A new week, a new set of questions from Melanie’s Share Your World.
SHARE YOUR WORLD QUESTIONS
What is your opinion of the state of health care in your country? Adequate or inadequate? What could be done to improve it?
Hoo boy! This is one that has been highly and hotly debated in the last several years! How to get all Americans good health care while at the same time letting insurance companies run the show? It ain’t gonna happen! We need what Europe has: “free” health care for everyone – I know it isn’t really free, but it is run by the government and taxes pay for it, with the wealthy paying much more than the average worker. There are people who combine travel with medical needs, going to Spain, for example, to have hip replacement surgery which, even for Americans who don’t pay into their system, is many thousands of dollars cheaper than having it done here.
The United States has an excellent medical system; by that, I mean that it has the most advanced technology and research, and perhaps the most highly trained medical personnel, but, as we have seen in this pandemic, the “excellence” is spotty – concentrated in some areas, very inadequate in others. It is not evenly distributed and even with sophisticated equipment, many hospitals lacked basic PPE for all medical personnel when their hospitals were flooded with Covid patients. Many more people died than would have if hospital staff had everything it needed to treat them.
People (especially children, it seems) come to the United States to have some advanced procedures done that aren’t available in their countries, and they get special visas to stay in the U.S. for as long as their treatment lasts. Doctors Without Borders sends well-trained American doctors to poor countries to help people who have little or no health care. We hear about both of these efforts, but until Covid-19 hit us hard, the deficiencies of our health care system were largely unknown by the general public, (except, of course, people who already had had horrific experiences dealing with the cost and availability of health care). We did hear about people dying because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t pay specialists who could help them. This is a travesty, revealed especially once “Obamacare” (Affordable Care Act, or ACA) was being debated. President Obama clearly wanted to make health care more affordable and more equitable, but because of the influence of big pharma and corporate insurance lobbyists, the middlemen – the insurance companies – were allowed to administer the program. When I retired, I had the option of a COBRA policy from my school district, which I would have to pay for. I compared the cost of that policy with what I could get of equal value from the ACA. Registering for the ACA was initially less expensive, so I dropped the COBRA, meaning I could not later get it back. My medical insurance from my employer ran out in August of the year I retired, so I got a Blue Cross Blue Shield “silver” policy – a deductible that wasn’t prohibitive and a “reasonable” monthly premium of about $550. It was difficult to be responsible for this entire cost, (even though the premiums are calculated on a sliding scale according to your income) since I was no longer working, but I figured that I only had to have it for a year and 9 months and then I could get Medicare. In January of the following year, only four months after my employee insurance benefits ran out, the monthly premium of my BCBS silver policy went up by more than $200 a month. Now it was higher than the COBRA would have been, but I was stuck with it. The following year, it went up again – this time to over $1,000 per month! Fortunately, I turned 65 in the middle of that year and was then eligible for Medicare, but even so, the cost was nearly prohibitive for those first six months. I imagined what it was like for people in low-wage and no-insurance jobs; although they had subsidies from the ACA, their costs must have gone up too. I heard horror stories of dilemmas far worse than what I experienced. So, while the ACA did make medical insurance affordable for millions more people than before, there were millions of people that still couldn’t afford it. The ACA was and is far from perfect.
I believe health care is a right, that should be available to all. That is why I am in favor of a single-payer system. However, with the innate distrust of the government that is embedded in American culture, I don’t know when or if it will ever become a reality. Perhaps another entity could administer it, so it wouldn’t be associated with a government “welfare state.”
What are two words that describe you best?
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what it’s like?
Yes, we get up around 8 am, and go to the kitchen, where Dale gets his coffee and I warm up water for tea. We each get a banana, and sometimes a small piece of cheese. Then we sit in our living room in front of our fireplace (in cold weather seasons) or on our screened porch (in warm weather) and read. Unfortunately, this is so pleasurable that we let it go on too long before we really start getting ready for our day, which, 5 days a week, starts with an exercise class between 10 and 11 am. Then we have a proper breakfast, take our morning meds, get dressed and go.
What’s something that really makes your blood race?
Wishing I lived in a country that values its children more than guns.
Do you enjoy singing festive songs during *insert festive celebration that you observe to replace “Christmas” if it’s not relevant to you * Christmas carols or songs? Yes, of course – because it’s only one season a year. I also like to listen to the radio station that plays all Christmas music during the month of December. By New Year’s Day, I am sick of all these songs and want to go back to “normal!”
GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)
Feel free to share something that brings peace to you.
Knowing that my son is OK, taking care of himself and no longer using drugs & alcohol. Until 6 months ago, worrying about my son was a constant stressor, but he has managed to finally get out of his rut and do the things he needs to make progress in his life. He calls often, sometimes with problems that frustrate him, but we always talk it out and he realizes his problem isn’t unsolvable. He is surrounded by people who care about and support him. He is a joy to be with now!! I look forward to spending Christmas with both him and our daughter and son-in-law.
5 thoughts on “SYW: Health Care in the U.S. and Other Wishful Thinking”
I so agree with you about the terrible state of US Health. It was been run for profit, for too long, and the results are damning, for all American.
I totally agree about the weakness of our healthcare system. And have wondered how anyone can say with a straight face that it’s better to have a for profit company deciding what care options you can have.
Thank you Katy for Sharing Your World. The thoughts about health care were magnificent and so well written! You put the frustrations of many retired or forced to retire (disabled) into words! Medicare is better than nothing I agree, but depending on which ‘supplemental’ insurance company one chooses (I’m under 65, so don’t get the full ride) it still can be a nightmare. My necessary knee surgery is put off indefinitely because of the situation. I’m glad you have Medicare now and hopefully can take care of your health as needed! What a lovely ‘gift’ of a healthy son you have! That must feel tremendous, to have him well! Congratulations! I always find your answers very intelligent, no scatter-brained among them, but we all know ourselves best probably. Still I’ll go with ‘intelligent” to describe you! That photo is gorgeous. What beautiful lights! Have a great week!
Thank you so much, Melanie! When you do choose a Medicare supplement, be very careful if you have medical issues. When you first sign up, they don’t ask any medical questions that might disqualify you, but once you’ve chosen, it’s hard to change unless you have a clean bill of health. If you want to change, the insurance companies ask you medical background questions and they have the right to disqualify you (so much for eliminating “pre-existing conditions” when getting insurance!) if you have problems, for example, like me – I have cardiomyopathy and due to this I wouldn’t be accepted into any supplemental plan other than the one I chose in the first place, whether I like it or not! My suggestion to you is look closely at Medicare Advantage – it is pretty comprehensive, but may cost more, I don’t know. My husband has it and likes it but because of his pension benefits, he pays no premium at all!
I hope you have a chance once you’re on Medicare to take care of that knee! I know the pain, I’m headed for a knee replacement eventually myself! I hope you have a happy Christmas with friends and/or family!