Better Leg, No Thanks to Medicare Part D

There’s a woman on TV who reminds me of one of my sisters.  She has an attractive, open, mobile face with a wide smile and pretty lips.  She’s talking about saving our parents’ financial lives.  Oops, the resemblance ends.  The sister I’m comparing is not the financial analyst of the family.  Nevertheless, several of my sisters are deeply involved with preserving my parents’ way of life, keeping them in their home, and accommodating to their needs as soon-to-be ninety-year-olds.  What a milestone!  We are blessed, not just because it’s nicer to have your parents than to have the grief of their loss, but because we have such a comprehensive, intimate view of what aging can be. 
Because my father’s military career came with excellent health care, my parents never had the concerns that I saw in so many elderly folk that I treated in my healthcare days.  Dealing with people who had only urgent or emergency health care from adolescence to retirement was new to me when I first started training, but it was quickly evident that living without health insurance was common and deadly.  I became accustomed to seeing patients who had ignored medical problems for years, waiting for that moment when they were eligible for Medicare.  It wasn’t instantly deadly for most folks, but was manifest in the high disability rates from neglected or undiagnosed medical problems, the higher mortality for common medical problems in lower socioeconomic groups, and the lower quality of life in the elderly folk in lower socioeconomic groups.  Additionally, there was a racial divide, not a surprise now since a number of studies have documentedthat greater percentages of people of color (compared with white patients) are  offered the less effective course of treatment in common illnesses such as heart disease.  No coincidence that African-American women have worse mortality rates than white women in this country:  early diagnosis depends on education and screening, two things that are deficient in people with less access to health insurance. 
I heard a presidential candidate (not my favorite) mention that the United States of America has the best health care in the world, and I wondered what he was thinking.  Our infant mortality rates are higher (worse) than every European nation, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Cuba and Canada.  Our average height in adulthood (excluding immigrants of origins with shorter stature) is ranked much lower than a century ago, compared with other western nations.  This is felt to reflect prenatal care and childhood nutrition. 
Why am I on this soapbox this morning?  I woke with a big improvement in my cellulitis.  Yesterday I was able to change from a cheap, less effective medication to a very expensive, newer medication which is clinically proved to be more effective in cellulitis.  My insurance is Medicare, coupled with a Medicare prescription supplement.  My supplement didn’t cover the newer medication, and the $118 had to come out of my pocket.  That is not very good coverage, and it’s all that most older folks have (minus the deep pocket to cover the difference).  If I had been forced to stay on the cheap medication and the cellulitis had progressed, forcing a $20,000 hospital stay for three days of IV antibiotics, Medicare would have picked that up. 
So…how smart are we, and how fiscally responsible, to choose elected officials who won’t insure all of the U.S. population?  Just sayin’…

2 Responses

  1. Just to say, I’m right there with you. I have this job I don’t much like because it comes with a promise that health insurance will always be part of the deal. My husband switched jobs to make sure we always have health insurance. Who’s in charge here? Hmmmm. Insurance, if you ask me. With Medicare tagging along.

    At any rate, I’m *really* pleased that your leg is better! Party time and dancing!!!!

  2. The points that you and your first commenter make are exactly why the Republicans will lose in the general election. We do have the best healthcare in the world, combined with the worst execution or delivery system, and people are at a point where they know something can be about how healthcare is delivered if they elect the right person.

    One can only imagine how much the economy will get a psychological boost when people don’t have to worry about whether to switch jobs or pursue some new opportunity.

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