Saturday, October 10, 2009

Health care

Cartoon courtesy of Seppo Leinonen. Be sure to check out his other great cartoons!
My husband and I have been having quite the experience with our health care coverage lately. We have different coverages, because of moving from Colorado to Washington state, and not being able to deal with the massive extra costs we faced. We are both on Medicare, but I take prescription drugs and he does not. We were on the Humana Advantage plan in Colorado, which was very excellent and only cost us an extra $20 each over and above the Medicare Part B.

Not the same animal here in Washington: the plan we had changed from $20 to $82 (each!) per month, and not very many doctors were willing to take it. Since I was in my initial year on Medicare, I had the option to opt out of the Advantage plan and go back to regular Medicare. So that's what I did. I also joined the Center for Senior Health at St. Joseph's Hospital on the recommendation of several people, and got a Medigap (supplemental insurance) plan from USAA. I also kept the Humana Medicare Part D, the drug coverage. We moved my husband over to Secure Horizons Advantage plan, which seemed like a good idea at the time. The Center for Senior Health will only take Medicare patients, not Advantage patients.

As long as you're not sick, the Advantage plan works well. But he got an ear infection last month and went looking for a clinic that would take the plan. After a long search, he found one and went to it; they gave him antibiotics and all seemed okay. Until it didn't get better, and he went back to the clinic (no doctors there, BTW, just RNs). So they reamed his ear out for a couple of hours, managed to perforate the eardrum, and sent him to a specialist later in the week. So much pain and suffering, and now it's been three weeks, he still has a hole in his eardrum but is now beginning (beginning!) to recover from his treatment. Yesterday he went back to the ENT (ear nose throat) specialist and goes again in two weeks.

And last Thursday I fell on the hike to Rainbow Ridge, really smashed my shin on a tree root, and within minutes it had swelled to the size of a baseball. Very scary. One of my cohorts had an ace bandage, so we bound it up and I walked out (only another half mile or so), elevated my leg once we got to the car, and my fellow hikers stopped at the first grocery store and I hobbled in and got some frozen peas. (These are the best to use, because they are easily broken apart and can be refrozen again and again, although they aren't any good to eat.) Everyone told me I should go to the emergency room. Well, the thought of sitting for hours, literally hours, in an emergency room to have a doctor tell me to use RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), did not sound like what I wanted to be doing. Since this ain't my first rodeo, not the first time this cowgirl's been throwed, I have self medicated. And I don't have any doctor bills, either.

That's the same trusty package of frozen peas draped over my left leg, up on the desk. Today (48 hours after hurting it) I went to the gym and rode the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes and did some upper body exercises. Now, as I write this, my leg is up on the desk, like this, and I'm happy that it appears I've dodged a bullet. But health care in this country is broken, and I'm hoping that something is about to change.


  1. OMG, don't EVEN get me started on health care! works great if you're healthy, but for those of us living with a chronic illness (and for those of us like my husband who's just plain clumsy) we tend to get screwed.

    glad to hear you opted to self-treat. I tend to do the same, some day it's gonna get us though. -kate

  2. It’s very hard for me to see that Americans have not demanded better and non-profit health care years ago. Patriots keep saying this is the best country in the world but really it does not help its citizens. It has the most expensive health care system and almost the worst service in the western world. Insurance and Pharma companies pay billions to sway the Americans in believing that good health care coverage is not good for them. Most are so ignorant that they fall for these tactics. Of course the media does not instruct the public, because who pays for most of their ads? The pharma companies. I just come back from Canada and I have heard an earful about how terrible the pseudo care is in the US and how good theirs is in Canada (even though we hear the system in Canada is not – the majority like it.)

  3. I'm glad to hear you are doing better and seeing improvement. I tend to self medicate as well and pretty much have to be at death's door before seeing a doctor.

    I cannot speak from experience about the health care system, we have excellent coverage (the little bit we have used is great) through my husband's work. But from all the horror stories I have heard it doesn't sound good at all.

  4. I hate our health care system. And I really dislike all the people who are on Medicare that are fighting a public option for the rest of us trying to find reasonable insurance. We are right in the middle of that nightmare. And to think some of those people don't even realize they are in a publicly funded program. It's okay for them, but the rest of us can go suck air. Ghaaaa

    I am, however, very pleased your leg is feeling better. You're one tough cookie if you were on the eliptical today!

  5. It's a tough situation, no doubt about it. I feel fortunate that we have such great coverage although it does cost us a great deal of money. Because we have had some health care issues (not to mention the need for prenatal care and so forth) I feel that the money we pay is well worth it. I do understand that most people just cannot afford that.
    I have no idea what the answer is. It's becoming more and more obvious that no one has an answer. I don't think there is an easy fix. I do know that all the criticism of other health care systems is completely non productive. It's very frustrating to watch the media and the government behave like inexperienced adolescents.
    I'm glad to hear you are feeling better. I don't blame you for not wanting to go sit in the emergency room and pay out the nose for the same basic treatment you are able to provide yourself.

  6. I know you will still eat your frozen peas and veggies. Farmer's market season is almost over. The veggies help on the inside and outside I guess!

  7. Nope, don't ever eat those peas..mark them with a black magic marker..if they are used many times, thawed and unfrozen..they won't taste good and they could make you sick.
    Hey you managed your leg pretty well I thought. It should get better.
    I am not sure how all the health care/insurance/pharmacy big businesses should be handled..but I hope some one figures it out soon:)

  8. Thank God you're getting better. You know what I have notice before your injured leg? Your cool iMac that I have been for a long time! woo hooo!
    I only got my iBook, but it can still do wonders, better than none at all! Take care DJ!


  9. I am enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program and it is excellent. I am very lucky. My hubby retired after 30 years on his job. No benefits when he left. He has no insurance but is able to go to the VA, although I think the care is second rate. At least we can afford the co-pays and meds. I am really worried about what will happen to medicare advantage with health care reform. I think it will be gone. I am not sure what I will do then. It is scary.

  10. Love this photo of you - even though it includes peas and PAIN! (don't love that) - because I can now picture you working at your lovely spot!

  11. I came back to this post for some reason? and see that my comment is not on here. Can't have that, can we? so I'm making another one. Sorry your leg got hurt, but do keep a watch on it and if anything odd happens, you must go seek medical advice Djan. Later posts tell me it is getting better, so good luck with it.
    Blessings, Star

  12. D-Jan, glad you are getting better and not too seriously hurt. Hubby suffered an ear infection, and though did not have the punctured ear drum, it took seven days to get antibiotics plus two trips to the doctor...and this is without Obamacare.

    I have strong feelings against the government taking over the health care industry. However, the only thing I will say to those in favor is check out what happens in say Canada and Great Britain concerning their treatment. Oh, and one other tidbit, cancer survivors are much higher in the U.S. as opposed to those in government-run healthcare systems.


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