Friends With Benefits

Hello dear reader(s)!

This post is not about fuck buddies.  I am talking about the kind of benefits you might get from a job.  Benefits like good health insurance, 401K, a pension (if they still have those, and won’t sue to get out of them later), short and long-term disability benefits, a large coke, and a side of onion rings.

I remember when I didn’t have any benefits.  I had friends with benefits, that I was very jealous of.  Having no health insurance sucked.  I was always scared something catastrophic would happen if I were to get sick or injured.  I racked up a lot of medical debt during that time, from the non-catastrophic but still emergent things I needed done.

Eventually, I got a job with good benefits.  It came right in time as only about a year later I really started showing signs that I had cancer.  I was extremely fortunate to have had that job and those benefits when I did.  My company self-insured, but used a major insurance company to administer their plan.  It was a great plan, much better than any of the standard plans you see on the exchanges, or even with a good Medicare Advantage plan.

Now class, pay attention, because here is where I propose a plan for healthcare in this nation that might actually be feasible.  Ready?

Start by taking away the exchange and individual insurance markets from the health insurance companies, and give everyone not on a group plan Medicare.  We will not get a Medicare-for-all system as long as these companies are buying our politicians.  Even taking away the individual markets will require some strength on the part of those in power, but it will make those officials hugely popular with their constituents.  In exchange for losing the individual markets to Medicare, they can open their Medicare Supplemental and Medicare Advantage plans to those new Medicare recipients, provided those plans closed the donut-hole for prescriptions.  Some revenue for them would be better than none to them, which is the only other viable alternative.

In the meantime, the insurance companies can continue to insure and administer group plans, but all ACA requirements on plan quality must remain, and the plans must cover at least what Medicare does, for less cost to the employee, so that those plans are not seen as punishment for working.  Health coverage from a job should be an actual benefit.

Medicare should be allowed to then negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and other provider groups to lower healthcare costs.

My proposal would be paid for by lifting the payroll tax cap, a cut to the growth rate of our defense budget, and by folding the VA into the new Medicare system, and selling the facilities and assets to private hospital groups to be privately run, provided they agree to all of Medicare’s rules.  Our veterans will no longer have to wait and be neglected at some sub-standard facility.  Veteran’s Medicare would not have coinsurance but would be administered by Medicare rather than having a separate department and more overhead.

I would attempt to phase out the insurance companies from group plans as well, allowing those companies to reconfigure and find other ways to remain in business, but that would likely be a non-starter until automation has made employment obsolete and most of us are on a universal basic income.

Any representative who wishes to advance this or a similar proposal in order to fix the broken healthcare system in this country is more than welcome to do so, and can take all the credit for it.

The only thing I ask in return is that I have healthcare when I need it.

 

 

 

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For-Profit

Hello dear reader(s)!

Watch any sports lately?  How about a cooking show?  See any commercials?  Were any of them for alcohol?

In a few minutes, I am probably going to have a special (cannabis infused) brownie.  (Tomorrow I have shit to do, or else I might tomorrow too.)  Part of it will be for my chemotherapy-induced neuropathy pain that is acting up.  Part of it will be to help my anxiety that is so strong this month.  Part of it will be to give me the appetite I need to eat dinner tonight.  Part of it will be because it seems to (seems to because I have no actual studies that show causation) keep my blood counts a bit higher than they are when I have not had any in a while.  Part of it will be to try to prevent some of the nightmares I get this month from coming tonight.

But part of it?  Part of it will just be to help me relax a bit.

And yet, on the federal level, this is a crime.  Jeffy-boy and company do not care for it one bit.  That’s fine, they don’t have to have any.  More for us.

Why is this a problem?

Do you know what I have never seen?  I have never seen a person under the influence of marijuana (and only marijuana) hit their spouse.  I have never seen a person under the influence of marijuana start a bar fight.  I have never seen a person under the influence of marijuana think they are invincible and can drive one hundred miles per hour even though they are too drunk to stand.  And most importantly, I have never seen a person turn yellow and die a slow, horrible death from liver failure because of marijuana.

Guess what I’ve seen from people under the influence of legal, advertised alcohol?

I use cannabis for pain.  I use it to help me relax.  I use it for many reasons.  Because of that, I don’t feel like I need many prescription drugs I would have no problems getting legally.  I had a prescription for heavy opioids before I started realizing the full benefits of cannabis.  You will never catch me at a park with a needle in my arm.  You will never catch me with a brown bag over a bottle.  I have something much safer that is so much more effective with fewer side-effects.

I think it is hilarious that the supposed free-market loving Republicans are against legalizing marijuana.   Taking money from the alcohol lobby and the pharmaceutical lobby to keep it illegal in order to protect the inferior products that are marketed and pushed to us like all the processed crappy food was when I was growing up.

And let’s talk about that food.  Remember when people thought butter was horrible, and margarine was the healthy way to go?  Or the “Low Fat” food was a good thing?  Or avocados were bad because they were fatty fruits?

We are living in an age of capitalism out of control.  When the need for more money puts a large number of people, even entire societies at risk, maybe there needs to be a different way.

It’s no secret that I have considered myself a Democratic Socialist long before I knew who Bernie Sanders was.  But as I see the horrible things companies are doing with our food, our medicine, our healthcare, and housing all in the name of profit, I am digging in even more than ever.  I wonder how these fucking pieces of shit sleep at night.  Maybe on all those dangerous drugs they bribe your doctor into prescribing.

I am not anti-medicine.  I do not believe cannabis cures most things.  I do, based on my own experiences and the studies that have been able to be conducted, believe that it treats and can help prevent many things.  And I am certain that it is only being kept illegal at the federal level in order to protect the profits of industries that trade off of inferior substances.

I choose not to participate.  I will do my own research, and I will try what I choose.  And if something works better for me, that’s what I will do.

I will not eat the artificial everything plus preservatives if I can find fresh and real.  I will not take the synthetic, physically addictive, mildly effective, side-effect prone pill if I know my natural medicine would do a better job of treating the condition.

My life is not for the profit of others.

Real Healthcare NOW!

Hello dear reader(s)!

I hate health insurance companies.  So do my doctors.  So do most of the staff I have dealt with, even though I know that without the for-profit middle-men of the insurance companies interfering in health care, many of that staff would not be employed.

The simple fact of the matter, is that health insurance companies make everyone’s health care more expensive, and less effective.

Here is an example, from this morning.

I have a Medicare Advantage plan.   It usually picks up the other 20% Medicare won’t pay, (minus co-pays, deductibles, etc…) and also sets up yearly out-of-pocket maximums which makes it worth it.  It also has a decent drug plan.  However, that means you are subject to networks, and in my case (because it is HMO style), referrals.

So today, I went to an appointment with a PCP (Primary Care Physician, not the drug), in order to…wait for it…get referrals.

You see, for me, with my history, every damn thing I need requires specialists.  A Primary Care Physician simply can’t grasp all of the different pieces of the puzzle that is me.  There are a lot of people like me.

Yet insurance companies work off of what is good for the average patient they are fleecing and know that most people don’t usually need specialists and that they can save more money just be being seen by Primary Care Doctors.

But not me.  And not a lot of other people.  My Primary Care Doctor really has no business being involved in my care.  Yet here I am, taking up an appointment slot, causing a doctor to get paid asking me questions on why I need the specialists I seek when I know damn-well why and could call them myself for the appointments if my insurance would pay.

It is always a fight too.  Despite being part of the same health group of my most recent hospitalization, the initial hospitalization of my first chemotherapy post-diagnosis, and some follow-up care and other hospitalizations, they still have to waste time asking me questions to justify the need.  They finally pull up a bit of records and then they agree, knowing that they have neither the time nor the expertise to treat me.  They bill my insurance company who spreads the costs out in terms of premiums and my insurance company receives money from Medicare.  It was a completely unnecessary visit, but people must get paid.

In addition, my Primary Care Physician always seems to believe they will uncover some truth the specialists will miss or are unrelated to my vast history and will order labs.  (As if the specialists won’t duplicate the same tests when under their care.)  Now I have to go do labs that will then be billed to my insurance company and the government, increasing costs.

The labs will come out abnormal (because it’s me) and the people at the office of the Primary Care Physician will not understand that is my normal and that only a specialist can really properly interpret the numbers.  They will panic and either have me go the ER or come back in for another appointment rather than give me the numbers over the phone or just send them on to the multiple specialists I am already being referred to.  Everyone will get paid.


It’s fucking bullshit.

These fucking death profiteers need to get their grubby-ass hands out of the game altogether.  They are not legitimately insurance, as insurance indemnifies against loss and they just profit while sticking their nose in your treatment.  Their profit margins are so high, as is their overhead, that costs are ridiculous.

Additionally, every hospital and provider group need to hire additional staff in order to deal with these scum which makes the costs of everyone’s healthcare increase.

Then the GOP turns around and blames the sick for everyone’s high costs, not even mentioning the obscene profits of those with their dirty fingers in the pie.  Real insurance, would be able to cover everyone, with lower costs.  Insurance is a pool, everyone pays into.  The money is available for those who need, on the likely scenario that people paying in will not all need it, but it is there just in case.  When people dip into that pool for insane profits and lavish lifestyles, it makes it seem as though that pool is not big enough even though without the unchecked greed and extra costs, it absolutely would be.

Canada does healthcare great.  Is it perfect?  Nothing is.  But the biggest complaints I hear about Canadian healthcare is the wait for elective procedures.   Our wait is growing here too, and we aren’t covering everyone.

Add to that George W. Bush’s gift to big pharma that Medicare won’t even negotiate for drug prices as a block, and it is no wonder people (not just the poor) are losing everything when a health issue arises.

Despite popular belief, a lot of the catastrophic health issues that arise have nothing to do with lifestyle.


My Medicare Advantage plan is better than Medicare alone.  Am I glad I have it?  No.  Because in most places I wouldn’t need it.  It costs money for the premiums and my income is already severely limited.

A lot of people do not like the politicians in this country.  I am one of them.  Just because vast amounts of money are thrown at someone, doesn’t mean they need to take it and let it influence them.  But a lot of people seem to miss that there are people behind the politicians trying and succeeding at buying their influence.  They claim healthcare is so expensive but throw vast sums of money at people who are supposed to represent you in order to influence policy in a way that brings them the highest possible profits.


We need single-payer healthcare.  Genuine healthcare that isn’t tied to a company’s stock price.  Until we have it, do not expect anything to get better.


If the people ever rise up, I would hope they remember that it is not just the government who is the threat.

 

 

Invisible

Hello dear reader(s)!

I’m feeling kinda lousy today.  I have felt lousy most days since the end of my trip.  Yesterday, I went to the bank, and had to go inside.  The banker asked me what I did for a living when I asked about a direct deposit, and I told her I was disabled.  She looked at me in a way that I could tell she didn’t believe me, or thought I was “gaming the system”.

I was showered, I was smiling.  I spoke clearly and effectively.  My clothes were clean.  I felt terrible, but it didn’t show.  It was about the only thing I did yesterday.  I got there about four in the afternoon and it took me all day beforehand to work up the strength and energy to leave the house.  In that instant, she knew none of that.

The issues that make up my disability are invisible.  My kidney damage doesn’t cause a limp.  My cataracts only show up when a light is shined in them.  The memory issues that continue to plague me can’t be seen.  My gastrointestinal issues are on the inside.  The fatigue can’t be seen.  My poor immune system and lack of B cells do not show up on the skin.

Yes, on occasion, I can be a functioning human.  I can occasionally exist in the world, sometimes even days at time.  But when I do, I pay a heavy price.  A little activity leads to a lot of downtime.  Being around too many other people is risky.  A cross-country road trip makes me vulnerable to whatever little bugs most people can fight off may be out there.

I took the trash to the curb early this morning, and it just about killed me.  All of the sinus issues were aggravated by the cold early morning air, and I spent the next 15 minutes in a coughing fit gasping for air.  But all of this is rarely seen.

If you see me out in public, I look healthy.  Healthier than a lot of people, actually.  But looks are deceiving.  I am far from healthy.  People see that I have a bit of muscle mass, and that I am not carrying a ton of fat (plenty, but not a ton), and just assume that everything must be okay.  They have no idea what it took just to get through the shower and get dressed and ready to go out in public that day.  They have no idea what the next few days will be like for me because I dared to go to a friend’s house, or the grocery store, or the post office.

The disabled in this country are treated like shit.  Unless you are in a wheelchair with an American flag flying from it and a hat from whatever ship you were once stationed on, nobody even believes you are really disabled.  I paid into Social Security.  It is insurance.  The process is not at all easy and requires actual proof.  I am on Medicare now, and people think it is a damn entitlement.  It isn’t.  It is a fucking insurance policy that I paid into and had to take because I got fucking cancer and the treatment fucked me up.  That’s it.

Disability is looked down upon so much, that almost all Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans act as if only Senior Citizens should get Medicare.  Some of the Medicare Advantage plans in places I have lived even have Senior in their titles.  Almost all include some gym membership called something like Silver Sneakers or some other bullshit that totally ignores the disabled segment of people on their plans.  Then they sell your information to AARP so that they can send you their junk mail with all of the other pieces of unnecessary paper that never needs to be sent.  Yes, fuck you Humana, you inhumane profiteer, pieces of shit.

Then you have fucks like Paul Rand Ryan trying to pit the rest of the country against us.  Trying to privatize Medicare and Social Security because the money we paid in was raided by all of those career politicians to pay for their pet-projects.  They want to tell us what to eat, what medicines we should be taking over the advice of our doctors, and how we should spend our insurance money.

Listen here motherfuckers, if I scrimp and save all month-long, live with a roommate, and don’t buy a ton of other expensive shit in order to do it, if I go out to dinner and order a steak with my insurance money, that’s none of your fucking business.

I am not the reason your taxes are high.  Your taxes are high because you elect fuckers who give welfare to corporations.  Your taxes are high because the US has to have bases all over the motherfucking globe to protects its “interests”.  Your taxes are high because your gigantic military is basically a publicly subsided private security firm for international corporations.  Your taxes are high because payroll taxes are capped at $127,200.  Not because of my insurance.

The issues that make up my disability are invisible.  I, however, am not.  The other disabled people, are not.  As much as you might like them to be, we are not going to be.  We will fight for the respect and treatment that we deserve, whenever we are able.

 

MyThursdayPost

Sandalwood remained in the air for days after she was last in his arms, only serving to make it even harder for him to think about anything else.  He was doing his best to distract himself from his thoughts of her, but was failing miserably.  Despite his miserable failure at self-distraction, he was far from miserable.

He was ecstatic to be missing someone so greatly.  He knew she would return to him.  The emptiness he felt in his arms was just a side effect of the anticipation and excitement he felt for the next time they were together.  And the time after.  And the time after that.  He started to look at the things he knew were upcoming, and to imagine her there by his side.

Their chemistry was incredible, but there was so much more than that.  She was a friend.  She understood him, and he understood her.  They matched each other or complimented each other in every matter of importance they had so far come across.  They had their own unique take on things that didn’t conflict with the perspectives they individually held so dear.

So yeah, I can’t wait to see her again.

Anyway, my appointment yesterday sucked.  I basically paid $40 for another referral.  Good thing I got referred to him, and not the people he referred me to.  So ridiculous.  My records were already there.  He already knew he wanted to refer me to other doctors (a good idea), but why not call me and cancel the appointment first, and set up the referral?  So he could bill my insurance, and get my co-pay, that’s why.

I have a terrible stomach ache.  It is better than yesterday and the night before, but it still hurts.  I’m sure whoever I end up talking to about it will refer me to another specialist who might refer me to a different specialist who will do nothing.  I’m so motherfucking sick of the healthcare system in this country, and Trump hasn’t even gotten his grubby, tiny hands on it yet.

On a related note, I wanted to say goodbye to all of you, since the likelihood of all life on Earth ending increases exponentially starting tomorrow.  I will likely say goodbye on all my posts, just in case.

I’m about to reschedule my therapy appointment.  I had to cancel due to the last time the roads were too icy, and delayed reschedule until after the ice storm that never came.  The extended forecast looks good, so I think I will try again.  I could really stand to get some things off my chest, like this shirt, because it is party time!

I got laundry done today, so that was nice.  I wasn’t supposed to be in town today, but something happened that required postponement of the plans I had made.  It is a good thing, not what happened, but that my plans were postponed, since I am feeling kinda cruddy and needed the rest.

Then I penned this letter to my family…

Dear family,

We have just returned from a trip into a few blocks away in Missouri where we got big amounts of everything to eat and everything we eat is so good to me as I had been starved out so long on protein powder, all that we got while we were here besieging Independence.  Over there we got sweet potato fries, chickens, molasses, and Peach Nehi.  How I do wish I could be at home now, for it is getting late in the afternoon and the General says that we shall attack at Dawn.  This makes me sad, as Dawn always seemed rather nice, and is a good dish soap.  The enemy still holds their positions in Independence, and we have now returned from our trip and taken the high ground above them near a car lot.  You must excuse this letter as I have written in great haste.  The General wants me to wear my assless chaps to her tent again, and be there in 5 minutes.  My love to you and all, except for Amy, because she’s a bitch.  Write when you can, and make it a long letter, because I’m anxious to hear from you.  Oh, and send money.  

Ellis Albert Swearengen (Just kidding, C-NT!)  

Anyway, yeah, today is a nice rest day.  I hope you are all well.  I miss you.  Say hi to Margaret and the kids.  Tell them that their father asked me to look after them because he didn’t make it back from Independence, but I declined, because they are rotten bastards!

 

 

 

GPS Works

If you aren’t stupid.

Hello dear reader(s)!

I’m in the waiting room of my new oncologist.   Finally.

I have a new phone, which has working turn-by-turn GPS directions.  Which would be great, if I would’ve entered the correct destination.   Instead I went a good 25 miles out of my way and ended up being about 20 minutes late.  Fortunately, they’re running behind too.

Wish me appointment luck.  Hope you’re all well.

Double check those destinations.