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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Time To Rise

Hello dear reader(s)!

It is time to stop crawling.  It is time to stop bowing to the hate that has invaded our lives.  It is time to rise against the forces that threaten us.  It is time to fight back.

A desire for peace has for too long been interpreted as weakness or an unwillingness to fight.   Appealing to reason has been seen as appeasement.  We have attempted to work with those who oppose us despite their unwillingness to do the same.

We’ve played within the rules of a game that is rigged against us.

As we have seen, it is a game that we can not win.

This isn’t about voting, or the electoral college, or the popular vote, or anything else related to this particular election.  This is about those who have forced us to choose between two of the most hated candidates to ever run for office.  This is about those who have forced us to watch as our government is sold to the highest bidder.  This is about those who have a responsibility to report the news and the truth yet sit by and let people lie to us for their ratings.

So how do we fight them?

We can start by identifying our opponents.

It isn’t Trump, or Trump supporters.  I don’t like them, I hate Trump, but he isn’t the problem here.

As irresponsible as their votes for a racist misogynist are, I am sure most of them actually aren’t racist misogynists.  They were simply desperate, and misled.  Say what you will about them, but voting for Trump seemed the most likely way to vote outside the system.  Of course, they are finding out their candidate is anything but outside the system as he starts to fill positions with the insiders he promised to clean out.  We knew this would happen, but in their desperation I am certain they didn’t want to see it.  I would love to hate them, but if they are truly so desperate, I can’t.  I can only be mad at their unwillingness to stand up for the rights of all people instead of simply believing a conman who played on their fear and desperation.

So, who are the people who truly deserve our wrath?

  • “News” outlets  Specifically television news.
  • Lobbyists  These people have to register, it is easy to find out who they are.
  • “Defense” contractors  The real welfare recipients
  • Incumbent Congressmen  
  • The two major parties  
  • Political Action Committees
  • The greediest of corporate America  The other real welfare recipients

I think you don’t have to be to the left, or to the right to know that these groups have taken our country and turned it to serve them, instead of serving our country.

So, now that you have identified them, how do you fight back?

Well, I prefer nonviolent action.  I believe that violence should only be used as a last resort, in any situation.  The consequences are far too severe for me personally.

You could boycott these companies.  You could write to Congress and actually track their votes, letting them know that if they continue to work for those they are not Constitutionally supposed to represent, that they will not hold office for long, and then work to actually make good on that promise.  You can vote for third parties from the ground up, so the parties can actually be built into genuine forces.  You can come up with your own ideas, on how to fight these people in a peaceful way.

Protesting in the streets isn’t dong any good.  Complaining about the system isn’t doing any good.  Calling out people on social media isn’t doing any good.  Our voices have been heard for too long.  They are heard, and ignored because the money keeps coming.  The time for raising our voices is over.  It is time to rise in action.

Let’s rise up and fight a peaceful revolution, before things get so bad that someone sparks a violent one.

What ideas do you have for peaceful revolution?  Please leave them in the comment, or write your own post and paste the link.  Let’s make this a guide.

Punished For Cash

Hello dear reader(s)!

Yesterday, I went to kick off the birthday fun with going to court!  (True story.)  It was actually in order to get a letter saying I do not owe property tax for my vehicle so I could get it registered in this state.  I thought it should have been easy, but I was wrong.  Because when I got there, I was met by an extremely rude lady who informed me that they needed the title of my vehicle (I had), and one of the following four document choices with an out of state address for the past two years:

  1. Bank statements with physical address
  2. Utility Bill with service at address
  3. Lease Agreement or Mortgage Payment Statement
  4. Credit Card Statement

Now, here are the corresponding problems:

  1. No bank account
  2. Utilities were never in my name
  3. No formal lease
  4. No credit cards

So how in the hell am I supposed to do this?  I am sick and tired of needing to be part of commercial systems in order do things that should be legally available to residents of a certain place.  Why am I being punished by possible not being able to legally drive my vehicle because I don’t want credit cards and hate banks?

Anyway, that was annoying.  But then, I did have fun on my birthday.  I played air hockey, mini golf, skee-ball, and cards against humanity.  I had yummy soft tacos for dinner and my traditional birthday pumpkin pie for dessert.  I got great gifts and spent time with great people, and it was a great birthday.  I found a very nice little small town in my travels, which I am very excited to explore later.  I had a lot of friends send me good wishes, including many of you dear reader(s)!

Anyway, now I have to figure out what to do in order to get my car registered.

What all are you up to today?

Poor People Tips

Hello dear reader(s)!

As regular reader(s) of this here blog-type-thing may or may not be aware, I am unable to work due to my many ongoing and annoying AF health issues.  Living off of disability can be quite the struggle and leads to abject poverty.  (I have been longing for the chance to use abject in one of my posts, and there it is.)  Hopefully we can get rid of the immediate issues and come up with a plan to end this purgatory, but until then, I will just have to live in this sea of abject abjectness.

As such, I have, with the help of the outstanding research team here at MyFridayBlog™ (me), come up with exclusive never before seen strategies to make your half-dollar go further than you ever could have possibly imagined unless you have imagined sending your half-dollar to space or something odd like that in which case, bravo.  You win, okay?  We get it, you sent your half-dollar further.  What do you want, a medal?  It is bad enough you could afford to send your half-dollar to space, now you want to rub it in?  Kick a man when he is down and living in abject poverty?

Nevertheless, out of pure generosity, I have decided to offer my exclusive poor people tips to you.  You can use these tips to either save your half-dollar or make it go further.  I ask that you only use these tips if you are poor.  This is the honor system, which likely means plenty of the richest people are going to use these tips as those people have no honor.  For the rest of you, please, do not use these tips and ruin it for those of us living in the abjectness.

So it is with pleasure and happiness, and a side of thriftiness that I present to you my exclusive tips for those of us currently suffering from the poor, in all its abjectness.

  • Do Not Eat Ramen.  Well, not processed Ramen, anyway.  Yes, Ramen packets are cheap, but they are loaded with sodium and will just make you hungrier later.  In addition, the money saved will eventually need to be quadrupled and then spent on a trip to the emergency room.
  • Date Someone Who Does Not Always Expect You To Pay.  Going Dutch is one of the best contributions the Dutch have made to the world.  Forget their contributions in cartography, art, multinational corporations, democratic socialism, cocoa powder, etc… Going Dutch on a date is the best thing ever when you are poor.  Also, equality.
  • Make you own food as much as possible.  You pay a lot for the service of someone else making your food for you.  If you are capable, make your own damn food most of the time.  You will probably make it better anyway, unless it is something fancy, or you are out on a Dutch date.  Also, health.
  • Follow the law.  If you are poor, a fine can ruin your life.  You might even end up in prison as debtor’s jail becomes increasingly common as municipalities seek to fund keep their funding on fines and lousy financing.  Then when you can’t pay, you go to jail, which costs them more money, they try to bill you for.  Then when you can’t pay for that, you go back.  Rinse and repeat.  Also, laws.
  • Use a network re-seller for your cell service.  Wayyyy cheaper.  Same networks.  No contracts.  No supporting the stupid ad campaigns of the terrible major mobile companies.  Also, fuck you AT&T girl.  Fuck you, Ricky Gervais.  Fuck you, um…T Mobile person??  Fuck you, does Sprint still exist?
  • If you live in a major city, attempt to utilize public transportation as much as possible.  If you are living in as much abject poverty as those of us who live in that abject poverty and its abjectness, you may even qualify for discounted rates for the transportation that is public.  Also, environment.  Also, parking.  Also, that idiot in the Audi who likes to run that stop sign near you and almost hit your Beastess.  Also, gas.  Also, traffic.
  • Be a roommate.  Because there is no way possible those of us in abject poverty could live on our own,  no matter now “affordable” they claim the slums that have miles long waiting lists to be.  Be sure to date someone who has their own place, or find a roommate who is gone often.  Also, two people usually don’t use twice the utilities.  Also, shared Netflix, HBO Go, etc…
  • Remember your abject poverty is not as abject as some people’s abject poverty.  Remembering to be thankful for the things you do have, and to remember that even though you have little, some have much less or none at all, will help you to save money by not engaging in retail therapy.  Also, regular therapy is expensive.  Also, antidepressants are expensive.
  • Use protection.  Babies are expensive.  And annoying.  Even if you are likely incapable of having children, use protection anyway.  Treating sexually transmitted diseases is expensive.  And likely annoying.  Like children.  Children are sexually transmitted diseases.  Also, yes, even your children.
  • Do not bet on Arsenal to win the Premiere League, or for the Houston Rockets to make it out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.  Because Arsenal is mathematically eliminated, and because Houston just does not want to win at all if the 2nd half of today’s game is any indication.

So there you have it, my tips for those of us who are poor.  Any tips to save money or make your your money go further?  Feel free to leave them in the comments.  Free of charge.

 

From The Horses Mouth – Why GOP Economics Are Bad For All

Hello dear reader(s)!

“Oh, God, not another political opinion from Josh!”

No, my dear reader(s), the video I am sharing with you today is from a billionaire (with a B) named Nick Hanauer.  That’s right, I share an economic opinion with a billionaire.  (Didn’t think that was possible, did you?)  The fact of the matter is that GOP policies and trickle down economics are so bad, they aren’t just bad for the poor, or the middle class…but as Nick will explain, they are also bad for business and the economy as a whole.

Please enjoy this enlightening and entertaining video, from a billionaire.

What To Do?

Hello dear reader(s)!

I apologize for my lack of recent posts, one day I was sick, then I felt better, and then yesterday I had planned to post, but things didn’t go according to plan.  I got something I had been waiting, on, and decided to get the other things I had been needing and waiting on with it.  The first thing I was waiting on was my tax refund (which is now gone), and the next things were things like clothes that fit or without holes, toiletries, curtains for the back windows, and a full tank of gas.  All things I would have needed out of my regular income, however, so at least we spent responsibly.  Oh yeah, and there was a case of cat food thrown in there, because our cats eat better than we do.

Okay, so I wake up a little late after a great night’s sleep and feeling lousy for a day and a half before.  Hannah, on the other hand (Get off, it’s numb!), did not sleep well and got up at 4 am.

So around 9 I get out of bed (having been awake since 8:30, but still trying for more), and come out to the living room to the sound of I love Lucy and Hannah half-sitting, half-lying on the couch.  We talk for a bit about what we are going to do, and she decides to make me coffee (even though she is tired and I am more than capable), and I glance at my phone and see that I have a text alert from my tax prep company that my refund has been loaded!  Yes!

I decide we are going to get all the things we have been saying, “When we have the refund, we can get_____.”  The problem is that there wasn’t enough money to get all those things because stuff can be more expensive than you believe.  Especially basic stuff like razors, new trimmers (since my last ones fell in the toilet), a couple of pairs of shorts, a full tank of gas, curtains for the back windows, cat food, windshield wipers, a door mat, potato peeler, towels, a prescription, etc…

Let me tell you a little something about knit boxers.  I like knit boxers.  That is what I wear.  My knit boxers are falling apart, (quite literally).  As you may have seen in previous photographs, I do not have the abs of Marky Mark.  In fact, most Americans do not have the abs of Marky Mark.  Do you know what happens when someone without the abs of Marky Mark tries to wear boxer briefs?  They look like a beached whale.  It is ridiculous looking and uncomfortable.  The only time I could pull off boxer briefs was when I was sick and down to 140 without being swollen.  And even then, I thought they were uncomfortable.  So I’m a knit boxer type of guy.  If I wanted restrictive underwear, I’d be a girl and buy Spanx.

“Big deal, Josh.  Just buy some knit boxers then,” you scoff.

NO!  I can’t.  Do you think I would reveal my underwear preference to you if there wasn’t some reason to bring it up?  Nowhere sells knit boxers anymore.  Wal-Mart didn’t have any.  Ross didn’t have any.  That cheap store next to Ross that seems to be primarily a Fruit of the Loom or Haynes outlet didn’t have any.  I searched all over the place!  So many stores, no knit boxers.  Do more people than I first realized have the abs of Marky Mark?  Or are most people deluded enough to think they do?

Anyway, Hannah wasn’t feeling great and was anxious, but I want to go spend all this money before they decide for some unknown reason to take it away.  (Not that I think they will, or have cause to, because they don’t; it’s just with how long it took to show up, better safe than sorry.)  So I convince her to at least go to the Mall of Warts with me.  (Wal-Mart).  So we go and get a bunch of stuff we have been needing.  (And not one fun thing we just wanted.  I still want a bike.  IF I can ride one.)

She has an anxiety attack, but is able to fight through.  After that, she is too exhausted to go anywhere else, so I drop her off and head out to the grocery store to get my prescription.  Which still isn’t ready.  I went earlier in the day after Hannah had called it in, they tried to run the wrong strength, so it was too early to fill, I corrected it, and they said 10 minutes.  So I left and went to Big Lots.

At Big Lots, I strolled around and got a potato peeler, because it was $1.75 and I waste half the veggies when I use a knife instead of a peeler.  I also splurged on a $10 Mandolin (not the musical instrument) which I will admit was more of a want than a need, but it was $10.  I also splurged and got a $10 FM transmitter to plug into my phone so I can listen to my music on a blank radio station since I have good speakers connected to an old broken tape deck in the Beastess.  That was my luxury shopping.

Then I head back over to the pharmacy/grocery store and they are closed for lunch.  So I leave and go to Ross for my underwear search, and to pick up a couple of pairs of shorts.  (That was on my list, they were needed.)  So I get my shorts and look for the fabled knit boxers and they have none.  Hit the store next door and they must have had 3000 packages of boxer briefs, but as said before…no knit boxers.  Then I head BACK to the pharmacy and pick up my prescription and come home…stopping for gas somewhere during that whole trip.

I go online and pick up the cat food and the knit boxers, and just like that, my refund is gone.

Oh well, we needed the stuff and it would have taken months of struggling BAD to get it anyway.  Now the question I have for today is, when you have a full tank of gas, but next to no money, there is a biker convention in your town you want to avoid, as well as the roads to nearby places you’d want to go, and you can’t stay out in the sun very long, or be around too many people, what do you do hotshot, what do you do?