Need Financial Assistance? A Guide to SSI, Medicaid, BCMH and WIC

June 19, 2012

I remember having the girls and not even thinking about money. I remember how overwhelmed I felt when we started getting bills for thousands and thousands of dollars. I immediately started freaking out and had no clue what we were going to do in order to pay all these bills. My mom works for an insurance company and it’s possible I called her about a million times crying saying, “Mom, I got another bill for this much, what am I going to do?” She told me to calm down and that everything was going to be okay. I still had no idea how we were going to pay for these bills, let alone all the ones yet to come. When Brooke came home we were not told about any assistance. We knew about WIC and food stamps but those were things we were trying to avoid, if at all possible, because my husband and I know that there are people out there who truly need that and we were not one‘s that needed it in order to survive. When Kendall was transferred to the hospital in Columbus it was a whole new ball game.

The social worker came the first day we were there told us about Medicaid and all the other help that was out there. Medicaid? What are you talking about? I had no idea of what she was talking about and sat down and talked to her further to get a better understanding. Medicaid for disabled or handicapped kids was available to Kendall; although Kendall technically wasn’t either she was low birth weight and was also in the hospital for over 30 days so she qualified for what was called Institutional Medicaid. If it weren’t for her social worker, we would have never of known about it. I am very grateful that she introduced us to so many new things. We applied for Medicaid and got it and a little weight was lifted off my shoulders because we were now not going to have to pay most of those bills.

On top of all that we were also introduced to BCMH (Bureau for Children with Medical handicaps). We weren’t sure how Kendall would qualify for this, but we were assured again that with her low birth weight and the things she was not doing that she would qualify, so we filled out the papers and were told she had qualified. BCMH is there as a last resort, it is there to cover anything your insurance OR Medicaid does not cover. While both girls were in the hospital they were also receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) which was an amount of money they got in order to help provide for their care. When they were in the hospital they would get the full amount and when they came home it went by our income. This is also something that has helped us out tremendously with diapers! Diapers are one of the most expensive things you have to take care of and when you have twins its double! When Kendall came home she was also on all different kinds of medicine as well as a special formula. She was put on Pediasure which, of course, had to be special ordered through a pharmacy, which is not cheap. In August 2009, three months after the girls were born, Matt and I were both laid off from our jobs so we had to step in and apply for WIC.  We had no other choice because we weren’t bringing in enough money and we couldn’t afford the $600 formula bill each month.

I am not telling you all this to overwhelm you, I am telling you all of this because if it wouldn’t have been for Kendall’s social worker I am not sure we would have known or gotten any of the assistance we did. I was a young mom and really didn’t know much about insurance or assistance. When our girls were born three months early it just threw our whole world upside down and we had to learn to cope along with taking the good with the bad. There was so much going on that getting assistance was a thought way in the back of my mind, however, when we were introduced to it all, it changed our lives for the better. Be aware of all the things out there that you can get and don’t be afraid to get it! People may look down on it but it is there for a reason and you shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for assistance to make sure your family is able to live each day.

You can also refer to an article, recently penned by Hand to Hold’s Family Support Navigator, Erika Goyer:  How to Pay for Your NICU Stay.

To apply for assistance or learn more, click on the following links:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
Bureau for Children with Mental Handicaps (BCMH) (Check and make sure your state offers BCMH, this was the state of Ohio’s site)