NPR: Your Headline Offends

I am not happy with this NPR title: Will Medicaid Bring The Uninsured Out Of The Woodwork?.

Dear New York Times: The uninsured are not in the woodwork. They are in pain. They are in trouble. They are in debt. They are not in the woodwork. Cockroaches are in the woodwork. The uninsured are not.

I have a friend who was badly injured last winter. She’s always been either a full time student or had a job. Her jobs as far as I know are always helping people in some way, usually working with youth, either education-related or working with kids at risk. That is what her schooling is about at all, too; Youth, social justice, etc. etc. But, by chance, her injury came at a period in her life when she was between insurance-providing jobs (though she was working multiple part time jobs) and school is so expensive that she was also between paid up semesters. I was with her when she was injured. It was something like December (I’d have to check). Her injury required surgery.

Unfortunately, she was not covered by any sort of insurance and the sorts of things that needed to be done were not available via the usual routes. She knew she’d be able to get a job soon, as she was looking, qualified, and had some good leads. It seemed likely that one of her part time jobs might pan out to a full time job with benefits. Eventually, this Spring, she was hired for full time employment (working with kids at risk in the Twin Cities). Then the required waiting period before you get actual medical coverage even though you have medical coverage went by, and she got an appointment with a doctor, then the right kind of doctor, then the surgeon, and then made the appointment to go under the knife.

Her surgery is tomorrow. She did not crawl out of the woodwork. She was not in the woodwork for the last six months. She was in pain. She was in pain the whole time, Mr. New York Times.

I am totally bringing her chicken soup.

(Note: Sorry, I thought the piece was from the NYT, not NPR because I was reading both at the same time … thus the slug.)

Comments

  1. #1 Jay
    July 11, 2012

    I sympathize with your friend’s plight. Hopefully a take away message for others will be to ALWAYS take cobra coverage when leaving a job. Yes, it is expensive, however the alternative can be much more expensive and worse. I know of several friends who have declined Cobra coverage and then experienced serious injuries with devastating long term consequences!
    Thanks,
    Greg

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    July 11, 2012

    I’ve been in the situation of needing cobra coverage and simply could not afford it. It is not an option if one does not have several hundred dollars a month. But yes, if one can get it, one should. Probably a lot of people who can afford it don’t bother with it. That drives up costs. Which is why mandated coverage woudl be good.

    Hey, we just invented Obamacare!

  3. #3 Calli Arcale
    July 11, 2012

    My husband was laid off last year, and we decided to take the COBRA coverage instead of switching over to me, since he got a better rate. What we didn’t know is that your employer’s contribution to COBRA is taxable income. And since you’re getting it *after* your paychecks ended, they’re not sending tax off to the IRS for it. Last April was rather unpleasant because of that.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    July 11, 2012

    That just seems wrong!

  5. #5 Phil
    July 12, 2012

    COBRA can be a lifesaver if you can afford it, but I would guess that substantial fraction of those in a position to need it can’t. Going on COBRA will almost always be associated with an expensive life transition: losing a job, moving, losing a spouse, etc. My wife had a pre-existing condition, and so when we were facing a substantial gap in her coverage it was critical we maintain it somehow…at the same time we’d gone from two incomes to one. We ultimately wound up borrowing $1000 from her parents, but not everyone has that option and not everyone has the security we did of knowing that the gap was likely finite.