UNDECIDED

February 24, 2020

TO DO OR NOT TO DO…

I read somewhere that this is to be the Year of Clarity. Usually the events of my life provide my own naming of the year — sometimes as prelude, sometimes as epilogue. But whomever floated this one out there for us — having a year of clarity for our nation, as well as for many of us in our individual lives is a welcome thought. I could use some clarity about a good many things; welcome rays of sunshine burning through my mind-fog even as the late winter sun is melting down the heaped up snowbanks.

Juxtapose this with Lake Superior Writers 2020 Writing Contest theme — Undecided. The first time I read the theme title I thought, well, I could write a piece titled To Keep or Not to Keep a Husband — Undecided. But since then he and I have had a month of counseling and some amazing dialogues and I can feel our hearts healing and so, well, I guess that title’s out because it appears I will be keeping him.

I’ve been casting about trying to hook a new title: To cheat or not to cheat on my diet; work on my book or clean the basement; repair the garden pond or fill it with dirt; repair the car the deer broke or give it to the insurance company; sign up for medicare or ignore them… Ahh, that one took the bait. I’ll reel it in, try that one out.

Medicare. I think it is a bloodsucking parasite masquerading as a good Samaritan. We’ve given them a percentage of our salaries for decades so that we would be taken care of in our retirement. We also paid a hefty percentage of our salaries for  health care insurance, whether we needed it or not. Whether we used it or not. And if we did, we had to pay more money for the privilege, especially if anything was actually wrong with us that cost a pile of pennies.

I just turned 65, whether I wanted to or not. And because I did, I now have to sign up for Medicare, whether I want to or not. I get the hospitalization part for free, except there is a deductible if I actually do go to the hospital. And, I have to stay there for a few days because I’m really sick or severely injured. If it’s just for observation, that doesn’t count even though the hospital charges just as much for either. Medicare won’t pay anything for “observation”. But, hey, it’s free because I paid them all that money for the past 49 years.

But then there’s this thing called Medicare Part B. I can sign up now for $144 a month. It will cover most of what any of my medical doctor visits cost — clinic visits, urgent care, medical exams. But, again, there are deductibles and co-pays just like my regular insurance. And a list of things they won’t cover. However, IF I continue to keep my current medical insurance plan, or get some other supplemental insurance plan which will probably cost me between $170 and $200+ a month, well THEN I’m covered completely. They will scratch each other’s backs and cover me — no deductibles, no co-pays. Of course, there will still be some things nobody will cover, and there will be rules about where I go and who I see and how many times a year. And of course, neither of them cover vision or dental or hearing — three things that typically are a big deal as we age even if the rest of our body is radiant and fit. I suppose that’s why they won’t cover them.

I went to the doctor twice last year. Once because of pain in my thumb that I was concerned was a fracture but turned out to be arthritis. The second time was my annual exam that I hadn’t had since 2016. They said I’m healthy and fit as a fiddle except for some osteoporosis in my hip. So, I’m now spending money on supplements to get more of the calcium and magnesium and Vitamin B and D that I need.  Of course my insurance won’t cover this.

The year before I didn’t go to the doctor at all.

The year prior to that I had a stroke and needed a device placed in my heart to block a tiny hole that was letting small blood clots through causing havoc in my brain. I was glad I had insurance but it still cost me several thousand out-of-pocket.

Most health care I seek out is alternative and so my insurance pays very little or nothing. I will continue to do so. So the insurance is really only there in case another flying deer tries to dance with my car, or I slip on some black ice at the top of the steps at city hall and end up in a broken heap at the bottom or I fall off my daughter’s horse and break my thin-boned osteo hip. So, I don’t want Medicare’s $144 a month Plan B. That’s $1728 per year. Last year it cost folks $135 a month. What will they raise it to next year? For my husband and I together that is $3456 a year in addition to what we currently pay for insurance which is roughly $5000 a year. We don’t have this kind of money. We both grew up middle class, but our current income rates at the poverty level.

So, simple, just say No. Right? Right??

Wrong. I mean, yes, I can say no. But then if I decide at some future date that I want to join up, they will punish me for not having signed up when I turned 65 and handed over my nearly $2000 a year. They will charge me an additional 10% of whatever the going rate is by that time for every year that I rejected them. So, if I decide at age 70, when I also sign up finally for my Social Security benefit of less than two grand a month, then I will have to pay an additional 50% of whatever the going rate is. If by some miracle it were still $144 a month, I’d have to pay $216 a month or $2592 a year. In addition to my supplemental insurance. Because unless I have both, I’ll also be paying deductibles and co-pays.

I could just walk away. Keep the health insurance I have. Pay my deductibles and co-pays like I always have. And hope I keep body and soul together until I’ve had enough and decide to leave this crazy, cracked, beautiful, wonderful world. I mean, if nothing goes wrong, I’ll save me a lot of money. Might even get out of debt and be able to go ride horses in the mountains or sail up the Alaskan Intercoastal Passage looking for whales. Or buy a RV and live the life of a vagabond.

I don’t know what to do.

I’m undecided.

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