Introduction to the Stortellers
Heather's Story about Medicaid and Communication

Heather and Shirley are sitting in the living room at home discussing her recurrence of breast cancer. Shirley gently holds Heather.

Heather: [sobbing] I thought all of this was over! After all we went through six years ago! The doctors said they thought they caught it all. This is horrible. I don't want to go through this again.

Shirley: I understand but we've got to do it. You've got to do it to live.

Heather: But it is in the bone? Doesn't that mean I am dying? And my kids and parents don't even care. What is wrong with them?

Shirley: We don't need to deal with them right now. First we have to find a way to get you into the best care that we can. I can call your family later just to let them know what is happening.

Heather: No. Remember last time they blamed the cancer on us being two-spirited and gave us all that guilt crap. I do want them to know, but I can't deal with their looking at us like we're some type of perverts. We've been happy together for 10 years. And look: Marianne's been divorced once already and Bob's been divorced twice! Who are they to judge us?

Shirley: You know how I feel about them. It is their loss to not have had you in their lives the last ten years. It's been my blessing that we're together.

Heather: But what are we going to do? I don't have insurance but earn too much money to be eligible for Medicaid. Course, I guess I won't be able to work as many hours once I start the chemo again. What am I going to do?

Shirley: Let's go back to the clinic and talk with the Social Worker.

Heather: That's more than an hour drive away. I don't want to do it today.

Shirley: Okay, I'm going to call the clinic and try to schedule an appointment with the Social Worker for tomorrow.

3 days later, Heather and Shirley walk into the Social Worker's Office for their appointment.

Social Worker: [smiles] Please sit down. You must be Shirley [shakes her hand] and you must be Heather [shakes her hand].

Heather: How did you know that?

Shirley: I told her that you had long hair and I was skinny.

Heather: Oh, okay. I'm glad you didn't describe me as the one who looks like she's got cancer. [smiles]

Shirley: You just look tired. Other than that, you look fine.

Social Worker: Okay, how can I help you?

Heather: I need help to pay for my cancer treatment because my job doesn't include health insurance and I don't make much money. I need to get the best care I can so that I can survive cancer a second time.

Social Worker: Well, how much money are you making now?

Heather: I make $32,000 with tips. I'm a waitress.

Social Worker: But that is working full time, isn't it?

Heather: Yes. And I got so sick the first time I had cancer six years ago from the chemo, that I know I won't be able to keep working full time. But I've got to work. I asked the Medicaid person if I was eligible for Medicaid and she said I made too much money.

Social Worker: Are you supporting any children?

Heather: No. Shirley and I are a couple and we live alone.

Social Worker: Do you own a house or car? Have a savings account? Or do you have any investments?

Heather: I have a 1995 Chevy. We rent our house out in the country. I have about $200 in my savings account. And, no, I've never had enough money to invest in anything.

Social Worker: Did you tell the Medicaid person all of this?

Heather: No. Once she heard my salary she said I wasn't eligible and just sent me out of her office. She was real cold.

Social Worker: Well, off the record this type of thing happens a lot. No matter which type of government program you apply for, you are automatically said to be "ineligible". You almost always have to apply twice to get into the system. So, don't be discouraged yet. did you bring the Medicaid application with you?

Shirley: Yes, I did. But this is the only copy I have.

Social Worker: Let me go make a copy. I'll be right back.

[About 10 minutes pass]

Social Worker: Here is your original. Always keep a full copy of any forms you turn into any office or agency. [She looks at the application]. Okay, we are going to re-do the forms together and I am going to need your help.

Heather: You mean you think I can qualify for Medicaid?

Social Worker: I think so. There are also some other programs that may also be able to help you pay your medical bills and your rent.

[Heather hugs Shirley] Oh, you were right. We are going to get some help!

To read more stories about Heather, click on her leaf above or click Here

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