TRH Helps Navigate Health-Care Reform Confusion

February 15, 2011

By Anthony Kimbrough

Thank goodness our organization’s president was standing in the office lobby and quickly greeted me, or I might simply have just slumped down in the corner, pulled into the fetal position and sobbed. But with Farm Bureau President Lacy Upchurch distracting me with conversation, I was able to remain composed as my oldest and, as of that very morning, 16-year-old daughter dropped me off at the front doors and for the first time ever drove away by herself.

By the time I reached my third-floor office, the diminutive blonde in the little blue car had disappeared down the hill and out of sight. An anxious 13 minutes later, at 9:02 a.m., her Daddy received this text, still preserved today on my phone: I got here. Love you. :) And at that point I was able to concentrate once again on the day’s work.

I know, I know … I’m not the first parent who’s stood at that particular threshold of life, but this was my daughter. It was just that I thought this day would come later for me, especially since there was a real hope – with her having the Kimbrough genes and all – she would not be able to even reach the pedals and steering wheel. Unfortunately, the modern-day convenience of adjustable everything took away that hope.

So as McKayla drove off to school that day, it also struck me that this teenage passage represents far less one-on-one time for Daddy to spend with his daughter. All those hurried-but-special journeys to practice and back are gone – ‘Daddy, remember, I can drive myself now. You can stay home.’ (Back to that fetal position again.)

And finally, I found myself confronting head-on – and there’s no airbag for this collision – one of life’s most challenging fears: fear of the unknown. Would McKayla even get to school safely that morning, not to mention all the mornings to come? Dad or Mom won’t be there, either to help avert an accident or simply to comfort their little girl if one occurs.

But okay, enough, you say. Quit your whining. So I will (and pray a lot). After all, we all deal with this and various unknowns every hour, every day. And doing what I do, working in the health-insurance industry, I have seen individuals and companies alike over the past year struggle through the unknowns of health-care reform. After passage last March of a massive federal health-care reform law, everyone has tried to put the pieces together and understand the implications. One segment of our population especially concerned about any changes is senior citizens, that group that has already navigated the travails of teen driving. Now they are trying to best determine how to navigate our health-care system.

Through TRH Health Plans, the health-care arm of the Tennessee Farm Bureau, more than 56,000 seniors have a Medicare Supplement plan to help fill the gaps in their Medicare coverage. They, along with 12 million baby boomers who will turn 65 this year, no doubt have wondered about all the ‘unknowns’ associated with health-care reform. I wish we could put their minds at ease, even while they know that $500 billion is to be cut from the Medicare program to help finance health-care reform. At least for supplement holders, we do remind them that most of that money, we are told, will come from changes in Medicare Advantage plans.

The truth, as best we can tell, is that Medicare Supplement plans, which we’ve provided Farm Bureau members since supplements were first offered, are the products least affected by the health-care overhaul.

No, we can’t erase the fear associated with the unknown. But we can remind our members, those with Medicare Supplement plans today, and those who will soon find their way to a Farm Bureau office to inquire about one, that we intend to be here for a long time. We hope it’s a simple but comforting message – kind of like a text from daughter to father that says, I got here. Love you. :)

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