Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

We Must Do Better and Insist on Better Health Care (A Collaboration with a Purpose Post)

with 24 comments

Sorry ’bout the lengthy title there, folks…on with the show, er, I mean blog.


I am especially cognizant this year of World Health Day due to the myriad of health problems my family has suffered over the past year. Because of all the times we’ve been to the doctor, or in the hospital, or in the rehab center, I am more aware than ever about how we need better quality health care in the United States. (I can’t speak for the rest of the world, though my fellow bloggers have done so brilliantly. Links will follow at the end of this post.)

What I’ve seen shocks me. (And I thought I was unshockable.) A woman who needs hearing aids was in one of the rehab centers my family member dealt with this year, and can’t get them because she can’t afford them. She is over sixty-five, is retired, has Medicare–meaning, she does have state-sponsored insurance that’s subsidized by the federal government–and she still can’t afford hearing aids.

This affects her quality of life.

This affects how she can interact with her family, her grandchildren, and those working with her to help her heal up so she can go home.

There’s something wrong with a country that doesn’t find a way to help someone who needs hearing aids find a way to get them. (She is willing to pay, mind. Her daughter told me that. But it’s a matter of making it affordable so she can, and still eat, pay her bills, and afford her medications.)

Or how about this? I, myself, have dealt with a problem trying to get any help with my vision. I have Obamacare. I am eligible to be seen and get glasses, which would be subsidized (but not free)…yet every time I try to set up an appointment, and I’ve been trying now for over two years, I am told there are none.

So, I continue to wear glasses that are over two years old. My backup pair is over ten years old. My vision hasn’t changed much in all that time, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a checkup or get another pair of glasses that is perhaps a little bit more up-to-date than my backup pair.

How many other people are out there who can’t afford to pay full price for glasses, thus wait to be seen, and then never get an appointment because it’s supposedly always full?

Then, there’s the problem of paying for medication. My family members have radically different insurance. One has no help at all to pay for her prescriptions. Another has some help. But when your medicines can cost over $300 per month — yes, one of the cardiac meds my mother takes is at least that expensive — the co-pay is still plenty high. And when you’re on a fixed income, in retirement, coming up with that high co-pay is damned difficult.

Why is this considered acceptable?

Then, there’s the problem of getting doctor’s appointments when you’re sick. (I know first-hand about that one, too.) Getting your doctor’s office to even call you back is a pain in the buttinsky. And then, if you do get to talk with a nurse, they just send you to urgent care anyway, so why did you waste your time?

In short, there are major problems with health care.

Right now, we have a proliferation of forms, a proliferation of HMOs, PPOs, and all sorts of other alphabet-type agencies, that basically boil down to, “No, we’re not going to help you.” And that is utterly unacceptable.

Mind, there are wonderful people in health care. I’ve met more great nurses and doctors (much less PAs and CNAs) than I can shake a stick at. These people genuinely want to help, but they are overwhelmed by paperwork and there aren’t enough slots to see everyone who needs to be seen. And nothing at all seems to get done whatsoever about fixing these systemic problems.

The World Health Organization has done this World Health Day since 1948, to call attention to the need for better health care for as many people as possible. (Preferably, it would be for every single last one of us, and that is indeed their goal.) And this year, their slogan is called #HealthForAll.

I think we badly need to be reminded that health must be cultivated. We have to have enough resources to help people get hearing aids when they are on fixed incomes. Or afford expensive cardiac medicines when they are on fixed incomes. Or have access to doctors, nurses, and appropriate care, while being treated as the human beings we are rather than an inconvenience or worse, someone to be brushed off and ignored.

So I’m pleased that the Collaboration with a Purpose group wanted to talk about World Health Day this year. It is something that is close to my heart. And it is something we desperately need — better health care, for as many people as possible, in as many ways as possible, so we all can live better and happier lives.

Because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.


Now, please go check out my fellow Collaboration with a Purpose group members, as they all have interesting takes on the subject. (Links will be added as their posts go up.)

24 Responses

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  1. Barb,

    You describe perfectly the challenge we have in regards to our health care system. I was on Obamacare a couple of years ago, and I hated it.

    I couldn’t deliver my daughter to a hospital that was in a safe neighborhood. Luckily, I finally was able to transfer and go to a hospital that took Obamacare and deliver my baby at a hospital of my choosing. But, of course, they gave me grief and made it soooo hard. It was tons and tons of phone calls to Covered California. The wait on the phone sometimes was over an hour. No exaggeration.

    The doctors that I was able to see treated you like you were on Obamacare, if you know what I mean. Because I wasn’t on some fancy and expensive private insurance, I was just another number. Now that I’m on a pretty good Kaiser plan, their “top tier” I have found that it’s no better! It’s frustrating when things aren’t covered like hearing aids or medical equipment you need. My stepdad passed away in January from a stroke. But, he lived about 2 years bedridden, and my mother ended up using a good chunk of their retirement savings on expensive insurance that would help cover the very expensive equipment he needed to breathe. It sucks when we’re forced to make our senior citizens use their retirement savings just to cover the basics that insurance should cover.

    But our insurance plans are the worst. They fight tooth and nail to cover anything. Let’s not even begin to discuss our dental insurance that only covers like $1200 of dental work for the year. In other words, you have to pay out of pocket for the rest. If you have a cracked tooth, they say it’s your fault you cracked it and won’t pay for it. So, if you need a crown or anything else related to that cracked tooth that was “your fault” you have to cover it 100%. I have a PPO dental plan that is apparently supposed to be “good,” and it still sucks.

    Our healthcare is in shambles. Obamacare was a nightmare from personal experience, and now our private plans don’t seem to be any better. You’re right, something does have to be done. But, where to start? It’s hard to say, there are so many perspectives on this and so many ways to debate it. Some people will argue against me and defend Obamacare and defend current private insurance as they are. But, my personal experience with mental health coverage, like the situation you described above, there are long waits not to mention paperwork.My heart goes out to your family and the experiences you’ve endured in dealing with a broken system that should have been fixed long ago!

    Great post, as it serves as a reminder that something needs to be done! ❤

    Sonyo Estavillo

    April 7, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    • Thank you, Sonyo. 🙂

      I think, as a former administrative professional (in one of my many part-time jobs over the years), that streamlining the forms would help to streamline the bureaucracy. I also think that we need to figure out how to use a sliding scale fee for everyone. If you are under, say, $12,000 a year, you probably wouldn’t pay anything except maybe for some meds (and then you should have a co-pay). (One individual. A family would be different, of course, and higher, as it should be.)

      Everything should be sliding scale, and everyone should agree on what that sliding scale is.

      That would help a lot.

      And things like hearing aids and expensive medical equipment and expensive drugs should definitely be on that sliding scale fee, too.

      Thanks for your lengthy, cogent, and interesting comment, Sonyo. 🙂

      Barb Caffrey

      April 7, 2018 at 10:20 pm

  2. […] Barb Caffrey […]

  3. […] Caffrey: We Must Do Better and Insist on Better Health Care Divyang Shah: World Health Day! Gelyka Ruth Dumaraos: Ipuna Black: Health is a State of Balance: […]

  4. I agree, though there are doctors and nurses willing to serve the society the medical centres provide no help, in terms of monitory help. Medical tests and treatments are becoming so expensive that many can’t even afford. It’s so sad to hear that even US fails to provide affordable treatments to patients.

    Author: Sadaf Siddiqi

    April 7, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    • There are so many barriers to good health care all around the world, and so many of them seem almost self-inflicted or at least country-inflicted. There’s almost no common sense being applied, and there’s a real belief in some places (the US included) that health care should not be a right, but rather a privilege. But I’ve got news; if you don’t have health, you don’t have anything.

      Doctors and nurses want to help and do more. But they are stuck doing unnecessary paperwork to satisfy bureaucrats. I wish we’d get rid of at least some of that, so we’d have a better system that helps more people. But I fear we’ll have to start all over again from the ground up at some point, and that will probably be even more disastrous than what we’re already dealing with…let’s hope I’m wrong about that.

      Thanks for reading and appreciating my post, Sadaf.

      Barb Caffrey

      April 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

  5. Excellent post. I definitely could have written something along the same lines. My husband is self-employed, so we purchase our private insurance. The premium I pay now is 5 x the amount I paid four years ago, but I get even less coverage. We only get well checks. My daughter needed 8 stitches on her knee. I took her to quick care. They said it was too deep, so they didn’t want to touch it. I had to take her to the ER. It cost me $5000 to get 8 stitches! I was told to bring her back to the ER to get them removed. Thank goodness for my medical experience. I took the stitches out myself. I hope things get better!

    Ipuna Black

    April 8, 2018 at 2:14 am

    • That’s horrible, Ipuna. I’m glad you were able to take the stitches out yourself. ($5000 for eight stitches. What is this world coming to?)

      I’m glad you appreciated my post. Wish I hadn’t felt the need to write it.

      Barb Caffrey

      April 8, 2018 at 3:20 pm

  6. The healthcare system here in this country is a disaster. Even with regular health insurance, depending on the premiums, deductibles, copays, etc. you STILL can’t afford to see your doctor if you have pneumonia if you make less than a certain amount of money. Not all plans are created equal. Even a single person at a minimum wage job, with employer-sponsored healthcare, you’re probably not going to be able to afford your glasses or hearing aids, should you need them. These will affect how well you can communicate and perform your job.

    Now, add in other factors regarding those who are retired and on Medicare or are impoverished on Medicaid… The barriers stack up even higher, making it MORE difficult to access anything other than routine appointments. How a person who might be 75+ is supposed to overcome these obstacles, I don’t know, since we know that health issues are greater as we age.

    When we come to covering mental health, it is MORE nightmarish than when something is physically wrong, and with waiting lists that could keep you away from accessing the services you need for a year or more, or if you have no insurance or are on Medicare or Medicaid, good luck getting into any of these things, unless you’re lucky enough to be able to only need counseling as opposed to needing psychiatric care and prescription mental health medications… It’s terrible.

    In comparison to other industrialized countries such as Canada, Western European countries, Japan, and some others, our healthcare standards don’t even compare to these other places, and they have longer, healthier lifespans. Health coaches like to use Okinawa (in Japan, of course) as the example of picture perfect health. There, and these other countries, what do they have in common? Everyone is covered to get the health services they need, with little to no cost out of pocket. Yet, the opponents to this type of coverage in this country are huge. Lots of misinformation is out there, and I’m not saying those systems are perfect, just that it works better than ours.

    Then look at what is available for healthy eating, which contributes to overall health… On a limited income, we can only afford so much. Processed food like canned veggies & meats are inexpensive but have a ton of salt, other preservatives, fat, and things unhealthy. To say it’s better than eating nothing is only setting up the poor to need bigger health access for issues such as heart attack, stroke, pulmonary disease, diabetes, etc. which would be MORE expensive than to cover the basics to begin with, and allow people to get fresh or frozen produce & fresh meats… Learning how to cook healthy would also be helpful, and teaching people these basics would be less expensive than paying for triple bypass surgery. I, for one, could do a lot to teach about healthy cooking that also is fun to eat.

    Thing is, most of us are willing to work for the coverage if we are able. Without the jobs available, it’s impossible to do… Then there are the issues of the types of jobs available vs. what we are qualified to do, and it’s just not matching up. I could go on to talk about other issues that are related, though I hope I’m making the point that there are several issues going on, with the biggest thing being access.


    April 8, 2018 at 10:24 am

    • You are absolutely right, Lika. And thanks for reading and appreciating my blog.

      The only thing with canned veggies is, you can rinse them or drain the water around them, and that will get rid of much of the salt. (Rinse and drain again, that’ll get rid of almost all of it.) But how many people think of that?

      Barb Caffrey

      April 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm

  7. […] Barb Caffrey: We Must Do Better and Insist on Better Health Care  […]

  8. It’s really sad to hear the hardships faced by the sick, not just in the US but all over the world. Despite all the lusterous advances we make in the field to science and technology healthcare system is still far behind in this race.
    The smartphones are certainly getting bigger screens and so are the medical bills. Humanity has time to discuss about controversies that sell but no time to discuss the limping healthcare system.
    Your words indeed express how you feel about the situation ma’am. I truly hope there is a better tomorrow.

    Jothish Joseph

    April 8, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    • Thank you, Jothish. The good part is, there are more and more people around the world that know this is a big problem. And problems can’t be solved until they are seen for what they are, then solutions thought about…one can only hope that we are working on the solutions, even now.

      Bless you for reading, and enjoy your week ahead. 🙂

      Barb Caffrey

      April 8, 2018 at 10:53 pm

  9. I’m sad to hear about the points you’ve raised, especially on the situation of the retirees. My parents are retirees, but my father just underwent triple bypass so he cannot go back working like how he used to. I am looking forward to that day when healthcare systems will be improved. It’s a nice concept, #HealthforAll but it needs to implemented. I’m really glad we all agreed to talk about this topic this month. Very enlightening.

    Mylene Orillo

    April 8, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    • Thanks, Mylene. We can hope that now that more people are aware of these problems, something will get done about them.

      And yes, I definitely am looking forward to the day the healthcare system is improved. We need it done ASAP.

      Barb Caffrey

      April 8, 2018 at 10:57 pm

  10. […] Barb Caffrey: We Must Do Better and Insist on Better Health Care (A Collaboration with a Purpose pos… […]

  11. […] Barb Caffrey: We Must Do Better and Insist on Better Health Care (A Collaboration with a Purpose pos… […]

  12. It’s sad to hear about the points you’ve raised. Tis’ a pity that something as vital as healthcare is being handled so carelessly. It’s one of the reasons I’m passionate about studying medicine. I want to be the difference.

    To start a new and better healthcare revolution. We are entitled to good health. It’s our living right.


    April 9, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    • Thank you, Jainey. I appreciate your comment, and I’m glad you’re going to study medicine. We need more people like you helping those who can’t help themselves due to illness or injury.

      Barb Caffrey

      April 9, 2018 at 8:00 pm

  13. […] Barb Caffrey @ Barb Caffrey’s Blog: We Must Do Better and Insist on Better Health Care […]

  14. Great post, Barb! I agree our healthcare system (not just in the US, it happens here on Southeast Asia too) needs to be improved so that everyone has access to affordable healthcare. Insurance is a callous, unfeeling entity who will ask the sick to justify and justify and justify… I once heard a horror story from my doctor whose patient was in such a severe pain that they needed immediate surgery, but insurance insisted on getting a second opinion before approving the amount; and that patient was actually an employee of the said insurance!

    And by the way, a very belated Happy Easter to you! 😀


    April 21, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Nicolle, though I wish I hadn’t had to write it.

      That poor person who worked for the insurance company…that’s just terrible, that they’d do that to one of their own employees.

      Thanks for the holiday wishes! 🙂

      Barb Caffrey

      April 22, 2018 at 8:35 pm

      • Yeah, it’s sad, but I think the bright side of it is that you’ve written it, and awareness is the first step to a positive change! Here’s to hoping for a positive change. 😀


        April 27, 2018 at 12:13 am

      • Thanks, Nicolle. 🙂

        Barb Caffrey

        April 27, 2018 at 2:45 pm

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