Health Insurance Re-dux

The French system works in an interesting way. Every one is covered by Social Security. How much you pay is determined by your income and is re-evaluated on an annual basis. There is a base figure and if you make more than that, you pay premiums of 8% on your income above that base figure. If you make below the base figure, you pay nothing.

Social security pays 70% of the cost of most medical stuff, unless you have a chronic condition, and in that case everything to do with that condition is paid for 100%. For the difference in what SS covers and what you are charged, most people get a supplemental policy. You can choose various options for that covering more dental and eye care, and a higher level of coverage for specialists who charge a bit more, etc.

If your income is REALLY low, you get supplemental coverage free of charge as part of your SS.  For the last 3 years JM and I have had that coverage, even though we never really felt we deserved it. It’s really meant for those who are really poor, and although we don’t make much money, I don’t really think we count as poor. After all, we own our own home and we have savings. But SS wasn’t really set up to take that kind of thing into account.

This year they changed the way the determine who is qualified for free supplemental coverage so that things like property, savings accounts, etc., ARE taken into consideration, so we no longer qualify. Again, we don’t really mind, but it did mean that we needed to do something quickly, because the supplemental coverage we have runs out next Tuesday.

So, we went to the company we had previously used. We had kept an extra small policy with them to pay for private rooms in case of hospitalization, so we’re already considered clients. Basically, we went in, decided which level of coverage we wanted and that was it. No medical questionnaire, no worries about them taking us because of past history, etc. Premiums are totally based on our age and that’s it. Our coverage automatically starts on Tuesday.

We took the policy that pays for the most dental coverage, etc. For the two of us it’s around 1600 euros a year.  We were paying around 1100 dollars a month for less coverage than that when we left L.A.

All-in-all, I think it’s a pretty good deal!

Ciao for now.


We survived!

The dreaded fair left on Sunday evening and we all managed to survive, more or less. Frankly, given the rather hideous weather that prevailed most of the weekend, I can’t imagine that any of the carnies made much money.

Mom was really and truly miserable with the ride in front of her house. It blocked whatever light there was, but the worst was the horrible music interrupted every 15 minutes or so by a horn blowing “La Cucaracha!” Even Mom, who hates to complain, was complaining by Saturday night.

Still, it is time to move on. We’re safe until 2012, which is the next time it will be setting up on our side of the village. I hope to be able to negotiate to not have something quite so invasive in front of her house.

JM and I escaped on Sunday to go to the Fete du Pain in the village of Routiers in the Razes. That was an interesting experiment ins seeing what other villages do. First we realized that it’s a lot easier to get to Chalabre than some of the other villages. That mostly has to do with road size. The roads near Routier are a little wider than a tractor, which made for some interesting encounters while going there and back. Giant RVs do NOT make for friendly fellow travelers on roads of that size. There were a couple of times when I was worried that Beanie would wind up in a ditch as we moved over to the side to make room.

Routier is very attractive, but it is perched on a hill. I was so glad that we had not brought Mom with us, because I truly don’t believe she would have been able to make it from the parking lot up into the main town. I would imagine that long term residents there have very strong legs and lungs!

The event was quite well attended and we were lucky that we arrived during a portion of the afternoon where there was some sunshine. It was really not a great weekend for festivities, unfortunately. Still, it was nice to get out for a bit. I’m afraid that we didn’t really see much though, because it was very crowded and difficult to walk around. I guess we weren’t the only ones craving a bit of sunshine and fresh air.

And, that craving for sunshine remains only semi-fulfilled right now. Generally, after the weekend of Ascension, the weather turns warm and sunny. We had a beautiful day yesterday, but it hasn’t lasted. Today has been overcast, cool and windy with only brief periods of sun. I do hope we’re not going to have a summer like the one a couple of years ago where most of June and July were cold and rainy.

Please feel free, when it is broiling hot in July, to remind me of this as I sit here complaining about being too hot and wishing for the cooler days of fall!

Ciao for now.


It’s that time of year again

This is the weekend of the village fair; generally most of us don’t particularly care for it, to be honest. And a lot of people we know actually leave the village until it’s over. All the traveling carny rides come in and set up on two out of the four main streets. It alternates between the sides of the village so that one side isn’t always stuck with it. This year it’s on our side.
On Tuesday, when I took Mom to the foot doctor she told me that “someone” had come by to tell her they were setting up something in front of her house. I was really annoyed because she hadn’t called me to come over to talk to them and she INSISTED that she had understood what they were doing.
Well, NOT! Yesterday afternoon the ride showed up and it is MASSIVE. They started to set it up so that she couldn’t even open her door wide enough to get outside! Luckily, JM argued with them and made them move it a couple of feet. However, once they set it all up, she STILL can barely get out of the house because the stairs of the house next door totally block there being a clear path.  On top of that, the stupid ride blocks the entire front of her house so it’s like she’s living inside a dungeon with no light coming inside at all.
The carnies who set it up lied and said the mayor had approved it; but JM called the mayor and he did no such thing. To be honest, if there is an emergency, I don’t think an ambulance could even get a guerney inside to help her.
I’m outraged. I wonder if any of the people who run these rides have elderly parents that they have to care for? I went out to take some pictures and I heard them making nasty comments about me. But the hell with them; I have to worry about my mother not their damned ride.
Ciao for now.
The anti-fair curmudgeon!

Chalabre Wall of Weird

This is May and we should really be thinking of all those flowers brought on by April showers. But we didn’t have showers in April, we had glorious sunshine and temperatures in the 80s F (upper 20s C). It was so wonderful that I didn’t listen to the counsel of various neighbors and I planted five tomato plants in Weasel’s Wort, a garden belonging to some friends who are kindly letting us use it while they are in Mordor.

Now, many of my neighbors warned me not to, but about half of those I polled were also planting early. Weren’t we silly? Last Tuesday (May 4th) we had a SNOWSTORM!!! Yes, in the month of May. And, it was so heavy and unexpected, accompanied by high winds, etc., that there were massive power blackouts all over the place. We wound up without power for eight hours, which is a bit of a bummer when your cooking and heating are all dependent on electricity.

An Unusual Sight for Spring

We had closed up our fireplace for the summer the week before and kept thinking, “Well, the power is bound to come back soon,” so we didn’t feel like opening it up again. (We close it off with a kind of door, otherwise wasps are attracted to the cool inside the chimney, then follow the light down into the house; not nice.)

So, there we sat, waiting. Luckily I DID buy a small, gas camping stove after hurricane Klaus in January of 2009, so I was able to make myself the all important instant coffee I needed to keep me alive until power was restored. I was going to try cooking eggs on it, but it’s so hard to do anything in the semi-dark that we decided to stick with eating cold stuff. Once again I wondered if it would be worth it for us to buy a generator, but for now I don’t think so.

The joke is that at around 3:30 the power flickered on, something that is often a sign that all power is about to come back. In this case, that was not true and the power remained off for a further four hours.

It was not only humans who were thrown out of kilter by this unexpected turn of events. The swallows were wheeling around in the sky and screeching. I’m sure they hadn’t the slightest idea of what to do, poor things. Then, when we walked the dogs, we ran across someone’s goose which had escaped into the gardens. Peaches and Shmoo were ready to bring home goose dinner, but we managed to hold them back.

To top things off, the rivers were going wild. I have seen them high before, but the Hers was about as high as it’s been since we moved here; at one point I would say it was about two feet from the top of the bank. Normally, it’s about 20 feet from the river to the bank, so you can see that was impressive.

But wait, there’s more!  On Sunday, before the snow, we came across another bit of weirdness to equal the strange hot air micro climate that we had just before Christmas. We saw our very own, mini CROP CIRCLE!!!

Our mini-crop circle

No real answer to this one as far as I can tell. I can’t see anyone having done it for any reason I can figure out. Was it another little micro-climage glitch? I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

At any rate, the weather remained unpleasant for most of the week, although we did have a bit of sun and warmer temperatures for part of Friday and Saturday. Astonishingly, my tomatoes seem to have survived the trauma, and this week is Ascencion, which should mean that we finally get into the real weather of late spring and early summer. Of course, it also means it will be the weekend of the village fair, but that is another post for another day.
Ciao for now.