So many changes. Any time you can talk to someone whose life has spanned more decades than yours, an interesting discussion could result if you asked about big changes they had observed. I thought I’d take you through a small walk about healthcare as I have experienced it. I suspect this post will be longer than most I write.
My mom trained as a nurse in the 1940s and met a doctor studying to be a pediatrician at the hospital in New York City. When she and my dad moved to New Jersey they were thrilled the doctor had set up practice in the next town and I was told years later that I was his first baby, whatever that implies. Anyway, we would go to his office, located in the first floor of a multi-family house and wait to be call in. I read Highlights magazines and graduated later to Readers Digest. (I guess some things never change.) I had my first asthma attack at age 5 playing with a hula hoop. I received allergy shots with needles that were sterilized with the glass syringes in the doctor’s office in their autoclave. When I was too sick to go to his office, he came to our house. The house call that no longer exists.
In college I went to the college infirmary. The healthcare fee was covered in our overall tuition which was about $500 a year. My 19-year-old skiing accident where I banged up my knee was ignored and over a few weeks I healed. I developed arthritis in that knee in my 40s. (Life lesson…if you get hurt, even if you are young and can heal well, go get help to make sure you are healing correctly.)
My first job after college was for the State of Tennessee in Nashville. I really do not remember the insurance plan provided but it would have been a large group of state employees. I didn’t see a doctor at all except my annual checks for health and I ended up with a minor surgery. I did not take any medication in those days. I don’t remember the fees but I do remember there was no stress in paying even though I was making about $6,000 a year.
I changed jobs and moved to Memphis a few years later and in the course of the move, hurt my back. My new insurance was through my company even though the injury happened before my first day of work there was no waiting period. I saw a chiropractor a few times and then an orthopedic specialist for a year before opting for surgery. There were no MRIs in those days and I was in the hospital for four days. My portion of the bill was under $100. I also started allergy shots again while living there and paid $1 per shot.
I ended up a few years later in Connecticut. My husband worked and had Blue Cross through his employer. He needed counseling and later a short hospitalization. I started take blood pressure medication. We had two babies (one by C-section). One baby needed a couple of surgeries. Our co-pays for medicine were $1. The hospital bills were $500 for the C-section, $300 for the next delivery VBAC, and the other surgeries were about $300 each.
That husband and I split and I was able to pick up coverage for a Kaiser Permanente HMO plan through a small business group. I paid $400 a month for a family plan which included my two kids and me, and later, a new husband. It had no co-pays nor prescription costs. I fell and hurt my back again. Again I saw a chiropractor for a while and then he referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. Still no MRI in those days. The hospital stay was two days and I think my bill was about $700. I later had a miscarriage and the D&C cost nothing since it was done in the office. My last baby was born in the same hospital as the first, eleven years before but was also a VBAC and cost about $500.
Then I moved back to Nashville and my husband started working for the State of Tennessee and we had an HMO plan through Aetna. Prescriptions were $2 or $5 each. Doctor visits to our primary physician were free. Specialists were more and this was when things started getting really interesting since my husband was soon diagnosed with brain cancer. We were sent for a C-Scan one day and then an MRI the next. The specialist at Vanderbilt Medical Center ran a “kazillion” tests to determine where the tumor was located and the potential effect removal would have. Surgery was scheduled and became the day my life seriously changed as he had the equivalent of a stroke on the operating table and was not expected to survive. But he made it through the night, improved in fits and starts in eight weeks in the ICU, another two weeks in a regular room and then home. Physical therapy was provided at home for a few sessions and then we went to the clinic for that. I understood the coverage for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy was for five weeks. The clinic suggested visits twice a week. We asked for and went daily every weekday of those five weeks. At that point he had improved enough that they wanted to try the surgery they had had to stop five months before. It went well, with two weeks in ICU and then home after another week. The bill, when it got to us and I finally figured out the in-and-out and all-around nonsense, was $7500 to us. (To Be Continued)
I tried to be a caring parent, providing a lot of positive messages to my kids while teaching them life lessons and tricks that would permit them to become successful adults who could participate in and contribute to society. More than once they would come home from school complaining about some rule which they considered to be inane, because it was a no-brainer as far as they were concerned.
BETH RANKIN, CEO
CAN-DO REAL FOODS
I had to tell them that many children were not being taught basic rules of community behavior that would permit them to fit in without negative consequence, so in large groups and organizations, like schools and like mother jobs in their future, there were going to be rules that might be nit-picky at best and downright rigid at worst. I also told my kids that if they didn’t know the rules in any given place just to follow my rules and they should be in good standing.
I never beat my kids. I did not like getting spanked or yelled at as a child, and I strongly disagree with any adult who feels those are the only ways to get a child to pay attention. I think if you start early enough, the teaching can be done better. The problem as I see it, is that many people do not nip a problem when it is small, and so, react in a larger way when it becomes greatly annoying. And being bigger and stronger only lasts so long with children.
So, in many families there is a system of uncertainty for the kids. They do what they want and then boom!–they are punished. For many of those people, as they grow up, they like knowing the rules. They feel safer when there are rules. They like having someone give them strict boundaries for behavior that will keep them out of trouble.
Until they don’t like it. And then they have no way to work through it. They have been taught to conform, to swallow any impulse to think differently. So, if annoyed by the power above them, they tend to strike at those they consider weaker. And so the cycle is perpetuated.
Right now we have a large segment of the U.S. population who seem to like the idea of a strong leader who makes pronouncements instead of working with others. In fact, many people are confused with the marches and protests that have been happening since they perceive no threat to their own small world. Why is it some of us perceive a threat when others are unconcerned? It can not simply be that we are smarter but perhaps we read more and remember history better than others. Perhaps that reading and learning hasw helped us to recognize the clues of starting problems before they get really large.
We are also seeing many other nations leaning towards a conservative government; in fact, it is interesting to note that the one liberal government that exists in a major European nation right now is Germany. Perhaps their own experience with a fascist dictator taught them all they need to know.
Let’s hope that the lesson America is about to learn does not have a similar high a price to pay.
[Beth Rankin is an entrepreneur par excellence, mother, wife (to Graham Rankin, a retired professor), blogger, and writer who lives in McMinnville, Oregon. She is the CEO of her own successful company which processes, preserves, and moves foods from farm to table. Beth’s own blog is at: www.goingplaceslivinglife.wordpress.com. Please go to Beth’s website and subscribe for many first-hand articles that we do not re-print. We are very grateful to Beth for allowing us to expose our readership to her efforts.]