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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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.