Accessible Healthcare My …..

Yet again, driving along, listening to public radio. They are in the middle of their spring fund drive so my mind was kind of in float mode. Not paying all that much attention. As they are saying their sponsorships for Morning Edition I hear “the Aetna Foundation, dedicated to health, well-being and accessible health care”. I almost choked. I have a job. Through that job I have health insurance. I have had Aetna, for better or for worse, for six years. Each year my benefits have gotten a little worse and a little more expensive. For example I have never had a real deductible since I was in an open access HMO. This past year they ditched that and added a three thousand dollar deductible but it was waived for preventive and emergency room. Ok, I can live with that. It was just announced at my company that they could no longer offer Aetna because the plan premiums had been increased by 44%! Accessible healthcare my ass. So I will have to switch everything to United Health Care, where my drugs will cost more and my deductible will be five thousand dollars. Although this is waived for preventive care, it is not waived for the emergency room so our first visit this year will cost up to five thousand dollars! And if I am admitted, there is a very special extra deductible of five hundred on top of that. And then twenty percent of the bill on top of that. Don’t worry, unless I am dying so my life insurance will pay the bill, I won’t be going to the hospital any time soon. But I am grateful to have the insurance at all. Sickening that Aetna has a foundation for tax exemptions that markets them as a caring company. Forty Four Percent! Unaffordable for any but the wealthiest of us.


So my dad feels strongly about keeping control of his money.  I can understand that.  I feel strongly about keeping control of my money too.  Balancing his checkbook takes a really long time; I mean a really really long time.  The last go round took him all day and he was lying in wait for me when I got home to try to find the several (very several) hundred dollar error.  When I got it down to slightly less than two hundred, we just took the bank balance and called it a day.  I couldn’t find the error.  Even going through his fifteen year old pad on which he has written every check he ever wrote – except the ones he forgot to write down.

The check balancing thing doesn’t seem a matter of bad memory or incompetence, it seems a matter of alienation.  He looks at the thing and it seems foreign to him, and familiar all at the same time.  Then there are all the people out to get him, notably doctors.  All the doctors really don’t know what they are doing.  They are in cahoots with me to prevent him from driving, controlling his money, or ever getting better.  His feeling is that without their interference he would be flying a plane, working, winning tennis tournaments and driving across the country.  Age has nothing to do with it.  And all those pills intended to “help” him just cause diarrhea.
This has been quite the discussion.  We took him off all meds and then talked about what was critical to take and they added those in one at a time.  So far so good.  And he ended up so healthy that they permanently stopped several of his meds.  He was down to 3 kind of critical ones for his memory and his prostate.  No diarrhea.  For months, and months.  He took them in the hospital, he took them in rehab, he took them when he came home… for a while.  Now he doesn’t take them, and the caregivers are afraid of him so they don’t insist; not that it would do any good.  He is competent enough to know he doesn’t want to take his meds, even if he cna’t remember what they are supposed to be good for.
Diarrhea is back, couldn’t be the flu, has to be the meds so it is the last excuse to completely quit taking them (he was still good for a few times a week). He has a diagnosis of Alzheimers, early stage; and his memory is not so great (short term especially), but when is a person incompetent?  How do you know when the alienation becomes so great that the familiarity is overwhelmed?
I see it happening more and more.  His computer is a foreign country despite the millions of times he has clicked the same clicks.  The remote control is becoming more difficult.  Where “things” are is a constant battle of repetition.  But he gets up in the morning, feeds himself, dresses himself and pays his bills (often several times).
So… where’s the line?