Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Health Care

As far back as the American Revolution the fledgling government extended health care benefits to the soldiers and veterans of that war; that system has evolved into the current military health care system which covers service members and the Veterans’ Administration system for veterans.

You may continue reading here, or follow this link to an updated version of this post.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted by the United States Congress in 2010 to guarantee basic health insurance to all citizens.  People who object to the ACA ,aka Obama Care, dislike or even fear government involvement in medical care; they consider it interference, control, or even nationalization of the United States healthcare system.

I think many people, even physicians, don’t realize or forget, how involved the government already is in healthcare. As far back as the American Revolution the fledgling government extended health care benefits to the soldiers and veterans of that war; that system has evolved into the current military health care system which covers service members and the Veterans’ Administration system for veterans.

a Veterans Administration clinic
a Veterans Administration clinic (photo by Dr. Aletha )
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan

The year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of two other government healthcare programs- Medicare and Medicaid. The Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA), devoted an  entire issue  to them,the ACA and the implications for the future of healthcare in the United States.

Medicaid provides insurance coverage for adults and children who are unemployed or low income.

Medicare covers disabled children and adults  and persons 65 years and older.

The numbers are rather staggering.

  • Together these programs cover at least 30% of Americans.
  • Together they comprise 25% of all federal spending.
  • Together they pay 40% of total U.S. health care spending.

An infographic from the Kaiser Family Foundation and JAMA explains this further.

Disabled children and adults may qualify for Medicare.
Disabled children and adults may qualify for Medicare.
Children may be eligible for Medicaid if their families cannot obtain health insurance for them.
Children may be eligible for Medicaid if their families cannot obtain health insurance for them.

You may not be eligible for either of these programs now, but chances are eventually you or someone close to you will.

  • Anyone can become disabled from a serious illness or freak accident.
  • You or your spouse may lose your job and your employer sponsored health insurance.
  • Your child may have a disability that will prevent them from working when they grow up.
  • We may all live long enough to qualify for Medicare on the basis of age alone.  Your parents or grandparents are near or already at Medicare age.
Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.
Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.

It’s important to understand how Medicare works, since it’s not automatic; even if you qualify, you need to sign up to be covered (with a few exceptions). The rules are summarized here. Or consider an easy to understand book here. 

photos courtesy of volunteer photographers at Pixabay

sharing grief, love and memories at the beach in Cancun, Mexico- Tuesday Travels

George and Emma are people who love God and express that love by caring for each other, their family and everyone else they meet. That week we were the fortunate recipients of that love too.

My husband and I had travelled to Mexico on mission trips but never for a vacation . Our friends, who I will call George and Emma, own a time share in Cancun and graciously invited us to share it with them on their annual visit. They purchased it many years ago, and celebrated their wedding anniversary there annually. We appreciated their generosity and began planning the trip.

A few weeks later Raymond received an email from George with detailed instructions on how to book a flight to Cancun, how to get a reliable taxi to the condo and some other information. Since the trip was still 9 months away we were surprised, but knowing George is a planner and organizer, thought nothing else about it.

Not more than a couple of weeks later, we received  chilling and scary news. George was ill; we didn’t immediately learn details, but apparently it was something bad. And indeed it was. We soon learned that he was diagnosed with an advanced cancer, that chemo could slow, but not cure. We were heartbroken for our friends.

We did not consider options for the trip; obviously neither they nor we would go.  However, George the planner had other ideas. We went to visit them and after we all sat down and were comfortable George looked at Raymond and said, “I won’t be able to go to Cancun, but I want Emma to go, and I want you and Aletha to go with her.” They showed us a photo of the condo, located in a beautiful beachfront resort. It looked lush and luxurious, a stark contrast to the situation they were facing.

We didn’t know what to say; what do you say to a request like that? We didn’t want to upset him, so we just said yes, both of us silently wondering if it was the right thing to do.

George was right, he was not able to go to Cancun; he died a few weeks after our visit. We attended a memorial service for him; it was not a traditional funeral but a celebration of his life. And soon after, Emma contacted us and confirmed her intention to go on the trip and wanting us to go with her.

So we did and had a wonderful time. Emma was a gracious hostess, making sure we were comfortable, taking us to nice restaurants, ordering food in on a rainy evening. Having been there many times, she did not want to sightsee with us, but sent us out to visit the interesting local sites that she knew we would enjoy.

the Maya pyramid at Chichen Itza
the Maya pyramid at Chichen Itza

Over meals she charmed us with stories of her life with George, their children and grandchildren, pastoring a church, and fostering more than 30 children. And she listened with understanding and unconditional acceptance as we shared some of the dark griefs that we have walked through, some of which we have shared with no one outside our family.

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close up of the Chichen Itza pyramid

George and Emma are people who love God and express that love by caring for each other, their family and everyone else they meet.  That week we were the fortunate recipients of that love too. In some ways, it felt like George was there with us after all.

Cathedral of San Gervacio in Valladolid
Cathedral of San Gervacio in Valladolid
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Taking a tour of a local “resort”, we almost were convinced we should buy a time share there. The sales people were persistent but we prevailed, and left with our money intact.
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in a cenote, an underground lake
in a cenote, an underground lake
Mayan crafts
Mayan crafts
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watching our waiter preparing a flaming strawberry dessert
watching our waiter preparing a flaming strawberry dessert
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We all enjoyed this our last evening there. Perfect finish to an enjoyable trip .

While in Mexico, I used Frommer’s travel guide for information about the Cancun area and found it helpful and easy to use (this is an affiliate link that can help support this blog when used to purchase; thank you)

sharing the HEART of friendship

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr Aletha

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