Thursday, October 13, 2005

Money, money, money...

With gas prices fluctuating up and down these days, money, or at least the cost of things, has been weighing heavily on everybody's minds. (Or maybe it's just poor law students???) =) However, while I was busy being concerned about how the increasing price of gas and foods was affecting my carefully planned budget, another hideous price caught my attention: the price of medical care. May I just say, "Eeeeeeek!"

Now, if you're like I was up until a couple months ago, you probably are blessed enough to be covered by insurance. If you've been that way for some time, then you might not even actually know how much the fees are at your doctor's office. I know that I seldom paid attention to the cost of office visits; I only had to pay a $20 co-pay, so I really didn't give it two thoughts. However, I recently was moving out of state, so I wasn't working and wasn't covered by insurance. Fortunately/Unfortunately, God saw fit to make that window of opportunity the time for Justin and I to conceive our first child, and then, sadly, also lose that child through miscarriage. We ended up in the Emergency Room because sometimes cost can't be an object when health is on the line. Yikes! We only had an Ultrasound and bloodwork done, never actually saw a doctor (he just looked at my chart) and still was hit with a bill from the doctor for $335.00 and an additional one from the hospital for $1500.00. Ouch!

Now, at the time I just shrugged this off as the price to pay for emergency care. The next day, I tried to make the prescribed follow-up visit with a doctor. The doctor wanted $300.00 for me to walk in the door, and any tests were additional. Also, he refused to take me until I could show proof of insurance. What?!? I have since found that this is the "norm" in the area in which I live. I am horrified to think about all of the people who don't have insurance. What do they do? I know what I ended up doing to ensure that I got good care: I flew home to South Dakota. The cost of my ticket home $335.00 and the cost of a visit to an OB/GYN $164.00 still did not total what they wanted here even if they would have agreed to see me! (and I got to see my family) Praise God for simple SD!!!

The question that this begs, in my mind, is what is healthcare heading towards? Are we going to end up in a situation where, without insurance, you cannot be seen except by an institution that participates in a sliding scale, such as Planned Parenthood/State run clinics? Are we looking towards a situation where only the insured or very rich can get "the best" medical care? Are we forcing the poor to want a national healthcare system, such as in Canada? It seems as if doctors are forcing the people's hand in one undesirable direction, or another. We need to ask these doctors why they became doctors. Was it to help people? Or only to make money?

I'm thankfully counting the days until I will be insured again: 4 days to go. But, it made me so very conscious of what a decent little chunk of America has to go through every day. The farmers in SD are very lucky that they still can recieve great medical care, even if they're not insured; other parts of the country aren't so lucky. What are we going to do about it?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Celebrating the Little Things...

I felt the need to be deep today. No, not deep enough to ponder the Creation of the world, or the Meaning of man's existence, but just deep enough to think about the things that I need to change about my life. Just deep enough to think about who I am and where I'm going. I began to think about the blessings in my life; I have so much to be thankful for! I spend far too much time evaluating my life by all of the big things that go wrong in my life. I could fill more than one blog with complaints; there is no need to question that. But I started to think about how I no longer celebrate the little things in life. These are the things that really make life feel worth living: The sun shining on my face, the wind whispering through my hair, the rain clattering on the windowsill. The marshmallow s'mores over a fire, running in the early morning, when everything is fresh and new, catching snowflakes on your tongue, and building snowmen. These are some of the little things in life.

I am not sure when we lose this beautiful and child-like ability to find joy in the drippy ice-cream cones of the world. We no longer know how to live in the moment! When we were young we were so thrilled by an ice cream cone! We enjoyed being allowed such a treat, and enjoyed them to the max! We were not even concious that it was dripping on our pants, nor did we care. We just sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed that ice cream cone. Now that we are grown we might still enjoy the ice cream cone, but we are more concious of the dripping (these slacks are dry clean only!) or the price (they want HOW much for an ice cream cone?). Now we have lost the ability to just enjoy the ice cream cone as such, and be thankful for such a sweet "little thing" in life. For me, as a child, it was always Dairy Queen's Oreo Blizzard. Now, they don't have these sweet little babies where I live and quite frankly, I miss them! The last time I ate one I probably obsessed over the price and over how many calories I was adding to my hips. It's very rare to be able to just chuck all of your responsibilities in a corner and enjoy those little things.

Today I longed for a Blizzard. If I'd had one I wouldn't have cared for once about it's impact on my hips; I would have just enjoyed. I'm reminded of a saying that I really love, but had forgotten to live: "The good stuff is in the details." This introspection complete, I was led to think about all of my complaints that are so petty when weighed against their alternatives in life; it made me feel more thankful about the more humdrum aspects of life. I'm thankful that I have dishes to eat off of, even if I do have to wash them all by hand. I'm thankful that I have a bathroom to get ready in every morning, even if I have to constantly clean it. I'm thankful for my dog, even though she "talks" a lot and drives my husband crazy. I'm thankful for my husband, even if I have to clean up after him all the time (I'm very thankful that he was able to break me out of the bathroom when I got "trapped" in it--thank you, sweetie.). I'm thankful for the roof over my head and the bills that pour in every month, even though I have to work hard to pay for them; I still can. I'm thankful that I can fall asleep every night with a soft pillow under my head, and a prayer in my heart. Thank You, Lord.

Oh, and the next time you have an ice cream cone, just enjoy.