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Taking on Life's Challenges: Medicaid's Shortcoming with Oral Health

By: Tammie S., Lee County

I’m dealing with a couple of medical issues right now that have been going on for the last six years. I became lactose intolerant and my health conditions just snowballed downhill from there. The job I had at the time caused me to work ten to fifteen-hour days delivering food. With a work schedule like that I ended up eating food that I knew was not good for me, but I had to keep food on the table for my family.

The combination of long hours and little-to-no nutrition caused my immune system to get low. I ended up getting sick and needed several rounds of antibiotics. This became a vicious cycle. I have been septic twice in the last five years, struggled with constant upper respiratory infections, and had e. coli. It’s hard to eat or digest my food. I’ve lost so much weight that my daughter and I are wearing the same size.

Just after my 40th birthday I woke up with a pinched nerve in my neck. I didn’t have insurance, so I used the Emergency Room. I was in and out of the hospital for three weeks. The doctors kept giving me opioids to treat the pain, which was not what I needed. Opioids destroy your gut health. I was a total mess. I worked as a homeless outreach worker for a few years and have seen firsthand how opioids can ruin your life. They are addictive. I don’t want to live like that. So, I pray lot. Prayer has helped me get better.

My friends have been encouraging me to apply for Social Security Disability, but I refuse. I’m able bodied. I’m having this medical issue right now. I’m 41 years old. I don’t want to be on disability. I want to work as a health coach help people who have struggled like me. It’s frustrating when you want to work but can’t. I had to sell my house in order to keep up with my bills.

I applied for Medicaid and after about a year and half of begging them, they approved me. I was on the share of cost program, but who can afford that? I know that my health issues can be fixed with a little medical help. The last time I applied I took a chance and wrote my story in their “Additional Comments” section. I believe it’s what made the difference. Now I’m able to see a physical therapist. I have an appointment scheduled with a GI specialist, and I’m looking for a nutritionist. So, that’s my formula for getting healthy: some prayer, a comment in the comment box, and prayers from my Mom’s church.

Right now, I need to see a dentist, but I’m having trouble. Medicaid has 3 dental plans in my area, but they don’t match up with the dentists in my area. The way it works is that the dentist has to accept your dental insurance and your Medicaid insurance. I’ve called all the dentist in my area and found that they don’t accept my Medicaid plan.

What they’re doing now with Medicaid dental is BS. I’ve not been able to see anyone. I know that oral health has everything to do with how the rest of your body works. If you have oral issues, you have major issues with your body. Your oral health is very important. What are you supposed to do if you can’t get seen because there are no providers in your area?


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