My Love/Hate Relationship With Public Assistance
A little over six months ago I found myself unemployed. Suddenly I had no income, not a ton of money in the bank, less than a month before my health insurance shut off, and no immediate job prospects. I went down to the Department of Social Services to ask for help. And I did get it. Eventually. The experience left me extremely grateful and extremely bitter at the same time. If I had the chance, this is what I would like to say to DSS.
Thank you for being there for me in my time of need. Your food stamps put food on my table. They also would have put candy bars in my hands and 16 oz. sodas in my cup holder, but they did not. If I did not have a spare dollar of my own to buy them, then I went without. Thanks for offereing, but I am one of those rare people that does not consider candy and soda food. Maybe some day you can explain to me why you do?
Your Medicaid put me in my doctors’ offices and my prescriptions in my hands. While I hate taking those pills, I hate myself more when I am not taking them. You might have made me and the docs jump through a few hoops, but in the end you got me what I needed. Thank you for teaming up with private insurance. It meant I could keep seeing the same doctors I have spent years building relationships with.
I might not have known where my next paycheck was coming from, but I never had to worry about my next meal, appointment, or refill. And for that I want to thank you.
HOW DARE YOU
How dare you take so long to get my insurance started. Forty-five days. Plus another two weeks to approve my prescriptions. That is two months. That might not be so bad for a healthy person, but for me that was torture. Don’t you realize my prescription is only good for 30 days? They don’t allow the 90 day mail orders on the “fun” stuff. And no generics. No sir. Those puppies are $7 a pop! Now times that by two, for 30 days.
Discount programs? Sure. They barely make a dent . Contact the company? Sure. I got the forms. By the time I get that finished I will have my approval. And what help do you offer until the paperwork goes through? None. Oh, wait. I did get some advice: Maybe your doctor has some samples. Gee. Thanks.
I felt like a junkie calling from doc to doc looking for a handout. Thank goodness my primary could supply me with a month’s worth of one. The other? Well you can just check my credit card statement. Would you mind reimbursing me for that? No? Gee. Thank you.
How dare you make me cash out my IRA before you would even give me the benefits so necessary for my survival. I worked hard to put that money aside so when my working days are done I can support myself without coming to you for handouts. And what do you do? You take it away. Now, not only am I poor today, but you have just set me up to be poor in the future. Way to go.
It’s a good thing my car is practically a clunker, or you would have made me cash that in too. How dare you even consider it! How exactly do you expect a girl in the suburbs to interview for jobs, and then upon the miracle of getting one, be able to get to and from that job with no car?
I suppose I could walk to the bus stop. It’s only a mile or so. Who doesn’t love a 20 minute walk before and after work each day? Oh wait. I forgot to add the walk from the stop to work and back. That shouldn’t be bad. Just about everyone in the suburbs is right on a bus line these days. No? What’s another mile? That would have been some great exercise.
But I have a clunker. Selling that hunk of junk wouldn’t do much to delay me knocking on your door asking for handouts. That seems to be what you are doing. So you let me keep it. It’s a good thing for me that I didn’t buy a new car last year. Instead, I kept the clunker with no payment. Tried to keep the bills low so I could put a little something away for the future. And look where that got me. At least when I’m 75, broke, and living off what you decide to give me, I can avoid rent by living in my car. Thanks again.
Lucky for me things are looking up. I have a temp job with some great people who are even helping me to get something permanent. They got my back. They aren’t going to wait until I am unemployed and broke again before helping me out. And I have this great writing thing going on. Full of tons more supportive people. Who knows? With a lot of work maybe I will be working at home in my PJ’s well into my 90’s and I won’t need that retirement money after all.