Preparing for the Inevitable

I got a letter from the University telling me that I will soon be 65 (according to their records) and that they wanted me to sign up for Medicare Part A three months before the actual date.

I didn’t know what the heck they were talking about, but there was a number to call, so I did. I was on the phone 45 minutes being interviewed by a machine and two human beings all collecting information geared mostly towards determining, I think, whether I was the person I said I was. I said I was born in National City. They said I was born in San Diego. I didn’t quibble. Close enough. Also I couldn’t remember my mother’s maiden name. I kept saying Barret, but that was her mother’s maiden name. Finally I came up with Keller and that seemed to make my interlocutor happy.

Now I have an official Medicare contact person, Mary, who said I will receive a card in the mail indicating that I am now enrolled in Medicare Part A and that I don’t have to do any more paper work, but had I questions to call her and she gave me a number.

I suppose this is all for the good and means–Medicare Part A–that should I suffer some sudden relatively catastrophic ailment, like a heart attack, that part at least or maybe all ( I don’t know) expenses incurred in the course of the catastrophe will be covered by the government.

But the government doesn’t, as we know, cover everything.

So Carol, heroically, has been looking into getting us some sort of towards the end of life insurance to cover expenses for home care when the time comes when one needs home care.

I don’t want to think about that time of course. I have a hard enough time thinking too much about such things, and it was harder still having a person come to our home complete with laptop, pad, pencils, and assorted official documents to discuss diverse options such as how much might it cost to have home care start immediately upon being declared “disabled” or how much it might cost to have three years of home care covered as opposed to something called “forever” coverage.

This stuff is quite expensive, so at first I said I would opt for four years of care. I couldn’t imagine hanging around for much longer than that. And the insurance operative said I was pretty much right on with that number, and that the people who dabble in such things say the average length of care is from four to five years and that usually people start needing such care about 80.

But Carol got pretty upset about the four year thing. “You will lie there,” she said, “and worry about the money running out and think that you had better hurry up and die in four years.” Or something to that effect. She has come to know me pretty well over the years, and she is of course correct. I would lie there fretting about whether I was going to live longer than I was supposed to.

We don’t know what we are going to do yet. We are just applying.

The insurance operative said there are something like 8 criterion for determining whether one is disabled. Any combination of two means you are disabled. So if you can’t get out of bed and if you are peeing on yourself, well that’s disabled. Or if you can’t prepare your own food and you are peeing on yourself, well that’s disabled too.

I can’t remember all 8, but it was a damn depressing list.

But what is a body to do? We are trying to act like responsible adults.

It’s a bit difficult.

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