A woman walks in the middle lane on a busy city street

Moonlight in morning, stars, and cloudless. Thank goodness. Besides, it was just above freezing. Midday, though retreated back to overcast gloom, yielding at last to clear skies in the evening. Cold all day in the 40 F degrees.

Much work on the chair, basically dismantling it. Arlene continued with painting the now spare bedroom, formerly the study. She needed more paint, and I had to run around a bit to find it, since the pandemic has prodded everyone to spruce up their places of isolation and work-from-home. The Roxboro Lowes ran out of the base paint for the dark blue paint, and I had to run to Durham, which luckily had it.

On the way to Durham on Highway 501 I once again passed the large round oak tree that sits proudly between the north- and south-bound lanes of the highway. I am convinced that there is a story that tree could tell. It appears to have been intentionally spared destruction during the road-building – or rather during the time when the road was changed from a two-lane to a four-lane highway. That was not that long ago, since I can recall some of the work, I think, in the 1980s. The old tree is massive, and it’s even quite impressive in winter, when the season has stripped its leaves.

Highway lanes with tree

I trekked to Walgreens after going to the Durham Lowes for paint (my Roxboro Lowes ran out of the base for the mix and didn’t expect any until Wednesday at the earliest). One thing that I’ve long taken for granted has been employer-centered health insurance, and Duke’s options have been good. They’re also easy to renew – essentially you just sign up and payment takes place every month as an automatic withdrawal. But retirement means that you’re no longer an employee, so benefits of employment stop. This should not be a disaster, and indeed it should not be so much of a hiccup for continuity of coverage. But the details are the messy part. Even though I do have health insurance through Medicare (and have for over a year), my “Part B” and my insurance supplement from Duke this year have met with bureaucratic hesitations. I’m covered, but I don’t have the insurance cards yet.

That lack of paper (or maybe it’s plastic now) became the issue when I went to pick up a prescription. “Do you have a change of insurance?” the lady at the drive-through window asked. I knew then that there was some problem, and I didn’t have any new cards to show. I decided to forego the prescription, and dig out the bureaucratic mess later. The generic medication was 25 times more expensive than usual as a “list price.” When I got home, a letter from the Social Security Administration was waiting. My new Medicare card will appear in a couple of weeks. I’ll go without the pills until the card arrives. A very minor adjustment, actually, since I have no chronic problem requiring persistent meds. But, still, I sense this kind of adjustment should be effortless and routine in a modern first-world nation.

“Medicare For All” has a certain appeal, doesn’t it, even though it’s a slogan. I’ve had privileges that have come with my job, and one of those has been continuity of health insurance coverage. I still have that coverage, supposedly, but the vast health administrative mechanisms have to go through their motions. Perhaps we need to simplify, and make the whole shebang single-payer. Cut out the for-profit companies that process the intricacies and medical kabuki theater that a complex system requires. I know plenty of Duke docs who would smile on that change!

The “featured image” on this page I took en route to Durham. The woman I believe was walking to Bojangles, perhaps to start her shift of work.