Hair Care for All

When you turn 65 and go on Medicare, you get one last physical examination. After that, it’s yearly “wellness checks.” Wellness checks still include lab work, and to my untrained eye very much resemble physicals, minus the turn-your-head-and-cough and the old thumb up the butt. Which you’d still get if you thought something was wrong and asked the doctor to do it.

Anyhow, it’s time for my checkup, which included a visit to the lab this morning. I fasted overnight, then rode the motorcycle to my doctor’s office, where a nurse took my temperature at the door and asked a few screening questions (“are you now, or have you or anyone you know ever been, a communist … er, coronavirus victim?”). Once they let me in, I reported to the lab, where they drew blood (not without difficulty: I had a trainee who failed to find a vein in my right arm but eventually located one in my left after probing around inside with the needle). That was it for today. Next week I’ll see my actual doctor. So yeah, pretty much an annual physical, no matter what it’s called.

As a retired military person, I could get all my care through the VA, but I’m happy doing it the way most retirees do: seeing a civilian physician for primary care and getting referrals as needed for specialized care. Medicare takes care of almost everything; Tricare for Life, the insurance plan for retired military personnel and their spouses, takes up the slack. I wish we had better dental coverage, but in general I think we have good and very affordable health care. We pay for it, of course: Medicare through payroll taxes, annual and quite reasonable payments for Tricare for Life and our dental plan.

What I’m getting at is this: Donna and I could easily say “we’ve got ours” and decide not to care about health care for everyone else. But we don’t, because that would make us Republicans. With adjustments to the payroll tax (mostly increasing it for people with annual incomes over 200K), Medicare could be expanded to cover everyone 55 years of age and older; federally-guaranteed health insurance plans could be made available to all workers and their families regardless of age, a beefed-up version of Obamacare. Still short of the goal of universal medical coverage, but a step toward it. The national health care systems in other developed countries didn’t spring up out of the ground fully developed; they are the result of evolutionary processes like the one I’m describing here.

Of course Trump and the Republicans in Congress would oppose any of this. They remain dedicated to eliminating Obamacare and even worse, to eliminating the payroll tax, a quick backdoor way to kill both Medicare and Social Security. My nefarious scheme depends entirely on a blue sweep in November: winning the presidency, keeping the House, and taking the Senate. Of course Democrats, once in power, would have to get their shit together in a hurry to get something done before the next election, when Republicans will inevitably start creeping back in, and far too many Democratic congresspeople are on the health insurance industry payroll.

But hey, a fellow can dream, can’t he?


Arizona experienced a big surge in coronavirus infections and deaths in July. I cancelled a haircut appointment because of it, and as a result had ten weeks’ worth of hair on my head and down over my ears before yesterday’s return to the barbershop.

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You may think I don’t look all that shaggy in the first photo (that’s what Donna says she thinks, anyway), but I felt shaggy and couldn’t stand it. The second photo is the real me, and I’m back!

© 2020, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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