I am doing the A-Z challenge. Today’s letter is H, for health care [or hallway].
I drove down to Santa Rosa, yesterday, with Annie, so that I could have my eyes examined, and to have the glasses I currently wear, which are being held together with Scotch tape, replaced. I could have had this done for free, had I not wanted my bifocals to be without the telltale line, and had I chosen to settle for glasses that did not tint in the sun. As it turned out, I paid $179.00 out of pocket to obtain the glasses that I desired.
Why did I drive two and a half hours from Bell Springs, just to get glasses? Because that is the closest place my health care provider could present to me. I have health care supplied by the Veterans Affairs agency, and I couldn’t be happier. All those years I taught for the local school district are forgotten when it comes to health care in my old age. My insurance “ran out” five years after I retired, a fact that still boggles my little pea brain. When a person needs health care the most, the rug is pulled out from legs, already unsteady enough, due to age.
Next Tuesday I will travel down to San Francisco, an hour south of Santa Rosa, to have a non-malignant, cancerous growth removed from my chest. Again, I am pleased as punch to go the necessary distance to have this surgical procedure performed. My association with the Veterans Affairs agency has been, for the most part, very positive and very inexpensive.
My experience has included one bad situation, involving a psychiatric professional on an egotistical power trip, but the facility in Ukiah was more than happy to furnish me with an alternative doctor, once I wrote and explained my situation to the very sympathetic director of the clinic. Who could ask for more?
Annie has had to also seek alternative health care, since our insurance evaporated. She has what she laughingly refers to as “die in the hallway” insurance. All that means is that her insurance only covers catastrophic illness or accident, and that we have to pay for all the rest. Well, cancer of the kidneys is pretty dire, and of the $190,000.00 tab for her surgery and the five-day stay in the hospital, last September, her insurance picked up all but that pesky six thousand dollars that was the deductible from her policy.
How about her medication that she takes daily, to fight her illness? When she looked it up online the other day, she informed me that were she not been involved in an experimental program, the cost would be $7,500 per month, or $250.00 per day. At that rate, I would have to work eight hours and twenty minutes a day, thirty days a month, in order to pay just her medication. When I think about that piece of information, I cringe. Annie’s insurance does not pay for medication of any kind.
Health care is a real issue for all people, particularly as they age. Whereas I thought Annie and I had it all under control, at some point along the path, the members of the school district obviously authorized the limiting of health care for retired members. I am sure it had to do with the cutting of costs, but what a short-sighted plan of action. We are talking about a serious issue for everyone who gets to retirement-age; how do you go about obtaining health care when you are already sixty years of age, or close to it? Very unsuccessfully, for most.
I never gave it a whole lot of thought, other than to assume my school insurance would cover it. I sure would not have thought about the Veterans Affairs agency, had it not been for the fact that one of my brothers is the chief-of-staff of the Veterans Hospital in Martinez, and he assured me that I qualified.
As it is, I am a happy guy. I hated being in the military, and have resented being drafted in 1972, all of my adult life. But, as the bard said, “All’s well that ends well.” At least I will not die in the hallway. As for Annie, she accompanies me to my appointments, and I accompany her to her appointments. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
If nothing else, we get a nice lunch out of the deal, on our way home from our appointments, and that’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.