Part personal, part political, part observation. I'm not quite a bleeding heart liberal, but I won't hesitate to call people out if deserved.
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If you know anything about me, you know that I believe that every person is entitled to access to decent healthcare. Period. No one should die from lack of healthcare. No one should have to choose between paying their electric bill and getting a prescription filled. Period. Now that we’ve cleared that up, I’ll move … Continue reading So Many Things Wrong with Our Healthcare System…...
If you know anything about me, you know that I believe that every person is entitled to access to decent healthcare. Period. No one should die from lack of healthcare. No one should have to choose between paying their electric bill and getting a prescription filled. Period. Now that we’ve cleared that up, I’ll move on to some specific issues.
First up… insurance companies. It starts with in-network and out-of-network doctors, and it ends with trying to get out of covering things that are needed. With most insurance, a person pays less out of pocket if they see an in-network provider. Which is all well and fine if you have time to determine whether a doctor or lab is in-network. Not so fine if you have a medical emergency. Most people can’t pause in the middle of a heart attack to ask if the ER doctor is a network provider.
Since insurance companies are for-profit companies, they’re trying to spend as little as possible on medical care. Which is why, even though the Affordable Care Act forced insurance companies to cover certain preventive care things, they’ve found ways to still pawn some of those costs off on patients. For example, the ACA mandated that mammograms be fully covered for women. And in all fairness, my yearly mammogram has been covered. However, my yearly mammogram leads to a diagnostic mammogram for closer views and an ultrasound (Yay for dense breasts!). Those are NOT fully covered. I believe my portion of those was about $350 this year.
Which brings me to the next issue. That $350 that I was charged could have been $150 with a different provider. Same tests. Same technology. Why? And it’s not as if most women are going to switch providers between the original mammogram and the more detailed testing, seeing someone new who may not know their full history, or waiting longer to get in as a new patient. “Oh yes, I’m worried that I may have breast cancer, but I need to shop around for a more reasonable price.” No, we go for the quickest path to get answers, even though it may cost more, and that’s a perfectly normal reaction. It’s even more pronounced with more expensive procedures. My first colonoscopy at one of the hospitals here was billed to my insurance in the amount of $8,000. Then my doctor left the area, so I switched to another one, affiliated with an endoscopy center, rather than doing the procedure at a hospital. My insurance was billed about $2,000 total. Same procedure. Even the same medications used. Same quality of care. And yes, I realize that a hospital has a much higher overhead than an endoscopy center, but I don’t think that justified $6,000 more.
My final gripe today is about hospital billing. Hospitals don’t believe in itemized statements. They also don’t believe in waiting for payment. We had an ER visit a few months ago. Literally, we had not even gotten settled into an exam room, when a lady from admissions followed us right in to shake us down for money. She didn’t show us any of her calculations. She didn’t even know what the diagnosis or the result would be. She just tapped around on her laptop, and then said, “That’ll be $280.” I still don’t know how she came up with that number, because I’m pretty sure our ER copay is higher than that. But wait, there’s more! So the ER visit was in early September, I think? It’s now the second half of November. A couple of weeks ago, we got a phone call, saying that if we didn’t pay the balance ($44) immediately, it would go to a collection agency. We didn’t get a statement in the mail. Not one. As it turned out, the hospital emailed the statements. Which went into a spam folder. Neither of us authorized paperless statements. When we finally got to the emailed statement, it said something to the effect of, “We billed your insurance $X. They paid $Y. You owe $Z. Didn’t mention the services provided. Didn’t mention the ultrasound. Didn’t mention the crutches. Just, “Pay this.” And since we’re closing on a house next month, and we don’t want anything messing up our credit, we paid it.
I once said that I think the purpose of insurance and hospitals is just to get you to give up out of frustration and pay them whatever they want. Looks like I was right.
We are a two-cat-pet-family. Yes, that’s a made-up word. Doug and FiFi. We did not name them. They came with names, and they seemed to fit. Both are rescues from animal shelters. Doug is 3 years old, and is usually the most gentle orange tabby you’ll ever see. FiFi is about a year and a … Continue reading I Thought We Adopted Cats. How Did We End Up...
We are a two-cat-pet-family. Yes, that’s a made-up word. Doug and FiFi. We did not name them. They came with names, and they seemed to fit. Both are rescues from animal shelters. Doug is 3 years old, and is usually the most gentle orange tabby you’ll ever see. FiFi is about a year and a half old, and she’s a mixture of tabby and tortoiseshell. We got Doug when he was just over a year old, and we got FiFi as a tiny kitten.
Two cats are better than one, right? They entertain each other, they learn social skills and how to play, and they don’t cause as much trouble for the humans. Ha! That’s what they want you to think. That’s not what actually happens, lol.
I’ve been a little hesitant to share something going on behind the scenes, because I’m still having a little trouble believing that it’s actually happening. We’re under contract to build a house. We’re going to be homeowners again. There are two reasons I didn’t think this would happen – 1) we will have two mortgages, … Continue reading Something as Simple as...
I’ve been a little hesitant to share something going on behind the scenes, because I’m still having a little trouble believing that it’s actually happening. We’re under contract to build a house. We’re going to be homeowners again. There are two reasons I didn’t think this would happen – 1) we will have two mortgages, and 2) I always thought that building a house was something that was out of reach. Buying a previously inhabited house? Sure. But I’ve always viewed building a house as something more exclusive, out of my reach.
Why? A few reasons for that, actually. I didn’t think we could afford it. I have a hard time spending large sums of money. As it is, I can’t think too hard about the selling price of the house, even though, when we did the math, the mortgage payment will be only a little more than our monthly rent. I didn’t expect to spend this much on a house. When we bought our first house, I cringed at that amount, and that was considerably less than the new one.
I grew up poor. Not officially, but we were the definition of the working poor. I didn’t really get it then, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my parents did a pretty good job of making sure we kids didn’t know it. In retrospect, I can see it. We lived in a mobile home. We had cars that were driven until they died. If we went out for dinner, that was a big treat. It’s a credit to my parents that they never really told me, “No, we can’t afford it.” Granted, I didn’t generally ask for something crazy expensive, but they made sure that I could go on field trips, to the movies, etc.
The mobile home part is important. Or trailer. Or manufactured home, if you feel like dressing it up a little. Whatever you want to call it, it looked a lot like this.
I remember that it was 14′ x 70′. That’s 980 square feet. For four people. Three small bedrooms, two even smaller bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. That’s not much space. And I swore I would never live in one again after I moved out. That’s not me being judgmental. That’s me being terrified in so many severe thunderstorms, in a home that had no real attachment to the ground. We lived in Kentucky, which is not actually in Tornado Alley, but the state averages 21 tornadoes per year. Now that I look at that map, my current state averages even more, but that’ll be something I’ll have to sort out later, lol.
Anyway, I have so many memories of being ushered out to the car to get out of there before a storm hit. We usually went to a relative’s house (like actual house with a foundation) or to the local church’s basement to wait it out. There were a few times we had to ride out the storm. If you’ve never felt your home shake, be glad. I’d do just about anything to avoid living in a mobile home again.
So the idea of being able to buy a house and actually SEE that foundation being poured, and see the progress as the house is built, it’s very meaningful to me. It may not mean much to others, but to me, it’s a feeling of gratitude. And the idea that I can pick the cabinets, countertops, and floors? That I can live in a brand new house, with the expectation that things won’t begin immediately malfunctioning? That’s icing on the cake.
It’s not just a house to me.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel within the US. Not as much as some people. Definitely more than others. I’ve visited some major cities, specifically Honolulu, New Orleans, and most recently, Las Vegas. All busy, bustling cities. All filled with tourists. All with lots to do. I enjoyed each of them, but … Continue reading The Dark Side of...
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel within the US. Not as much as some people. Definitely more than others. I’ve visited some major cities, specifically Honolulu, New Orleans, and most recently, Las Vegas.
All busy, bustling cities. All filled with tourists. All with lots to do. I enjoyed each of them, but there were also some very sobering moments, moments that don’t fit the pictures they present for tourists. Vacation hotspots and tourist attractions want you to see the pretty picture, but there’s often more behind the image.
Honolulu is, well, it’s Hawaii. How can you not love just about anything in Hawaii? Honestly, I fell in love with it. Too bad my bank account can’t afford it, lol. It’s beautiful, and I love the ocean. However, Honolulu has a homeless problem. Reports estimate that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 homeless people living on Oahu. There are jokes that if you have to be homeless, Hawaii is a great place to do it, but really, there’s never a good place to be homeless. You’ll see them in the parks. There are tent cities where they congregate. They might be asleep on park benches. Officials try to discourage them from the Waikiki area, because obviously, homeless people tarnish the image of a tropical paradise.
Las Vegas is, by nature, a party city. Lights, shows, gambling, alcohol… yes, it’s fun, but it can be a recipe for disaster, and if you hang around the Las Vegas Strip long enough, you’ll see it. Whether it’s the people who are stumbling down the sidewalk after having way too much to drink, or the stragglers who are sitting at slot machines at 3 am, there’s a sense of desperation for some. We had a direct experience with it when we were there. The first night we were there, there were two people arguing in the hallway of our hotel, outside our room. That one didn’t last long, but two nights later, the people in the room next to ours got into a huge, knock-down-drag-out fight. Yelling, screaming, throwing things, and throwing suitcases and clothes out into the hall. We could hear it all, including the slurred words of people who had obviously had too much to drink. If I hadn’t been mad about being awakened at 4 am, I would have felt sorry for them. Look, you just can’t mix huge amounts of alcohol, gambling, anger, and God knows what else, and not expect disaster.
New Orleans was similar, to a point. Alcohol flows freely there, with most restaurants offering to-go cups for your drinks. Bourbon Street was enlightening for me, and I’m not a naive person. I’m not sure the party ever really ended, although if you were out and about early enough, you could see the sidewalks and building facades being sprayed down each morning. The smell of stale beer isn’t a great one. What was most bothersome, though, was seeing children hustling in the crowd. Young children. I’d say the youngest one we saw was maybe 6 or 7 years old. And outside of the French Quarter, you didn’t have to go far to see some of the extreme poverty in New Orleans, including the areas most affected by Hurricane Katrina. The ironic part of New Orleans was that there were signs everywhere, warning of the dangers of gambling addiction, because there’s a casino there. As if the alcohol everywhere had nothing to do with problems.
I know every place has its problems. There is no true paradise. A city is always more than its pretty tourist facade. It’s just kind of unsettling to realize just how deep the problems run in some cities.
Today, I learned a new term today, a term that I didn’t even know I needed to know – grief porn, also known as mourning sickness. Yes, I know Wiki is not a valid source, but this isn’t a formal citation. Today is September 11th. For those of you outside the US, I’m not sure … Continue reading I Learned a New...
Today, I learned a new term today, a term that I didn’t even know I needed to know – grief porn, also known as mourning sickness. Yes, I know Wiki is not a valid source, but this isn’t a formal citation.
Today is September 11th. For those of you outside the US, I’m not sure how much coverage it gets now, but 9/11/2001 is forever etched in history, and each anniversary of it is a very big deal. It makes me wonder about other terrible days in history, and how long we, as a country, memorialized those. Did we still have solemn ceremonies throughout the country for 20 years after December 7? So many people died in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, but not living in New Orleans myself, I’ve really only heard about milestone anniversaries of it (10 years, for example).
I’ve seen countless tributes, memes, photos, etc, today. Most of which came from people who have no real connection to that day. One was a Remember 9/11 photo frame around a picture of a smiling family, which just seemed incongruous. Another asked, “Do YOU remember?” It seemed… chastising, I guess. As if you don’t remember, you’ve failed miserably. These were from people who didn’t lose anyone on that terrible day.
This is where I put my disclaimer. If you have a direct connection to September 11th, just ignore this post. I’m not talking about you. If you witnessed it up close, I’m not talking about you. If you lost someone you love because of that day, I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about the people who couldn’t care less about the flag the rest of the year, but wave it so proudly today. I’m talking about the people who say, “We were so united after 9/11, what happened?” but have forgotten about the Muslims who were literally hunted down in their towns right after the attacks. I’m talking about the people who suggest that people who don’t openly demonstrate their “patriotism” should leave the country. You know which category into which you fall.
I lived 90 miles from NYC when it happened. The ripple effect definitely extended to our area, and I remember everything about that horrific day. I don’t have to rely on a meme to show that I remember.
I’ll be honest, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Sometimes for work, sometimes for entertainment, sometimes just because of boredom. But it wasn’t until today that I got prompted to help correct information for various FB business pages. Some of them were easy and just wanted to know if a picture properly represented … Continue reading Fun with...
I’ll be honest, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Sometimes for work, sometimes for entertainment, sometimes just because of boredom. But it wasn’t until today that I got prompted to help correct information for various FB business pages. Some of them were easy and just wanted to know if a picture properly represented a business, or if a particular business fit into particular category. However, some of them… well, you’ll see, lol.
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