Other than a grumpy gall bladder nearly 25 years ago, I have been able to avoid hospital stays all my life.
Now making up for lost time, I have acquired two new hips and a new right knee. With a new left knee on the horizon, I have experienced what seems like a revolving door of changes in insurance coverage.
For the gall bladder surgery, I had terrific coverage under Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which I was able to purchase from my late husband’s company as a surviving widow. It was about $250 a month as I remember but the coverage was incredible and I was far from Medicare.
Actually it was so good that the hospital (which shall remain nameless) kept me in one of its rooms for three days before the surgery and two days afterward. Had the gall bladder attack occurred this week, I would have been in and out in hours rather than days although the hospital would likely have collected about the same number of dollars. Sadly, more of those dollars would have been from me in addition to what was received from my Medicare replacement policy.
These days, there are more surprises in addition to the increased costs.
After each of the hip surgeries, I was in a rehab facility for a week or so and then had follow-up visits at home from various home health professionals. That word professional I use loosely. The ones who came to my house seemed more interested in idle chit chat than in doing much other than walking a few steps in my living room with me — although one actually went outside and walked with me past the house next door and back again.
In each case my co-pay was $30 for each of a total of nine visits.
In the case of the knee, I was prepared to decline such visits and go with the rehab place. But then that too had changed and left much to be desired this year as opposed to what was offered five or six years ago.
Although I declined the in-home visits, I did have to have one from a registered nurse who would take blood pressure, temperature and such and evaluate my status. She said I would be receiving several meals as well as visits from a physical therapist and an occupational therapist.
The nurse was professional and a week later I got a call from the physical therapist who said he would call to let me know when he was coming to my house once he had made out his schedule for the week. I am still waiting.
I never did hear from the occupational therapist and so have no idea what that person would advise me to do — become a rowing instructor perhaps and quit my job at my favorite newspaper — no way! That kind of advice is not needed.
As for the meals. There was no explanation other than the fact that they would be coming.
The next Saturday, I saw a FedEx truck outside and heard a loud thump at the front door. I had not seen what was being delivered.
A huge box as it turned out — about 2 by 4 feet and about 1 foot in height — too heavy for me to haul inside. The FedEx man had left as quickly as he had arrived. Fortunately my daughter had flown down from Cleveland to help. She hauled the box into the kitchen for the great unveiling.
Turns out “Mom’s Meals” had arrived. The box was so large because it was insulated on all sides with styrofoam panels and contained 17 food items covering assorted breakfast, lunch and dinner items.
Examples: breakfast pork sausage gravy and buttermilk biscuit, chicken and waffle and peach crisp, chili dog and seasoned vegetable blend, gelatin cup, wheat “coney” bun and welcome chefs tips.
Good old Mom. I had already stocked the refrigerator before the surgery and Heidi had added more since her arrival. It would have been nice to have a warning about all this food.
That some of it was actually edible was another bonus. Most items came with long content lists, most of which were for ingredients difficult to spell and pronounce. That always makes me suspect. I will say however that the vegetables were fresh tasting and may have had something to do with a shorter prep time than usual with frozen dinners. But then these were not frozen. And, if one chooses to freeze them, the instructions call for overnight thawing in the refrigerator before preparation the next day.
As one can reorder from a lengthier list of offerings, this must be a profit center of sorts for the insurance company. Perhaps the fact of these meals is written in my insurance company handbook but who reads those cover to cover?
I would have preferred an extra session or two with the physical therapist in my surgeon’s office — those people are the best I have experienced in my two hip surgeries and one knee surgery. Others may have different opinions based on their surgeons, insurance and other variables.
Thanks to helpful friends and neighbors, I am able to get fresh food from my nearby Publix and can prepare it at home, which is additional good therapy in my opinion.
In a different situation with less mobility, Mom’s Meals could be a welcome addition when one is back home and not yet allowed to go out to the theater and such, let alone for shopping or meals. I have no clue if any other insurance companies offer Mom’s Meals or some such variation but it was an interesting surprise.
I have a feeling it is a profit center or potentially so for the insurance company otherwise an arrangement with Meals on Wheels or some such organization would be a fine alternative.
Here in Florida there also seem to be a huge variety of insurance options for those eligible for Medicare let alone everyone else. The one thing all have in common is the cost, which for many families, is simply not affordable. Choosing no insurance is a huge risk that can wipe out a family financially should anyone end up in a hospital with even one illness or accident let alone the diagnosis of something like cancer and lengthy treatments. The only way to bring down the average cost of insurance for families not old enough for Medicare is some sort of program in which everyone must contribute and that means all our representatives too. If they had to be part of it they might make it a better product.
At least one could hope.
Because so many people are on Medicare, the price is relatively reasonable for all. To accomplish something similar with a national health program would require a system that required close to 100% enrollment. How to accomplish that could have legislators fighting for years and years.
Meanwhile I have one remaining meal from Mom which I will consume tonight. And no, I did not consume every meal that was sent to me.
Had I not been at home when the giant box was delivered, and had help to bring it in and unpack it, I would not have consumed any of them. One really needs to know that food is on the way and when to expect it, especially those of us who live in Florida.
I just want to have the second knee surgery and get back to work out and about in our wonderful community.
P.S. — Things to see and do here in the arts center of Florida include the annual recital of Attitudes of Dance at noon on Saturday and Sunday June 12 and 13 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Venice Community Center, 326 S. Nokomis Ave. Additional tickets were released this week as the pandemic eases its hold on the U.S., making more seats available to what was a sold-out show weeks ago. Tickets are $22 per person and available at the door.