I’m going to try really hard to not get political here, But I felt that my experience was worth sharing about! I volunteered for a Multicultural Women’s Health Fair that they needed volunteers for, and spent about five hours there last Saturday. The goal was to target women from different refugee or otherwise non-native ethnicities and provide information to them through four or five presenters. The organization did a great job organizing it- the women were grouped according to language and provided with translators for Nepali, Swahili, Karen (Cambodia), Arabic, French and a few others. The first presenter spoke about breast, ovarian, colon and skin cancers and included how and when to get screened, etc. The second was a midwife, and she did a great job talking about general women’s health issues (menstruation, nutrition, cancers, when to see a health provider,. etc) although she said that “midwife” and “doctor” are interchangeable, which was very confusing to me. I’ve never heard of midwives being considered general practitioners, but apparently in some states they can diagnose and prescribe,… I’ll have to look into that more! I wish she would have used “nurse practitioner” and “PA,” because this particular population of women and their family members are more likely to see a midlevel provider at low cost clinics than MDs. Anyway,… Then a gal talked about nutrition and finally, a representative from Medicaid spoke.
So, I have never heard a presentation on Medicaid, nor do I feel like I have an adequate understanding about who qualifies, their services,. etc etc. But, I have to tell you, if I were to walk away from that presentation, the message that I would take is to go home and get pregnant. Because, as she repetitively stated, pregnant women and children will not pay anything for any service at any time, if they are on Medicaid. Period. She seemed to be well meaning and knowledgeable of their system and services, but I was dismayed by her lack of “thinking outside the medicaid box” for this population of people. She spent the whole time talking about how to apply (ok,. fine,) and listing off slide after slide of all the things that they will cover and pay for. Now, to her credit, she could justify her talk as being about how to apply and what they cover and that she did just that, but I felt it was an enormously incomplete picture of reality. Come to find out, it’s really difficult to qualify for Medicaid, even if you do not have a lot of money. So, many of the women there don’t qualify anyway because they don’t have kids, or whatever else (go get pregnant).. And it just seemed like she was dangling this enormous carrot in front of a bunch of starved bunnies with the message that this particular carrot is the one you want, and the only way to it is through Medicaid! If you want to be truly helpful, think big picture here. Utah accepts any and all refugees. But obviously, the hope is that they are responsible for finding jobs once they get here. They get help, mentoring (thank you, Marcus) classes, and a lot of support, but eventually they are turned loose to join our society like everyone else. Most of them, obviously, want to come here to start a new life, provide for their kids, and get jobs. Most of them, are very hard working people. So why on earth are Medicaid reps out there encouraging people to rely on social services like Medicaid, that many of them don’t even qualify for because they’re on the track towards self sufficiency? Is this truly helpful? If you would just be poor enough and go get pregnant, look at all the great services you will have! I’m sorry, but that should not be the message we are sending.
She never said anything about private insurance companies, and that with education and good employment, insurance can be gained. Obviously, she’s not licensed to represent private companies, but if many of these women don’t qualify for Medicaid, why aren’t we encouraging them to go to low-cost clinics, and explore private company options? I’m sorry, I will not accept that there are no other options out there! I have to give her credit, she did encourage them to not go to the ER unless it was an absolute emergency, but then again if you’re on Medicaid you won’t pay anything! or will pay just a few dollars!
We already have enough people in our country who are lazy, do not want to provide for themselves and expect the rest of America to foot their bill. We should not be inviting refugees to our country and then encouraging them to join that group. Instead, we should be encouraging people to move into the private sector with jobs, education and opportunity. I doubt that Medicaid was ever intended to be a permanent solution for people.
Final thoughts… it was a disappointing first experience for me,… I felt like she misled them in thinking that they have a good chance of qualifying (how helpful is it to the rest of the women who don’t?) In fact, a few women asked her questions about that- “my son turned 18 and was denied Medicaid, why?” “we don’t qualify, what do we do?” Her response was to point them towards other social services that might get them coverage. It’s misleading because there are other options out there, there are low cost clinics, there are vaccination fairs, etc etc. It’s misleading to send the message that here in America, people are entitled to free care, because as it stands, we do not have such a system in place. Maybe we will someday, maybe not. It’s discouraging them from being enterprising, and pursuing success through the work place. I felt like her goal was to steer people towards Medicaid, more than it was to educate and support refugee women.
And like I said, I would have walked out of there thinking to myself “I’m going to get pregnant, and then call all my relatives and tell them that if they come to America have enough kids (etc) they will never pay for health care!”
This message was a disservice to all of them, and to the rest of society.