Friday, February 10, 2012


Go West! That proverbial clause with so much promise rings almost Siren-like in its allure. Anthemized by the Pet Shop Boys in the 1990s, the notion of spatial or even ideological relocation opening up possibilities still lures fawning aspirants. Many have cashed in on the promises; many still hold on to the hope it alludes to.

I had posted earlier about healthcare here in the US and how complicated the letters of the law are. For a simple mind as I am, healthcare here is an expensive necessity. Presidential hopefuls have to lay out their plans regarding healthcare, any plan, if they seriously want to consider being elected. Pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers have their hands firmly in the kitty. Lobbyists and lawmakers wrangle over the finer points of multi-volume proposals for change. As an end user, make it ‘bottom feeder’, most of all of it makes no sense to me. I just pay my monthly insurance fee. I pay about $1,500 a year for the most basic health plan; it sucks that I haven’t used any of it.

My wife comes into the equation. For her insurance, we would have to shell out double of what I pay just for her. All lot of caveats kick-in: age (child bearing or not); pre-condition; lifestyle (smoker or not), and so on. Each factor bumps up the fees a notch higher. With all these fine-prints, we decided it would be cheaper to travel back to India and take care of our health needs.

But when crunch becomes crrrunnch, we had to apply for whatever was possible. A local non-profit providing health services gratis had been constantly denying us enrollment for the last 15 months. This week, and to our pleasant surprise, they asked for our papers to enroll. Besides ID and the other details to establish qualification for the free services, we had to submit my pay stub or tax records. The good news is that my wife qualified. We will be meeting with the doctor this coming week.

However, the free services meant visitations with only a general practitioner. If it were to be a specialist—gynecologist, and the other –ists—we would have to qualify for Medical or some other provision for lower income folks.

One outcome of these developments was that, in officialese, my wife and I register within the Federal Poverty Line! Something like the BPL in India. I am aware that the symptoms of FPL and BPL cannot be compared. While FPLs still drive cars, eat well, and are enrolled in graduate schools; BPLs face far more dire situations.

Although not critical enough to induce a mid-life crisis, it sobers one to register at the bottom of the so-called 99% of current Occupy demographics. Kinda reminds me of my advisor who, at a very informal setting, broached the issue of academia being a risk-taking. If one referred to the millions entrepreneurs made, and that was what one desired; in my advisor’s words, “maybe we’re in the wrong business!”

While the risk-taking has been worth it, even a nibble of that elusive pie could be o so ssoooweet.