So, in my last post I was talking about the price of Mike’s chemo medicine (17540 times more than gold per ounce), and about how broken our healthcare system is. I also said something about people not seeking medical services because of inadequate or no insurance. Another aspect of the brokenness of our system is surprise billing. This generally occurs when people go to a hospital. Typically they will go to a hospital which is within their insurance network. Also typically, their doctor who they are working with is also an in-network physician. The problem for the patient arises when, after they are home and recuperating, they suffer a setback when they get a bill for several hundred to several thousand dollars from a doctor they never heard of. Then they discover that the emergency room doctor, or radiologist, or the anesthesiologist, or some other service provider assigned to their case by the hospital was out of network. How does this happen? I’m not completely sure about this, but I do know that doctoring is in the process of being taken over by big business. Insurance has always been big business, and hospital systems through consolidation have become big business, including the taking over of medical groups that affiliate with them. Now large investor groups have bought up emergency medicine, radiology, anesthesiology, and other kinds of medical practice groups. These entities contract with hospitals to provide services for their patients, in exchange for whatever considerations agreeable to both parties. Parties that are not involved in these agreements are the patients. At this time there is no requirement that the groups affiliated with the hospitals take the same insurance plans that the hospitals do, and the losers in such an arrangement are the patients and their families who are hurt financially through this unfair arrangement. This problem has been one of the few that the president as well as both houses of congress last year agreed to fix. That it didn’t happen was the result of a massive expensive lobbying effort mounted by the big moneyed investor groups. Remember those TV ads last year that showed emergency workers bringing a patient to the hospital only to find the lights were out? Mike wondered at the time who was running those ads and what their motive was. Now we know. Another attempt was made this year by attaching the bill to the CARES act. It was agreed to by all parties but at the last minute dropped from the bill, again because of intensive lobbying by the big money investors. The argument was that it wasn’t directly related to the COVID-19 problem, even though it obviously is for the many thousands of COVID-19 patients who get carried to emergency rooms, wind up in ICU, and then get slammed by bills from out of network providers. It is a disgrace that the wealthiest nation in the world can’t find the gumption to fix its terribly broken health care system. Mike thinks it should be the number one issue that people vote on, and for a great many people it will be.
So, it has been a little over 2 years since Mike’s friend Warren passed away. Warren would have been 76 two days ago. Even though Mike is quarantined, he thought the cemetery would be a safe place to visit and maintain plenty of distance from other people. Judy agreed. The cemetery is close to where we live, and that afternoon we drove over there. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and we were the only ones there. Mike brought a stone to put on Warren’s gravestone. This is a custom of Jewish people, and goes back to when Abraham buried Sarah in the cave at Machpelah. Warren wasn’t Jewish, but Mike thought it was a nice gesture, and I agree. Mike also said kaddish for Warren. (See “The Kaddish,” April 1, 2018.) While he was at it, he said kaddish for his late wife, Penny, who passed away just over 28 years ago. And, he thought he might as well include many other loved ones including, his parents, his brother, Judy’s parents, all of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as many close friends. May all of their memories be blessed.
Mike wanted me to say something about how wonderful people have been during our crisis. A great many people have stepped up to help others in ways great and small, and there is no end of need. The loss of employment has hit people hard. The fallout of this has many ramifications, one of which is the decrease in support that our houses of worship have received. Most churches depend on weekly offerings at services, and now services are held on line where the best they can do is pass a virtual plate. Synagogues don’t pass a plate, but people send in their pledges on a monthly or quarterly basis, usually. I’m not sure how other religions handle it. Our houses and communities of worship do great charitable work in the surrounding community, and have stepped up during the present crisis. Even though they are not holding services, they still have expenses. Mike wanted me to remind you to please try to keep your commitments to your houses of worship if you are able. Some will even be in a position to increase their commitment, at least temporarily; and if so, please do. If you are financially distressed, give of your time. It will be much appreciated, and make you feel better. There is always something you can do that will help someone in need. If you are not affiliated with a religious organization you can always join one, or give of your time, energy, and possibly money to the not for profit agency of your choice. Thank you.
We went for a walk today between rain showers. Big Fluff wasn’t outside but the rest of the posse was. Underfoot was under a shrub, and we also saw Big Orange, Cali, and Ruff, all chillin’ like villains. I never saw so many people out walking their dogs, carrying their little colorful poop bags. One lady had her dog wearing a harness from which a purple poop bag dangled down. And the street is full of kids riding their bikes. So, life goes on. We will make it here in Happy Meadows, and I’m sure you all will too, wherever you are. And you will learn first hand that what hasn’t killed you will make you stronger. So, no jokes today. Maybe next time. And until next time stay safe, be well, make yourself useful, and don’t forget to pray for world peace. And until then, remember that we love you all. So long from Happy Meadows!