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?