Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare’

I haven’t ranted in quite a while so I guess I’m overdue.  My spleen cup overfloweth and thus I must vent.  I signed up for health insurance through the online marketplace (yes, I mean Obamacare, but technically it’s called the ACA….but you can also call it Romneycare mainly because it tickles the shit out of me that it was a Republican idea to begin with and they have been calling it the “Eeek!  Soshulizm!” plan).  But I digress.

I signed up the first year it was available for myself and my son.  For a year I paid our Healthnet insurance premium every month.  I don’t qualify for a subsidy to help pay for it.   In addition to the monthly premiums I paid full price for everything.  This included my prescriptions that I HAVE to have and the medical care for when I totaled my car, which included an ambulance ride that cost more than the fucking ER bill and full price for the crutches that are gathering dust in a closet as we speak.  Welcome to the Middle Class in America where you have enough to live in Suburbia and not receive any help from anyone ever but you’re always one disaster away from homelessness.

I got married in late October 2014 and the plan was for me to go on my husband’s health insurance and that I continue to buy my son’s plan through the Marketplace.  My husband, though I love him dearly, has one massive flaw.  He is a procrastinator of the worst kind. Since I also do this (but nowhere near to the same degree) it can cause problems.  But I didn’t procrastinate this time.  I bugged the ever livin bejeebers out of my husband to get the form, fill it out and take it in to work.  Well, he didn’t get it done until late Nov or early Dec.  AFTER the 30 day window.  The 30 day window we knew nothing about.  To say that I wanted to strangle him would be an understatement.

By December 2014 I said to myself, “Self, why am I paying Healthnet money?”  Then I received a letter saying that the shitty plan I had was going away and that I would have to pay Healthnet even more money for a worse plan.  The only other equivalent plan through the marketplace was also with Healthnet and it would cost $100 more per month AND they raised the annual individual deductible from $3,500 to $10,000.  If I didn’t meet the deductible the year before with ALL my son’s and my out of pocket expenses, I estimated that I  would have to get terminal cancer to meet the new deductible.

So I said “Self, let’s not do this any more”.  I cancelled my health insurance and prayed that nothing would happen to me before my husband’s employer has open enrollment in the Fall of 2015 and I kept the Healthnet plan for my son.  I called Healthnet up in December to set this all up. They made it VERY difficult to keep my son on his own plan.  Apparently the concept of insuring a child without an adult on the plan is hard for their very tiny brains to process.  They also made me wait until open enrollment for the Marketplace which was in January.

The communication between Healthnet and the Marketplace sucked balls.  Neither side really knew where the other stood.  They Marketplace kept telling Healthnet that I was on the plan even though I repeatedly corrected this with both parties.  I had to use the 800 number to communicate with the Marketplace, which took many hours to accomplish, because it wouldn’t let me log in for over a month, so I couldn’t even review my plan’s set up or other choices online even if I wanted to.   While I was doing this open enrollment thing I started getting letters from Healthnet that they were terminating our coverage for non-payment.

I called them up, explained to them again that I was not paying because I had cancelled my plan and I had been paying for my son who I was currently trying to enroll in a new plan.  February came along and it seemed to get straightened out for my son but not for me.  I was still getting letters that my plan had been cancelled from lack of payment.  I gave up telling them that I had cancelled with them back in December.  Clearly they had a problem and I had only so much energy for outrage.  Nevertheless, my son was taken care of.  He had the new plan–even received his card in the mail.

Then on March 1st, unbeknownst to me, they cancelled my son’s health insurance for lack of payment.  Except I had paid for February and I had until March 31st to pay for March before they could legally cancel his plan.  I didn’t even know anything was going on until they sent me an invoice in late March demanding payment.  Why?  If you’ve already cancelled it, why ask for money?  Well, ultimately I’m glad that I got the notice and I immediately paid for March and April online.  So, as of that point I was totally caught up.

Well Healthnet took my money and never updated my son’s eligibility.    Apparently the Billing Department is in East Timbuktu and the troglodytes there only speak Swahili and the Eligibility Department is on the moon and the miscreants there only communicate via clicks and glottal stops.    I was given further proof of their complete inability to internally communicate on even the most basic level a couple of days ago.  I got another letter saying that my son’s coverage had been cancelled for lack of payment.

So I called them.  Here is how the conversation went:

Me: “Why have you cancelled my son’s plan?”

Lady: “Oh we cancelled it on March 1st.”

Me:  “Yes, I have a letter in my angry, clenched hands here that says exactly that.  Why was it cancelled then when I had the entire month of March to pay and I had already paid for the month before?”

Lady: “I don’t know. I do see the payment for February”

Me:  “Good.  Do you see that I made a payment which covers March and April?”

Lady: “Yes, in the amount of $—-.”

Me:  “So I’m paid up to date?”

Lady:  “Yes”

Me:  “So my four year old son is without healthcare coverage because ‘you don’t know’.  Do you have any idea how frightening that feeling is for a mother?  If something were to happen to him, you know and I know that the quality of the care that he receives is directly proportional to how much I and his healthcare plan, which he no longer has, can pay.”

Lady:  “M’am, I don’t know why they cancelled it. Please hold.”

Me:  [silently fuming]

Lady:  “I’ve sent an urgent notice to the Eligibility Department to re-instate him today.”

Me:  “Okay, thank you.  Can you have them call me once it’s done.”

Lady:  “They don’t call customers.  They will mail you a letter.”

(Guess the clicks and glottal stops don’t translate well over the phone)

Me:  “No, that would take too long and who knows what could happen in the meantime.  I want to know right away.  Can they email me?”

Lady:  “Maybe, I will ask them to email you. But it will either be a letter in the mail or email.”

Then this was followed by my thank you’s and her have a nice days–all that polite bullshit we say but don’t mean in any way shape or form.  Who knows what will happen now.  I’m betting I’ll get another termination letter before the end of the month, even though the bill for May has yet to arrive.    Fuckers.

Some quickies for you:

  • Dinesh D’Souza, asshat extraordinaire, is a big whiny child.  Those evil prosecutors are doing their job and trying to put him in prison.  How dare they?!  He’ll get probation and we’ll probably still have to see his idiocy on Bill Maher.
  • Conservatives are freaking out because the President saluted with a coffee cup in his hand.  I would rather have a latte in the middle of my salute than a Scottish Terrier.  And never mind about the real problems this country has because the paranoid, desperate, white, male base eats up this shit up.
  • Can I just say how much I admire Gabby Giffords?  She is absolutely amazing to have come back from that horrible tragedy in Tucson AND launch a PAC to fight against NRA extremism.  What’s even better?  It’s working.
  • If I hear one more liberal complain that the President isn’t liberal enough, is ineffectual and that Congress sucks, I’m going to go nuclear and remind them that it’s probably because they didn’t vote in the f*%!ing 2010 mid-terms.  Here’s just one very good example of how that has hurt and will continue to hurt us for years to come.
  • How effed up is that Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, gave a speech to the U.N. on feminism and as a result was threatened with sexual violence and having nude photos of her posted online. This kind of terrorizing online is getting worse, not better.  I don’t know the solution but I really feel for any woman who is harrassed and terrorized because she speaks her mind on the Intertoobs.
  • Love the fact that big tech companies are divesting themselves of ALEC.  If you don’t know who they are, they’re what’s wrong with America.  A group of corporate representatives and conservatives who draft “model” legislation that they then push using vast resources in multiple states.  Their laws which include gems like SB1070, Stand your Ground,  Voter ID, and many more are nightmares and they’re making headway in many state legislatures because people aren’t paying attention to what’s happening on the state level. They’re too busy hating the President (see “Coffeegate” above and Congress (lowest approval ratings ever) on the national level and worrying about things that aren’t immediate threats (Ebola, Isis, etc).
  • And speaking of ISIS, don’t you just love that we’ve gone to war and there was absolutely no debate in Congress?!  They’d rather have yet another vote on appealing Obamacare.  Never mind that the rising cost of healthcare has actually slowed down as a direct result of the law, which was one of the main points of it in the first damn place.  Who needs facts….right?

I’d better stop while I’m ahead.  Methinks I’m getting my mojo for political blogging back and it’s about damn time!

The following news stories actually make me not only wonder if our species will survive for much longer but also if we deserve to survive our own stupidity and neglect.

  • The City of Detroit found 11,000 rape kits that were abandoned and never tested.  After testing less than 7% of them they identified 100 serial rapists and 10 convicted rapists.  So if that pattern holds and they test the rest of them, they can expect to discover several hundred more of these scumbag.  ht mistermix at Balloon Juice
  • The AZ legislature is pushing a bill that would allow people to carry guns into building even if it’s forbidden (if they don’t have lockers available you can ignore the ban).  They’ve also advanced the idea that some gun owners can carry even if there are lockers and ban.  And to make it truly impossible for local governments to forbid guns in their government buildings, they’ve approved and forwarded a bill that says any local government who enforces local ordinance over state law can be fined.  This is like the trifecta of stupid.  They’re begging for someone to go into government buildings and commit mass murder.  I certainly will be avoiding those buildings like the plague if this crap passes.  ht JM Ashby at Bob Cesca
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, back when he was a prosecutor, let a child slaver off easy so that he could take down a political rival.
  • Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, told a woman that having cancer was her own fault for not forgiving her abusive father.  Okaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy
  • A new law went into effect in Michigan that says businesses and individuals who purchase private insurance must take out a separate rider to cover abortion care.  Essentially, if a woman needs an abortion for ANY reason and if she doesn’t have  a separate rider for it, she will have to pay out of pocket for the cost of that care.  So if I lived there, had a miscarriage and needed a D&C to shorten the process  and suffering so I could get back on my feet sooner, I would have to pay completely out of pocket for it.  Likewise for women who have become pregnant as a result of incest and rape.  That’s insane.  The real kicker is that there is not a single private insurance provider in the marketplace that provides this insurance.  This could not only bankrupt women and their families, it in effect nullifies Roe v. Wade, and will force women to seek out cheaper and more dangerous care for such things.  I hope the women in Michigan enjoy being second class citizens because it looks like the state is on target to vote the same politicians who’ve created these laws back into office.
  • Billionaires in the 1% are getting their panties in a twist and crying lots of salty tears because the rest of us are tired of having the economy manipulated while they gamble with our money and take what little wealth Americans have managed to accumulate over the last few decades.  The 99% have had the temerity to exercise their Freedom of Speech and the Right to Vote in more progressive candidates.  However, so far as I know there have been no lynch mobs or guillotine lines nor any proposed by anyone of significance in any “likely to happen” fashion.  The 99% are simply using the peaceful system of governance and the wonderful mechanisms given to us by the Founding Fathers.  However, reading some of the recent comments by the 1% (here’s a few examples here and here) might make one think that we are in the midst of a communist peasant uprising (or fascist style takeover depending on which historical example they erroneously choose).  Truth is, if we were in such a state, their heads would already be on pikes.  In reality nothing is happening to them and that’s the stupid thing.  We should be curtailing their almost godlike power over our economy and our elected officials. Their message gets broadcast loud and clear.  We hear about their perspective 24/7 on Fox News, read their whining on major websites and news sources (in addition to reading about their phenomenally ignorant take on history), and suffer under the vagaries of the worldwide economy which they essentially control.  As Jon Stewart said the other day, they make money regardless of how the economy fares.  So why should they give a crap about us? They don’t and the majority of Americans haven’t yet grasped this fact and what it will mean for this country, and indeed the world, in the long run.  Until Americans decide to stand up and pull up our pants, they’ll be back there having their way with us and complaining that its hard, nay dangerous, to be a billionaire.

“To be ill adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown.”
― Jeanette Winterson

A news report out of Mississippi indicates that they’ve discovered a mass grave with thousands of bodies when trying to build a new parking garage.  That’s how we treated the mentally ill not that long ago.  We’ve stopped warehousing them and ignoring them until they died alone and end up in unmarked graves.  I mean, we still ignore them, just right under our noses.  Until, of course, we can’t ignore them any more.  When their illness explodes into our public awareness through horrendous tragedy.  Now we either keep them at home until they totally lose it hurting innocents and others (see Loughner, Lanza, Holmes, etc, etc, etc) or keep them in “the system” in a round robin of jail/prison, streets and shelters, back to jail, etc, etc, etc.  We can do better.  We should do better.

One of the most nightmarish books I ever read was Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale”.  Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing incremental steps toward that nightmare in reality occurring across this country in recent years.  Well, Michigan just took a leap toward such a dystopia by proposing to ban abortion coverage in private health insurance plans and forcing women to purchase a separate rider.  And it has a good chance of becoming law.  It has become law.

I’m so flabbergasted that I’m speechless.

  • 99% of the time I don’t believe in deities, however ironic little news stories like this make me thankful to any god or goddess that might have brought it to my attention.

    Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of cocaine and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation. [snip] As a member of Congress, Radel has co-sponsored legislation to change the nation’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws and voted for a bill that called for states to drug test people who receive food stamps.

    PS: Drug testing people on welfare finds few positives, contributes to state deficits and does no one any good.

  • Yet another sad tale illustrative of the horrible state of affairs for Mental Health treatment in the U.S.

    State Senator R. Creigh Deeds, a leading Virginia political figure who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009, was stabbed repeatedly on Tuesday at his home during an altercation with his son, who then apparently took his own life, the authorities said. [snip] On Monday, state mental health officials unsuccessfully sought to find a bed in a hospital psychiatric ward for Gus Deeds, who had undergone an evaluation…

    PS: All those junk insurance plans getting dropped by health insurance companies in the U.S. did not cover Mental Health services as mandated by Obamacare. Making treatment available at the same rate as physical illnesses is the right first step to fix our Mental Health system.

  • If you are Pro-Choice then you may have noticed that since the Pro-Life movement had failed to force their religious beliefs on the rest of us via Federal measures, they’ve resorted to trying to do it at the state level with some success.  Well, now they are also trying it out at the City level with a measure that would ban abortions after week 20.  Fortunately the voters of Albuquerque rejected the measure.  So the fight goes on, just a little closer to home now.
  • 37 states settled a lawsuit with Google for privacy violations and the amount to be split amongst the states is $17 million.  Arizona’s share will be $355,000.  Now let’s see how long it takes for this money to line some crony’s pocket.
  • The weather in Phoenix is FINALLY starting to cool down.  We’ve reached the mid to upper 70’s this week which is about average.  The weather has been crazy…we would hit the 90’s and then plummet into the 70’s.  On Nov. 12th we got up to 92, which is 15 degrees above average.  While everyone in cold dark places is dreaming of being in 90 degree weather, I’m exactly the opposite.  Oh what I wouldn’t give to be able to wear a sweater!
  • The City of Phoenix received a perfect score on the inclusiveness of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in city government.  That makes Phoenix one of only 25 in the nation to receive a perfect score from The Human Rights Campaign.  It’s nice to know I’m not always correct when I say there has been no progress in Arizona–we’re doing it, just teeny-tiny step at a time.
  • Our infamous Sheriff Joe was the subject of “Roast” last weekend for Charity.  I’m sure they went pretty easy on him as good ‘ol Joe has pretty thin skin.  Here’s some jokes that liberals everywhere WISH had been used.  From what I heard via a radio interview on 97.9 KUPD the organizers asked one of the best roast hosts in the business, Jeffrey Ross, and he turned the gig down.  Can you blame him?

While the news is all up in arms about the fact that many middle class families will have to change health insurance companies and might have to pay more for it, there is very little noise being made about the fact that SNAP (aka, food stamps) funds are being cut effective this Friday.

There are 49 million Americans, 21 million of whom are children, who are “food insecure” and receive Food Stamps.  These are often families with a parent or parents working full-time jobs and/or multiple jobs in order to keep their heads above water and they STILL don’t make enough to adequately feed their families.  We interact with these people every day of our lives.   They work their asses off at McDonald’s, behind the deli counter at your supermarket, and they watch your kids at the daycare center.  They aren’t sitting on street corners begging for food.  They smile at us, exchange pleasantries and do their best to provide good customer service. Then they go home at night and forgo the asthma inhaler they desperately need and skip eating dinner so their kids can have a little more food. They are the working poor.

The cuts are significant.   Starting this Friday (just in time for the Holidays) a family of three will be getting 16 meals less a month–that’s about a week’s worth of food.  Could you cut back 16 meals a month?  How little food can you live off of and still maintain a pleasant demeanor while you clean up some other person’s kid’s vomit over at “Tutor Time” or serve up a family-sized bucket of chicken to some fat middle class jerk who probably voted for the Congressman who cut your food stamps?

Congressman Paul Ryan, who is sure to be a 2016 Presidential candidate, said just a few months ago that Republicans need to “do more listening to people who are in the trenches fighting poverty”.  Except that he didn’t listen to them during committee hearings on this budget issue and he and his party aren’t listening to them now.  The public isn’t seeing or listening to the plight of the working and hungry poor either because all they are seeing on TV and reading online are stories about middle class families and their tribulations.  The woes of having to choose among a variety of health care plans, or having the new Toyota recalled, or having to eat healthier as we age.  How about some stories on people who don’t get to eat?  How loud do the working poor have to be to get attention?  How long can they work so hard and eat so little before they just decide they’ve had enough?  How many more millions of hungry people will it take before this country wakes up?  Food pantry’s across the country are already saying there is no way they can make up the meal shortages.

It’s basically immoral to let hard working people and their innocent children go hungry.  It’s also impractical.  For every $1 of taxpayer money invested in food stamps the economy gets $1.70 into it on the other end.  That’s a damn good investment.  It’s long past time for us to stop punishing the poor as if they’ve done something wrong and time to invest in our fellow citizens.  Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.