Ill Health & Insurance

-Telugu Original by Dr K.Geeta

-English Translation by V.Vijaya Kumar

Surya asked,” What insurance plan have you selected for us?”

“Oops! I forgot that issue!” he bit his lip and said, ” Just I’ll see; it’s more compatible if we see it together.”

I went through the process in two minutes and said, ‘I could not make out anything from it. What are these HMOs and PPOs?’

” Hey, Look Dear! We can’t straight away go to a physician or hospital here in this country(Of course, Surya knows nothing about what happens if went).

We must take some insurance policy. Depending on the type of company we worked for, policies vary. In the PPO plan, the insurance company bears 80% of the hospital Bills and meets the rest of 20%. We can consult Specialists directly by ourselves. We pay less premium in HMOs and some fixed amounts at hospitals. They provide a section-wise payment list in advance. We can consult a physician but not a specialist by ourselves. Physicians attend our case, and they refer to a specialist if necessary.”

“Hadn’t the case been the same in our country? we too hadn’t got specialists….” 

I remarked.

“Umm…true, the thing is we need to pay a premium every month whether we use it or not. Benefits go to insurance companies.”

“They provide a list of Multi-Speciality hospitals connected to these important two insurance procedures. We can opt for anyone. All this is a tremendous mechanization system.

“By the way, what do we need most?” He asked.

I took a calculator and seriously got immersed in what premiums we pay, what probabilities of physician visits, how many times we may have to consult with specialists if consulted, what would be the 20% payment. After a one-hour spree, I came to some conclusions.

“It’s nothing that makes any sense with you, Dear! I go with HMO, and the premium we need to pay is a rather lesser one to fit into our present conditions, and rest is with God.” Surya said.

I muttered, calling him names, “Why then all this messy business with me!”


December to December, the annual insurance plan completes. Surya has again brought the plan proposals for the current year.

“How do you expect for us to consult a specialist straight away hereafter?” Surya excitedly said.

I was just out of my mood, so I said simply, ” How?”

” Because Salary is hiked up, in the revision meeting of today’s it’s learned. Now we can afford a PPO plan like everybody, though we need to pay a bit higher premium for that Health insurance, and then we can access Specialists directly.” 

He raised his voice and shouted at me aloud, thinking that I haven’t been paying attention.

“Oh! You’re crazy; why those shouts? In such a voice!” I said it with a tone of impatience.

” Thanks! Hope now comes to spirits! Have you heard what I just said?” He stared at me.

“Of course…” I said it curtly.

He felt something odd in my expressions; he came close to me and said, ” Sweet, anything wrong with you?

I just broke down. I couldn’t control my tears.

Sobbing, I said, ” What about George…I mean that… George…”

I couldn’t finish it.

George lives on the ground floor in a single-bedroom apartment adjacent to the staircase. He’s 55 to 60.

He spends the whole time basking in the sunshine, turning pages of newspapers lazily in a chair.

He walks on crutches. Something is wrong with his leg, it seems.

That day, while he was struggling to come up by stairs with a food bag in one hand and the crutch, on the other hand, I greeted him and said, “Let me help you.” 

He felt elated and said in a tone of gratitude, “Thanks, Young lady.” 

Alesia, who was watching me upstairs, smiled in appreciation.

“He’s George, He feels racial superiority, Talks with none! It’s fine he talked with you!”  “Of Course… a good Samaritan you’re! Who ignores you ?”

She added, smiling.

Ever Since then, George offered a bar of chocolate, biscuit, or greet to Nidhi when we encountered him on stairs getting down or coming up.

It’s learned that he was staying there for 15 years. Now and then, I conversed with him briefly.

” Throughout my life, I worked as a Security Guard in various companies. Never thought of marriage during my prime age, now I am left alone not having any relationships…” heaving a sigh, he said, 

 ” I followed half of this nation’s priorities, praps…You people go with it early, I suppose.

The leg broke four years ago first when I slipped from the stairs, and then a year and a half ago at the exact location, not recovered!” he added painfully.

I could read his feelings of joy from his disposition that my words are a console to his spirits.

That day, by the time I had accompanied Nidhi from school, I  found a police van, fire extinguisher vehicle, paramedic van at the corner of our lane.

Somebody might have called emergency services; I walked briskly and dashed to the scene.

Police were at George’s front door.

I smelt something wrong; I ran upstairs literally, stopped at the door, I asked the police 

‘What happened? ‘gasping rapidly.

“What’s he to you?” Police doubtfully posed at me.

“Um..m, Nothing like that officer! We live there!” I showed him upwards.

“Sorry, M’am! We can’t give anything about him to others”  He broke the conversation.

“Oh! How blunt these people!” I said to myself and gazed around. Nobody seemed to be peeping out from their safety zones.

“Are these privacies, strict securities, regulations in this country warding the people or excommunicating from his fellow beings?!”

As I couldn’t refrain myself, I hurled the question straight away to a police officer.

Police answered me, watching the anxiety in my face, “We got a call from this guy, luckily on the verge of collapsing”

I felt some urgency and raced up to call Alesia.

Alesia curtly replied, ” You’re a bit stupid not knowing about these etiquettes of this land, Don’t poke our nose into others’ affairs.”

When the police retired from the scene after an hour, I  got ready to go to George but shrank back, reminding Alecia’s words.

My eyes searched around for George the next day. He’s not there.

 He couldn’t be seen the following day too. He’s seen a week later with a  plaster cast on his arm.

“Alas! What happened? Are you okay, now?” looking at his arm, I sorrowfully queried.

“Nothing to worry, a small operation!” He said quietly.

Still, I was wondering, he continued,” That day I fell from the bathtub, I couldn’t manage to escape from the shaving scissors. Skin peeled off from the arm. I tried suturing myself the torn parts…” 

While he was narrating it, I felt something twitch in my stomach.

I was startled listening to him and asked, ” Why don’t you rush to a hospital ?… Not before I finished my words, he said it snappily, ‘I hadn’t insured.” 

He continued, ” I sutured it out well, of course! However, soon my head started reeling within ten minutes, and in no time, I phoned the emergency. Excruciating pain was thumping from the back. It’s hell I felt!” 

I spent a few minutes sharing his sorrows and comforted him, and I came back. Yet the discomfort could not be shed off since evening.

I shared it with Surya wiping my tears, and said,

” Don’t we know without insurance coverage, medical aid is a dream here? Unless there is medical coverage, no commoner could afford the thousands of dollars the hospitals’ charge. Many Georges are unreachable here for the medical aid the government provides as a formality. I have just gone through them online, and they’re 50 million! Though they need qualitative medical aid, as they could not afford high premiums, though paid, they could not endure  the shocking bills, and they seek for own therapy treatments, Alecia told me.” 

” It’s quite disturbing to resolve the worries of others; leave it, Aren’t there plenty of people in our country far away from medical aid?” He said.

“Do we expect such deplorable plight to anyone in our country who needs to suture his own skin? Oh! I’m really in trauma to witness such a miserable condition in a country where everything is likely to be in the hype” I am a bit in a mood of impatience.

I opened the door and walked out to the balcony seeking relief.

The darkness of winter prevailed densely around the sky.

I felt the chill piercing the skin to my bones like the calloused reality of society that is not visible on the surface.



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