Service of Wellbeing

February 2nd, 2012

Categories: Anxiety, Medical Care, Wellbeing

wellbeing

On the Gallop Healthways’ Well Being Index website Jeffrey M. Jones wrote “U.S. Financial Worries Rival Those of 1992,” on January 25. He noted that “Americans’ worries about maintaining their standard of living (51%), or being able to pay medical bills (43%) or losing their job (34%) in the next 12 months are among the highest Gallup has measured in the past 20 years, on par with the levels seen in 1991 and 1992.”

Worry about medical bills is 5 percent less today than it was 10 years ago, though many of the people I know [of all ages] were not polled. One friend’s co-pay for essential medicine just jumped 800 percent. Another who’d had heart bypass surgery called for a checkup and learned that his longtime doctor no longer takes his insurance, nor does one of mine. She requires cash or a check on the spot–no credit cards.

drugscostHow many seniors opt out of taking their medicine when they reach the Medicare donut hole? Last year the insurance [they pay for] covered drugs-with a co-pay–up to $2840. Then, in the donut hole, the senior pays 100 percent of the cost up to $4,550, after which insurance kicks in for the full amount, minus 5 percent. And what if they can’t spare $4,550?

Robert Lowes wrote in “Medicare ‘Doughnut Hole’ Can Undermine Medication Adherence,” on MedScape Today News “between 11% and 14% of Part D beneficiaries reach the coverage gap each year and receive no subsidy, according to the authors of the study.” There are over 22 million people enrolled in that program.

waves1It’s normal to feel anxious when unforeseen bills crop up for basic medical, shelter or educational reasons which happens increasingly in turbulent economic times. Your head feels above water when wham, a surprise wave looms.

Turning a stiff upper lip into a smile gets increasingly harder. I know admirable people who juggle and work things out regardless of financial haircuts and bad health news followed by exorbitantly expensive solutions. What tips can you share to deal or distract yourself so worries don’t further affect your wellbeing?

 worries

4 Responses to “Service of Wellbeing”

  1. J and K C Said:

    Try Tai Chi

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    J and K are have probably given the best advice. A further contribution, and a compatible one with theirs, is to become familiar with the Tao. It’s no cure all, but unlike religion, encourages movement of mind as opposed to keeping it in a straight jacket.

    Stress is healthy when it enables one to meet challenges, but is no friend when it overwhelms and leads to depression or worse. The stiff upper lip is no solution, since it does not address the gnawing inside. So remember the turtle. When feeling overwhelmed and/or persecuted, it either dives for the water or holes up in its shell, tuning all out until danger passes. We may use its strategy, adding human ability to chop problems up in small and manageable pieces. Solutions of smaller, but effective magnitude, may then drift in.

    This is getting far too complex. Sign up with your friendly local Tai Chi class. I have been collecting their ads for years. Perhaps it’s time to act!

  3. Simon Carr Said:

    I am the first to admit that the insurance industry in its relentless, but understandable, drive for profitability at the expense of both medical practitioners and consumers is responsible, directly or indirectly, for thirty to forty percent of the cost of American medical care today. It would save everyone a lot of money, and cause a considerable increase in unemployment, if we got rid of them entirely. However, I believe the real culprit is our inability to understand what the basic problem in medicine really is.

    Thanks to unrealistic idealism, we have all come to believe, first that everyone is entitled to the best possible medical care (and doctors, unrealistically, take the Hippocratic oath requiring them to render such care); and second that it is not our responsibility, but that of society collectively, to provide it.

    A few years ago, when watching television coverage of Hurricane Katrina, I was struck with a doctor’s answer to a reporter who asked him how he dealt with having so many injured and so few to care for them, “I don’t. We save who we can save.”

    Medical advances have been so dramatic in recent decades that many of the treatments now available are simply unaffordable for the general population. To pay for your friend’s medicine, the insurance company would have had to sacrifice profitability, and it is not going to do that. But, ultimately, isn’t your friend’s responsibility, not the insurance company’s, to pay for her own medicine? She should have known the time would come when the company would not pay. I had a similar situation last year when I realized that a medicine I was taking was sufficiently expensive that by the fall, I would be in the “donut.” I made the conscious decision to forego medicine and suffer the consequences. (Out of embarrassment, I didn’t tell my doctor, but he probably had other patients who had done the same and figured out what had happened.) I blame myself, not the insurance company, nor the government, for this. I was imprudent and didn’t do the necessary years ago to be able to pay for my medicine now.

    The time has come to stop trying to save everyone and “save who we can save.”

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    J and KC,

    I’m not sure I’m the Tai Chi type.

    Lucrezia,

    I like the small pieces strategy–makes reality easier to swallow.

    Simon,

    I’ve heard that there are funds that help people pay for medicines they can’t afford. You may want to apply. A doctor doesn’t prescribe a medicine he thinks you should not take–you could be putting yourself in danger and lining yourself up for far more expensive cures.

    These days, we all need to get over embarrassment of being pressed for money. Those who should be embarrassed are those who can well afford everything and yet they chisel and squeeze dollars out of others. I’m all for saving at legitimate sales and although I’m not good at asking for a better price, admire those who do. I don’t condone taking advantage of this economy to force a vendor to his/her knees because you know you can especially when you can afford to pay the asking price, considering it’s a fair one.

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