Somehow, the last week has just sped by.
We are letting a couple of friends stay in Mom’s old apartment, and one of them is going through some health issues. He is a general contractor by trade, but can’t really work at the moment because he needs a total hip replacement and until that is done, he’s in a lot of pain and really needs to stay in a place without a lot of stairs.
It works for us, because we found looking at Mom’s empty apartment incredibly sad, and I know she would like the idea of someone getting use out of it. Eventually, our friends will help us to fix up the apartment on the first floor so that that is livable as well. That’s not something we could afford to do on our own, so it’s a good deal for us all.
One of the problems that our friend, R, has, is that although he does speak enough French for conversation and work, medical and administrative French is a different kettle of fish. So we’ve also taken him under our wing to help with getting him situated with those things.
Thus, my week was taken up with medical visits. It’s interesting to see how the system works, especially when you are not the patient!
As with the U.S. And the UK, if you were self-employed and can’t work, you are pretty much screwed for collecting unemployment unless you had a special, private, disability insurance. Unfortunately, because the economic crisis in 2009 hit the construction industry hard, R had to declare bankruptcy in 2010 and, of course, cancelled his private insurance at the same time.
But, unlike in the U.S., this doesn’t mean no health care. In fact, all of his medical bills are being covered 100% by Social Security. He does not have to worry about dying in pain in the street or becoming homeless. Also, he is eligible for a small (and it is small) aid from the State that pays for food, and, if he wasn’t staying with us rent-free, he would also be able to get assistance to pay his rent. And, since there is always risk that results of a major operation won’t be what one hoped for, we were able to file forms for disability, which will take four to six months to be reviewed. Dawg willing, he will be fully recovered by then and won’t need more aid, but better to foresee all eventualities.
Not having to worry about things like that makes a difficult situation far more bearable. Sure, he has to go through the surgery and recovery, but at least he does it knowing that there will be no bills to pay afterward, and that once he is better, he can go back to working and creating a better life for himself, rather than spending the rest of his days burdened by a debt he will never be able to pay.
He has a surgery date for the beginning of December, to give him time to get various things taken care of, like all dental work. Hip replacements are VERY sensitive to bacterial infection, and active gum disease is a no-no. Poor R is terrified of dentists and hasn’t been to see one for ten years. This is very, very bad,and I think his upcoming dental care scares him way more than the hip surgery. Again, that will be covered by Social Security, so the only worry is pain, not bills.
Once the surgery is over, he’ll be able to come back to the apartment and, if he needs health aides, home health care workers will come to him, also covered by Social Security.
So, while nothing is ever perfect, this is certainly a far more humane system, and everyone, rich or poor, is entitled to health care when they need it. What a concept.
Ciao for now.