A Tennessee couple was given some unusual advice from their family doctor when they voiced their struggle to pay for their son’s medical bills.
The Tindells’ son, Jackson, who’s 6 years old, requires speech, occupational and feeding therapies, and also uses a feeding tube. The cost is high, and amidst the difficulty, their doctor told them that one way to make things work was for the couple to get a divorce, according to WVLT.
However, instead of taking the advice of the doctor, the family decided that they were going to stay together and try a different route.
For 10 years, the Tindells tried to have a child together. After many unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant, the two gave up. They decided they were going to be fine since they still had each other.
A doctor reportedly suggested that a couple of Tennessee parents who earn too much to qualify for the state's Medicaid program should get divorced in order to deal with their child's overwhelming medical bills.
Then, after 10 years of trying and giving up, Angela Tindell found out she was pregnant.
Tindell was then 42, and having a child at that age was more risky for both the mother and the child.
Jackson was born a few months later. But the little boy had a lot of health issues, according to Tindell. For much of his early life, Jackson lived in the NICU.
“There was a time they deemed him medically fragile, which meant we’re not guaranteeing that this baby would survive,” she told the news outlet. “He’s always been a fighter.”
Despite what the doctors said about Jackson, he grew stronger and stronger. Now in kindergarten, despite being relatively healthy, Jackson still needs a lot of treatment ensure his continued progress.
On top of the extensive care and therapy he still needs, such as a feeding tube, the family also has to pay for the formula to feed Jackson Tindell—that alone costs $1,700 a month.
The family’s main source of stress is their son’s medical bills, and every month their bills reach into the thousands.
Jackson's formula alone is $1,700 a month. His parents say they make too much to qualify for TennCare, but there's no way they make enough to cover Jackson's monthly costs of care.
“You know that your child needs this therapy, or he may need a procedure,” Jackson’s father Randy Tindell told WVLT, “but you also know that there is no physical way that you can come up with that kind of money.”
The father has a good job that’s able to support the family, but it doesn’t cover all of the medical bills that the family racks up every month. Insurance is also pricey, and it doesn’t cover all the medical services that the Tindells need.
A family in Tennessee with a child between the ages of 1 and 6 must make under $18,000 a year in order to meet the qualifications of the state’s Medicaid program, according to Yahoo.
“There’s always that fear that you’re not going to get it, you’re not going to be able to get what your child needs,” said Angela Tindell in an interview with the news outlet, “yet you get up every day, and you try your hardest, and you work your hardest.”
Tennessee legislature is currently considering a bill that would cater to families that have children with disabilities. The bill would expand the Medicaid system to cover children with disabilities regardless of what the family makes a year.
The bill would help out parents with disabled children who make enough to be ineligible for the former Medicaid system.
“This opens the door basically to address the need of a family where they could have their child institutionalized, but they prefer to keep their child at home, they just can’t afford it,” said State Senator Kerry Roberts through the Tennessee General Assembly. “And this provides the opportunity for them to do that.”