Saturday, June 29, 2013

May and Medicare

It is May, and I have medical insurance. I won’t call it health insurance, because it isn’t something you use when you’re healthy. The insurance I now have is Medicare. I turn 65 this month, and I am officially signed up. It was not until I was in the process of signing up that I found out that Medicare begins on the first day of the month you turn 65, not on the day you turn 65. I remarked to my husband that this was an uncharacteristically rational policy for our government to have. How much simpler to roll over the paperwork once a month, instead of every day. It’s downright sensible. I wonder how it happened. But I’m not spending a lot of time wondering about that. Mostly I’m thinking about how weird it is to have insurance again. It’s been three years since I lost my coverage, back when my husband went on Medicare himself and we were out of money to pay for insurance for me. In this uninsured hiatus, I have had three significant surgeries and a few less significant procedures. I’ve become pretty good at applying for charity from hospitals. Last year we declared bankruptcy. Listen, you do what you gotta do. Now when I go for a medical appointment and they ask for my insurance, I can whip out my two Medicare cards instead of hanging my head and mumbling, “I don’t have any insurance.” Except for the thousands of dollars we couldn’t afford to pay and those humiliating moments when I had to fess up to my uninsured state, there was a lot I liked about not having medical insurance. I paid for office calls at the time of the appointment, which meant no bills in the mail later, so less paper and paperwork. Simple. I had no drug coverage, either, so I paid for all my prescriptions out of pocket. Both times that I drove to California last year and needed to get my prescriptions a little early there was no insurance company telling me it was too soon to buy my drugs and refusing to allow the prescriptions to be filled. That happened to me at least once when I had coverage. I didn’t go to the doctor if I could help it during this three years. This is the two-edged sword of not being insured – you’re less likely to be over-tested or over-medicated, but there is always the chance that you’ll not get treatment you really need. I had two surgeries to remove pre-cancerous cells during this three years, and of course my gall bladder imploded at the end of March and was removed in early April. I was really hoping that gall bladder could wait for five more lousy weeks, but no, so there are a few medical people waiting with their hands out now. Sigh. Fortunately, I am now a freelance editor. What does a freelance editor do? In my definition: proofread for punctuation and grammar while respecting and maintaining the writer’s voice. Format writing so that a piece is consistent within itself. Listen to and encourage the writer while being honest and having a heart. Make suggestions that seem like good ideas and having no attachment to whether the writer uses the suggestions. Editing is a bit like polishing a song – you want the text to sing, and make sense, and touch the heart of the reader, and not have punctuation and grammar errors breaking up the flow. So that’s what I’m doing, or trying to do, and I enjoy it and I get paid. Like they say, the perfect job is when you get paid for something you’d do anyway, and I don’t have to leave the house, so that’s even more perfect. It’s May, I have Medicare and a little gainful employment. Everything’s looking pretty peachy, except, you know, for that mortality thing, which looms larger as you age. One thing at a time – editing and Medicare now, death when it comes. That’s my plan. For now I’m looking forward to when the nasturtiums bloom. I love nasturtiums.

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