By Sue Murphy
I’m coming up on 65, the age when you officially enter seniordom and your insurance company starts seeing you to the door. Their cheery exit pamphlets present the heave-ho as a happy rite of passage on to the wonderful world of Medicare while gently reminding you that your Medicare coverage is very much like a sieve. Some healthcare costs will be picked up, but other things will fall right through the holes into your pocketbook.
The next verse, of course, is that the company will be happy to sell you a supplemental policy. In Google-ese, supplemental means, “provided in addition to what is already present or available to complete or enhance it.” I get that. I’ve been taking vitamin supplements for years to make up for the fact that I have a kale aversion and resolutely refuse to eat liver. I have supplemental chocolate because, as advertised, it completes and enhances my day.
I’ve received mailings from other health care companies offering their own brand of supplementation. The kicker is that these supplemental policies are not all alike. Some cover your drug costs and copays. Some include dental and eye care insurance. Others will even throw in a gym membership. You have to shop around. It’s not as much fun as shoe shopping but equally important.
I find it interesting that any company wants me at this point. Medically, I’ve been a bit needy. It wouldn’t surprise me if the health care companies got together and simultaneously called, “Not it.” On the other hand, if they denied everyone who wasn’t in perfect health, they’d have no customers at all. A premium is a premium is a premium, although some companies are advertising a zero-cost policy. I don’t understand the profitable mechanics of that, but hey, the price is right.
For me, so is the timing. A few weeks ago, a TV doctor cheerily introduced a study that asked the question, “Why do humans live beyond their reproductive years?” Seriously? I find it scary that the question ever came up. I mean, are there people out there looking at me thinking, “Do we really need her?” I know mayflies live one day, mate and then die, but what does that accomplish? Mayflies mate in order to create more mayflies who will in turn live one day, mate and die. What’s the point? The literature says they become fish food but I’m sure the fish could find something else to eat.
But do not lose heart, fellow oldsters, it turns out we do have a purpose. The study concluded that we provide emotional support for our grandchildren. All those chocolate chip cookies and $5 bills tucked into birthday cards? Apparently, they make a difference. While that’s nice and all, I think the scientists missed a point or two. Pick any field and you’ll find senior contributors – medicine, finance, congressional subcommittees. Consider the work of Warren Buffet, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Tom Brady (well, in football years, he’s old). None of these people limit their work to patting kids on the heads.
“Why do humans live beyond their reproductive years?” The very idea. Fellow seniors, don’t let the rhetoric make you feel like fish food, like if you had any decency you’d just get out of the way. We’re still kicking and breathing and contributing. We complete and enhance the lives, not only of our grandchildren, but of other people around us, even when we’re crabby and opinionated and need our sons-in-law to fix our computers. So, step off cheery TV doctor. Seniors are fundamentally supplemental.