When Rai became pregnant at age 19, she was on her mother’s insurance but her mom had just opted to not include pregnancy coverage on her plan before learning about the pregnancy. Luckily Rai had a connection with a nursing organization that provided care and resources to low income, first time mothers and this nurse helped Rai navigate the Medicaid system for herself and her child. Rai qualified for Medicaid and was impressed by the care she received throughout her pregnancy. Rai states, “it was such a relief, I felt like I could be a happy pregnant person”. The trouble is, as Rai states, that the Medicaid offered to pregnant people is limited to ten months. Shortly after giving birth, mothers are cut off from Medicaid and can apply for a different version of Medicaid for themselves and their child. Rai states that she was lucky because she was able to get on her mother’s private insurance but recognizes that many are not so lucky.
“Getting on Medicaid for pregnancy was fairly easy but there was no coverage for me after I gave birth which just doesn’t make sense. If I am not well, there is a good chance my child will not be well”. After giving birth, Rai endured months of postpartum depression and received no medical care for this. Breast pumps and education on how to breast feed were also not covered. While she is grateful for her relatively smooth experience with childbirth on Medicaid, Rai feels that this medical care should do more to support people that have just given birth.
Rai feels strongly that both Medicaid and Medicare need serious work to be a more equitable system for Missourians. As she states, “this system is designed to get people not to use it. It is inaccessible and hard to navigate. Outdated systems like paperwork and phone interviews allow too much room for human error in the DFS office. It really feels like Missouri doesn’t want to help you, they want to kick you off their support and send you on your way”.
Rai is in school and works part time. She is grateful for the financial relief Medicaid offers for her and her child. Rai states, “I have considered dropping out of school to make more money for my daughter but knowing that her medical needs are taken care of allows me to stay in school so I can pursue a career for myself. Of all the things I have to worry about, my daughter’s medical care is not one of them. I am grateful for that”.