The Mysteries of Medicare

When you get something for free, you tend to think, this is too good to be true. And then you find it is, that is, too good to be true.

For a while this year, I had the envy of my blind friends. Once a week, a young woman from a home health agency came to my home and helped me with a few tasks around the house, running the sweeper, checking my clothes for spots, reading directions on cake mixes, things like that. The bonus was that she also took me on errands, including running to the bank, the drug store, the doctor, and even to clothing stores. We had a great time. She enjoyed helping me, and I was enjoying having the free service provided by Medicare. Sound like a dream come true? Not quite. Nothing is free.

In order to get this service, I had to endure an annoying visit from a nurse, not once a month, not occasionally, but every single week. I protested that I am not sick. I am not injured. I am not recovering from surgery. I’m just blind. But the rule was that I had to have a checkup by the nurse every week, or I didn’t get the service. In addition, and even more aggravating was that I had to sign a paper stating that the “Aid” had worked 6 hours each week, whether she did or not. To make peace with myself, I tried to keep her busy for 6 hours. I didn’t need that much help, but rules are rules. The powers that be at Medicare say that if you don’t need at least 6 hours, then you don’t need help at all. What a crock. This meant that the aid was being paid for 6 hours when she only worked for 2 or 3. This is wrong. I finally decided that the obnoxious visits from the nurse and the deceitful paperwork were not worth the free help. I was told that I could offer to pay this young woman myself if I wanted to. OK, I thought. I can do that. I had a talk with her the next Monday and told her that I would pay her the same she was getting from the agency, but I would pay her only for the hours she worked, not 6. She was fine with that, but then, the agency barged into our little agreement and replaced me with another client for this aid. In order to keep her standing with the agency, she had to go with it, and her schedule didn’t allow fitting me in as well. So, here I am, back at square 1, recruiting friends to help and orchestrating ways to get things done. Stay tuned. I’ll figure this out.

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