Tuesday, December 26, 2006


My seventeen-year-old niece is feeling out of sorts--she's diabetic and so she's a little worried. My dad has gotten up from his nap to check her blood sugar on his glucometer. They are having a soft discussion--this is part of their everyday lives. She's being characteristically bossy: "Be careful, PaPa," "Make sure it doesn't really hurt me, PaPa," "No this is how you do it, PaPa." He's saying, "Child, you bout to have to do it yourself," "Quit messin' up my strips, girl!" "Hurry up!"

And she's immediately apologetic; she wants him to help her. My sixteen-year-old niece is standing behind her, holding her hand, so that she doesn't jerk it when my dad uses the lancet.

During the course of the conversation, we've discovered that she has no kind of insurance. She was covered by my brother's (her father's) health insurance until recently. Then, some one in the payroll department called him in to ask why he didn't pay child support for her--when he does for her other siblings. He revealed that she is not biologically his. And they told him that he could be in trouble for fraud because his insurance had covered her all these years since the divorce. Isn't that bullshit? And her mom, who's a nurse working 70-80 hours a week at two jobs, makes too much for her to get medicaid. We've had this child since my brother and her mom got back together (they had one child, broke up, she had another child, then they got back together, got married and had two more kids); she wasn't even one. She's most emphatically ours--and I resent BCBS taking it upon themselves to accuse him of fraud.

But anyway, she's not getting the checkups she needs. And she knows it and worries about it. That is why she got my dad out of bed--she takes comfort in his knowledge, even as they argue over the best way to check her levels and types of insulin and if he really knows how to use the glucometer.

Sharing, apparently, makes it better.


brownfemipower said...

you know, as pissed off as the whole health insurance thing makes me--this is a beautiful thing to read about. taking care of each other, even when we're kinda mean tempered and nasty. love bleeds through the fear enough some times to create real beauty, real power...

Abadiebitch said...


Does her mother not have insurance offered to her through the hospitals she work at? If she works at a hospital. I always felt the safest when I worked for the two hospitals that I did. 100% coverage and an affordable rate for my daughter.

Now my husband carries us and it has been a real problem. Sorting out what is worth the amount, comprehending the monthly amount, then dealing with the guidelines that we have to follow afterwards.

I hate the South, when it comes to Medicaid and assistance. I told my daughter how it was. When I was getting assistance, no cash, only Medicaid and 66 a month in food stamps I had to adhere to crap every few months. At least here in California, working people can have Medi-CAL. One is still treated like the herd, but at least it is something versus nothing.

I hope she will be okay. I will think of her.

Zan said...

That's such crap. If he's been responsible for her for her entire life, she is de facto his child. And, I believe, that is legal in Louisiana. (They did a facelift on some of the laws a few years ago, so I'm not 100 percent certain any more.)

If her mother doesn't have insurance she can afford, then her bio dad should pick up for her. If he can't/isn't involved then yes, she can be covered by a step-parent's insurance. It's bullshit for them to tell her otherwise. Tell your brother to call his insurance company and ask them, specifically, if she'd be qualified. He doesn't have to give them details, just tell them he's considering adding his step-daughter to his policy. Or hell, if he doesn't want to do that, ask them to mail him a copy of qualified dependants.

And the company isn't worried he'll get sued...they're worried THEY will get sued. They allowed it for years, it's their responsiblity. Plus, frankly, if the insurance company was okay with it for years, why would they dump her now? Did he get this info from the company or his HR rep? IT makes no sense, since I had BCBS for years and it was always allowable for a step-child to be on the insurance. Hmp.

Anonymous said...

Why does biology matter in this case? My brother is not biologically my father's child but he was covered until he was 23 by my father's insurance because he was a part of our household. I can't imagine why that should be any different on other insurance carriers.

That's just sickening!

elle said...

i'm going to give him these suggestions--i don't think he asked any questions. he was really scared that he'd be in trouble. his understanding was, that it was okay that he carried her while he and his first wife were married, but that coverage should've ended when they got divorced.

yeah, zan, her bio dad is waaay out of the pic. years ago. moksha, i don't know if her mom has coverage available. when she was working solely at the nursing home, she didn't. now that she has a hospital job, too, maybe she does. i'm not sure she can afford it, though.

i had three thoughts about it 1) i know the IRS lets people claim stepchildren as dependents even when the marriage ends, so what's the big deal; 2)surely medicaid can give her some sort of exception or partial coverage because she has diabetes--income isn't the sole determinant, is it? 3) he should just sign her birth certificate. her biological father didn't, so he could just get all the stuff from the state, go before a notary public w/her mom and sign it. but now that i think about it, that would make him have to pay the state back for any medicaid, AFDC/TANF or whatever she got when she was younger. since has two young ones with his second wife and second wife doesn't work, i know he can't afford more payroll deductions!

RageyOne said...

Oh, that is just terrible. I feel really bad for her and happy that your father is there for her. I hope this gets sorted out soon and she gets coverage.

Leslie M-B said...

Health insurance in this country is so effed up. I'm sorry--I know that in addition to doctor's visits, those diabetes testing supplies are expensive!

Best wishes to your family, Elle. That young woman deserves some insured health care.

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...