It happens to every college student. You get busy, forget to eat, barely sleep and the next thing you know, you’re sick. And it’s not just a touch of a cold I’m talking about: It’s a throat rattling, body exhausting, demon illness that has scared your friends into avoiding you.
Soon you’re asking yourself that oh-so-perplexing question: Do you go to the doctor and risk the mountainous medical bill? Or do you wait out the sickness, hoping that your struggling immune system will prevail in the end? Lots of students are forced into making the latter choice, which is even more terrifying than the first, especially during cold and flu season when strep throat or bronchitis can turn into pneumonia faster than you can say penicillin.
Many students don’t have health insurance because their parents don’t. So, how does our government expect us to provide ourselves with health care? Do they expect us to somehow work a full-time job in order to acquire health insurance while taking 12 to 18 credit hours? Even if a student did manage to work 40 hours a week, many employers would not offer health insurance. They would undoubtedly take advantage of the fact that the student needs the job, and give no benefits at all.
So students start to look for health benefits in places other than the workplace. This is where Medicaid comes in. Medicaid is a government funded organization that provides health care to those who qualify. Most students qualify because they aren’t living at home and have a low income. This option sounds great, at first. However, the application process is lengthy and often more difficult than necessary.
I applied for Medicaid in October of 2007. I filled out all the paper work, sent it in and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Finally, in November I received a letter stating that I was missing a long list of materials required for the application, a few of which I know I sent in the first time. I was frustrated. I felt as though their department was trying to discourage me from applying, instead of helping me receive medical help. I got all of these materials together, which took a few days. I was just about to send out the documents when I received another letter, this one telling me I had been denied Medicaid due to lack of materials. I was irate. The only reason my application “lacked materials” is because they denied my application before I had the chance to send the materials to them.
I believe this is a direct result of the low funding that our governmental health care organizations receive. I realize that Medicaid and organizations like it are limited in the number of candidates they can accept each year. This explains why those who work for Medicaid are encouraged to discourage applicants, both by making the process overly difficult and by not allowing a reasonable amount of time for the completion of the application.
Now that I’ve reapplied, qualified for Medicaid, and their department knows more about me than the CIA, I have been informed that it will only cover me until I’m 21. After enduring the lengthy application process twice, I realize that it is but a temporary solution to a student’s health care needs.
The difficulty and expendability that is Medicaid reflects the inadequate state of our country’s seriously flawed health care system.
That being said, I urge every student to keep in mind the need for health care reform in upcoming elections. It should be one of the most pertinent issues in each of our minds as we evaluate possible candidates for not only presidency, but any other elected officials. The health care system affects students directly, and we have a right to keep ourselves healthy at a reasonable and affordable price.