flarenut (flarenut) wrote,

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How to get there from here

Our plumber/electrician dropped by the other day (a snowplow broke the cover off our water-shutoff valve this winter, and we're strategizing what to do about it) and I asked him about his bum knee, so we ended up getting into a political conversation about healthcare reform. He was all upset that he's going to have to pay $800 to the IRS because he won't buy health insurance, except of course he won't because he's covered under his wife's policy from her job. And then he was concerned about all the young healthy people who were going to have to pay that money, and I explained to him about adverse selection, and then he started complaining about his retirement savings, which were cut in half during the crash...

The problem he has, and it's a pretty serious one, is not addressed by the current reform. He's been working for 35 years straight, with the occasional vacation or time off for illness, and one knee has a torn ligament with a few shreds of tissue holding it together. He laughs as he tells how the first time he went to a doctor for it the doctor couldn't believe he'd actually walked through the door. Lately his other foot has started bothering him. Oh, and his shoulder has a constant burning sensation, so that he can't get much sleep. Can we say rotator cuff? Fixing the knee will take 6-9 months (four of it in a cast) and fixing the shoulder just about the same. But guess what, they can't be done at the same time because he's going to need that shoulder so that he can be on crutches while the knee is recovering. So he's looking at a year or two out of wok while his body gets fixed. For a sole proprietorship whose customers really can't turn off their plumbing problems for a year. In other words, he's screwed.

There pretty obviously ought to be a program to deal with this. He's got another 20+ years of serious earnings ahead of him, if he can once get fixed. Otherwise eventually too many things will break at one time and that will be it. He looked into disability insurance, and he couldn't find a policy that would cover his monthly nut even if they didn't exclude the knee and the shoulder as pre-existing. So of course he takes his usual conservatism and piles his fear onto it and hates healthcare reform, because it doesn't (except very indirectly) do anything for him. Ugh.

(It seems to me that it's possible social security disability would cover at least some of his expenses if the recovery period lasts more than a year, but it's not clear if that can be arranged prospectively, plus it's one of those evil gummint programs for freeloaders.)
Tags: health, politics

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