When she brought it in, I had to sigh a little bit. None of us like to do more paper work. The forms, although written in the stilted formal language so typical of government applications, weren't that hard to figure out. With a little patience and persistence , she should have been able to complete them. It made me realize once again how great the gap is sometimes between me and my patients' families. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I'm fortunate enough to be educated and intelligent. Many of my patients' family members are not, and the difference can make it hard to relate to them at times. Certainly it makes explaining NICU issues and diseases challenging, and sometimes it seems downright impossible to make parents understand.
On the other hand, I was a little miffed at the state for not making the applications easier. We know that many people in the inner city are functionally illiterate, and they should accommodate them when they design these forms. The state used to have the local health departments meet with families to complete the applications for this insurance program, but in a cost cutting move the state decided to skip that and just send the applications directly to the families. I suspect the state might have been hoping that some families would just give up on the applications, and then the state wouldn't have to pay as much for this program.
As we started going over the application, though, I noticed that this family had done a surprisingly good job with it. They had most of it completed correctly. I added some medical information to it, explained a couple of the more difficult points to them, and made sure they knew the right places to sign. I complimented them on the good job they had done.
I'm not sure why the family chose me to help them with it. Any nurse or another doctor could have done so. It was a little weird. A few minutes before I had been thinking somewhat derogatory thoughts about this family's ability or inability to complete the application; now, though, I was honored that they chose me to help them.