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Head Of The Holler II

    I don’t think I can afford to get much older.

   Or at least I can’t afford to get older taking the medicines the doctors have prescribed.

   I have been taking Flomax for over 10 years, with co-pays ranging from $5 to $30. The last time I went for a refill the co-pay was $88. Insurance was going to pay about $1.20.

   I didn’t buy the medicine. I’ll try to get by without it, since I’m also about to hit the infamous “doughnut hole” in the Medicare prescription coverage and won’t have any insurance payments until the total gets over $5000 or so. If you actually understand how it all works, please write or call.

   The transition to Medicare and the supplemental insurances has been a mystery to me.

   The people who make Flomax have been running a huge TV advertising campaign for several months now, so I should have expected the changes. Somebody has to pay for all the commercials. The ones who keep “going, going, going.”

   That’ll be me, now.

   I read that one in six seniors who reach the Medicare gap stop taking their medicines, and I understand now. I’ll find a way to keep the blood pressure medicines and a few others that are essential, the ones that have been on the market for years and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

   Unless it gets repackaged or “improved,” in which case the price goes up.

   I’m not sure who invented the “doughnut hole,” or why, but Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election ads claim credit for the prescription coverage, so he surely takes credit for the gap, too.

   It’ll take me a couple of years, if I live that long, to figure out the Medicare situation and how to get insurance that actually covers something I use. Yesterday my Vytorian prescription set me back $98, about the price of four half-gallons of Jim Beam 7, and I may have to choose between them.

   Easy choice. I can live without cholesterol medicine, at least for a while.

   If you wonder, I’m all for federal health insurance, not exactly socialized medicine but a plan that makes medical insurance available to everybody, and I think somebody in government could rein in the pharmaceutical companies if they wanted to do it. As it is, the drug industry pays off so many legislators that any controls are highly unlikely.

   Maybe I can find a company that’ll give me medicine to shut me up.

   I can be bought.

   Not cheaply, but the right offer will be considered.

   Prescription medicines seem to have followed the same pattern as inflated housing prices except that we can’t get mortgages on the medications. Just on the house so we can pay for the medicines.

   With gasoline adding to the burden, those of us on fixed incomes are steady going backwards and there’s not much we do except drive less, eat less, and not take our medicines.

   We can’t impose surcharges, like the utilities companies, or go on strike against Social Security, and there are limits on how much we can earn, especially for those of us on disability.

   Most of us don’t have the energy or physical ability to work the way we once did even if we wanted to.

   I’m thinking about a sign to carry around that reads “Will work for prescription medicines,” but I doubt that anybody else can afford them either.

   So I’ll just keep “going, going, going” until I’m gone.






The sketch shown above is from Mitchell Tolle: American Artist, the coffee table masterpiece with drawing and painting by Mitchell Tolle and text by Garry Barker.  The book may be ordered from Tolle Gallery in Berea.

    The book has drawn national acclaim for the combination of art and writing, and the collaborators are long time friends.  Tolle is a native of Vanceburg, Ky., in Lewis County, adjacent to Fleming, and Tolle and Barker have worked together since the early 1970s.

     The Tolle Studio & Gallery in Berea is a must-see experience if you travel to Kentucky’s crafts capital.



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