Thursday, June 26, 2008

today's rant, aka my kingdom for a dose of medicine

so my little "stimulus" check arrived a few days ago in the, gee, thanks george. my contribution to boosting the economy? using a healthy portion of the check to help pay for my mom's release from maine med. yeah.

she needs to receive IV antibiotics every six hours for at least the next twelve days. to keep her alive. to get her healthy. ironically, medicare would cover another twelve day stay in the hospital at $1000 a day (and where she could potentially pick up another infection), but would only cover a portion of the cost for home health care. my mom and dad would have to come up with $65, a DAY, in order to get this handy dandy little IV pump that would allow us to administer the drug from home. Right. for my mom and dad, $65 might as well be $6500. either way, they are going to come up short.

my dad was a blue collar worker his whole life. translation: no pension after retirement. my mom fared a little better and earned a tiny pension when she retired. they blew through that in four years on luxuries like food, heating oil, and medicine. so now they live on their little social security checks, and their combined income for the month is less than $2000. you don't have to be a mathematical genius to figure out that sure, they could cover the eight hundred bucks for my mom's treatment, as long as they don't mind fasting for two weeks. um, yeah.

add that to the fact that the company which provides the IV pump and all its fixin's requires full payment on the day of delivery, and you can see the quandry. so my sister and i are covering the cost, although we had to fight my parents tooth-and-nail to do it. let's just say my parents are very, very reluctant to ask for and accept help of any kind. i get that. i grew up poor, and have spent most of my adult life living paycheck to paycheck, and when you have very little, you develop a strange sense of pride about making it on your own and not asking for help. it's kind of an unspoken code, and my parents taught it to me well. yes indeed. getting them to accept our help was an exercise in patience, to say the least. my mom cried a lot, my dad sighed a lot...but getting her home and swallowing their pride won out, eventually.

so anyway...yesterday we spent most of the day working this out with my parents, getting handy lessons about how to run her IV at home, and then waiting around the hospital for the green light to wheel my mom outta there. last night, for the first time in fourteen days, everyone in the Huntress family Slept In Their Own Beds. and so it goes...we are hoping and praying that THIS time is the LAST time we have to rush my mom to the emergency room. we figured out that since her surgery on May 9th, she has spent 33 days in the hospital, and we're ready to put this chapter behind us, once and for all.

i cannot begin to imagine what the hospital bills for 33 days are going to look like. i'm sure my parents will be responsible for some of it, and i honest-to-god don't know how they will ever pay the piper. this health care crisis thang makes me bat-shit crazy. and now that i've experienced it first-hand, i may never shut up about it. when my parents were working, (and relatively healthy), they paid for their health insurance through their employer. now they are retired, and aging, and needing health coverage in an almost desperate way. they picked up medicare, and those tiny little social security checks are $200 lighter every month so that they can pay for it. and it still isn't enough, so they pay another $100 a month for supplemental insurance. and guess what...that isn't enough either.

it's insanity. all of it. what would they do if they didn't have family to help them through this?

which brings up my latest cause of insomnia. i am worried about the bazillion people who don't have family to help them. i've seen enough of those people over the last two months...i've walked past plenty of hospital rooms that are always dark and quiet, a patient alone, the space empty of visitors. how do people get the care they deserve if they are completely on their own? i can only come up with two answers, and i hate them both. they don't get the care, and they suffer and eventually die. or they get the care, can't pay the bills, the insurance companies come after them, and they lose everything. it's disgusting. it's criminal.

i don't know how to fix this. i suspect single-payer health care might be the way, but until we have something other than overpaid idiots in Washington, it ain't gonna happen. and yeah, the baby boomers are starting to flood the doors of hospitals, people like my parents are having to make decisions between heating oil and prescription drugs, and if we don't do something quickly, we are going to see a collapse, a disaster, of biblical proportions.

i should probably rent SICKO and get really wound up, but i don't think i have the heart to watch it. i don't even need to, really, because i've seen it unfold, in living color, to a sweet little couple from shapleigh who just want to spend the rest of their lives watching the grass grow in their back yard. they've earned it. they deserve it.

so anyway. thanks for stimulus check george.

what a crock.

1 comment:

Dawn on MDI said...

I am so glad your mom is home and that everyone is able to sleep at home (their own homes).

I have no insurance. Zero. Zilch. Nada. If I get hurt, I am expected to pay for whatever treatment is required. Never mind that my most valuable possession is my rusted out 88 Toyota pickup. Or maybe my dog (we paid $300 for her).

L has some, but we pay for it through COBRA and it is damn near killing us.

Let's talk insurance sometime, you and us. There's got to be a better way.