Carol A. Hand
Recently, I looked through the pictures that I have taken since I moved here five years ago. Most are photos of my gardens and house. Some are of my neighborhood, and only very few are shots of downtown or the surrounding area. It’s true that I don’t often think of taking my camera with me, but I have often wished that I had. This morning I took it along as I headed out early for a dental appointment to deal with a painful tooth. The office of the specialist I was referred to by my dentist was in a part of town I hadn’t visited before.
Image: Microsoft WORD Clip Art (modified)
You’d never know from looking at my crooked funny-colored teeth that I have taken care of what I was given and spent a lot of money just to keep them. (Finding good dentists when you move a lot is not an easy task.) The good news this morning? The painful tooth appears to be fine even though it’s still making it’s presence known by gently throbbing at the moment. The bad news, another one needs expensive work – one third of my annual income.
Yes, I have Medicare, but dental work is not something that’s covered by Medicare. (See Endnotes below for more information.) I could buy dental insurance, but it’s been my experience that insurance companies always manage to make a profit on what they charge those who buy their products and produce nothing of value in return, unless you find it somehow amusing when your requests for coverage of necessary services are denied.
But I don’t need to make the decision of what to do about this new dental problem for a few weeks. It’s a hard decision in large part because I can’t easily reconcile the privilege of being able to even contemplate fixing a tooth while so many people in the world are suffering for lack of food, water, shelter, clothing, safety.
But you know what they say. Simple minds are easily amused. As I walked out of the building after my appointment, my attention was captivated by the building that took up the whole block across the street. And for a few minutes before I headed home, I was lost in the delight of taking photos. The images aren’t anything special, but I’m sharing them anyway. They inspired me to learn a little more about architecture and the history of some of the buildings here.
Focusing on the wonder and beauty of the moment takes my thoughts away from pain. Sometimes, when my thoughts once again return to my physical being , I realize that my brief journey into a different state of mind has even made pain seem less intense. This morning, it lifted my spirit to see something I might not have noticed otherwise and gave me an opportunity to learn something new.
“Historic brick and brownstone Chester Terrace takes up an entire block on E. First Street in downtown Duluth. Built in 1890, the Richardsonian Romanesque row house apartments were designed by architects Oliver Trephagen and Francis Fitzpatrick. Special features include towers, turrets, finials, and gables. It received its name from neighboring Chester Creek which flows into Lake Superior. The building is still being rented out as apartments and was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.” (Source: waymarking.com)
Wikipedia provides a clear and helpful overview of Medicare, a complex policy:
“In the United States, Medicare is a national social insurance program, administered by the US federal government since 1966, currently using about 30-50 private insurance companies across the United States under contract for administration. United States Medicare is funded by a Payroll Tax, premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries, and general revenue. It provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older who have worked and paid into the system through the payroll tax. It also provides health insurance to younger people with some disabilities status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as younger people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
“In 2015, Medicare provided health insurance for over 55 million—46 million people age 65 and older and nine million younger people. On average, Medicare covers about half of the health care charges for those enrolled. The enrollees must then cover their remaining costs either with supplemental insurance, separate insurance, or out-of-pocket. Out-of-pocket costs can vary depending on the amount of health care a Medicare enrollee needs. They might include the costs of uncovered services—such as for long-term, dental, hearing, and vision care—and supplemental insurance premiums.” (Source: Wikipedia)