Everyone Is Eligible for Insurance
In my misspent youth, health insurance didn’t register so much as a blip on my radar of life. I was more focused on getting laid, finding a high paying job, trying to live up to my Mom’s unrealistic expectations, you know, the usual stuff of young adult angst. Insurance, especially health care insurance, was eclipsed only by my lack of interest or knowledge of, say, nuclear physics.
Because I wasn’t having much luck getting laid and high paying jobs were non-existent for high school grads, I decided to tackle my Sabre Toothed Asian Tiger Mom’s unrealistic expectations by running away. I joined the military. Now, don’t think for a moment I went Rambo-crazy and joined the Marines or Special Forces. I made the practical choice and joined the Air Force where I trained in electronics. Like many young, foolish kids, I believed my recruiter who promised my training would make me too valuable to be put into harm’s way. His definition of “harms way” was very different from mine.
After nearly a year of training, I received orders for Turkey arriving in the midst of a strike by Turks who did all the daily scut work necessary to keep the base running. Bottom line, life was not fun. In fact, the Turks were downright hostile, demonstrating in front of our 10 story barracks. Often, the demonstrations devolved into rock throwing. Those of us on the 4th floor were just barely beyond the range of all except the “MLB pitchers” as we called the few who had arms like pro pitchers.
I quickly realized 18 months in Turkey was going to be a long, tough grind so I compounded a bad situation by submitting a volunteer request for Vietnam. My seriously dumb teenage logic “assumed” that Vietnam would be preferable to rock throwing Turks. Well, the strike ended and I soon forgot all about my foolishness until 18 months later when, mysteriously, my volunteer form suddenly appeared and before I could say, “That’s bull pucky,” I was on my way to Vietnam.
In ‘nam, I longed for the excitable but non-homicidal Turks. I saw my first dead body within a week of arriving. That’s when it was driven home to my tiny brain the VC were playing for keeps. Having learned from my tour in Turkey, I kept my head down and never volunteered for anything in Vietnam. I also, fortunately, didn’t need any health care except for a broken ankle and a twisted rotator cuff.
After I got out, I found the high paying job that had previously eluded me. My first civilian job in 1970 paid an eye-popping $9,000 per year and included health benefits. Again, I never needed it except for minor visits to the doctor.
As I aged, health insurance popped up on my radar from time to time, usually in regards to an accident or illness that required a visit to a doctor or a trip to the ER. I was always lucky and had medical coverage. Eventually though, 50+ years after my discharge, I ran into a problem that didn’t fit into neat prescribed confines of previous medical issues.
About 6 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, when I realized Covid was serious stuff and people were dying, I started having nightmares about Vietnam. Having learned a thing or two since Vietnam, I called the VA and asked for a referral to a psychiatrist or therapist experienced with ptsd. The VA was amazing and immediately connected me with a local VA therapist. I’m fortunate because I’ve been seeing him now for over two years. A civilian therapist would have cost me an arm and a leg by now but because I had my VA prepaid health insurance policy, it hasn’t cost me a cent. The therapist and I even meet over a secure VA video conference system so I don’t have to drive 100 miles to his office. Not content with providing me excellent mental health care, the VA went ahead and processed me for a full range of VA benefits. I’ve been poked, prodded, scanned, imaged and tested for every conceivable ailment, all under the aegis of my prepaid health care benefits.
My “prepaid health insurance” is, of course, my VA medical care. In addition to rating me as “Service Related” disabled that pays me a stipend each month, the VA issued to me an identification card for just about all my medical care. The only things it doesn’t cover are vision and hearing conditions although they provide new glasses every two years after I pay for refraction. They even cover prescriptions for an ailment diagnosed by a civilian doctor before the VA took over. Yeah, the cost was steep but the benefits are worth it.