Population of the city in which I live: 110,000
Number of hits Google provides when searching for "Orthodontists in [my city and state]: 118
Number of orthodontists in my city who take Medicaid: Zero
Number of miles I drove today (round-trip) to take my son to an orthodontist who takes Medicaid: 165.08
Number of minutes I was early for the appointment: four
Number of minutes we waited to see the orthodontist: fifty
Number of minutes the orthodontist spent with my son: two and a half
Amount Medicaid will cover for his "non-severe" orthodontic needs: zero
Cost of a tank of gas today when I got back: Just under $36.00
Number of times on the way home I swore under my breath: lost count
Number of times I thanked God I was 'unemployed' and not taking paid time off of work (ha)** to make this stupid trip: three
**Percentage of US workers who have NO paid sick leave: 48
Estimated cost of braces (which he'll likely need down the road) as private payee: $5000
Amount I am allowed to have in the bank, ever, before I lose food stamp benefits for me and my three kids: $2000
Good News! As a private payee, maybe I can get one of the 118 orthodontic practices in my hometown to fix my kid's teeth, and be grateful for the savings on gasoline!
Seriously, I KNOW my situation is not a dire as many parents'. I feel for those parents WITH insurance whose child's severe illness (not just crooked teeth) STILL bankrupts the family. I sincerely feel for medical specialists who can't pay the light bills on what Medicaid reimburses them.
I feel more for parents who can't afford to TAKE their child to a doctor who will take public insurance.
Congress: DO YOUR JOB AND FIX THIS.
ps. still waiting to hear if my laptop is or can be repaired. I'm really grateful for all the advice my readers have given me. Please don't ask me to buy another one, buy a Mac, buy ANYTHING. Not today. Not today.
Update: They called from the shop ...pretty good guy. Says the machine itself is fine but totally corrupted so he's reinstalling windows. What I "lose" is mostly replaceable. He offered to back up whatever I wanted but I said screw it. Google backs up every image posted to the blog (you old skool Blogger types know that, right?), and the old skool software I like (especially movie maker 2.6) is still available for download.