The Doctor Will See You Now?

With the passing of the health care reform bill this past week, it seemed like the appropriate time to figure out exactly what this legislation means.  I’ll admit, I didn’t do such a good job paying attention to the debates, the previous bills, etc. There’s only so much a person can accomplish in a day!  However, as an uninsured, though very employed, American, I wanted to find out; will this legislation help me, an uninsured twenty-something, gain insurance?

To find out the answer to this pressing question, I inundated myself with information. I read countless articles in reliable and not so reliable newspapers, I watched the local news and PBS Newshour, read any blog post I could find on the matter, found quick synopses that summed up the bill into a very readable list, and I even tried to read the health care bill itself.

Through all the information I took in last week, I found the answer to my question.  Given my present situation, no, this legislation will not help me gain insurance, meaning I will still have to pay $175 to see a doctor for 15 minutes.  It’s hard to celebrate the triumph of health care reform when I am not directly impacted. I fear that people who are deserving of health insurance will still not receive what they need.

That being said, I still support expanding health care coverage, but my major concern is that expanding coverage does not have anything to do with the quality of health care rendered to patients. I believe every American deserves to have access to see the doctor at an affordable price. However, I know that just because a person has insurance does not mean they will necessarily be covered to see a quality doctor.

While living in Massachusetts, I had a couple of friends that were required to buy insurance because of state mandates.  Any resident who did not receive insurance through their employer had to buy basic coverage.   This insurance only covered basic prescriptions, not even doctor visits. Thus, they, too had to pay the overwhelmingly high out-of-pocket costs to see the doctor. 

Unfortunately, I fear this limited coverage promotes a culture of only seeing the doctor when you are sick instead of practicing preventative medicine.  The focus should be on quality care for everyone. We would be saving ourselves some serious money if we focused more on healthy lifestyles as opposed to dealing with health problems after the fact.

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No Valentine? No Problem!

As another Valentine’s Day rolls around, those without Valentines need not worry.  If you are flying solo on February 14th, there is no reason to panic or even give it a second thought.  While everyone else scrambles to order flowers, secure reservations for the local dark bistro, and set the mood lighting at their hotel room, you will have something even better planned: A Valentine’s Day pub crawl.

Last Valentine’s Day, I attended a Valentine’s Day Pub Crawl throughout the streets of downtown Boston.  Singletons and non-singletons alike packed these bars to the brim.  Most places even had lines of people waiting to enter.  This record-breaking turnout made me stop and wonder, are there really that many single people around? How refreshing!  My friend found this organized pub crawl through some social group, but if you’re too lazy to find a pre-organized crawl, you can make your own!

The homemade pub crawl never disappoints.  All you need is to pick a neighborhood of local bars, decide an order and a drink minimum per bar.  If you live on a line of public transportation, try to visit a bar at each stop.  For instance, my pal and I used to do what we called The Red Line Challenge in Boston/Cambridge, MA.  Starting at the Park Street stop off of Boston Common, we headed North towards the end of the line at Alewife, picking one bar per stop.   Usually by the Davis Square stop (just before the end of the line), we had to call it quits due to exhaustion. 

If your route permits, I suggest stopping by a hotel bar. The third stop on our Red Line Challenge was always the Kendall Square’s Marriott bar, Characters, a clean dive bar. With complimentary popcorn, pool tables, a permeating smell of the hotel pool, foreign bartenders, and intriguing hotel guests, our experience at Characters always provided a good story to tell the next day. 

Finally, making t-shirts for your pub crawl is key in building camaraderie amongst pub crawlers and helping you keep track of your route and friends, should you forget.  Even if you’re not single, you should have been expressing your undying devotion all along, not solely on Valentine’s Day.  You have 364 other days to express your love and affection, but the Valentine’s Day Pub Crawl comes but once a year!