I don’t know if you’ve heard any of it, or not. But there sure seems to be a lot of talk lately about health care in this country. Folks are particularly riled up over this thing. I can’t tell if they want more health care, or less. I believe the right to choose your own doctor and the health plan that fits your needs and your pocket book has a lot to do with the unrest. There also seems to be a distinct possibility that politics might be involved in this issue.
My health plan is to try and not get sick in the first place.
I wear a jacket when it gets cold outside. I take those one a day vitamins for old people. I lay down every chance I get to give my innards a quiet respite. I wash my hands as frequently as possible and I don’t eat off of strangers’ plates. I drink an inordinate amount of Coca-Cola’s to keep my kidneys flushed out. And if one of my grandkids is coughing and throwing up I hand her to Cathy just as fast as I can!
My accident policy revolves around not getting in cars with teenager drivers who think they are bulletproof. I have carried a four leaf clover in my billfold since grade school. I don’t dance near the edge of any cliff, high beam, parasail or rooftop. And I try to avoid mean looking dogs, street gangs, knife throwing contests and church members who hold a grudge against me.
Our earliest health plan consisted mostly of cod liver oil. Mother would line us up before school and pour a daily dose of that awful tasting stuff down our throats whether we wanted it or not! It didn’t matter if we were sick or in good health, whether the moon was full or waning, whether the Whooping Cough was running rampant or if all was calm in grammar school. I belched once in the second grade and wiped out a whole strain of Asian flu and cured two cases of the German measles!
Mother didn’t think much of colas of any kind. She apparently was more worried about strong teeth and bones than our kidneys. Milk and orange juice were her beverages of choice for us. This was back in the age when the children didn’t get a vote. Mr. Holland near ’bout wore out that wagon hauling milk in those big thick bottles out to the house. We ate Wonder bread because it built “Strong Bodies 12 Ways”. We nibbled on more carrots than Bugs Bunny because it was good for our eyes. If Mom figured it had some intrinsic health value, real or imagined, we ate it, drank it, smelled it, rubbed in own our chest or wrapped it in a rag and tied it to an affected limb.
Bumps and bruises were considered part of the daily routine. If it wasn’t bleeding or hanging, we didn’t pay much attention to it. A pretty good size cut would be treated with a dab of coal oil. If it really looked bad, a right good mixture of burnt oil and sulfur would cure about any cut, growth or unknown malady on the skin. It was also good for head lice, ticks, cutworms and mange.
We might have been a tad antiquated with our health coverage but we sure got the doctor of our choice. Dr. Holmes was the only medical doctor in town! And we didn’t pay him in advance through some health insurance plan. We were all on the cash and carry system. When my thumb got smashed in the truck door, it was quickly deemed beyond coal oil help. Dr. Holmes stuck a needle in it and went to sewing. We didn’t fill out any papers. We didn’t produce any cards, open a line of credit or hock one of our cows. It did bother me a little that he looked through his glasses a while and then looked over them some during this operation. I was young and hurting too much to talk. But I didn’t want no near sided doctor guessing where to tie off those stitches!
Daddy thanked Dr. Holmes and told him he would pay him as soon as he could. They both seemed perfectly satisfied with the financial arrangements. I felt like then, and I still do to this day, my thumb was more important than the money to the both of them!
You can say “simpler time” or “it doesn’t work that way today” or “it’s much more complicated now” till the cows come home but I’m not sure I’m buying that. Maybe we’ve let insurance companies talk us into that belief. How, when, where and for what reason did they become the middle men between us and the doctor? I can tell you, Dr. Holmes made an excellent living keeping us tied together. We just paid him direct. And he didn’t charge an arm and a leg (no pun intended) either! It was a system that was simple, direct and worked.
It’s enough to make you scratch your head and wonder how we’ve come to such a medical morass today.
And we did have a piddling of healthcare savvy in 1959. After we’d seen what politicians had done with hog prices in West Tennessee, we wouldn’t have let them come near our medical needs with a ten foot pole!