Medicaid is the nation’s single largest insurance provider, yet millions of Americans are seemingly unaware of what it does and who it serves.
By far, one of my least favorite policy areas ― one that I knew very little about until recently, and one that I am only now really putting the time and effort in to understanding ― is health care. A little under a month ago, I started my first post-graduation job and am now gainfully employed as the social worker/social care coordinator at a free clinic inWilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Thank you sweet, sweet universe for this job, I was getting a little nervous there for a while.
So, as it happens, when I graduated, I was pretty positive that I didn’t want to be a medical social worker. I am overwhelmed by understanding my own chronic medical issues; I have some anxiety about hospitals; I hate, hate, hate blood (vasovagal syncoperhere) and most bodily functions; and health care in general is fucking confusing, difficult to understand, and navigate. But oh, how the universe has a supreme sense of humor, and here I am: the new social worker for a free clinic that only has, like, five people on payroll, but a reliable cohort of volunteer doctors, dentists, hygienists, nurses, and receptionists (but if you wanna volunteer, we need you). I actually love working at this clinic so far, even though it can be a little scary to think that we’re one of the only places available to working people who don’t have insurance. Luzerne County has a population of about 318,500 with an uninsured rate hovering around 14 percent, which means that about 44,600 people are uninsured in the county. That’s a lot of people who can’t get sick.
And within the short three and a half weeks that I’ve been employed, I have had meaningful experiences helping people see a dentist when their faces are writhed with pain from a toothache, the kind of pain that has kept them from sleeping over the past week, and I’ve gotten to help them get rid of some of the anxiety they’ve been plagued with not knowing how they would get help for their tooth without having health insurance. I just started working with a woman from a religious sect that emphasizes the importance of motherhood, and she has been having fertility issues. I am determined to help her find a way for fertility treatments, even if she and her husband are at the 200 percent of federal poverty levels (PS: Here’s a spreadsheet of resources I’ve been putting together concerning fertility scholarships and information). So far, this seems like the job that I’m supposed to be working.
I joined the mostly defunct Vox Weed’s Book Club, and the first book was “An American Sickness”. I read this from May through June, and it really opened my eyes to the atrocities that have been able to take place under the guise of “better treatment ” when in all reality these treatments are overpriced and often unnecessary. Health care costs have become a burden to many people, including myself, so I figured now is the best time to really explore and learn as much as I can about the health care Policy in the “US of A.” I meant to have this post out a few weeks ago when all the hubbub was happening in the Senate, but alas, life has been freaking busy lately. I figured, though, that it might be helpful if I did a little series on health care-related stuff, since I’ve taken on the task of learning as much as I can about all things health care. So hopefully this is helpful.
I thought I’d start with explaining Medicaid: what it is, what it does, and what the health care bills that were floating around would have done to these programs that legitimately keep people alive every day.