Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge (remaining days)

Well, turns out I'm on all liquids for probably another week, due to my fussy lapband-- which is why i haven't posted.

I think I invalidated the challenge, but I have to say, I'd like to see these politicians live off 900$ income and 16$ in food stamps for the MONTH.
I think that's more realistic since that's what the government says you need.

Anyways, Wednesday Funnies:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge Day 4

Alright, I admit it.
I stink at taking pictures of what I eat.
I'm a grab and go person I guess.

Anyhoo Day Four of the Food Stamp Challenge:

Breakfast: 1 cheese stick (.39 different brand)

Total Breakfast .39

Lunch: 1 slice deli turkey sample from publix
1 slice american cheese from publix (sample too) 
1 slice asiago sample (sample)
1 cranberry juice bottle (1.00, mini bottle)

Lunch total: 1$

Dinner, 1 slice Digiorno Pizza (left over from yesterday) .50
3 Glasses water with lemon wedge .24

Dinner total .74

Snack: 1/2 cup natural canned corn, no salt added. -** .20
***I actually got these for .10 cents a can because of couponing, but I will use shelf price for this purpose

Butter pat for corn .20

Snack total: .40

Daily Total 2.33

This is a lot harder than I thought.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge Day 3

A lot of people taking this challenge are doing 35$ or so a week, per person in their household.
I am trying to keep it to a collective total of less than 70$ for the month, which is 4x the minimum food stamp benefit, or 17.50 for the week.
I'm actually using what I have on hand, which kind of goes against the rules of the challenge, but for my health needs its necessary, and I will try to keep it under 17.50 for the week.

I actually made a reflection video and its converting on youtube right now, I'll post it when its done.

I took pictures, Blogger hates me and keeps auto deleting them from my post.. I'll have to work around that in the next few hours. :)

So todays meals:

Breakfast : 1 8 oz glass orange juice (.22 cents a glass)
                1 scrambled egg with a sprinkle of shredded cheese (11 cents an egg, 25 cents per ounce of cheese, I had maybe 1/4 an oz, so I'll say 7 cents) 
                1/2 oz shredded chicken breast (left over from yesterday) about 9 cents (its 17.2 cents an ounce)
                 1 romaine lettuce leaf wrapped around the chicken (i'll say 4 cents I have no idea..)
                 1 packet of light mayo I got from Chick Fil-A-- free

Total Breakfast: 1.34

Lunch: Glass of water with lemon wedge (8 cents)
          1 light cheese stick (.17)

Lunch Total: .25 cents

Dinner: Slice of pizza, Digiorno (its been in my freezer for ages) .50 (whole pizza was 4$)
Glass of water with lemon wedge and ice 8 cents
Dinner: .58

Snack 1  one hard boiled egg 11 cents
snack 2 lettuce tuna cup (1 leaf lettuce, 1 oz tuna) .16 cents (.59 cent tuna per 5 oz) with mayo packet from Chick Fil-A (free)

Snack total: .27 cents

Daily total: 2.44

I'm actually hungry now, but I've already spent just about as much as I can today. :(

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge Day 2 Meal

I didn't think.. I switched phone carriers today (BYE BYE SPRINT YOU SUCK!!!!) back to Verizon and I didn't think to switch my photos over before I switched and factory reset my old phone.

Before you try to say something--- my phone is work subsidized. I pay less for my high end cell phone each month than I could get on a prepaid line though ANYWHERE. Its less than 60$ a month tax included-- which is a steal especially with Tennessee's 9.5% sales tax.

I promise to put pics up tomorrow.

Today's food:

Breakfast: 1 oz shredded cheddar cheese & 2 (16oz) glasses of water

Lunch: 1 hard boiled egg, 1 glass water

Dinner: 2 oz chicken breast (in the oven) wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves, 3 glasses (16oz) of water (I drink 45 minutes AFTER meals)

Snack 1 Tangerine (23 cents)

I'm not even close to hungry, but I have a lap band. I don't get hungry very often and when I do I'm easily satiated. I can't imagine doing this challenge without my band, or without refrigeration cooking again. I'm not sure how I managed the first time!

Food Stamp Challenge Day 2

So I'm a bit of a slacker with the updates.. I've been busy. I had a biopsy of my right foot last night and although it really didn't hurt when they did it (thank you Lidocaine!) its horrifically painful now, so the idea of getting up to do anything involving pressure on my foot is just unbearable.

Anyhoo I posted my purchases online and got ripped apart (or people attempted to)

Let me clear some things up:

1) I am allergic to: Wheat, yeast, eggs, milk, seafood, onions, apple JUICE, grape JUICE and horseradish.

My lapband cannot tolerate: dense carb foods (like bagels, muffins) green beans (I also despise these) thick cuts of meat or stringy meats, rolls, rice, carrots and on the rare occasion pudding/jello.
Some days I MUST do all liquids because NOTHING will go through. Just the way the band is.

Anyhoo, I do not have a 'I touched the tuna I'm going to die' allergy anymore. As a child I would break out in hives, wheeze and at least once (for unknown reasons) went intoshock and had to go to the ER after using an EpiPen.

After 15+ years of eating tiny bits of these foods, I can usually tolerate them in small amounts.
I can eat a hard boiled egg today, but if I eat two, I will get itchy. Three, rash or hives.

Same with wheat.
I avoid apple juice and grape juice 100%. I avoid onion and horseradish, because they make me violently ill and not in a hives kind of way. (I can eat apples and grapes no problem though)

So now that thats cleared up some what...

I purchased:

One bottle of store brand light ranch dressing (1.29)
1 Bag garlic & cheese croutons (1.19)
3lbs boneless skinless chicken breast (5.99)
1 dozen eggs (1.19/dozen)
1 bag of romaine lettuce (it came to about 3lbs) 1.99
1 oz bag of light shredded cheddar 1.99
1 lemon, .23
13.97 + Tennessees ridiculous 7.5% food tax.

That will feed me for a week, of 3 meals. I supplement with liquid protein that was given to me (the local food pantry got a box of single serve packets, no one else wanted them, they taste like brownie batter!) which I equate to .35 a serving.

I drink water, which is free as its included in my rent.

The lemon is just for adding to my water, I like to mix it up.

That one weeks worth of food, with almost no variety is almost the entire minimum monthly benefit for someone on food stamps.

Have anything planned?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge


I have a problem with this. Its made headlines lately because of New Jersey city Newark's Mayor, Corey Booker.

They are doing it by average recipent amount per state.
So.. what about the 16$ a month minimum benefit that people like me receive?
I no longer receive any benefits, due to a massive error on the great old state of TN's part (ugh) but I'd like to see them all live off .53 cents a day.
Try it.
Its not easy.

I'm participating and I will update with my food choices.
Some notes to remember about me:
I have an adjustable gastric band (Lapband) so I eat LESS in portion sizes than others, but more frequently.
I am coming off a 3 day doctor prescribed liquid diet (that ends at midnight on 12/3 or right about now)

I focus on protein, veg/fruit and THEN carbs if at all.

I do this EVERY month, with or without a 'challenge'.
I regularly skip filling prescribed medicines because I must choose between food, gas (to get to the doctor) and medicine co-pays.

Anyhoo heres an article about Corey Booker and his challenge:

Cory Booker did a little grocery shopping this weekend. A very little.
The Newark Mayor is taking the Food Stamp challenge and will spend one week, beginning Tuesday, eating only what food stamps can provide.
The average monthly food stamp benefit was $133.26 per person in New Jersey in fiscal year 2011, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That's a little over $33 per week, or $4 per day.
No word yet on what Booker bought, but he did tweet that he will be doing without coffee this week.
"I won't be able to afford it," he tweeted.
Adding a little perspective to this is Starbucks' announcement last week that the coffee company is introducing a $7 cup of joe — about two days worth of food for those living on food stamps.
But its not just premium coffee. Milk costs about $3.50, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Food Stamp challenge aims to highlight what it is like to live on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The challenge is sponsored and promoted by the Food Research and Action Center.
Many people have tweeted Booker in the past week to say they will join him.
Booker has also received several tweets excoriating the idea.
One gentleman named Samuel wrote the mayor, "Food stamps are meant to be supplemental income, not ones ENTIRE income. So this challenge is bunk."
Households must meet an income test to qualify for food stamps. For a household of one, that means net income must not exceed $931 per month.
This all began after a back-and-forth conversation between Booker and a woman who goes by the name TwitWit and uses the handle (at)MWadeNC. They began talking about the idea while discussing the role the government should play in funding school breakfast and lunch programs.
During their Twitter exchange, TwitWit wrote, "nutrition is not the responsibility of the government."
The conversation soon changed to food stamps.
"Why is there a family today that is 'too poor to afford breakfast' "? are they not already receiving food stamps?" TwitWit wrote.
"Let's you and I try to live on food stamps in New Jersey (high cost of living) and feed a family for a week or month. U game?" Booker responded.
In an interview with The Associated Press TwitWit said she is a 39-year-old married mother of two from North Carolina. She spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because she said she has received threats since her Twitter discussion about food stamps.
She said she is willing to participate in the challenge but wants to know the ground rules before committing. She has not heard from Booker's office and is upset she has not been included in the research process.
"To hear he's planning and setting things up, it makes me feel like I'm a little bit of a prop in the game," she said.

Courtesy of The Star-Ledger

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Social Security Doesn't Allow the Disabled to Marry

There are multiple kinds of disability benefits. I'm going to touch on THREE (3) kinds that fall within the 'disability' benefit category.

  1. SSDI/DAC 'Adult Disabled Child'
    The SSDI program pays benefits to adults who have a disability that began before they became 22 years old. We consider this SSDI benefit as a “child’s” benefit because it is
paid on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.
For a disabled adult to become entitled to this “child” benefit, one of his or her parents:

  • Must be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits; or
  • Must have died and have worked long enough under Social Security.
These benefits also are payable to an adult who received dependents benefits on a parent’s Social Security earnings record prior to age 18, if he or she is disabled at age 18. We make the disability decision using the disability rules for adults.

SSDI disabled adult “child” benefits continue as long as the individual remains disabled. Your child does not need to have worked to get these benefits.
      2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes):
blank spacerIt is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and
blank spacerIt provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

-- This is referred to as 'the United States biggest Welfare program' by Social Security.


Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, provides benefits to individuals who are disabled or blind. SSDI is funded by employees’ contributions to the Social Security trust fund, or the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) social security tax paid on yearly earnings.
In order to be eligible for SSDI, your loved one must have:
  • Paid some of these taxes in recent years
  • Worked and paid social security taxes long enough to be covered under social security insurance.

To sum it up for you SSI is out of general taxes, is for low income people only (with disabilities) and is considered welfare.

SSDI is based off taxes you paid into the system while working, and you are only eligible for SSDI disability payments after paying into the system long enough. Your SSDI payment will be based upon what you put into the program via taxes.

SSDI/DAC is an SSDI benefit that a disabled child (or adult) may claim, based upon what the parent put into the SSDI program from their earned wages (taxes)

Now for the fun stuff.

I receive SSDI from my work history AND DAC. Social security works like this:
If you get approved for benefits and meet each programs criteria, you must be individually approved for each program. So if you apply to all three and meet the criteria of all three, you will get three approval letters--one from each program.

Now you MAY collect multiple checks from a combination of these three sources. BUT, you do not get 'full benefits' from either.

For example, you are approved for 400$ a month from SSDI based upon your work history, and also approved for DAC payments based upon your fathers, with a benefit of 900$. You would receive 900$ total from social security, as that is the MAXIMUM you are entitled to. You would receive 400$ from SSDI and the remainder from DAC. You cannot collect more than the highest benefit total you are entitled to.

The reason they do this is each pool of money is different. SSI funding is from general taxes, SSDI is based of your work taxes and DAC off your parents work taxes.

Anyhoo, I get the DAC and SSDI. (I will explain why I do not get SSI at the end) Both entitle me to MediCARE, and the DAC entitles me to Medicaid as well (as a supplement of sorts) despite the income boost. (if it was just SSDI I would have to qualify with medicaid under the medicaid rules, pregnant under 21, or income guidelines)

I was researching about SSDI, DAC and its rules (I have had it since October, I am learning still) and came across a query of 'What happens if I get married on SSDI?'- The answer? Nothing will change. (From social security)

So I decided to look, what happens if you get married on SSI? Since SSI is a needs based program they could cut or remove all of your benefits, if your partner made over a certain amount of money each year, kind of like food stamps, since the program is considered welfare.

So last but not least I googled the DAC benefit. I was floored.
Direct from Social Securitys own website (HERE)  I found this:
If he or she receives benefits as an adult disabled since childhood, the benefits generally end if he or she gets married. However, some marriages (for example, to another adult disabled child) are considered protected.

Something here is not right. So I did some more digging. Yep, its true. Unless I marry another adult disabled child ACTIVELY RECEIVING THE SAME BENEFIT, I will lose mine!
That means no medical, no payment, NOTHING.
Upon contacting someone I know who used to work for Disability Determination within SSA, I was told I would lose my SSDI benefit based on my work record too! (I do not know if this is true, I must find a way to link a confirmation or denial of this)

I am FLOORED. I cannot, despite days of searching, find a justifiable reason as to why this one category gets singled out.
So suddenly I am not disabled because I decided to get married,and instead of rewarding me like the government does with marriage (taxes, health insurance benefits, death benefits, legal rights and so on) I get dropped?!

I have some issues with this, which I am sure will raise hell in others eyes. I am sure I will hear you are bitching about free money from the government blah blah blah... save it. Read it all and then complain if you need to.

One, I can cohabitate with someone for the rest of my life, even be engaged and cohabitate indefinitely  and keep my benefits but the second I get married out the window that goes?
Why does every other category of disability get to marry, without penalty? 

Half the reason I am disabled is because I cannot work. I am medically needy and could not find health insurance, even through a spouse most likely, that would accept me with all of my 'pre existing conditions'
Even if I did find a company willing to take me, the premiums would be astronomical, in addition to copays, prescription benefits, deductibles and out of pocket reimbursement expenses, that would bankrupt anyone in a matter of weeks.

Without this medical care I would die.

So my spouse would be forced to take on the financial burden of my inability to contribute to household coffers, astronomical medical costs and the physical responsibility that comes with my medical issues.

I wouldn't marry myself with that kind of baggage!

So, I would like to ask social security and law makers, why do you stop Disabled Adult Children from getting married and being able to live?

If you are interested in perhaps bringing attention to this click HERE.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Update on Life

I am long, long overdue to update the details of this.

I am not 'homeless' per say anymore. Well for now.

I got an apartment, with a lease and all at the end of July and moved in August. The ONLY reason I was able to do this, is Social Security pulled their heads out of their butts and FINALLY approved me for DAC and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) in early July.

I had been receiving SSI for many years, but due to my mothers filing for retirement in 2010, an automatic review was done, which included applications for benefits under SSDI and DAC.

This approval letter meant my income was going to go up.. a lot. Well a lot to me. It was to increase by 62%.. but not for at least 120 days.

I convinced my adoptive mother to 'loan' me the money, the difference between benefit amounts each month, so I could pay rent on a tiny crappy apartment.

She agreed. (I have since paid her back almost 3k by the way, I wrote that check tuesday :) )

This place sucks, its a brand new complex filled with idiots, rowdy college kids puking off balconies at 3 am (even right now)  and they do NOT keep up with the place, but its a place to live!

All utilities are included in the rent for the most part, so at least I know a generally consistent number that I have to pay, even if it is 54% of my income.

My little dog and my cat are both back and happy, although *I* hate living on a third floor walk up and having to walk my dog 5 times a day (I wonder if this is an ADA thing, I didnt get to pick which apartment and I do have handicapped parking for mobility issues) and we are all generally ok.

I have decided it is in my best financial and medical interests to leave this state and move back to one with better benefits and a system that does NOT have its head up its butt (I'll touch on this in the next post) which for now is probably Pennsylvania.

I am simultaneously horrified and excited at the same time. I do not like change, and although I may hate the way this state conducts itself and treats its  neediest citizens, I have become accustomed to the area I live in , as well as the people and oddly enough, the presence of the US Army.

Im not really sure when I will move, or where I will move to if at all, there are many variables (like finding suitable housing that does not mind my cat/dog, being near a medical center that can meet my needs, financially moving all my crap back up there..) but I'm working on it.

All and all things are alright. Not perfect but alright.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I can never marry...

I'm still tweaking it but THIS is why.

Not that anyone will ever read this stupid thing, but it makes me feel better sometimes to whine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On a lighter note

This has me in freaking tears. I'm not necessarily for either candidate (even though Obama won re-election) but the look on the mans face as he scoots cross the screen just makes me cry.

Humor in every day life. :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Medicaid, TennCare, Birth Control and Welfare Babies

So I'm going to bypass posting part two of my TennCare rant for right now, to post something I find a little more.. controversial.

TennCare pharmacy benefits are run by SXC, which the state contracts.(You can read more about this HERE) Not the health insurance company you get through tenncare, SXC manages ALL TennCare prescription benefits for Tennessee.

I have touched before on the limits of TennCare prescription benefits, at 5 a month and how this really affects most disabled people. 
Well, in doing some research to try to get some of my necessary medications covered (which so far hasn't happened, since no one can figure out what I'm talking about) I have uncovered some things.

  1. Per health care reform law, TennCare must cover birth control services and birth control with a 0$ co-pay.
  2. Birth control counts against your 5 monthly prescriptions and according to SXC representatives, Walgreens pharmacists and my OB/GYN is in no way attestable or in layman's terms able to become 'exempt' from counting towards your prescription limit.
  3. That women on TennCare can have ONE pap/std test a year, unless they exhibit symptoms.
  4. That there is no readily published numbers on how many pregnancies happen by a recipent of TennCare.
     5.That there are no readily published numbers (or studies) on how much TennCare pays each quarter       (or yearly for that matter) on maternity services, or pregnancy prevention. 

Well, this irritates me. One of the categories for TennCare eligibility (within income restrictions) is being pregnant.
Ok, well. Of course you have to already BE pregnant in order to get TennCare if you do not fall into another category (like disabled) so of course that already reduces the numbers of pregnant on TennCare people.
So for the sake of numbers, lets count TANF recipients too, (Cash assistance, aka welfare cash)

In Tennessee in 2008 (yes its a slightly outdated fact sheet, I can't find a newer one) there were over 144,000 TANF recipents, which is actually less than in 2007 due to cuts in eligibility.

So, lets say 144,000 TANF recipients (which are all women here in TN) plus the 1,000,000 or so disabled people in Tennessee ALL qualified for TennCare, regardless of pregnancy status.(For the sake of numbers, I will say 200,000 receive disability and are of child bearing age with tenncare, which is a far cry from what is likely true)

So 344,000 people eligible for TennCare. OK, well. The average birth control prescription, is 25$.
So, assuming for the sake of numbers that all females are on and prescribed the pill, at 25$ a month. Well the state won't pay that much, so it will be more like 14$, because they have contracts. OK. So 14$ *344,000 people.equals 4,816,000$. Per month. So times that by twelve, you get $57,790,000 (Now many people go off welfare and lose their eligibility but for numbers sake..)

Its expensive, yes.
For other birth control options, theres the shot (about 30$ for 3 months) or an IUD (about 300$ for FIVE YEARS) but I wont go into that, for the sake of simplicity

The average maternity pay out is $3,500 for basic care (not including NICU, preemie care or high risk) in Tennessee. So again for the sake of numbers lets say 100,000 of those 350,000 people that meet our critera get pregnant. Thats $350,000,000. 

So birth control preventatives - $57.75 million per year vs Maternity care for 1/3 the population that would be taking the birth control if covered by TennCare at $350,000,000.

Well, thats only a difference of $292,210,000. Thats a nice chunk of change.

Well.. what numbers don't show you is that since mom qualified for TANF/Medicaid, now her kid/kids do too.
So.. that's another 100,000 children TENNESSEE needs to cover. (TennCare covers about 1.3 million pregnant women, children and disabled people each year)

So.. for the sake of numbers.. lets say each kid is very healthy and only needs minimal care after birth (assuming newborn care in hospital is under moms maternity spending)

So 100,000 children times about 3000$ in regular yearly health care, including dental, vision, well child check ups, prescriptions and vaccinations, is $300,000,000, assuming the child is not disabled or needs ANYTHING special.

So lets do a quick breakdown of the numbers one last time

Birth Control for 344,000 people of child bearing age (assuming the pill only) =$ 57,790,000 YEARLY.
Maternity Care for 100,000 women who get pregnant while eligible for TennCare (assuming basics and singleton births only) = $350,000,000, yearly.
Basic medical care for children born on TennCare now qualifying for TennCare (assuming 100,000 babies) =$350,000,000 yearly.

So $700,000,000 a year in maternity +infant child costs (for child born through TennCare)
                               = $642,210,000

Well, I think a little more than half a billion dollars is pretty signifigant, don't you?

Then theres the cost to the tax payer (ahem, state) on increased assistance for families of those children. Lets assume only 80% suck up their pride and accept food stamps. Well, thats 1200$ additionally a year for the first four years or so (For numbers, many people do get off assistance entirely).
1200*80,000 people-$96,000,000 yearly.
Then lets assume that 40 percent take housing assistance (which is god awful to live in, much less even apply to the waiting list for, its nearly impossible to get)
So well say average assistance amount for that is 600$ per month per family
$600*12*40,000= $288,000,000 yearly.
Lets assume that 70% of new moms take WIC with baby formula for the first year (based on national breast feeding statistics)
So not including the average food benefit, lets say WIC spends about 200$ a month in formula and baby foods per child for the first year of life.
So, 200*12*70,000=$168,000,000.

So for one year for these 100,000 preventable births, in addition to the $642,210,000, add in $552,000,000 in first year costs, thats $1,194,210,000.

Or in simple terms, 1.2 BILLION dollars per year, on completely preventable births, in the state of Tennessee.

Then there's things like transport costs (Medicaid picks this up I believe) and additional things I can't possibly think of, not including cash assistance, DNA testing, child support orders/enforcement, custody, courts and CHILD CARE. I am NOT counting in child care assistance, as that figure just blows my mind. (Average subsidy per child can be between 300-1000$ A MONTH)

Considering Tennessee has about a 16% below poverty level rate (this is an estimate link) this doesn't really surprise me, but makes Tennessee the third poorest state in the United States.

So my question, dear tax payers, legislators and beaurocrats, why on earth are you supporting the perpetuation of poverty and the burden of the tax payer dime, by denying something as basic as birth control?

Feel free to leave your opinion in comments, or via email.


Monday, August 20, 2012

TennCare (Medicaid) and The Taxpayer Money (WASTE) Part One

So I see a lot of people whining about 'Obamacare' and how its going to bankrupt our country, like Medicaid (insurance for the poor and disabled) and Medicare( for the disabled and elderly)  already have.

I am slightly inclined to agree.
I am a liberal independent. I do not side entirely with either democrats or republicans,  I am pro legalization of marijuana (especially for medical reasons) pro universal health care and pro choice. I am against immigration amnesty and fining people for not having health insurance.

Let me tell you about a few things I have noticed as a recipient of Medicaid. 
As a disabled person actively receiving social security benefits, I am qualify for Medical Assistance, which I do utilize.

Here in Tennessee its called TennCare. Tenncare is a joint funded 'project' by the state and Feds. 

TennCare is one of the WORST Medicaid providers in the country.

This is what my benefits look like (which is standard)

5 Presciptions a month, unless on the 'exempt list' (Which comprises of mostly retrovirals for AIDS drugs) 3 generic and 2 Brand Name, with a 3$ copay. Certain medicines such as Benzodiazapines, Pain Killers, Controlled Substances (narcotics usually) and certain sleeping pills, amongst others are NOT covered.

Weight Management program IF qualified (must be over weight or have a comorbitiy like diabetes, high blood pressure.. so on) which can include, nutrition classes, a gym membership to the YMCA, counseling, and weight loss surgery.

12 visits to a Primary Doctor a year, unless you have a medical exemption (I do)

Limited in-patient hospital care

No dental
No vision
No chiropractic care

Pre-authorization required for most testing, such as CT scans, MRI's, and so on. Basics like blood work, EKGs and xrays are usually covered with just doctors orders.

Emergency Room Care

Thats about it. Now that seems like A LOT to someone without any insurance, and by all means it is.

Personally, I am grateful I have any insurance at all.

However, I have MANY MANY MANY issues with TennCare.

First and foremost the prescription benefit limit, as run by SXC. 

I am on disability. Don't you think I need more than 5 prescriptions a month? I usually blow through that in antibiotics a month. Yes, they have something called an exemption waiver, where a doctor tells the insurance company why that medicine is medically necessary and should not be counted towards your prescription limit. Out of the 23 current practitioners that I have, not a single one knows what I am talking about or how to do this. The insurance company insists that the doctors should and will not tell me how to have them go about this.

So each month, I regularly choose between antibiotics, heart medications, lung medications (asthma, allergies, so on) kidney medications, skin creams (usually for skin infections) auto immune suppressants, allergy medicines (like an EpiPen, or a cream for hives) GI drugs (for my stomach/intestinal issues) ear medicines (for whatever) and birth control.

Usually the antibiotics win. Sometimes a mental health medication may win a spot, but rarely.
I was told by the pharmacy and by SXC that they do not consider an EpiPen to be an emergency drug and thus it counts towards my benefit.
So if I got stung by a bee, used my EpiPen (and saved my life) received medical care and a prescription for a new one, and I had already used my 5 for the month (or 2 brand names) then I could NOT get another life saving EpiPen until the next month.

Thats some bullshit.

I find it ludicrous that not a single practitioner knows how to fill out these forms, or jump through the right hoops, and I completely believe each practitioner when they say they cant figure out HOW to do them, or that they ALWAYS get denied.

Second, perhaps I was more spoiled by Medicaid in the north (Access, in Pennsylvania, where I hail from) where I had somewhat limited dental and limited vision care, as well as unlimited prescriptions each month. (Some did require prior auths, which were easy to get) However, I find that as a disabled person, that Access actually met my needs 98% of the time, versus TennCare which meets them about 40%, if that.

In Pennsylvania (not saying they are perfect, they are not) there were different 'classes' of Medicaid, and Medicaid eligibility, just as there are here. You could be:
On cash assistance (welfare, TANF)
Under 21
or other, which usually meant waiting for disability
OR a cancer patient 

Each category usually had its own rules and benefits. 
I can only really speak to unider 21 and disabled, since I have received both.

Medicaid for disability is supposed to be life sustaining, health sustaining. They put these lovely little provisions in 'appeals' (Ill get to that later) where if it could cause damage, death or hospitalization, its considered an emergency.

Well, usually if you are on disability a lack of care or medication could cause any of the above to happen.
Benefits in all states are far better for CHILDREN on Medicaid. Usually those on disability have something similar to that, as again, its expected to be health/life sustaining.
Not so here in great old Tennessee.

I get the SAME exact insurance pregnant moms get, welfare recipents get and so on.

Mom who lost her job or had to flee domestic violence and lives on Cash Assistance, probably does not need to see 23 doctors and take 18 prescriptions a month.

I do. I am not alone.

So, instead of say, TennCare covering a 2x a year dental cleaning at 40$ a piece, I dont get it done. In turn I get abcesses and infections and need antibiotics, at about 40$ a pop per antibiotic. Surgical removal of the abcess is quite expensive I'm sure, however I dont have the money to get that done so I dont know.

Another dental example: My wisdom teeth are coming in, at nearly 25 years old. (I turn 25 on Wednesday)
My jawbone is currently exposed, and will likely cause all kinds of problems, from infections of the bone to abcesses and distorment of my jaw and teeth.

So instead of paying 300$ to remove my two wisdom teeth (Medicaid pays WAY WAY WAY less than standard private insurance, in case you are wondering why my figures are so low) Medicaid will pay to have my jaw surgically fixed, and bone removed, in addition to the antibiotics, hospitalization and care required, as well as prescriptions, at about 30-40,000.

That makes sense right?

Heres an example:

ABout a month ago I started randomly passing out. I was seeing colors, had a headache to bad I wanted to die, was vomiting non stop, slurring my speech and had lost my appetite and had severe sensory hallucinations (smelling, tasting things that were not there)

I went to my primary who suspected a migraine, but wanted to make sure by ordering a head CT and called in a migraine prescription.  Well, dont you know I reached my benefit limit, so no migraine medicine.
At 6 pm on a friday I had no other choice.. I wanted to die. So after I passed out, I went to the local ER.

That bill was probably about $2000 that the state PAID.

Well the ER here sucks and they gave me more prescriptions I couldn't fill.. so I had to go back when I passed out again. 

Probably another 3k in work done, at the er.

Well three days later it still hadnt gone away, I had just stopped going to the ER, and I went one last time, this time in Nashville. That probably cost about 300$, since they did NOTHING.

So, instead of covering a 50$ prescription that *might* have solve the issue, thy just paid at minimum $6000 for medical care for me, and still didnt treat or solve the problem.

it took two weeks and five antibiotic prescriptions (and a bag of antibiotics in the ER the second time) to get rid of that. I still dont know what caused it.

They denied the head CT saying it was medically unnecessary. So... those symptoms that scream STROKE or TUMOR mean nothing, I guess.

This is just one example.
This post is already getting too long so I will have to do a part 2.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sexual Assault and The Homeless Girl (and Prostitution)

Well, I haven't posted in a while. Partly because I couldn't and mostly because I just didn't want to. 

I removed myself from the situation with the large man, mostly because I HAD to. It as getting dangerous for me to stay and the best solution was for me to just vanish.

I had posted a rant on Craigslist in the rants and raves section, in Tennessee and had gotten a couple responses, most notably one from a man I will call BH.

BH offered me a meal and a shower (a hot one!) and a safe place to take a nap for a bit out of the heat, in exchange for me one day helping someone else in return, as someone had once helped him.
It took me a few weeks but I had no other options and smelled pretty bad, so I decided to go. Armed with my trusty knife (its a sharp hunting knife, pocket/switch style) I went over to his apartment complex which is in a very  nice area of town.
His children were there (visiting) which threw me off, but he just explained I was a friend. He got me a towel and shampoo and left me to shower, then gave me a corn dog (I have never had one before, they are quite tasty) and all the ice water I could drink and let me sleep in his spare bedroom.

I of course locked the door behind me, but I haven't slept that well in months. BH did not try anything and was a pure gentleman. Of course he is army and moving and it was not a permanent thing, but I thanked him and left when he did for work in the morning. (If you EVER read this BH, thanks! You gave me faith that there are still good people in this world!)

It got pretty hot that day and my little dog and I went over to my storage unit (which is NOT climate controlled) to chill out while I made some calls to 211, which is United Way's emergency number, before my phone got shut off at midnight.
Well it was 87 or so outside and probably 100 in the storage, so little dog and I (mostly me) stripped down, laid down on an old sleeping bag I still have and dozed off in the heat. (Of course I had a bowl of fresh water out for her and water for me)
I went to the ER, I was pretty sure I had a kidney/uti infeection (I did and still do, antibiotics are NOT working) and enjoyed the a/c for a bit while I was waiting to be called back to be treated.

I made a bunch of calls in hopes I would get a return call.. no such luck.
I ended up booking a shitty motel through priceline for two nights, at about 100$ even, which was most of what i had saved.

Got to the motel, it was clean but not 'new' and reasonable. Plugged in my electronics to charge and connected to the crappy wifi signal, only to get an email that a woman had found my cat.. in ALABAMA.

Why my cat went missing is another post entirely, which I will do soon.
I took my antibiotic, took a shower, cranked up the a/c and little dog (who I snuck in in my backpack) and I fell asleep for the night. We slept about 12 hours straight, which was beautiful.

I arranged with the woman to pick up my cat the day my motel booking was up and pawned some old jewelry I had for gas money. I posted on Craigslist looking again for a room to rent (that isn't more than a one bedroom apartment here.. people are nuts) and went down to pick up my fur child.

I picked him up and although dirty with a few puncture wounds, he was okay!
We came back up to Tennessee and parked at Walmart, in a nice shady area.
I let him out of his carrier and set up his litter box and water/food dish and prepared to go to sleep.

We all slept pretty well (except for the random headlights going by, always makes me worry about police and wakes me up)  and had intended on spending the day down at the creek (my cat has a harness and a long lead, he can wander but not escape and get hurt, and my dog swims with me) and I noticed blood all over my shirt.
I called the humane society, they got my cat in to an emergency vet with a 50$ voucher, thankfully. He had an abscess that he had ruptured and they cleaned him up, gave him some antibiotics and sent us on our way.
I'm happy to report, by the way that he is doing GREAT and is currently trying to catch a mosquito.

I bummed some wifi at mcdonalds (its over 95 degrees out this weekend, I try to be somewhere cool at all times for ALL of us) and posted an ad on craigslist looking for a room to rent.

I got a few responses and started texting them about details. One man eventually offered that I could stay in his basement, rent free (which is air conditioned and mostly finished, just no bathroom) provided I give him a blow job 2-3 times a day.

I am absolutely disgusted by this, and in fact had ANOTHER man suggest the same thing!

I ended up staying with the first man, although I have NOT performed any sexual 'services' I have found that he regularly employs a prostitute, for oral sex only, which disgusts me even more now that I know he is a single dad to TWO kids under 12.

I'm currently in his basement, hiding from the 100 degree heat waiting for the holiday to be over.
I pee in a bucket and dump it outside and bathe in his garden hose at night, specifically so he does NOT know I'm awake.

He wont bother me if he thinks I am sleeping, so I would rather avoid him entirely and just book it in the morning when its not a holiday and people answer their phones.

I can easily see how women, especially in such a predicament, would be enticed or feel obligated into sexual services, which I honestly consider to be rape or assault.

I don't quite understand why men feel that this is an acceptable thing.
During the brief discussion I had with the man here, he said "well I just want to make sure I'm not being taken advantage of, ya know?"

Really? Because letting someone who was willing to pay rent (which now I am thankful, I am NOT doing) stay in your unfinished basement with no regular access to a toilet, or clean water, is being taken advantage of?

If I could find somewhere for my cat and dog to stay, that would ensure their safety until I found stability and could get them BACK, I would stay at a shelter, no question.

I refuse to abandon the two things on this earth that mean anything to me (outside my child) and who keep me sane and alive.
I refuse. Period.

Men disgust me.
Are there any men left on this earth that aren't total pigs?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Having a Vagina and Homelessness

Well, being a woman in this world is hard. You are born at a slight disadvantage, provided you are born in a country like the United States.  You are born to an extreme disadvantage in less progressive countries, or ones with strict value sets (which may or may not include women as lesser people) if you are lucky enough to be born at all.

Being a woman and homeless in the US has its ups and downs.  It varies greatly in different areas of the country, different states and even within neighboring cities.  In my experience women with children are always treated differently, usually put above and before anyone else, as they should be.

Of course as a woman with a child, sometimes you face scorn or judgement (actually this is common place) as if you are a horrible mother for being unable to provide for your child, or for bringing them into this world, in such a dark place, such as domestic violence. My experience with this is limited, so I can't really go into great detail about it.

However as a single childless woman (if your child is not physically with you, you are considered childless in most situations) its a grab bag as to what you will experience.  

Most commonly you will experience degrading comments, assumptions that you are a drug/alcohol abuser, that you are lazy and incompetent and looking for a hand out, a social failure, corrupted and damaged, or that you must be crazy... and thats just when you are looking for help and/or a place to stay.

 Some of the problems on the street (or in a shelter, or even in life) that I have personally faced include but are not limited to:  Domestic Violence
                            Rape/Sexual Assault
                            Violent Crimes
                            Abuse (of all kinds)

I have had attempts on my life made more than once, even twice while pregnant (two separate pregnancies, two different men making the attempts) 

It doesn't really bother me and I suppose it should. I think I cope by numbing myself to it and just taking away a life experience.

Anyways, women face quite a bit of stigma.  Of course men do too, but not nearly to the degree women do, at least in my experience.  I am consistently looked at as less because I do not bring my child with me into this. (Might I add, sending my child away was the hardest thing I have *ever* had to do) I am looked at as a drain on society, a person who just wants everyone else to provide for her, an incapable slut because I have never been married.

Don't mind the fact that I have a Masters degree, I am useless and just want handouts, right?

I am looked at as an object, as just another person.  As I've explained previously, we all got here (homeless) in a different way. Everyone has different needs. Programs with individualized case management plans are far more successful than lump sum programs, that do little to address WHY a person became homeless to begin with.

Sometimes I hear you have to have a child to live here, to stay here, to obtain services. Well, I am doing the best thing I can for my child, by NOT bringing her into this, so thats just not an option. I will not corrupt someone elses life, especially that of my own child, to advance my own.

Then I hear I have to be a substance abuser. Great, so because I am clean and sober (and prefer it that way) that you can't help me. Okay, everyone needs a boost and help and addicts do too.  

But then I hear, well, we can't help you because you are a woman. Well why? 'because we don't serve women, there just aren't that many homeless women.'

This is true. I don't know statistics, but I'm sure its at least a 1:5 ratio, women to men.

Well then, what do you suggest I do? 'Find a friend'. Yes, because all us women are social creatures that help one another. *cough*

Although I have a number of friends that would probably help me, many live too far for me even to contact them regularly, much less live with them. Many have families of their own, or are in college and simply can't add another person, who realistically can't contribute much at the moment.

So, I'm left playing the waiting game.

Waiting for a solution, a hand. I'm sure I'm not the only homeless woman experiencing this and I'm sure others find far better solutions to this than I can.  
So my question is.. well, what are we supposed to do?
I am constantly solicited, especially on the streets, usually by disgusting men (You'd be surprised how many white collar men also solicit me) usually using the line of 'well it will help both of us out, if you know what I mean' usually followed with a sick laugh or smile.

I am not a hooker. I am not a prostitute. I will not lower myself, put myself in danger or bad situations for a meal, a quick buck, or the possible opportunity of somewhere to sleep for a night.

I'll take my chances on the street, thanks.  At least there I can RUN.