The Impact of Medicaid for Single Mothers, A Conversation in Eastover, SC (Anonymous)
In the following interview, we spoke with a single mother in Eastover, South Carolina that chose to be anonymous for the conversation. She shares the impact of Medicaid on her family, particular her children and the decisions she's had to make as a single mother when it comes to health care.
Appleseed: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. Can you tell us a little bit about you and where you live?
I work here in Eastover and when it comes to insurance situations, I am eligible for State insurance, but I don't have it at this time. And um the main reason why I don't have it is because I don’t feel that I can afford it now. I don't you know make that much money, so um and the reason being is because I’m a single parent and I have two school-aged children and they are on Medicaid, because you know I can't afford insurance for them now. And um, one of my children, her father carries her, so she actually has both insurances, but we have to use the one that he has, which I believe is like Blue Cross Blue Shield. We have to use that first, and then if we need to use the Medicaid then we use it.
But for you, you don’t have anything available right now?
No, I don’t.
So what do you do when you have to go to the doctor?
I’m able to use the local clinic. They have a sliding scale fee program, where it’s based on your income. So, I do have a doctor there.
And so what would it mean for you to be able to access healthcare whether it's through the Medicaid program or… or just having something more affordable, like an affordable option?
It would mean a whole lot to me. I was… Because I’m being seen there [the local free clinic] I’m okay on the health care part, but I’m actually more concerned about life insurance for myself and for my children. So it would mean a whole lot to me because I would hate for something to happen and there’s nobody there.
Yeah. And you said you go to the local clinic here in Eastover?
Here in Eastover, mm-hm.
Okay. So what about in case of an emergency do you ever think about that what it might… just anything about seeking - - like say if a medical emergency were to occur where would you go for help?
If it was a medical emergency and I’m at home, and I live in Gadsden, you know, about 10 minutes away, I would call the EMS [Emergency Medical Services], if it’s an emergency that needs to be taken care before I can drive to Columbia if it's, you know, at a time that I can't get to a doctor. I would call the EMS and I wouldn't think about how much it cost because it’s an emergency. I would actually had my state taxes taken this year because of ambulance rides, you know, in the past. So, when it comes to healthcare, I don't think about how much it cost. I just think if I need it or my children need it, I just go for it to get the help that we need.
Are there any other… things that you think about in terms of health insurance, not having it because you feel like it's not affordable for you to?
Mm-hm, I think about it a lot. The fact that I don't have it, and I just pray that everything is gonna be okay until I can get it. And actually this year, I did all of my paperwork and it was at the last minute. And we mailed it… and it came back because it wasn't enough postage on it. [laughs] So, I was just gonna take the leap and pay for it knowing that I really can't afford it at this time. And that's, that's what happened.
And so now you're back at where you’re just not gonna pursue it.
Well I have to wait until I get to open season.
Oh that’s right! The enrollment…
Yeah, the enrollment time… I have to wait till that’s yeah time so.
Can you tell us about your children?
Well, I can share one story. I have a sixteen-year-old son, who over the pandemic ended up with some type of hip problem. Normally he’s fine, so he started to complain that he was hurting and um we took him to the doctor and looks like he has arthritis. So, we've been taking him to so many doctors' appointments. We went to Greenville last week, to a genetic specialist cause they’re trying to find out you know what's going on with him. And we found out that it’s not genetics, but if it wasn't for the Medicaid that he has I don't know what we would have done in the situation. We had to go to physical therapy sometimes twice a week, and cut it down to once a week because you know it's a lot to get him there. But, um, it’s something that he’s going to have forever. So, it's something that we're always going to have to probably depend on insurance because it’s a lot of doctors' appointments, physical therapy. He takes Humana twice a month. I had to get help him get his shot last night. He takes Vitamin D once a week, then he's also encouraged to get more calcium in his system. So, with him, like the medical thing I know is gonna probably be a lifetime thing with him and um, also being disabled and that type of thing. We've actually talked about a hip replacement for him, but he's so young that they want to make sure that he's finished growing, for one. And then the question is how long will it last? Because normally people get hip replacements when they're older, so if he gets one and it lasts twenty years now, he's still gonna be real young and then where do you go from there? Because once you, you know, the doctor explained once you cut the bone you cut the bone, you can't just keep going back and getting hip replacements over and over. So, yeah that's that's one big medical thing that our family now that you know we have to deal with and so, that's you know one story. And then another story is that I’m a two-time cancer survivor. So, health insurance is important to me, but because I can be seen that makes me a little more comfortable that I can at least be seen by a doctor, but I know there are a lot of other insurances that are available, like cancer insurance and that type of thing. And you know just unfortunately that’s something that I don't have right now.
Would you have that option if you had the State health insurance?
I'm not sure.
You did mention you have Medicaid for both of your children they're covered in that program, how has it, I mean you just shared how it's benefited your son that has been diagnosed with his unique condition. So overall how has Medicaid benefited you and your family?
It’s benefited us greatly. You know we’ve had it for a long time because I didn't work for a long time after I had cancer and I was disabled, and I still feel like I am to a certain extent. But with you know applying for that [disability], it's a long process at times so I just got to the point where I felt like I just had to try to get in the workforce, you know, to work, you know to gain income, to pay my bills because I couldn't just you know sit out. It was going on… almost ten years.
You mean with managing your cancer?
Yeah, after chemotherapy and radiation and all the surgeries you know… and they, you know, the disabilities people, they acknowledged that I am disabled, but they feel like I could probably do some work, you know like desk work and that type of thing so that's when I you know applied here, and I got the job, so you know. And every day I know that I am… I am disabled, but I just keep going because I have to for my children. But Medicaid has really helped us a lot over the years.
If you don't mind sharing, you said you were a cancer survivor two times. Can you share a little about your experience, did you have insurance at that time?
No, at that time I did not have insurance. Cancer actually runs in my family, on my daddy's side. I tested positive for the BRCA2 [breast cancer two] gene which is, you know, no matter what you do or have done you probably you know have a big chance of getting cancer. So, when I got diagnosed with cancer I was on Medicaid at the time and… when I found out I had the option to get both breasts removed, and at that time I wasn't trying to hear that, I said, “No, if it's in one let's just take one.” And they did a whole lot of talking to me about “Let's remove two in case, or both, in case it comes back.” And I prayed on it, and I called them back and I said, “Okay.” And they could not believe that I agreed. So I went and I had that surgery, and it was pretty traumatic. They had me on the trauma floor, you know, I was on the floor where people had terrible car accidents, that's how you know bad it was I guess on my body. But in any case… so two years later when they checked me out - - I actually felt a lump, and I said, “I feel something here.” I thought it was just scar tissue, and they said, “No actually it came back.” So, we did surgery… went home called back up there [and they said] “we didn't get it all.” Had to go back and get more surgery. So the second time around is when they did chemotherapy. I did four rounds of chemotherapy all of this was taken care of by Medicaid. Chemotherapy, I think was over thirty-five thousand dollars. I did get to see a bill. There’s no way in the world that I could've paid for that, you know. And radiation, I'm not sure how much that was but I had to go every weekday for eight weeks, for radiation. So, Medicaid took care of all of that.
So you were on Medicaid at the time?
Mm-hm. I was on Medicaid because I had children under a certain age and that's how I qualified for Medicaid.
Post-partum Medicaid provides mothers access to accessible health care for a period of time after birth. Previously, post-partum Medicaid was 60 days in South Carolina. Recently changes have extended this time period to 12 months. Access to health care post partum greatly raises the well-being of both the mother and child, allowing for healthier outcomes long term.
What would you say to South Carolina legislators about expansion? Why do you think it’s so important?
I would say that… especially in my situation… for one, Medicaid is almost like a savior you know, for my family. I would say that, not sure if things like life insurance you know would be something that would be an option you know to help because I see so many people that lose people in families and you see them out doing car washes to, you know, to help bury the person or do whatever final arrangements. Not only that, you see the GoFundMe, and you see that type of thing and I always think it's sad that you can't put a person away the way that you would like because they didn't have life insurance, you know, so that's the one thing I think about. But I am thankful for Medicaid, and it being even offered to people like me who are single parents that you know can't afford regular insurance.
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