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Social Services in Arizona

One Word- WOW!

OK, this may not apply to families with health care coverage provided through their employers- but for everyone else…

Along with 52% of the country we are recipients of the WIC program which supports “women, infants, and children” up to five years of age.  We found out about this program through the medicaid for pregnancy program, which really saved our butts with Charley.  Apparently, in the US, Health Insurance companies are allowed to deny prenatal insurance if you don’t pay the mega additional premiums for the prenatal insurance an entire year before you are pregnant.  If you have been paying for 11 months, 29 days and ‘suddenly’ find out you’re pregnant- you’re out of luck!  They can deny coverage for the pregnancy and SORRY CHARLEY (literally in our case)- NO REFUNDS!

No wonder the federal government has to provide medicaid for pregnancy insurance.  Over half the country would be without prenatal care at all.

Anyhow, applying for social services in Georgia was a very tiring, lengthy, and depressing process.

All told, I believe that a complete ‘breakdown’ was inevitable for us to get past ‘the past’ and move into a productive future.  This applies to our emotional state as well as our financial state.  Check and Check!

We still have some legal loose ends to tie up and a few years of tax returns to file before we’re out of the proverbial woods, but putting all ego aside this hardship is not permanent for us and I’m not too proud to ask for some help to insure the health and safety of my children.  The aid of social services right now will allow us to move forward without risking our children’s health unnecessarily and give us the room to start the financial rebuilding process that we might otherwise not be able to avoid.  We could very well be stuck in the perpetual hamster cage of poverty.

Coming to Arizona our first priority was to apply for health care.  Charley is covered for the first year through the Medicaid pregnancy program and Hil’s coverage ends end of January.  Emma and I are covered through a catastrophic plan that basically helps us negotiate (by about 50%) the medical bills by disallowing certain charges but otherwise it doesn’t cover much else until we hit about $15,000 in payments.  The charges from Emma’s beauty scar on the side of her face from a fall against a sharp corner last April was still being run through the mill up until a few days ago when we finally added the greatly reduced negotiated and disputed charges to our last remaining credit card to be paid perpetually in monthly installments.

We applied for the Arizona health plan online after Christmas and it was a straight forward process.  We received a phone call from a caseworker that was very polite and helpful about a week later asking for a few more pieces of information but otherwise we should be covered by the end of the month.  WOW!

We transferred the WIC support today here in Tucson.  The last time we updated the WIC service in Brunswick, Ga. it was a four hour arduous test of wills as we waited with sick children, adults, pregnant teens, and strung out addicts at the Brunswick Health Services center.  Maybe it was a busy day.  Maybe it was just another day?

The WIC office in Tucson was plain but decorated for children and included a toy corner for the kids to play while we waited.  We arrived at 8am as they opened and we we’re still number 10 in line.  We met with Dustin who was very helpful and within two hours we walked out with a wealth of information about the WIC program and other services offered by the state.  One in particular is help filing tax returns!  In our case, we have SOOO many losses the returns don’t have to be perfect, I just have to get them filed (glug- back to 2006!)

Generally speaking, for a family of four aid is available if you earn less than 28k per year.  Sadly, that has been true through 2009 for us and likely will continue through 2010.  Thankfully, we are pleased that there has been some aid available for us in these tough times.  Simply knowing that my children will have access to medical care allows me to focus on building a better future for us together ‘as a family’.

I know that Health Care reform is a maelstrom of confusion and disinformation on all sides, but as a family at poverty level with two young children there is nothing more important than access to medical services that don’t break the bank.  And believe me, my bank is probably a lot smaller than yours.  Comprehensive coverage for more than a few hundred dollars a month would be too much for 56% of the population.  The idea of mandatory health insurance at these rates may mean the difference between food or rent.

I’m not sure what the answer will be to solve our national health care epidemic but it will be a dark day when a family is forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying the tax man.

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