Saturday, October 17, 2009

Marriage as a Reason for Denying State Medical Coverage?

This morning after Sadie wakes up, we're packing up the car and heading, with my parents and grandparents, over to the coast. The coast is pretty close to us, as the crow flies, but is about two hours away with all the twists and turns of the mountain roads. Paul is going to drive up from San Francisco after school this evening (he usually gets out of school around 4 pm), and it will probably take him around eight hours, as we're stopping just a few miles short of Oregon. It will be nice to get away for a couple of days and I'm going to do my best not to think about the whole Medi-Cal thing. Just as soon as I finish this post.

Apparently, being married is a reason for being denied Medi-Cal. It's called "deprivation." What it means is that while we could make quite a bit more money if we were separated, and still qualify for Medi-Cal. We can make next to nothing as a married couple, be well under the set amount to qualify for a married couple and still not qualify. They don't advertise "deprivation" as a reason for being refused on the pages of forms, possibly because if people knew about it they'd make a fuss. You can't get much more anti-family than refusing someone simply because they're married.

It just doesn't make sense. If marriage was an meant immediate disqualification, it seems that that is something that could have been told us 15 months ago.

I did some digging and tried to discover how this could be possible and here's what I found. It seems that there is a 100 hour a month limit that the primary provider in the family is allowed to work and if that person works more than a hundred hours, no matter how much he or she is paid for that work, the family is automatically disqualified.

Out of the last 15 months we have only met that 100 hour limit one time and that was two months ago when the store Paul worked for changed over from one corporation to another. That happens to be the month that we re-applied for Medi-Cal. We didn't go over the 100 hours, but when we made the estimate on the paperwork and wrote how much he was working each month I wrote down about 100 hours. Paul was getting too close to qualifying for benefits, so he was suddenly cut back from 30 hours a week to 16-20 hours a week (making things very tough, although in a county with 25% unemployment, we're just grateful that he was able to find a job).

I wonder how many couples say they're separated, just so they can have health insurance. I've been joking around with Paul telling him that he needs to move into the trailer if he wants to get to see the doctor about his foot, which he thinks he broke months ago, and which still hurts constantly. Way to support marriage California!

I'm going to write letters to my local representatives, but I'm rather beat down on the whole issue at this point. I've been fighting for this for the past 15 months and every time I think we've jumped through every hoop and done everything they say is necessary, something else comes up. Getting away for a few days will be a good thing.


  1. Hope you have a wonderful, relaxing time where you can forget about all this nonsense. I encountered the same problem in the state of Washington when I was a counselor for clients on welfare. Those who were married often were denied payment for counseling and so many often claimed to be separated in order to continue counseling. There certainly does seem to be a bias towards married people in the welfare system, and not enough help is given to families who really need the help. I will be praying that you can find some relief in this struggle to find health care coverage.

  2. Thank you Maria! We made it to the coast and I already feel more relaxed!


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