Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

Is there a doctor in the house?

I have been a bit busy since I last posted. First, I had a birthday that was spread out over a week of dinners and lunches with well-wishers that also required a ramped up exercise routine and a bit of extra primping time in order to not look as old as my actual birthday would indicate. 

Then a friend had a sick dog that needed some diagnostic tests and a couple of days of hospitalization. I went with her to drop him off the first day, and I returned with her when he was discharged. This did not simply involve sitting in a clinic waiting to be seen. Rather it required four boat rides, cabs, rental cars, a lovely lunch and some excellent French pastries since she elected to take the poor guy (all 80-plus pounds of him) over to St. Maarten for his care. He is doing fine now, but it is unfortunate that the level of veterinary care on this island is such that folks feel compelled to transport their pets across the water for treatment. 

Unfortunate, but not really surprising. We do the same thing, ourselves. While human medical care on this island has improved immensely in the decade or so that we have been here, there is a point at which anybody with the option goes elsewhere for advanced care. When you consider the commercials that you see on television encouraging folks in the States to travel thousands of miles across the country to be treated at a particular cancer center or other specialty facility, it is understandable that these 35 square miles in the middle of the ocean can’t offer everything. 

That’s one of the reasons why Michael and I moved here when we did. We never intended to die here, and we’d still rather not. My birthday, hauling sick dogs and Michael’s upcoming big birthday, has us thinking about these things again. We always knew that the time might come when we HAD to return to the States for medical care. We just didn’t realize that even if we are as healthy as can be, we may have to move back to the States for medi-care!

So for the past couple of weeks Michael has been researching his health care options in anticipation of turning 65 next year. What a minefield! He has been calling everyone but the President trying to understand this highly complex situation, and every time he gets a different answer to his questions. He even had one person tell him that regardless of the fact that he has worked and paid into the system for the past 50 years, because he lives out of the country he cannot collect EITHER Medicare or his Social Security. Well, need I say that this assertion resulted in a very unhealthy rise in a certain somebody’s blood pressure? 

Luckily, that appears to be false information, but we are not out of the woods yet. Medicare does take effect when he turns 65. But it only provides care in the United States. OK, that’s fair; and as I said, whenever possible we go to the States to see our doctors anyway. What about when we are here or traveling in Africa, though? What if something happens? (Clearly, senior citizens travel. Just look at the cruise ships and the AARP hotel discount rates.) There have to be provisions for that. That’s got to be where the supplemental plans come in, right? After all, there’s the plan that covers prescriptions. There’s the plan that covers the deductibles from the other plans. And yes there’s the plan that nearly pays for your coffee while you sit in the waiting room and most importantly covers you while you travel. 

Perfect. Finally, that’s what he needs: basic Medicare plus a rash of supplemental plans A though Q. Only one catch. You can only buy the supplemental plans if……..wait for it…………you have a residence in the United States. If we have to buy a house just to get medical insurance that’s really going to jack up our effective premium rate. That’s gonna hurt. I think I may need a doctor.

One Comment

  1. Rose Mary says:

    Whoaaaaa and I thought I was confused over our simple little Medicare plan here. Never thought about these things for our island-dwelling friends. When you figure it all out, write a book to explain everything to others who might have the same issue. And meanwhile, stay well.