From the Editor's keyboard By Lynda Duffy email@example.com Musings, thoughts and ideas from Lynda Duffy, editor of Williams/Grand Canyon News.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
In a poor economy, taking care of our health is more important now than ever
Lynda Duffy Former Editor
A few weeks ago, I broke a tooth ... badly, badly busted this tooth. Luckily, it's in the back of my mouth and didn't hurt. I went to my dentist, who couldn't help me with this one. His staff is awesome and helped me find a specialized doctor immediately.
While I was waiting for staff to refer me to a specialist, we began talking about the economy. I was shocked to learn that fewer are seeking medical services during this rough economy. The reason made sense. Many have lost employment that once provided decent medical and dental insurance. Once the job is gone, the benefits disappear, too. Thus, many are toughing it out medically until the economy improves. Many newly-unemployed have no other choice.
I am fortunate. I still have a job that provides excellent medical insurance. My spouse's job supplies the remainder of my medical benefits, including dental and vision coverage. Still, I cannot help but think of the many folks who do not have that option, especially children and the elderly.
It's been at least 20 years since I have worried about paying medical bills for my family. Yet I've not forgotten how stressful those bills can be when money is tight. When my children were small back in the '80s, we had medical insurance. However, we had to pay a co-pay of $10 per doctor's visit (which seemed huge at the time) and had a $200 annual family deductible to meet. Back then, $200 was a huge amount, too.
My children were sick a lot during the winter months with inner ear infections and inflamed tonsils. We usually did not meet the $200 family deductible until the end of February. Luckily, our family physician understood. I paid him something every week, even if I could spare only $5. I will always be grateful to this physician who accepted what we had and faithfully continued to treat my family, no questions asked.
I'm not sure that there are many ... if any ... such physicians left today that would accept payments as little as $5. I fully understand. Our health care providers have bills to pay, too. They have families to care for, staff to pay, overhead costs, school loans to repay and malpractice insurance. None of this is inexpensive.
Fortunately, there is assistance available for some with no health insurance. We need to keep our eyes and ears open for those opportunities for free or reduced medical care. If you can't take advantage of these opportunities yourself, share them with others that could benefit.
In Williams, women of Coconino County who meet qualifying requirements can receive free breast and cervical cancer screenings through the Well Woman HealthCheck Program offered by North Country HealthCare. The screenings will be offered on April 10 at the Williams Health Care Center, 301 S. Seventh St. To find out if you qualify for free breast and cervical cancer screenings, contact Angela at (928) 213-6104 or 1-800-687-5798, ext. 2373.
It was no April Fools' Day joke for tobacco users yesterday when the new federal tobacco tax increase from 39 cents to $1.01 officially became law. The cost for a pack of cigarettes in Arizona is now $8 a pack. It is unknown yet how many smokers will continue to smoke despite the cost. Some have joked that smoking will be the new status symbolizing wealth. As a smoker, I believe this is untrue. The truly addicted ... rich and poor ... will continue to puff or chew away, regardless of the high cost.
I am one of those addicted to smoking. I will not be purchasing additional cigarettes. I am tired of being taxed, and the government will not see any of my money through this latest increase in tobacco tax. Instead, I will be using another method that has worked for me before. I've quit several times ... once for as long as five years. I know that I can do this again. Plus, it's a no-brainer ... it's a proven fact that quitting smoking reduces medical risks associated with the habit.
For those of you ready to quit or even if you are just thinking about it, the Arizona Smokers' Helpline can help. Visit their Web site at www.ashline.org. There you will find tips on quitting and programs available. The services are free to anyone and no registration is required.
Especially during tough times, it is important to remain strong and healthy. If you are employed, remember it's difficult to maintain high performance levels if you are not feeling well. If you are seeking employment, it's important to present a strong and healthy image to prospective employers. While we cannot control the economy, we must strive to retain control of our health. We must do all that we can to remain healthy. Continue to watch the News for additional free or low cost health screenings. If you know of any free or reduced costs opportunities, please let us know by submitting an article comment below.