The big question is, how do I pull off a major whine session, without having it sound like I am a whiny little such-and-such? I am talking about health care for elderly and poor people, of which I am both. I have worked since I was thirteen, and now find myself without health care.
I have had health coverage since 1990, when I began teaching, but for cost-cutting reasons, retired district personnel only get a certain amount of time after retirement, before their health coverage stops. (For me it was five years.) It seems to be a little backwards, that you would receive coverage while you are young and able to work, but when you get to retirement age, your benefits cease. Try being a few weeks shy of your sixtieth birthday, bi-polar, with a surgically reconstructed left knee, a surgically reconstructed right shoulder, and in need of health coverage.
How could I have been so short-sighted, as to end up in this kind of situation? I wasn’t short-sighted; I knew it was coming. But health insurance isn’t like most services, in that you simply pay the fee, and go about your way. No, it’s about making money. If an applicant, such as myself, is not likely to garner income for an insurance company, then where is the incentive to take me on as a new customer? After all, I did not ask for my coverage to elapse, but neither did any prospective health coverage firm. Any company which would accept me as a prospective customer, would be priced so high out of my economic bracket, as to be absurd.
This brings me to my backup plan, that of applying to the Veterans Administration, for health benefits, as befits someone who served two years, honorably, and who qualifies as low-income. (The cut-off point for health benefits, is a combined income that does not exceed $36,000.) I have found the process to be time-consuming and laborious, but was happy to jump through the classic hoops, if I was actually able to receive health benefits.
Now, after working on the project for ten weeks, I have finally made it to the point where I am waiting for my name to appear on the magic list, the one that says I am entitled to coverage. I was told to call on August 15, and verify that my name was on the list. When I called, I not only determined that my name was not on the list, I also heard a woman, speaking too fast for me to take in the information (I had to place a second call to retrieve everything) explaining that I should be prepared to expect a three-four month delay, in obtaining an appointment.
I am stunned. While in the service, I routinely waited in lines, for the very basic elements of staying alive. I find now that things have changed very little; I just have to wait longer than when I was younger. But three to four months? Annie refers to “die in the hallway” insurance. Heck, I didn’t even make to the hallway. I get to die wherever I happen to end up. How cavalier of me!
I am bitter and disillusioned. Here’s where the whining comes into play. I am well-educated, very intelligent, and have worked diligently all my adult life, only to find that I am without one of the most basic of human rights, health care.
Because I like happy endings, I will just tell you that everything is going to work out just fine. It says so in the manual. Meanwhile, I guess I have something to talk to my shrink about, today, when I travel down to Ukiah. At least we get a lunch out on the town, and a blended mocha from Poor Girl’s on the way down.
As me father used to say, “it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” But not by much.