We must consider several silver linings coming from Corona Virus:
- It is offering us all time to slow down, study, reflect and reconnect with ourselves and family
- We are learning that Jewish weddings and other life-cycle celebrations can be intimate and small without requiring extravagant expense and large crowds. Can you imagine how much easier financial life will be on Jewish families if this trend continues after Corona?
- The stigma of home schooling is broken. Schools and families have finally realized that, for some children, but not all, on-line learning is possible and even optimal. If you have a child who is a typical learner, perhaps traditional learning models are best. But, why would parents shell out fortunes on an education that barely meets their child’s need anyhow? An atypical learner, gifted or challenged, may be acting out and getting thrown out of class all the time and learning nothing but to hate learning. Can you imagine what would happen if 10 parents got together and formed a learning cooperative? Assuming each parent pays $10,000 in tuition that gives them 100K at their disposal. They can spend some of the money on hiring tutors who will work with clusters of children, some of the money on the available excellent on line school programs, some on educational and social outings, and pocket the rest! Parents can also contribute to the collective by teaching classes within their skills set. I think you get the idea. For some children and some parents this could be revolutionary.
- We begin to see what rules and regulations are bogus bureaucracy and which are real. Consider that until now insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid did not allow tele-therapy except for psychiatry. Why? In fact it is a violation of the Mental Health Parity Law which requires that mental health be treated in the same manner of coverage as medical service. The secret reason is that Medicaid and Medicare “knew” that all the home bound and others would end up using mental health services much more, costing the government a fortune. Similarly, NJ, one of the most bureaucratic states when it comes to licensing, did not allow reciprocity. Meaning a licensed practitioner in many professions from another state, could not automatically be admitted into NJ. To make matters worse, the NJ licensing bureau is known for often not answering the phone or returning emails. However, in a matter of days, literally, tele-mental-health counseling is being allowed in many states, and lo and behold, NJ is fast tracking “temporary” license reciprocity. Now, the only question is, why is this only temporary? Let’s hope once the cat is out of the bag, the momentum and the realization that these regulations are nonsense to begin with will allow the intelligent leadership to do the right thing going forward.
- In NYS, copays and deductibles are being waived for mental health services. Again, a possible violation of Parity Law. Some copays for therapy are so high (such as $50 or more) it makes therapy almost unaffordable. Another similar concern is that many of the insurance reimbursements are so low, that there are few practitioners out there who accept insurance. The insurance companies have these giant panels, officially, but in one study, someone tried calling a dozen of them. Half of them didn’t even pick up the phone or return calls, and the other half had several month waiting lists. Fake news. Even though it is illegal, many providers will “officially” have hours during midday for in-network clients, and see private pay on weeknights, weekends and other prime time spots. This is just a natural effect from the insurance low-balling on payments. Maybe this will change matters as well.
- On a different front, some families are enjoying praying together in the same room, as an entire family. This is not usually an experience that Orthodox persons typically do as they will pray with a minyan, separated by gender.
- I am hearing rumors that some rabbis may be allowing elderly and isolated people to connect to their family sedarim by Zoom being left on before Yom Tov. It makes sense as whether it is an issue of kvod Haberiyos or even mental anguish, there can be opportunity for thinking differently about electronics that do not use glowing heat or coils such as old-fashioned light bulbs. Some consider electronics as something less than rabbinic and more under the idea of kvod Shabbos. We already see in many neighborhoods elderly using gramma scooters to go to shul on Shabbos. Leaving Zoom on before Shabbos shouldn't be worse than a gramma, in theory. In any case, these are unusual times.
- Many people are enjoying a slower pace of life, not having to keep up with the Jones's
- And lastly, though this is anecdotal, some persons who have been shut in and isolated due to depression or agoraphobia are oddly feeling comforted, in sync, and more in their element as family members join them.
Corona virus is a disrupter on a world-wide scale. It will change many things and have lasting effects. What are the changes you would like to keep way after Corona?
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