I'm fine with this, and I'll tell you why. Let me tell you about my experience with Medicaid. In 2005, we decided to begin the journey into the Catholic Church. Being young and stupid, I felt I needed to make a bold announcement to my own church and take the plunge by resigning on the spot. No secret RCIA meetings while I put on a bold face in front of a church whose doctrines I no longer believed. And since I didn't want to wait for my kids to get older, in we went.
Now that means unemployment. And contrary to what some agencies that deal with Protestant Clergy Converts might suggest, it is not easy to make that change. There is no big Catholic safety net or fast track to continued ministry. In fact, I can't help but notice the whole 'Protestant Clergy Convert' thing that was all the rage in the late 80s and 90s was beginning to fade. Just in time for me.
So I found myself without employment with a resume that said 'Religious Stuff' in bold letters across the front. I decided, for the sake of my kids mostly, to buck up and go to my good Uncle Sam. I applied for Medicaid. Since my wife worked at a private Christian school, we had no problem qualifying.
After a few weeks, we got news that we were accepted - everything paid for! Paid for, that is, with providers that accepted Medicaid. I don't mind telling you, I was a little bummed about having to go in and ask if various offices accepted Medicaid. It was a new one to me. Nonetheless, things seemed to be working out.
Then, only a couple weeks after we were told we qualified, I was offered a job at an educational publisher! Hurrah! Benefits, full time, 401K - the works. The one snag was that health benefits didn't kick in until 30 days after my start date. Yuck.
So I called the State and asked if there was a chance to get an extension for my Medicaid benefits. I thought I had been pretty darn industrious after all. I just saved the state a crap ton of money, what with three active boys consonantly getting hurt.
And this is the point of my long-winded build up: They said no, there was no extension. The minute - the second - I began employment, I was off Medicaid. OK, a little disappointed. But I understood. I blamed the company's policy of waiting 30 days more than I blamed the State. But then she continued, and this is what hit me.
She asked how long I had been on Medicaid. I told her only a couple weeks. Oh, she said. You see, if I had been on for at least six months, then I could have received an extension.
WTF? (that's Whisky Tango Foxtrot, or so I've been told). That doesn't make sense. I'd think the State would want me off as soon as possible, and reward my diligence and industry in getting out and hitting the pavement to find employment. Telling me I'm more or less screwed, but I would be rewarded with an extension if I just lounged about for six months and waited to get a job, seemed to be completely counterproductive. It was as if they were encouraging me, rewarding me even, to stay on Medicaid.
And then it dawned on me.