Letter | Herberta Schroeder: Ask questions and gain information

This is Part Two of a two-part series from Herberta Schroeder regarding the need to speak up when dealing with government bureaucracies.

There is a lot of information people need to know about Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and the Department of Economic Security.

DES can do applications for food stamps, cash assistance, AHCCCS, Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (Quimby) and Specified-Low Income Medicare Beneficiary (Slimby). Quimby pays for Medicare Part B Premium medical deductibles and co-pays that Medicare itself does not. Slimby pays the Medicare Part B Premiums only, and pays retroactively, but Quimby will only pay if it is an error on their part.

DES does not process applications for AHCCCS’ Freedom To Work program, which is a medical program for the disabled on Medicare. If you qualify, income wise, for Freedom To Work, you can work part-time to earn extra money to survive, if you can work. You must continue to pay into your Social Security Account. If you then make over the income threshold, you may be able to pay a premium from a sliding fee scale to maintain your insurance that helps cover what Medicare does not.

If you are on AHCCCS Freedom to Work, do not update your program at the DES office. You will be updated to Standard Medical AHCCCS and there is a difference. The self-employment or part-time employment will likely put you above the limit. This can result in a failure to cover medical expenses. It can also mess up other programs as well, like Quimby. If you are shown as being terminated one month and started again the next, Quimby may not be registered as current. Clerical accidents happen unintentionally, so it is vital you keep your dates and appointments for renewals up.

DES caseworkers can seem harried and stressed at the best of times. Have patience with them, and they will have it with you. The case workers genuinely care, or they would not work there. They don’t have all the answers as to why this or that can happen.

If you have an issue with Supplemental Security Income Medical Assistance Only not paying for Quimby or Slimby, you may have to have your case worker call them direct.

Being informed is half of the battle. Know what programs are available and what you qualify for. You can google AHCCCS programs, and it will take you to the state site that lists them all. If you are not tech savvy, ask a case or social worker to help you. They will help you find the best fit.

Always remember, if you are on AHCCCS or any other assistance program, poor does not equal stupid. Poor equals the bell curve just like rich does.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and gain information.