JUST DIE ALREADY

That’s the message. The ACA doesn’t affect me directly since I’m already on Medicare — except that the out-of-pocket costs of Medicare have been going up each year. Higher deductibles and premiums, less coverage for the money and the doughnut hole in prescription coverage just keeps going and going and going. They are nibbling away at the coverage. Slowly and surely.

Coffin

Ever since I turned 65, it’s been a rapid downhill slide into worsening medical care. As long as was on MassHealth, the Massachusetts version of “Obama Care,” I was fine. I got medication for cheap or free and if I was sick, they took care of me. Thank God I had cancer while I was still covered under MassHealth!

The day I turned 65, they tossed me off of MassHealth. I had thought I was protected because of my disabled status. I received Disability payments rather than Social Security. Being officially disabled automatically entitled me to Mass Health. But, they had a simple solution to the conundrum.. They reclassified me and took me off disability, switching me to standard Social Security. It’s the same money, but without any protection. Wow! I was no longer disabled — a miracle indeed.

Did I get really get richer or healthier? Nope. The Great Minds who designed the system decree when you hit 65, you are healed of your disabilities and can can live on 1/3 the amount of money you needed just days before. Poverty is redefined to levels so low you couldn’t afford maintenance on a refrigerator crate.

Apparently The-Powers-That-Be believe the benevolent folks who hold our mortgage and other debts will knock 2/3 off our payments because they understand we are older and poorer.

In your dreams.

poor-old-man2

I knew it was going to happen but I’d been trying not to think about it. I knew because it happened to my husband when he turned 65. Bang, no more MassHealth. You’re on your own, buster. Garry has fewer major health issues than I do, a situation that is not guaranteed to last forever but so far, so good.

Me, on the other hand … well. I’m just about to hit the second anniversary of the two tumors which cost me both breasts  — the definition of a bi-lateral mastectomy. I had cancer twice — simultaneously. Those two-for-one sales are a killer.

Essentially, I’m getting no care at all, not even checkups. My insurer has too few oncologists. I hope for the best and don’t think on it much. Usually. Except at night, when I’m trying to fall asleep. Then, I wonder what’s really going on in my body. It is not the sort of thinking conducive to peaceful sleep.

I have evolved into a cardiac disaster area. I need a new mitral valve and other things. Turns out that my Medicare Advantage Plan (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) charges $50 per day co-pay for cardiac rehab. Since there is no way we can come up with that money, I can’t afford cardiac rehab. With all the deductibles, I’m not even sure I can afford the surgery itself … and I’m not sure they’ll perform it if I can’t do the rehab. I’m trying real hard to find something funny here and not doing such a great job.

HealthCareCosts

I’ve been considering using Magical Thinking as a medical alternative. Magical Thinking is holistic medicine for the hopelessly deluded. Rather than medication and surgery, I pretend I’m fine and kaboom — I’m fine. Problem eliminated. Magical thinking is cheap, efficient and much less stressful than actually dealing with the problem.

Okay, back to earth. I’m getting a message from the ether and the message, ladies and gentleman is (wait for it) … “Just die already.”

If I could afford $220 per month more, I could get a policy without deductibles. Ironically, that’s exactly what it costs me monthly to keep the house heated. On the budget plan. Could I skip heating and trade up for better medical insurance? But this is New England. It gets cold.

Or, for an additional $200 per month (which we don’t have) — plus the cost of Medicare — I could get a Medigap policy that would cover everything Medicare doesn’t cover. I’d need a prescription plan separately and no plan covers that big doughnut hole in the middle of prescription coverage. Kind of a moot point since I don’t have the money. Hell, we have more month than money now. More? From where? Our generous government entitlements?

If I don’t take care of the bad valves, I will die. If I delay too long, the chances of the surgery working well become increasingly poor. I can’t afford the surgery, not really … and the alternative is?

The message comes through loud and clear. I’ve outlived my usefulness. Just die already.

With the shut down of the government by those opposed to the ACA (let’s call them “Republicans” and be done with the niceties), with the GOP apparently believing “Just die already” is a reasonable message to send to me and lots of other people, I have to wonder how I wound up here. We worked hard our whole lives. We deserve better than this. I try not to be whiney about it, but it hurts to find oneself discarded, marginalized, back against the wall with the wolves closing in.

How did the United States become this ugly, mean-spirited country that would rather close down than offer medical care to its poor, its children, its senior citizens? How did we come to this? Who are we, anyhow?

I know. I get it. Just die already.

18 comments

    1. Thanks. I just have to find an answer in the midst of this train wreck. I really have to. The stakes just got really high..

      1. You will figure it out. I know you will. :) I just wish this was 3 years ago, so I could just mail you a check. Unfortunately, now, $50/day sounds like a near fortune to me, too. Let me know know if there IS anything I can do.

        1. Thank you … I know you understand and it helps. Right now, all my friends are as poor as we are … or poorer. I am going to have to delay the surgery unless I can convince the hospital to absorb the deductibles and not send me to cardiac rehab (unlikely). I’m hoping I’ll come up with another couple of hundred dollars per month to get a no-deductible plan starting in Jan ’14. I just have to keep living until then.

  1. Marilyn, this is so well written you should forward it to Washington. Damn those politicians for making human life so disposable. What a horrendous situation to be in. Money is all that matters in this country now. Human life is valueless. Personally, I hope I do die before I hit 65 because there will be no way for me to afford medical coverage or pay a fine for not doing so. I really hope you can find a way to have that surgery and tell the politicians to go straight to hell because you are NOT GOING TO DIE ALREADY just for them. God, when did America go to pieces? Thinking of you everyday and keeping you in my prayers. THIS ISN’T RIGHT!

  2. What an absolutely awful situation; I had no idea. It is the ultimate definition of Catch 22. I agree with the comment above.

      1. I’m not surprised. Poor you. It is an iniquitous way of treating people. I wish there was something more useful I could say. Sending love – and the hope that there is a way, somehow or other, to get the treatment you need. For starters, I think everyone should read your blog post. A lot of people, like me, probably genuinely do not realise how awful the situation is. I shall share your piece on a bit, if that’s ok. Ali xx

        1. Share away. I think for many people, this is somehow theoretical. For the rest of us, it’s horribly real. It’s literally life and death. So while the advocates of saving a buck on the backs of the poorest Americans close down the government to make sure we remain the last country without universal health care, people die. Really die, like in gone, poof, end of life. I had hoped I wouldn’t find myself back in this place. Well, what else is that high IQ good for but to figure out creative ways to survive despite the odds, right? Right. Thanks. It helps.

    1. I’m not sure I have much of a choice. I was really trying until I realized I’d hit a wall. Not like I planned it this way.

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