Archive for the 'The Best Health Insurance In the WORLD!!!!' category

Health Care Signs of the Times (Or, Get Your Big Plastic Jug NOW!)

Oct 15 2009 Published by under The Best Health Insurance In the WORLD!!!!

In August I did some writing about health insurance, and in particular about the Pittsburgh shooting victim whose friends and family held a car wash to help raise funds to pay for her medical expenses. picked up on that post, and Robin Stelly commented on the post as follows:

Every person at birth should be issued a big plastic jug. When people become ill, they should tape their most endearing photos and a brief description of their illnesses to their plastic jugs. Then all they have to do is display the official containers at a local pizza shop - or something similar - and problem solved. More seriously ill people can apply to receive more big plastic jugs. I'm pretty sure that Sen. Coburn (R-OK) is planning to introduce this plan in response to "Obamacare" when the Senate returns from the district work period. I for one look forward to codifying our status as a nation of desperate beggers.

That comment really stuck with me. I'm sure we've all seen these types of containers at one place or another, and tossed some money into them here and there. After reading Robin's comment, I thought maybe I'd start photographing them whenever I run across them. Of course I'd need to have my camera with me - though now that I have a new iPhone (purchased as an MMD - Mom Management Device), it's much easier.
So herewith, my first offering of Big Plastic Jug Photos. If you are so inclined, take a photo of one in your neighborhood, and send it to me by email. Be sure to include a bit of info - general geographic location, what type of establishment it was found in.
My first field sighting was in my hometown, at the post office community bulletin board:
bobtown po crop edit.jpg
The next one came on another trip home. Just off the Bedford exit of the Pennsylvania turnpike is a combination gas station/conveniencestore/MdDonald's. It was on the counter of the MdDonald's that I found this big plastic jar.
rest stop photo edit.jpg
The last one in the current batch of offerings was found in a small convenience store about halfway between my hometown and Point Marion, PA, that used to be known as the "9 to 9 store" because of its hours. I did not capture (entirely) in this photo the picture of the sweet little toddler with her lacy suncap and strawberry pink dress because I didn't have the heart to plaster her photo all over my blog. Nor did I have the heart to ask the person behind the counter exactly why we were being asked to purchase ribbons on poor Callie's behalf. I guessed cancer, or some similar devastating childhood misfortune, along with the usual story of parents working at low-wage jobs that did not provide insurance.
9 2 9 store photo edit.jpg
So there you have it. My first installment. I plan to keep taking pictures if I can, and I encourage you to as well. Even better, contact your senator and/or congressperson, and ask him or her if they think this is how those struggling on the margins of our society ought to be expected to get by when medical disaster strikes. Do we really want to be a Blanche DuBois nation, depending upon the kindness of strangers to pick up the tab for society's least fortunate?
I guess we do. The Big Plastic Jugs don't lie.

25 responses so far

Why Health Care Reform In The U.S. Is Doomed

Sep 04 2009 Published by under The Best Health Insurance In the WORLD!!!!

Among other reasons....
You can have a rational soul like Laura provide a comparison of her personal experience with the U.S. and Canadian health care systems, like this:

Let's cut the crap and put it this way:
System #1: When I worked in the US, patients would come in and present their insurance cards; we would call the insurance company and wait on hold for 30 minutes (if we didn't get disconnected) to verify that they had officially chosen me as their primary care physician. They might pay a copay, or they might pay a percentage of the fee, for which they would be billed after the insurance had done its part. I had to write notes that described a certain number of body parts, or a certain number of aspects of a particular body part, or a certain number of descriptive terms for the symptoms of the one or more body parts, all of which would be added up to determine how much the visit was worth. The bill would go to my billing service which took 8% of receipts, since the hardware and software for electronic billing with dozens of different boxes to be filled in, but filled in differently for each of the dozens of different insurance plans which my office participated in, was too onerous to be handled by a solo practice. Then the "explanation of benefits" would arrive, and I might be told that the insurance had paid, say 80% of the charge that the insurance said they would pay (as opposed to 80% of the charge I was actually charging), and I had to bill the patient for the 20% which, even though it might at this point cost more in staff time and postage to send the bill than the bill was worth, had to be done or I would be accused of fraud, since not billing the balance would mean that my charges weren't really what I said they were, although the insurance wasn't paying what I said the charges were anyway. Or maybe the insurance company would say that they wouldn't pay because it was a pre-existing condition, or it wasn't a covered benefit, or we hadn't received prior authorization. Or they might want copies of the records before they would decide whether to pay. Or they might decide that I was no longer one of their participating providers, and the patient would have to go find another doctor, and I would have to copy the chart to send to the new doctor, for which I would not be paid. If I needed to send the patient to a specialist, we would have to look up which specialist were participating providers for that particular insurance, and get prior authorization. Certain tests also required prior authorization. All of this required hours on the phone. And sometimes the specialist would be a participating provider, but the specialist would be in a non-participating hospital, or would send the patient for xrays which ended up being read by a non-participating radiologist, or sometime the radiologist was participating but the xray machine was not.
And then there were the patients who did not have insurance.
System #2: Now I work in British Columbia, where everyone has a "care card." When they come in, we take down the number on the care card. I can send the patient to any specialist. There is one form to fill out for billing, and the fees are negotiated between the government and the medical society. There are no copays, no deductibles, no percents. I don't have to employ an army of people to sit on hold with insurance companies.
And everyone is insured.
And you're telling me that tinkering with System #1 (let's make it MORE complicated!) is preferable to System #2.

And you will still get this kind of nutter response from those who have been brainwashed by the rightwing wackaloons into fearing socialism and Obamacare and who think that the fucked up system we have now is somehow The Best Health Insurance in the World!TM

Giving me you take on your personal experiences in "system 1" and "system 2" is fine Laura, but cannot be confirmed. Let's work with facts that can be knowable, Ok?
But...I read both system 1 and 2, and after all your rambling you're just telling me that system 2 is "easier" so we should do it that way. NOTHING that is worth doing right is "easy" And throwing money at a government program is the "easy way out".

Yes, dining room table, let's by all means work with facts that can be knowable. Not that a real person's actual lived experience in two different healthcare systems would be anything like a knowable fact, now would it? Oh no. Not when your fevered brain can still toss out pithy statements like "nothing that is worth doing right is 'easy' ", in lieu of actually grappling with the information in front of you.
What the hell is wrong with you people?
It's a pity we can't just seriously divide the country in two. On one side, all you people who don't want "socialism" can go and live without Medicare, municpal sewer systems, roads that are maintained by government funds, running water, fire departments, police departments, national/state/city parks, public libraries, and other such disgusting features of life under brownshirt Obamcare socialism. The rest of us commies will hunker down together in our socialist nightmare and finally craft a universal health care system to go along with the rest of evil socialist empire.

74 responses so far

Rachael Maddow Heard It Here First...

Sep 03 2009 Published by under The Best Health Insurance In the WORLD!!!!

JustaTech commented last night:

Zuska, I saw this story [about the carwash for the shooting victim] on MSNBC last night (9/1) (The Rachel Maddow Show). So at least the liberal-leaning national media has also noticed.

I suppose this falls under tootin' my own horn, but one of Rachael Maddow's producer's contacted me by email in response to my original post on this story. They wanted help in getting in touch with the young woman, which I could not do, but I did provide them with the link to the story done by local news outlet WPXI - which is excerpted in the segment on the 9/1 Maddow show.
So I want to thank you, my dear Zuskateers, for bringing YOUR attention to my blog post, and thus helping this story get told more widely in the mainstream media.
I'm disappointed that I have not been able to find a way to set up online donations, but maybe Maddow's story will help bring something into being.

2 responses so far Picks Up On The "Carwash" Story

Aug 31 2009 Published by under The Best Health Insurance In the WORLD!!!!

Tim Foley at has picked up on the post I wrote about the Bridgeville shooting victim whose friends and family sponsored a car wash to help her pay her medical bills (with a link to a news story about the car wash). His take on the story is well worth reading.
Meanwhile, on my original post, commenter ABM gripes:

What if that uninsured shooting victim wasn't a young woman shot by a misogynist, but a grumpy, sexist, racist old man with no friends who didn't attend church and was generally unliked by all his neighbours? He doesn't get helped out because of who he is? I doubt the feminists or the Presbyterians or whoever would be setting up a car wash to pay his bills.
An actual social safety net only cares that you are a citizen. That's pretty important.

While I am normally unmoved by the "oh noes! what about teh menz?" type comments (and I am pretty sure that the car wash was not organized by a bunch of hairy-legged feminazis), I could not agree more with the safety net sentiment. And, as Tim Foley notes in his post,

[The Bridgeville victim] was in the line of fire for arbitrary reasons. She was also left behind by our health care system for just-as-arbitrary reasons. And she is not the only one. There are many bullets in the world, literally and figuratively. As I type this, there are men and women who are victims of violence, victims of cancer, victims of disease, victims of accidents that could not be predicted, who are in the process of beating the odds but who are struck all over again with the terrifying question, "How on earth do I pay for this?"

How indeed. They certainly shouldn't have to chance relying on the kindness of strangers like commenter Jay_C:

The woman that the carwash is being held for aged out, and either chose not to buy insurance (she instead chose to pay to join a gym)...That is common. Or she had a preexisting condition. In the first situation, sometimes you roll the dice and the numbers aren't in your favor. In this specific case, I'd rather give her the money through personal through a car wash, or just through good old fashioned charity (get nothing in return), than through my money being wasted on a Government bureaucracy. At least I know my hard-earned money is going directly to the victim I want it to and not in the "big bucket" for everyone else, and I can't choose who it goes to.

Jay_C thinks the Bridgeville woman "chose" not to buy health insurance. What kind of choice is it, when you aren't employed, and available coverage is too expensive even for lots of people who are employed? Good luck for you if you happen to be the victim Jay_C deems worthy of support! Too bad for you if he figures you "should have" had insurance.
We are ALL victimized by a system in which it is just the luck of the draw whether or not you end up with semi-adequate health insurance coverage at the time you need it: if you happen to be rich enough to buy it, if you happen to be lucky enough to be employed in a job that provides it, if you happen to be old enough to have aged into the Medicare system. And if you are one of the ones who happens to be lucky enough to have the health insurance through your job: then, you just hold your breath hoping that you won't lose your job and thus your coverage.
P.S. To My Readers: I have been looking into whether there might be some way to set up online donations for the shooting victim without health insurance. There are some other people who are interested in this. If we are able to work anything out, I will let you know.

14 responses so far

The Young and Healthy Don't Need to Waste Their Money On Health Insurance!!!!

I have a friend. She has a daughter. While in college, the daughter was covered on the parents' health insurance policy.
Well, sorta. As part of her college program, the daughter had to do an internship. Hey, that's great! Great experience, maybe a great chance to get a permanent job! Except, as it turns out, the internship does not count as being a full time student for the purposes of health insurance.
My friends, being responsible parents, and additionally being parents with enough disposable income to afford it, took out a health insurance policy for their daughter. They thought they were doing the right and responsible thing for her. They did not want her to be without coverage should some unexpected and catastrophic event befall her (you know, like some sick fuck walks in to your fitness club....)
Well, as it turns out, they could have just saved their cash. My friend's daughter was unfortunately stricken with a completely unexpected, though non-life-threatening, medical condition. You might think this is the kind of thing that your health insurance would help you deal with, but you would be wrong.

Continue Reading »

17 responses so far

Who Needs Health Insurance When You Can Sponsor A Car Wash?!?!

Aug 26 2009 Published by under The Best Health Insurance In the WORLD!!!!

In the contentious health care reform debate that has raged on lo these many months, one of the cries of protest we've heard has centered around how we might be infringing upon the rights of young, healthy American citizens. Young healthy people don't need to access the health care system the way old folks [who, we know, Obama wants to shovel in front of death panels] do! Young folks should not be forced to waste their precious dollars on health insurance premiums for coverage they don't really need just because you libruls think that would help bring down the cost for everybody else! That's SOCIALISM!!!!!!!!!! Next you'll be wanting to take mah gunz away!
Yes, by all means, let's talk about the relationship between guns and health insurance. Specifically, how available guns are for sick fucks who want to kill random women as punishment for the perceived sins of all women who have refused to date them. Versus, say, the lack of availability of health insurance for young women who have aged out of their parents' insurance policy and who have the bad luck to be gunned down by sick fucks who want to kill random women as punishment for...etc.
My sister is a member of the fitness club where that shooting took place. It was just chance that she was not there, and not in that fitness class, the night the shooting took place. My gratefulness for her safety has been tempered by my sadness for the women who were killed and injured there.
Well, just imagine my thoughts today when I talked to my sister, and she let me know what was going on for one of the women who was shot at the fitness club. The young woman had recently graduated college and therefore had "aged out" of coverage on her parents' health insurance. She did not have coverage provided through a job. I can't tell you why she didn't purchase coverage on the open market - because it was out of her financial reach, because she didn't think she needed it (being young and healthy), who knows, maybe she had a pre-existing condition that made it impossible for her to get it (see my next post). Whatever, she didn't have health insurance.
She is left with a hefty, hefty bill from the hospital due to the surgery and other treatment she needed because some sick fuck asshole came into her fitness club and shot her while she was minding her own business, exercising, trying to maintain her own health.
So her friends and family recently sponsored a friggin' car wash to raise funds to pay her hospital bills. Yes. A car wash.
My sister asked: what's the difference between throwing five or ten dollars into the can at the car wash to help this young woman out, versus what we might be doing if we all paid a bit in taxes to make sure that everyone had adequate health insurance coverage? If you are willing to help out at events like this, why don't you want to help out with your taxes to make sure that people don't have to go around begging for help to pay for their hospital bills? Why, she asked, can't we all just acknowledge that we are all in this together, and that we need to take care of each other?
Here's my guess: you throw ten bucks in the can at the young shooting victim's car wash, and you feel virtuous; you feel you have helped someone who "deserves" your help. You are participating in the mythology of "we all take care of ourselves and we don't depend on gov'mint handouts". But, you pay taxes to insure that everyone has access to adequate health insurance coverage, and the rightwing nutjobs convince you that you are a dupe who has been made to fund the lazy, brown- and black-skinned no-good-niks who are destroying America as you know it, and who will thank you for your efforts by raping your daughters and looting your homes if given half a chance.
In my next posts I will talk more about the myth of young healthy people not needing insurance, and about the myth of "being able to take care of ourselves".

78 responses so far

"Covered Benefit" Does Not Mean It's A Benefit That Will Be Covered

Perhaps you might have wondered why I don't blog so much lately. That would be because my full-time job these days is navigating the The Best Health Insurance System In The World!TM on behalf of my elderly mother.
You may recall that a few weeks back, her wallet was stolen, necessitating cancellation of her existing Blue Cross insurance number and issue of a new number and card. If you will recall, I explained that it appeared to providers in the interim as if my mother had no coverage.
Well, I finally received the new card with the new number. I spent a good deal of time this morning calling health care providers who had provided services to my mother during the interim period, to let them know what the new card number was so they could proceed with billing. We got the new card just in time, I thought - for as bad luck would have it, mom had another health care emergency today, and is in the ER as I type. My brother and sister-in-law are with her, and I gave them the new health care number to use at the hospital. I'm waiting for reports from them on how mom is doing.
And then I went out for a quick lunch, to get out of the house and decompress for a bit.
Upon returning home, I found a phone message from one of the providers I'd called in the morning. You guessed it: problems in dealing with the health insurance company.

Continue Reading »

37 responses so far

A Handy Tip If Your Health Insurance Card Is Lost Or Stolen

As I recently reported, my mother's wallet was stolen last week, containing her bank card, driver's license, and insurance and Medicare cards. This has resulted in hours and hours of work for me to deal with replacing the cards, working with the bank to contest the fraudulent charges on her account, etc.
I'm going to tell you something the health insurance company probably won't, because I'm not sure that the people who answer the phones even understand that their system works like this.

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6 responses so far

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