Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Reality - Older Women

Women often earned less than men doing the same job. We are less likely to have private pensions and when we do have them, our pensions are smaller because they are tied to our earnings stream and because of time outs caring for our families. Without Social Security most women over 65 would live in poverty. We face higher poverty rates than men the older we get. Because of horrific budget cuts in a weakened economy we have lost protections in nursing homes and elsewhere—even in our own homes.

Health care is now unaffordable for many boomers. Doctors sometimes refuse the Medicare of older seniors because reimbursements are so inadequate. Some seniors have to choose between eating and taking their medications. Yet insurance companies spend millions of dollars trying to insure the healthy, avoid the sick and deny payment for claims. Every year pharmaceutical companies take more than $350 billion for drugs that cost a small fraction of that sum to produce.

If you resonate with any of these issues, please join us. Join OWL.

Thank you,

Diane Latko
Oakland California

OWL is Important

Two weeks ago I met three women who reminded me why OWL is so important. Each of the meetings was independent of the other. The first was a long time friend who had retired but announced that she was looking for work. When I asked why, she said that her adult son had become ill and she needed more money to help him out. I nodded knowing I would do the same in those circumstances. Once a mother, always a mother. The second woman was single and she had just received a pink slip, obviously worried about how she would manage if she couldn’t work – wondering who would hire a 60 year old woman in a recession. The third woman was disabled, in her 50s, and had lost her home to foreclosure. She couldn’t work even if someone was hiring (which they aren’t).

None of these women were complaining but they each had a drawn face and a worried look. I could feel their concern on the verge of panic and I thought to myself, there but for fortune I go also.

We each know stories of people who are suffering in this economy and of those who were suffering before the economy took a dive. It is for these women and others like them that OWL advocates for universal health care and against age and gender discrimination. It is for these women that we fight for a safety net that will protect people with dignity when a disabling illness takes their ability to make a living. And it is for these women that we demand that Congress pass protections against banks and investment companies from ruining our economy.

Ellen A. Bruce
President Emerita

Health Care Conversation with a Friend

From my uninsured blog:

An E-mail Conversation with a Friend

I heard from a friend I’ll call Rosemary. She is now 58, has two kids, was a single mother much of her life, and had a pretty good job (one that had health care benefits…) up until three or four years ago. Then she was laid off, was unemployed for a year or more, and then found another job, but without healthcare. Here is our e-mail exchange:

R: My regular doctor, who has turned into a jerk, fired me as his patient because I can't afford to pay $125 to visit him and then pay for blood work and such. He said I refuse (REFUSE??) to follow his instructions so I can no longer go to him or his cohorts.
I have been taking blood pressure medication and anti-depressants for about 10 years and I just need to get the rx renewed by someone as my old doctor won't do it.
Any ideas?

Me: I asked for a referral from Physicians for Social Responsibility and got a Dr. X. When I was uninsured he charged me what Medicare would have paid which was $60. Use my name, I just visited him and he will remember me most likely.

My old doctor in Yuba City turned into a jerk as well. First she didn't want to see me at all (doctors can refuse to see people who are uninsured, and many do), and then charged me $125, even though she accepted $87 when I was insured. And after the prescription ran out she insisted that I drive to Yuba City for another visit at $125. I originally got my prescriptions from Canada but then found a great deal at Costco, 3 months for $17, and it had been over $100 per month. Check with Costco re your meds, you can go to their website to check. And good luck!

Can I put your story on my uninsured blog? ( and go to Margie's uninsured blog.) How long till 65 (Medicare)?

R: you can put my story anywhere you want. I get my rx's from Target and pay $16 a month for both so I'm ok there. I looked on line to see if I could get my blood pressure meds from maybe Canada but I needed an rx. That's the same I need in the US!
will be 58 in 12 days.

Next note from R: I called Sutter this morning and got an approval as a charity case. Lord, I was never a charity case before but I don't care what they call it, I get to see a doctor.

This last comment unexpectedly shook me to the core. Then I remembered something from years ago. I was unemployed, I was broke, and I had depression and bad toothaches. I went to the Social Services department to apply for MediCal and it was one of the most depressing and humiliating experiences of my life. I could picture that awful waiting room and the condescension on the faces of everyone I talked to. There was no compassion, no reassurance, no reflection of their humanity or mine. I think I made up my mind then that I would literally rather die than ever be a charity case again. I was wrong, and though I still bleed for my friend, I am glad that she got help. She is a valuable, lovely person and she deserves good healthcare. And so do I.

In the course of this year’s Congressional town halls, I heard both Congressman Lungren and McClintock respond to seriously distressed constituents with family members in serious medical trouble that they could “ask for charity.” Eric Cantor suggested to a woman with a 40 year old female relative with stomach tumors and no insurance that “there are charitable organizations who do provide charity care.”

1&playnext_from=PL&index=23 ) And Senator Tom Coburn had a similar response. ( Is this a Republican talking point or just a coincidence? Do they even have any idea of what asking for charity means to people?

I also believe there are many more people in the 40 or 50 plus demographics who are disproportionally affected by this recession and our awful healthcare non-system. We are too young for Medicare, we are often laid off first, we experience age discrimination when we look for jobs, and many of us are overwhelmed with full time jobs, childcare and caring for aging parents. This cohort is probably less likely to demonstrate or otherwise make our voices heard. In many cases, we simply don’t have the time or energy.

--Margie Metzler, OWL California Member