Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What?? Life Without Health Insurance??

Believe it or not -- this is not a fantasy story.  There really was a time when "Health Care Insurance" would have been a phrase from a foreign language.  It is a testimony to my longevity that I can personally remember when "Health Care Insurance" was not in the everyday language for people.  How many centuries ago was this? Pre-1950.  Not that long ago at all, but what a difference it has made in our world.  Was life better then?  Is life better now?  I am not a medical or sociology expert but I can sure tell you how it used to be -- and everyone knows how it is now. So you can draw your own conclusions.  And maybe I can give you a sneak peek into another world.

When my oldest daughter was born in 1953 the bill was $75.00 to the Dr and $75.00 to the hospital.  It wasn't a private room but it was nice.  We couldn't pay the bill, so we had to make payments for a few months to pay it off.  This was typical and there was an office at the hospital that set up payment plans.  The Dr's bill was simply stopping at his office and making payments until it was paid in full.  I am sure this sounds like a science fiction story to parents now, that pay thousands of dollars to deliver a baby.  Of course, now there is so much more sophisticated equipment on stand by in case of a problem.  The delivery rooms are set up like movie sets, the patient rooms are very luxurious, the surroundings are beautiful.  But the end result is exactly the same --- a beautiful baby is born.  Is it better now?  That is for you to judge.

If a child had to go to the Dr for a shot or a cut or a scrape ---- the office call was $7.00.  We simply paid it on the spot OR told the office girl when we would bring it in. 

Yes, I lived in a small community, where there were only a handful of Drs.  Fortunately, I never had any serious medical issues with myself or my children, so I can't say how that would have been handled.  I do know I didn't feel the need to got to the Dr for every fever or discomfort.  This may not be a good thing, but it was a fact.

By the time my second daughter was born in 1962 we had "Health Care Insurance" where my husband worked.  It came with the job and I didn't think much about it,  although I will admit only paying 20% of that medical costs was a nice thing.  This began my first experience with "Health Care Insurance".
In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed the Medicare Act, but this had little to do with me as I was far from a senior citizen .  It was just something in the newspaper and on the TV stations.  My mom wasn't even a senior citizen, so it was pretty much a non issue to us.  I am sure my grandparents, in Ottumwa, Iowa, benefited somewhat from the Medicare Act but they didn't talk about it.
It wasn't until about 1971-1975 that the term "Health Care Insurance" became a big ticket item in my world.  Until then, if I needed health care -- I paid for it one way or another as needed.
If we fast forward 32 years, I can't imagine a world without "Health Care Insurance".  I would be scared to death to NOT have it.  It has become such an intricate part of our daily lives it just can't be disregarded.
So you may ask, "What is the purpose or the moral of the story?"  Just simply that I am so blessed to remember a simpler time.  Not just remember it, but to have lived it.  It was not perfect.  Hindsight tends to color our memories sometimes, but the reality is -- it was tough making a living and surviving, but so much slower and more meaningful -- to me that is.  All things are relative.
I worked in a meat market for a short time, and one day a disgruntled customer complained that she liked it much better when hamburger was .25 a pound.  My disgruntled boss replied with, "Yes, and I worked for .75 an hour then,  I like it better now!" 
Oh yes, another story for another day  -- when the minimum wage was rumored to soon be $1 an hour!  The little things I have lived, and remembered could fill a book of nonsensical oddities.  But, "Health Care Insurance" is on my mind, (it is open enrollment for "Health Care Insurance") so that is the subject of the day.  Happy memories to you.  Patj    


Medical Aid Site said...

A health insurance coverage is definitely one of the best investments you can make. You may resent having to pay a monthly premium but at least you can be sure that your family's financial security won't be compromised should a substantial medical emergency arises.

Chris from

Fe Penley said...

Your first paragraph is tricky, especially the idea behind these sentences: "'Health Care Insurance' was not in the everyday language for people. How many centuries ago was this? Pre-1950. Not that long ago at all, but what a difference it has made in our world. Was life better then? Is life better now?" I say it’s tricky because, if our lives were better a few decades ago without the need to have insurance, then we should ask ourselves, "What happened?” But if we say that our lives are better today because of technological advancements, that we now have the privilege to have a safety net for dangerous situations, then we can also see it as a win-win situation. Whatever the answer here, it's important that we understand that the past and present co-exist, and we need to look back to the past for us to understand what the present is about.


GenPatty said...

Thanks for the comment. All things are relative, so the condition called "better" is exactly as you stated it. It is how you look at it. And it is what your experience has taught you. If you are young"ish", my story seems rather like a fairy tale. If you are old"ish", it might more sense. I tend to ask "What happened" quite often, and it is usually a positive statement. I wouldn't trade the past for anything, but I love the here and now as well. Patj

Elnora Cowger said...

In my opinion, people during the early 1950s didn’t need health insurances or any medical plans that bad. It's because of the mere fact that the cost of living on those days were affordable and easy. Just like what you've said, your daughter's bill when she was born was only $75. Aside from that, the cost of fuel is only 27 cents per gallon. But as time passed by, our technology advances, and there are more risks that come along with it. At the same time, those risks are being minimized by availing ourselves with these health insurances and medical plans.

Elnora Cowger