My Blog

July 29, 2017

Elderly Mothers and Medicare

Who knew there was a difference between Medicare A and B?

Yesterday I took Mom to hear the wonderful Dan Phillips do a presentation on his @PhoenixCommotion. He builds fantastic houses here in Huntsville out of left-overs and remainders and trash. I thought she would enjoy it. I sat her right up front. She never heard a word.

After paying some crazy amount (several thousand dollars) for hearing aids several years ago, they don’t seem to work anymore.  I took Mom back to the doctor we bought them from and he shrugged and said it was the wax in her ears. He said she would have to go somewhere else to have the wax removed. Then MAYBE that would help.

I took her to a clinic. I filled out reams of paper work, and we made an appointment for the next day. When we arrived, the secretary at the clinic took one look at her Medicare Card and handed it back. “Sorry,” she said. “We don’t take Medicare Part A. That is for Hospitals only. Your doctor’s visit will cost $150.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a complete novice at this Medicare stuff. I have insurance through the university where I worked. The doctor’s staff does whatever magic they do about taking care of getting the insurance company to pay the few bills I have.

Even at 70, my only doctor visits, thank goodness, are for the Wellness Exam once a year. I have, however, signed up for Medicare parts A and B. I pay about $10 a month for Part B and am grateful I have it since, according to the doctor’s office, it pays for my single visit. I didn’t realize my mother had not gotten Part B.

I took Mom down to the Social Security Office to find out about getting Part B. It seems that she should have signed up for it when she turned 65. Now, at 98, she would have to pay back all those monthly premiums that she would have been paying over the last 38 years. Let’s see, $10 times 12 months a year times 38 years equals $4560! Holy Mother of Mercy!

The assumption, I suppose, 38 years ago, was that she wouldn’t need it. But as the saying goes, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.” Now she needs it and doesn’t have it. All her doctor’s visits will have to be paid for out of her pittance of Social Security. And the hearing aid doctor is one of those doctor visits.

As my sister informed me while Mom and I were at the doctor’s office, “Mom does not need to hear. She’s 98 years old! Look her in the face and talk louder,” she said. “And stop taking her to presentations that she can’t hear.” Okay, okay. I get it. I apologized to the nurse and took Mom home.

I went by our beloved @HealthandEnergy store. Blessed Suzie handed me the strangest looking long stick-like waxy tube thing for “Candling Ear Wax.” Say, what? Suzie explained. “Have your mother lie down on her side, put the narrow tip of the tube in her ear, light the other end and it will soften and suck out the wax.”

“Light the other end on fire? Like burning?” I asked. She assured me it would work. “People have been doing it for centuries,” she said. Frankly, I’m terrified, but I’m willing to try it. The cost? $7 dollars, not $150. But it’s so much easier to just have the doctor do it.

All of this to say, why did Mom not take advantage of Medicare B when she had the chance? Where do we possibly get the idea that we aren’t going to get old? Or that we won’t get feeble and frail and sick when we do?  In our youthful arrogance, we forget that those frailties and illnesses are coming.

And you’d better believe we will all need Medicare, Parts A and B and whatever other parts the government is willing to let us poor deplorables have.

Elderly Mothers
About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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