

I think it was late November that I got a bill in the mail from the office of the new doctor.  I saw him once, to set up as a new patient, and he was great.

The problem was that Medicaid was supposed to cover that visit.  It covered all my doctor’s visits at “the clinic for the poor people” and all of my prescription medications.

I assume that it’s just an incorrect bill, and things will straighten out.

Eventually, I call “the clinic for the poor people” billing and ask about the bill.  I point out that I have Medicaid, and that the doctor accepts Medicaid, so there should be no bill.

This is the first time I am informed that their computer shows that I have lost my Medicaid benefits.  I ask if there are any details, but am told that there are none.

The woman on the phone says that this just happens sometimes, and that it gets straightened out after people call Medicaid.

So, I call Covered California, because that is where/how/when I got informed that I qualified for Medicaid.  Someone there signed me up.

Person at Covered California gives me number for local Medicaid office.

Person at local Medicaid office has no idea what’s going on.  She tells me that she just started in October, and that my file has some code on it that she doesn’t know what to do with, and that the person who might know has left for the day.

Promises to call back tomorrow after talking to knowledgable coworker.

Never calls back.

It’s the week before Christmas, and my husband and I are scrambling to try and find me insurance coverage that can start on January 1, 2016.

This would not have happened if the local Medicaid worker wasn’t incompetent at her job.  It wouldn’t have happened if someone at either Covered California or local Medicaid office bothered to inform the moment I lost Medicaid.

My husband takes over (he’s better at this than I am).  Long story short, someone informs him that I don’t qualify for a subsidy.  There’s no way we can pay for health insurance for me without a subsidy.

Covered California website says losing Medicaid qualifies a person for a subsidy.

Long, tedious story short, my husband finds me an affordable health insurance policy, that my new doctor and my specialist, will accept.  I qualify for a subsidy.

I’m now going to have to pay a monthly premium, when before there was no premium at all. I’ll have to pay a co-pay.  My prescription medications will no longer be free.

I’ve had absolutely no time to prepare for this change.

I’m now scrambling to complete writing work (paid work – I’m a freelance writer) in the hopes I will can manage to afford to see the specialist, at least once, and in the hopes we can continue to pay for at least some of my prescription medications.

How will we pay for whatever prescriptions the specialist prescribes? What if the specialist decides I need physical therapy?  I cannot imagine how we will pay for this.

Meanwhile, I’m terrified that no longer qualifying for Medicaid means we no longer qualify for food stamps.  The benefits we use to buy food could be taken away in an instant.

And I’m waiting to hear from Disability so they can schedule a third evaluation (this time with a disability judge).  Could happen at any time.  No way to know if it will be before, or after, I finally get to see a specialist about my (probable) arthritis.

We could really use the small amount of money that disability would bring – especially since my bad joints and worse allergies prevent me from working outside of the home.

Realistically, they will probably deny me for some illogical reason, or because they found some loophole that lets them do that.  (I’m guessing they will inform me that allergies don’t really exist).

Meanwhile, my refrigerator is over 10 years old (it came with the mobile home when we bought it).  My car is from 1994 (or thereabout) and is at the very end of its usable lifespan.  We don’t have the money to replace either of these things when they die.

Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress are trying (for the umpteenth time) to repeal “Obamacare” (and take away my subsidy and my health insurance) and to defund Planned Parenthood (and take away my ability to afford to have my birth control removed and replaced when it needs to be) and to cut food stamps (and take away my ability to buy food).

It is clear that there is a huge gap between NEEDING public assistance and BEING ABLE TO REALISTICALLY AFFORD going without it.  I am in that gap, and right now, I don’t see how to get out of it, no matter how hard I work.

The other difficulty is that, due to my horrible health problems, I actually do have the ability to work to the point where I wear myself down and become too sick to work for months at a time.

Disability benefits could help with that.  But, it seems the people at disability are hoping that I will die before they make an appointment for me.

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