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Where to begin…

First of all, a non-drinker non-smoker who finished high school and has a job is pretty much screwed here, as is someone who is on disability (there’s only so much job education and job-searching you can do before you’ve gotten your body/mind into an employable state). Children’s coverage is completely dependent on their parents’ organizational skills.

“Inappropriate emergency room visits?” Do we really want people to NOT go to the ER in the early stages of a heart attack, severe dehydration, allergic reaction, etc. because they’re not sure if their symptoms are actually due to those conditions? “Well, it’s just a little chest pain and my arm is kinda sore. That could just be heartburn and a sprain. I should probably wait and go to urgent care tomorrow morning.”

And the amounts are ridiculous and insulting. The last time my husband went to the dentist (because his wisdom tooth broke into about 4 pieces) it cost over $2500, all told, and he was supposed to have a follow-up procedure a year ago that we can’t afford to pay for.

I added it up. IF you started the year smoking, on drugs, overweight, without a GED or high school diploma, with no job and did ALL THESE THINGS, you would have $705 of credit toward dental or vision care. That might be enough to get an eye exam and two pairs of glasses. That might be enough to get a basic dental exam and cleaning, but it will not even come CLOSE to covering an actual dental or optical emergency.

And all that ignores the fact that you’d have to have the money to pay up front for many of these items. Job skills/GED classes COST money. Drug rehabilitation programs cost money. If your “job skills training” means you’re working on a degree program part time (which it will for many of those who are not physically healthy and who already have a GED), you’ve got to scrape together a few thousand per semester to do that. Even if your kids’ medicare covers their preventive dental screenings (if it doesn’t, then guess where this years’ $705 is going), the parent still probably has to miss work to take the kid to that appointment, and that time off work may mean the family has no phone service when the school calls or doesn’t eat fruits or vegetables for the last week of the month, so there is an up-front cost even for “covered” items on the list.

This MIGHT be a good idea IF it were expected of everyone in the state, but it would still be a very poor execution of that idea. And, really, all it is is poverty shaming. It is a poorly-veiled tool to ensure that low-wage workers are available and too exhausted to defend their rights for the next several generations.

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