Colorado Mobile App: Sign of the times re. Medicaid/CHIP

OK, this isn't a huge thing, but it's noteworthy.

Historically, Medicaid (and to a lesser extent, the CHIP program for children) has carried a certain stigma, since it's traditionally been reserved for the very poor. Many people enrolled the program have been embarrassed/ashamed to admit that they needed the assistance, and many who qualified for the program even under the pre-ACA rules never actually signed up based on the "shame" factor (still others didn't enroll because they simply didn't know that they qualified or didn't understand the procedure/paperwork for doing so).

With that Affordable Care Act, that all changed (well, in the states which expanded Medicaid, anyway). Yes, it's still limited to the poor, but there's a difference between being "dirt poor" and "working poor" (and yes, I understand that many "dirt poor" people work their butts off...I'm talking about general societal perception here). Suddenly, millions of people who considered themselves "lower middle class" (or otherwise "not poor", anyway) found themselves being able to enroll in Medicaid alongside the "dirt poor".

One of two things could have happened, culturally: The new enrollees could also become embarrassed at their situation, or all of the enrollees (including the prior ones) could gradually start to realize that there's nothing to be ashamed of here: There's no more reason to be embarrassed about being on Medicaid than there is in, say, riding public transportation because you can't afford a car. That's what the program is there for.

Put another way, I don't think anyone whose house catches on fire feels "embarrassed" about calling the fire department just because they don't happen to be able to afford their own hydrant, hose, equipment and fire axe.

Thankfully, my general sense is that while some people still have the "shame factor" when it comes to Medicaid, for the most part, people seem to be taking the latter, healthier much so that a good 3.3 million or so of those who qualified under the old rules (including many in the states which never raised the income threshold by expanding the program) have come "out of the woodwork" to finally go ahead and sign up (that's where the term "woodworkers" comes from when discussing Medicaid, BTW).

All of this brings me to the title of this entry. Check this out (the video was posted last November but I just stumbled across it today):

I know it's a little thing, but consider the larger significance here. Medicaid is being mainstreamed, and in a big way.

Some may think there's something wrong with this, and if the reason for the "mainstreaming" was because large numbers of people were plummeting into the lower threshold of Medicaid eligibility, I might agree...but since the reason appears to be primarily the Medicaid threshold being raised by a few levels, I'm OK with this. (That is to say, those at the lower threshold shouldn't be embarrassed/ashamed either, but I don't think anyone would think millions of people's incomes dropping to that level would be a positive thing).

Anyway, just something which caught my attention today.