The good old days of medicine

A cord of firewood. Photo from Van Beek’s.

I was thinking about how convoluted and expensive healthcare is these days. It wasn’t always like that.

When I grew up in a rural town in Washington state, I don’t remember people worried about their healthcare. People could pay out of pocket to see their doctor or dentist.

My dad was one of about four dentists in town. We would get unexpected gifts for payment for a filling or root canal. Once a patient drove his pickup truck to our house and unloaded a cord of firewood. Other times, we’d get fresh lamb, veggies or eggs. He also got ridiculously small monthly payments of $2 to $10.

My dad’s office had two dentists and two doctors. The doctors treated our family for free and my dad did the same for the doctors’ families.

I went off to the University of Washington and I went on the school insurance. It was peanuts.

When my husband and I were starting our family, we had excellent insurance. The company my husband was employed by was self-insured. There was a sliding scale for monthly premiums based on income. We could go to any doctor with a small copay. Premiums and deductibles were low. Having babies didn’t bankrupt us.

Today premiums are high. We’re lucky to have insurance through my husband’s employer though, so we are subsidized.

We tried to get a primary care physicians at a well known medical center, the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately they have a three-year waiting list and refused to add us to it. I wonder if they’ve always been like that? Or is it the recent influx of Californians moving into Arizona? Everyone is looking for a doctor.

Finding a doctor who takes new patients and we can get an appointment quickly isn’t easy. Not to mention the costs.

What do you remember about healthcare when you were growing up? Why do you think insurance and costs have changed so much?

13 thoughts on “The good old days of medicine

  1. I remember Dr. Miller in my small Catskill town. I remember that when he passed away, a Dr. Shah came. His daughter was in our class: they were Persian. Unlike with Dr. Miller who knew all about us, we began anew. I remember we rarely went to the doctor and were all very healthy, mostly. With my job, I have a flexcare account as I opt out of medical care with the VA. I was very pleased to order items which were allowed and also surprised at the cost of simple drugstore items like cold tablets, sunscreen, etc. I have a new doctor now through the VA. Unlike the old doctor, I will only see her once a year but I am good with that. I can always make an appointment. I know from reading social media that many in our area have problems finding a doctor.

      • Yes, I think it depends on the facility but Tampa VA is excellent. Now, you have me thinking of my old classmate, Patty, I often wonder what happened to her. She and he sister and her mom were so beautiful and of Iranian descent. It caused quite a stir in the mountains way back then, it was unusual.

  2. House calls. I remember Dr Johannsen a rather pragmatic and sometimes gruff man, coming to the house a few times when I had tonsillitis.

  3. I was very fortunate. My father was career Air Force, and then I was career Army, so for 90% of my adult life, my medical has been covered through the Armed Forces. It was never an issue.

  4. I don’t know anything about the insurance when I was a child but when I was working I always had great insurance and didn’t have to pay for anything but copays. When I got married for a while we had dual insurance and so none of the kids cost us anything, thank goodness. Now we have Kaiser and Medicare which are reasonable.

  5. As I said on another blog, our healthcare system in an expensive, convoluted mess. My friends in Canada are so grateful for there system and don’t understand ours at all. I think when healthcare became Big Business, it changed from patient-focused to profit-driven. I used to hear that the US had the best care worldwide, I no longer hear that. It’s the most expensive and the outcomes don’t reflect the cost. The ACA was a first step but doesn’t go nearly far enough. Your memories of healthcare long ago is similar to mine… I even remember our family doctor making house calls.

  6. My sister and I went through hell trying to secure healthcare for my Mom when she was fighting cancer! And she paid for two different insurances! It’s a flawed system for sure and I have no solutions. How did it get so convoluted? 💕C

    • I’m sorry for your family that you had to go through that with your mother. My daughter told me today about a friend of hers who has anorexia got kicked out of treatment because insurance said she was done!

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