Monday, January 11, 2016

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Health Insurance

obama, obama jokes, political, humor, cartoon, conservative, hope n' change, hope and change, stilton jarlsberg, obamacare, health insurance, blue cross, hell

I'm aware that people come to Hope n' Change for a pithy analysis of the news rather than to hear my personal woes, so let me handle the headlines first: "smoking gun" emails from Hillary have been revealed that show she committed felonies. She will get away with them.  An angry Muslim shot a policeman multiple times in the name of Allah because police enforce non-Shariah laws. Authorities assure us this had nothing to do with Islam. And finally, tomorrow will be Barack Hussein Obama's final "State of the Union" speech, and he will tell not an iota of truth.

Aaaaaaand that's the news. And now to turn to the lighter side...

And when I say "lighter" it's because I wish I was currently holding one under a bong filled with weapons-grade hashish to dull my current Obamacare-inflicted woes.

On Saturday, I received a phone call from daughter Jarlsberg (in her 20's), who was upset because she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her epilepsy medications (important, right?) and had her spanking new insurance card rejected at the cash register because the policy had been "terminated." Rather than immediately go into seizures, she paid cash for the prescriptions at the uninsured price - over $300 which she doesn't have to spare.

So I tried to help clear up the obvious mistake, first by logging on to the website of her insurer: Blue Cross Blue Shield. No luck - nothing but rejections and system errors. So I called them and spoke to a "web support" specialist who assured me that the problem wasn't on my end. "It's always like that. We keep telling them to fix it, but..."

I pointed out that I had the same problems months ago. "Oh yes, this has been going on forever." Great. So I explained my daughter's problem...and was told that she was no longer in the system. I pressed harder, giving additional information like her group number and member ID.

"Oh, here she is," said the woman at last. "Her policy was terminated by the Healthcare Marketplace."
"Why?"
"We don't know. The Marketplace doesn't tell us."
"But her plan was approved! She got her card! She has a receipt for her premium payment!"
"There's nothing we can do. You'll have to contact the Marketplace."

So I went to Healthcare.gov and looked up her record. Clicking on the button to see "insured status" did nothing except to show that her application - from months ago - was completed and had been ruled on. To see that ruling, one needs to download an "eligibilty" PDF, which I did.

And as always, it showed blank forms with lines and logos and no information. But I've played this game with them before: choosing "select all," I copied all of those blank spaces and pasted them to a plain text document. Presto! The words appeared, telling my daughter that everything looked great and she qualified for a subsidy. What could possibly go wrong?

So I called Healthcare.gov to straighten things out. After sifting through an interminable voice menu to direct my call, a recording said "to assure great customer service, we'd like you to take a satisfaction survey upon completion of your call. If you are willing to take this survey, please say yes."

"Yes," says I.

"Thank you for taking our survey!" said a new voice. "On a scale of 1-to-5, how satisfied were you with the answers you just received from your service representative?"

That's right - they skipped helping me and went straight to the satisfaction survey. Our tax dollars at work.

So I called again and this time said I wouldn't take the survey. After which I got a human who said that she couldn't help me because of privacy requirements which allow them to keep their complete and all-encompassing ineptitude secret. (Okay, I added that last bit).

So my daughter had to call them to authorize me to speak on her behalf, which she did. And then she called to tell me how it went...

"I don't know what just happened," she said anxiously. "They just said they'd reinstate a plan and that I'd have to pay new premiums for it to go in effect." This despite the fact that she'd paid already.

"And I'm not sure which plan they renewed," my daughter added. "What if it was my old plan instead of my new plan? Or what if it was only my dental plan?"

"You got a dental plan?"

"I didn't sign up for one. They just tell me I have it." 

So I called Blue Cross to see if the reauthorization from Das Marketplace had gone through yet, and I was told that it it wouldn't be in their system until Tuesday at the very earliest. So the same day that a certain annoying sphincter-in-chief will be farting out his State of the Union speech will be the very earliest that I can perhaps find out if my daughter's situation has been fixed, is still the same, or has been made worse.

This is more than a petty annoyance. The "new" doctor on my daughter's mysteriously terminated plan isn't taking patients (despite what Healthcare.gov claimed) and so my daughter doesn't have anyone to write her vital prescriptions. Nor can she find an actual in-plan doctor until she's restored to Blue Cross's good graces and see their provider list.

She's supposed to see a neurologist for her epilepsy on Thursday but no longer knows if she has insurance or if he'll even see her. And sadly, stress increases the likelihood of her having a seizure and all that goes along with it (possible ambulance and medical costs, loss of the ability to drive, and more).

Bottom line: even if you think you're insured, if you went through the Marketplace (Healthcare.gov) the government can and will shut off your insurance like turning out a light switch. No warning, no explanation, no reason, and quite possibly no recourse.

And don't forget, even with your insurance card in your hot little hand, you may not know your insurance has been terminated until you most need it. My daughter wasn't warned or notified - odds are that you won't be either. Which will be something interesting for you to reflect on following an automobile accident, when you're bleeding out in an ambulance being shuttled from one hospital to another looking for one who will take a government-labeled indigent (as opposed to immigrants and illegals, who can get in anywhere).

Never before has the government had such a convenient, all-encompassing tool to screw up individual lives by whim, ineptitude, or malicious intent. The cost in lost time, productivity (look who couldn't write Hope n' Change today?), and potential revenues is incalculable. But even that pales in comparison to the anguish, suffering and death which Obamacare is already causing and will continue to cause long after his actual administration is just a painful memory.

53 comments:

miniskunk said...

What a strange game, the only winning move is to not play....

And they wonder why Obamacare has been rejected by millions of Americans.

Geoff King said...

Perhaps if your daughter were to board a boat, sail out to International Waters, and then return with a Middle Eastern accent and no id, all would be well.
Other than that, if stress is a seizure trigger, I recommend that she avoid tomorrow's Rape of the Union Address at all costs.

RKC62 said...

Ahhh Stilton - and you thought the government wasn't vindictive enough to harass a blogger who had the temerity to mock them... Expect the IRS any day now.
As much as that's (hopefully) in jest, it does seem eerily like all those movies where the NSA or someone just removes citizens from the system, like "Enemy of the State" or "Die Hard 4.0".

p kerit said...

Maybe not obamacare but I turned 65 and am forced onto medicare. I read the literature and picked Mutual of Omaha. I called an 800 number and was told about $1c and $4 Walmart prescriptions. (and possible higher costs for non-generic. So vague that now I think they were lying) I called a local office to sign up, called, got no answer, left a message they never called back. I called another local office and signed up. The first refills cost me $350 and thinking it was a yearly deductible, I paid, then the next refill, different prescription, I was told $298! I guess I am going to die, I cant afford this.

p kerit said...

That should read $1 and $4

Ed G. Mann said...

The correct way to handle this is to make sure that you don't have a tax refund coming. Then don't sign up for any insurance. The Government can't collect any penalty since there is no mechanism for them to do that except by withholding refunds.

Pay cash for all doctors Tell them it's cash, no checks and no paperwork. The cost drops fast. Hospitals will drop cost too for cash; if they won't they have to treat you by law anyway. We need to break this system of insurance for every niggling cut and bruise.

Go to the ER and just say "No habla" Those liberals will step on their johnsons to accommodate you.

Seriously, CASH is king, wave it around. If that doesn't work with the Pharmacist, do what the dudes from the 'hood do. Wave a .357 around.

Fred Ciampi said...

Stilt, you have my prayers and sympathy (your daughter too). When I turned 65 I was still working, had insurance and good income. Figured I would be 'nice' and not go on the 'government's dole' until I retired. So at 67 I retired, applied for medicare and was informed that because I was late in applying I would have a >$20 penalty per month for FIVE YEARS!!! Grrrrr. So, everyone, apply for ALL the benefits you can get the instant you are eligible!

And, remember, it was michelle's good buddies from college who 'won' the contract, no bid, to provide the software for o'bonercare.

I wish I knew Shakespeare better I seem to remember something about "The wrath of the people...". But I do remember Guy Fawkes, the only man who went to Parliament with the right intentions. Hmmmm. Where's my 190 proof.....???

TMay said...

I buy a FloVent HFA for my cat, (fluticasone propionate inhalation aerosol). My cat has asthma. It costs about $100 per. That includes shipping. It is human grade. It comes from a real pharmacy in Canada and is real medicine. (You can't assume that when buying online. If it is from a non- pharmacy, the meds can come from for e.g. Turkey, and you don't know what is in it,)

How quickly it gets used up depends on the dosage schedule. The cat gets 2 puffs of medicine a day and from those puffs he can keep breathing from it until the oxygen is gone. One Flovent lasts 2 months for him.

The phone number is 866-872-0989 and it works from the US.
(A direct line is 604-733--5323).
The fax number is 866-867-5311.
It is from Finlandia Pharmacy in Vancover and is on Pacific time.

I have to fax the prescription because veterinarians are not allowed by their rules to call it in. For all I know perhaps if it is for a human, maybe the fax is not required. I do not know. There was a little bit of figuring about how to adjust to Canada's metric system, and I have it delivered at medium speed. If faster, the US Post system considers it so important that they keep it at the post office and deliver the piece of paper requiring the signature, and that slows the process down, so I don't order it with the fastest delivery. I don't get reimbursed by insurance.

One needs a prescription. Mine is for a year.

A drawback is that Obama with his TPP is attempting to close down the hole that Big Pharma wants closed i.e. Americans getting the same meds from Canada at the rate that the Canadian system negotiated with the pharmaceutical companies, at lower prices than available in the US.

The last time I checked which was a couple of years ago, the US price, was $300 per Flovent. That is 120 doses of 125 mcg. At 2 puffs a day that is 60 days covered. I don't go all the way up to 120 because I think it gets weak towards the end. Sometimes the cat needs more.

If Obama ends it I will have to go back to prednisolone (vet speak for prednisone) but since it would be long term it would mean that the cat would have to be on a large dose and have the negative effects on its bones etc with the whole body getting the meds when only the lungs need it. My cat gets prednisone compounded with chicken liver from New Jersey which he thinks is a treat and the government is trying to stop that too I guess because they like the power. My cat likes the compounded recipe from NJ a lot more than the compounded recipe from California. If I have to buy within California I may as well just give him prednisolone meds without the compounding. When I order from NJ I get three months worth at a time and save on shipping.

I have had one price increase and that was a shipping price increase not a meds price increase. They take credit cards. I give it 2 weeks to arrive and have them write instructions on the package to deliver it directly to the house.

The cat was a stray that a friend took in. She was sick so she gave the cat to me. The shelter would have put it down. That was before any of us knew it had this condition. They said the cat was unattractive to adopting families.

Bobo the Hobo said...

I have a difficult time being civil to Obama voters; my Mother-In-Law voted for him ... twice. Needless to say, our conversations are somewhat strained but I still occasionally stick it to her by (innocently) saying, "I'd like everyone who voted for Obamacare ... again." Meh, it amuses me for about 30 seconds to watch her squirm.

Judi King said...

What a nightmare. I'm so sorry you and your daughter have to suffer this atrocity. What a complete failure O'care is! Like everything else the "dic" has forced on us.

PS: I just read a piece on Jonathan Garthwaite/Townhall that his majesty is paving the way to become the UN Sec. Gen'l so he'll still have power to destroy the US. I don't think we'll have seen the end of him or his damaging "progressive" ideology next year. I can't abide watching him speak, so I'll not watch the SOTU address but I'm sure all the "important" lies will be reported the next day.

Larry Gilbert said...

Obamacare is an example of the no-fly list. You don't know you're on it until you try to board your plane. You don't know you've been dropped until you try to get a script filled.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@miniskunk- "The only winning move is not to play." Absolutely right, which is why the central mandate of Obamacare is we must play.

@Geoff King- There are parallels between health insurance laws and gun laws: they only afflict the honest and law abiding. If my daughter was an illegal, she could walk into any emergency room and immediately be taken care of.

@RKC62- I'm not quite paranoid enough to write this off to intent rather than bureaucratic ineptitude (remember the debut of Healthcare.gov online?), but the thought crosses my mind. Unlike a theatrical thriller, they don't need to send out an assassin to silence an annoying little pipsqueak like me. They just need to keep me preoccupied, which is now as simple as clicking a single computer key which suddenly uninsures me and/or my daughter. Oh, audits are always possible too - but that leaves a trail.

And say, once all medical records are computerized (as the government demands), how difficult will it be for them to make a "typo" on the records of political enemies to list the wrong blood type? One transfusion and the annoying voice is silenced forever.

@p kerit- Sorry (but unsurprised) about your plight. I don't know anything about Medicare yet, though Mrs. J and myself will soon be in that leaky boat. I think there are resources out there who can help guide people through the turbulent waters of Medicare and advise on ways to bring medication costs down. You might try calling a local senior center to see if they have anyone they recommend.

@Ed G. Mann- I'm currently paying cash and glad to do so. My daughter doesn't have that option. And the ONLY reason I've got insurance now is in case of catastrophic illness. My wife and I don't want to spend the money for our declining years (and my daughter's eventual inheritance) on insanely high hospital bills. (Although under Obamacare, another option might be suggested to me in an "end of life counseling session.")

TMay said...

My guess is that you or your daughter should call Finlandia first and find out if they need a fax, or not, or whether a phonecall will do. My guess is they will require a fax of prescription and phonecalls for refills. Have on hand old medications/ prescriptions/diagnoses to understand all questions to be asked for a conversion to Canadian. Then she could go to one of the walk in clinics where one gets to see a doctor by waiting rather than an appt, and explain what Obamacare has done to her, and show the prescriptions and meds and ID and the card showing good faith and ask for a written year's prescription and phone number and fax number in case they have questions. I sense that the doctors who were enthusiastic about Obamacare because they thought it would solve problems only to find out that it created more, will be sympathetic. Or she can go by her original doctor's office and ask for a renewal of his/her prescription. The moment you find out if she is covered you will know whether to cancel the appt with the specialist to avoid punitive charges for cancelling. If she has her prescription she can sit back and negotiate or decide regarding a plan, and regarding doctors, and then see a specialist. She should be sure to wash her hands after leaving because usually at clinics or ER's there are people with the flu. In the Bay Area we have Doctors on Duty as a walk in clinic, and they also take appts.

Rod said...

I'm going to print your Obamacare report & make available at residential facility where my mother lives, at elderly members' Sunday School classes at church, and at the kitchen downtown that prepares & serves meals for elderly. IE for those who might interested: Older folks we know many, who think there's nothing they can do anymore and are thinking of passing on the next election. These folks often don't know how to get real news; all they see is TV and the local canary-crap newspaper.
I'm curious to see how much fuss will be raised telling me I'm not allowed to do that.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Fred Ciampi- Your story reminds me of a parallel in my own life. Being self-employed for nearly my entire life, I paid double Social Security and unemployment taxes. Some years ago, my client list (as a writer) dried up. I figured it was just a dry spell so lived frugally off my savings for quite awhile. Finally, I applied for unemployment benefits - and was told that they were calculated on my most recent earnings. And since there weren't any "your value is zero." This was roughly the same time that those folks ON unemployment were having their benefits extended my months and years.

So sadly, you're right - people should apply for benefits as soon as they're eligible. BUT, even then you're playing the government's "gotcha" game, because they want everyone dependent on the government.

@TMay- I never really expected Obama's policies to be affecting pets, but I guess no new evil of his administration surprises me. And good for you for giving love, care, and a safe home to that cat.

@Bobo the Hobo- I'm just about to the point where I'll need a straightjacket to keep me from actively trying to throttle self-identified Obama voters.

@Judi King- Obamacare is only a "failure" in the sense of delivering healthcare, which it was never intended to do. It is a complete success at its actual purpose: redistribution of wealth and consolidation of government power over our lives.

Regarding the U.N., I haven't seen those reports/rumors, but I've been predicting for years that Obama's next goal is becoming secretary general of the U.N. Look at Barry's many efforts to give the U.N. dominance over American laws, industry, and military. He's feathering what he intends to be his own bed.

@Larry Gilbert- Your "no fly list" analogy is perfect.

Vald The Putingoodandhard said...

Ha! My plan is working. My minions inserted malware into your gubermint. It is the same malware that brought the Ukrainian power system down. Now your healthcare.

It was a piece of cake to slip into your Democrats. They are always bent over waiting for it.

And believe you me, they squeal like the porkers they are!

Jim said...

obamacare is the dmv of healthcare.

CenTexTim said...

So sorry to hear of your daughter's (and your) plight. The sad thing is that this was all predicted during the debate on obamacare. What a fiasco.

It's amazing how stories like this don't appear in the mainstream media - just like stories about people who use firearms to defend themselves, black on white crime, mass attacks on women by “Arab and north African” men, and so forth.

Sandy Link said...

Obamacare is just a sample of what happens in countries like Canada and Costa Rica. The wait list to be seen or to have necessary treatments or surgeries can be months. It is scary, to say the least. The goal appears to be to lower the population numbers by letting people die due to lack of health insurance, or so much paperwork that the patient gets lost in the system or dies while filling out the forms. People with Obamacare are at the mercy of this government's screw-ups. Let's hope it 2017 that it gets repealed. God help us. Sorry for yours and your daughter's problems, Stilton.

John the Econ said...

No apologies needed, @Stilton. I find your personal experience with ObamaCare very interesting, newsworthy, and your descriptions quite pithy. You know you have my sympathies, and my very real fear is that sooner or later I'll be experiencing something quite similar.

And have no doubt that tomorrow night, the President will hail ObamaCare as a massive success and his crowning achievement. And it is. It's succeeded in turning fiercely conservative and formerly free citizens like the Jarlsberg family into helpless government dependents. Resistance really is now futile.

Not so long ago after watching The Wolf of Wall Street, someone asked me why I wanted to be "rich". My response was that it wasn't because I wanted to snort coke off some prostitute's ass, but because I wanted to be able to pay cash for my health care, and never, ever have to deal with the kind of nightmare @Stilton is now living.

This is all part of the very real "War on the Middle Class". If you're "rich", this nonsense doesn't concern you. If @Stilton and his family was poor, this wouldn't be such a problem either. Heck, he'd even be better off if he was an illegal alien. This is a problem that is squarely directed at the "middle class" that every politician out there claims they care so much about. It's bulls*@#!

Bobo the Hobo said...

Er, that should read, Needless to say, our conversations are somewhat strained but I still occasionally stick it to her by (innocently) saying, "I'd like to thank everyone who voted for Obamacare ... again."

I really should not drink so early in the morning ... especially when reading anything about our president.

Jim said...

obamacare the VA of the medical system.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you and your family.
I wouldn't wish Obamacare on my worst enemy.

OC

Anonymous said...

SJ,
Sorry that this crapfest, aka, obummercare.., is impacting you and your family.
Same BS here also, on my end. My son n law has MarketPlace bc BCBS dropped all PPO's here in Texas.., in order to continue his cancer treatment and followup scans at MD Anderson, he had to get out of BCBS-Tx, and sign up on the government crap. They issued him a plan, (same as the bcbs one) except its some kind of modified PPO-HMO hybrid.
Anyway, he found out of friday, six month wait for his gate keeper doctor appointment, bc his gate keeper they assigned isnt in the network, plus they discovered that their 16 month old son who was signed up as part of the family plan isnt covered till he is denied MediCaid by the state.., then and only then, can he be on thier plan. Aint Government healtchcare just great? Hope your daughter gets her treatment and insurance resolved...
Huck

Colby Muenster said...

I'll give the Congress and Senate this.... They FINALLY put a repeal on O'Liar's desk. Yes, they knew he'd stamp a big, fat VETO on it within minutes, and he didn't disappoint, but now his "legacy" will be sealed. I loved his reason for the veto. "I'm vetoing this bill because it would hurt millions of Americans who can't afford health insurance." Riiiight.... I pray that every last person who voted for this BS be forced to live under it.

Concerning the SOTU address... I'd rather put my dick in a vice and smash it repeatedly with a ball peen hammer than watch that lying piece of dog shit stand there bragging about what a great job he's done. I'll be reading a good book or watching Netflix.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@TMay- Thanks for the suggestions. One thing for sure is that my daughter WILL be seeing that specialist. She had a seizure several months ago which means that her meds aren't quite keeping up with her needs - so this visit is critical (and of course, if the doctor insists on cash, I've got check book in hand).

@Rod- Good luck with that. It's not my intention to use Hope n' Change to air my personal gripes, but I'm pretty sure that if Obamacare is hitting my family this hard, it must be doing the same to many others.

@READERS- Well, this is almost laughable. Minutes ago I got my mail, and it included another threat from Das Marketplace that my insurance will be cancelled if I don't send them additional proof of my income (this is the 4th or 5th letter I've gotten from them) Sure, I've already sent them my tax returns TWICE, and spoken to them on the phone multiple times, but they say they want additional information in the form of W-2's (I'm self-employed and don't have any), Pay Stubs (I don't get any), a record of the Social Security benefits I'm receiving (I don't), etc. While there seems to be no way to satisfy them, I have a cunning plan: I bought a Powerball ticket today and when I win, I'm moving my family to Hope n' Change island.

@Vlad The Putingoodandhard- You crafty supervillain!

@Jim- There was never a question that it would be anything else. I just didn't know it would get so bad so quickly.

@CenTexTim- I think there should be more stories about people's actual experiences with the Obamacare system. Oh sure, we'll hear a cherry-picked story or two in the SOTU on Tuesday about the inner city schoolteacher whose life was saved by an Obamacare mammogram, but there's no doubt in my mind that the bad far, far outweighs the good.

Shelly said...

@Colby Muenster, that bill would have had more impact had they not agreed to fund it completely before repealing it. I know it's a show vote and the veto is on record, but the foolishness is not lost on most thinking people. I feel the same way you do about the SOTU, even though I lack the appendage to do harm to!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Sandy Link- I've been sharing correspondence today with a doctor friend who lays out the situation beautifully. He says that physicians are being (ahem) "encouraged" these days not to just see the patient in front of them, but rather to treat the health of the entire community. In other words, if you let the sickest simply die, then statistically speaking the surviving population can be shown to be "healthier."

Sound like nonsense? Consider how the Obama administration got unemployment numbers down: by declaring that people who couldn't get jobs no longer existed for the purpose of measurement. It will be the same with healthcare.

@John the Econ- Thanks for the nice words. Fortunately, I'm not completely toothless in this fight yet. As I've mentioned before, I'm in a weird place because I have financial assets (from years of saving and living frugally) but not much income, which is the metric that affects the cost of insurance. The government believes I should be on Medicaid, which is friggin' preposterous. So I could avoid Obamacare and just buy insurance outside of Das Marketplace, but it would cost me $20,000 a year. So I take just enough out of my retirement account each year (which shows as income) to make me look "middle class" to the government and get a subsidy for the crappiest, cheapest policy I could find (overpriced still, but with me paying only about a third of the cost). That policy will never be used unless catastrophy hits; I see who I want and pay them cash.

And you make a great point about personal wealth; some people see it as a means to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. Others see it as a means to provide for themselves and their families without being a burden to others. That's the camp I'm in, but clearly my philosophy is out of date.

@Bobo the Hobo- You know, I thought that sounded cryptic. (Grin)

@Jim- Yep, yep, yep.

@Anonymous- Thanks, but your heart needn't go out to me - I can complain good and loud and get terribly anxious and angry, but my family and I are actually pretty blessed in the whole scheme of things. I can assure you that my daughter will never go without the medical care she requires, even if I don't win the Powerball drawing.

@Huck- Oh, man, I'm so sorry. Yours is the kind of story I'd like to hear at the SOTU when someone grabs the microphone away from Barry (hint: wear a #BlackLivesMatter t-shirt - it worked on Bernie Sanders). This is a nightmare. The government isn't assigning gatekeepers, it's assigning cryptkeepers.

@Colby Muenster- I'm glad the repeal bill was put on Barry's desk, even though the result was never in question. And I still don't know who these "millions of Americans who can't afford health insurance" are. Those with the least money are being assigned to Medicaid by Das Marketplace...an option that was already available to them.

Regarding the SOTU, you paint a vivid picture of your preferences. Frankly, it's a coin flip if I watch it or not. I feel that I should so I can be conversant here. But until I know for sure the government isn't cancelling my insurance, I shouldn't flirt with having a heart attack or aneurysm.

@Shelly- Yes, it was sadly a "show vote." But if it's the only noodle in our bowl of chicken soup, I guess we need to appreciate it.

Jim said...

Colby,

Don't give congress or the senate any credit for anything to do with repealing obamacare.

They passed the budget first to give themselves cover. Once the budget passed giving obama EVERYTHING he wanted they lost any leverage they had over obamacare and planned parenthood. At that point they could pass anything they wanted knowing he could veto it without any consequences so ever.

Their repeal was just for show so come election time they could say "I voted to repeal..." But, they were not serious. So, don't give them credit.

Before you vote look at who voted FOR the budget, not who voted to repeal obamacare.

Jim said...

Two suggestions:

In Florida medicaid people can sign up for HMO's. Some are really good. I've been in an HMO since 1985 and in a medicare HMO since I qualified for medicare. See if that's available to you where you live.

Second, practice you spanish and when you go to the dr or hospital tell them you just came over the border.

Rod said...

In addition to Medicare, as retirees in a huge group we've not had difficulty obtaining additional medical insurance; that is: other than keeping up with ongoing changes, terms, benefits, formularies, re-enrollment, latest cards, having ID for questions, etc. And the group does fine job negotiating policies & premiums. EVEN SO: I just learned the 2016 premium vs 2015. It went up 10%. It went up last year as well, and the year before. So are other costs all over. But according to Uncle Sam our COL has not increased & Social Security remains the same as 2015. That's not welfare, that's our money. To the point: We're far into a time when "If it's government talking, it's a lie". That's pitiful and also an insult to many good government employees, in real jobs, and trying to do good work.

Bernard Tucker said...

It sounds like maybe you and your daughter are on the healthcare.gov/IRS/shitlist perhaps because of your political sense of humor? (Yes, I believe they can be that shallow) but, then again, it could be that the system just sucks that bad (ineptitude, as you say). Either way, I hope Congress will find the 2/3rd majority to repeal that monstrosity but I am not holding my breath because I'd probably be denied a respirator because heathcare.gov 'dropped my plan' without warning.

What an unbelievable pile of monkey spunk!

Hope it all gets worked out for your daughter as her medication does indeed sound very important :/

John the Econ said...

Oh, and one BIG salient point I neglected to make above:

Had what what is happening to @Stilton taken place in a wholly private regime, he'd have recourse. Meaning, that if he or his family were to suffer physically or financially because of this level of sheer incompetence by "the system", he'd be entitled to sue for damages at the very least. But since we're dealing with a government program here, he has no practical recourse. I keep trying to remind my Progressive friends of this who cheer regularly when some big corporation gets slapped by the courts for malfeasance. When it's big government that screws you over, you stay screwed. There is no revenge.

Will "Hope n' Change" island be open to other like-minded people? The econ family might be interested.

It's become the norm at SOTU speeches to pack the room with society's "victims". Perhaps the next non-Democrat President (should there ever actually be one) introduce the victims of ObamaCare instead of the phony success stories. I'd stay sober to watch that.

"I'm in a weird place because I have financial assets (from years of saving and living frugally) but not much income, which is the metric that affects the cost of insurance."

But that's my point; Independent people with assets are the most difficult to control, and generally do not behave the way that Progressives would like. The Progressive paradigm is designed to drain us of our assets until we're finally in the same boat with "the poor". That's why the middle class is totally over-regulated while the poor and illegal are barely regulated at all.

I recall a year when because of bumps in the economy and the unpredictable spacing of projects, I had relatively low income within a particular calendar year. Like @Stilton, I lived frugally, had money in the bank, and my investments were doing well. When I prepared my taxes, (which I do myself) the software suggested that I take the "Earned Income Tax Credit". I thought, Wait, that's for "poor" people, and I am by no means "poor". I manually overrode the software and rejected the credit. A month or so after filing my taxes, I got a letter back from the IRS stating that I had made "a mistake", and would be including the EIC in my refund. Again, resistance is futile.

NVRick said...

LIARS, LIARS, LIARS!!
You are all liars with your pathetic stories about how Dear Leader is screwing with your health care!
I know this because the youthful and energetic Senior Senator from my state told me so! He publicly stated that all the stories about the most wonderful health care system were made up by the evil Republicans.
Dingy Harry may be a lot of things, but he has never been known to make things up! After all, your 2012 nominee hasn't paid taxes for over twelve years! If you support someone so dishonest, you must be dishonest as well! Mitt even killed someone!!

I think I may have had a little too much to drink today.

Seriously Stilt, I hope your problems are eventually mitigated.

TMay said...

If you write a book of your family's experience with Obamacare, then you might be able to make some money and change history, as we know that Obama will make sure that his version of history will be glowing. Maybe it could become a screenplay,

Do you have a red line in the sand as to when to decide that this is a personal harassment of you and your family?





Anonymous said...

They obviously didn't quite recognize your name, Stilton. Don't they know who you ARE?

I've got Blue Cross through my wife's employer. They ain't great, but it works. I'm still dickering with the hospital for a visit last March. Damned glad I didn't have to fork over the $38,000 out of my own pocket.

Problem is, my wife retires in two years, after which we'll both be subject to the gentle ministrations of Obamacare. Any luck at all, I'll die off first.

TMay said...

Perhaps you can be the person who prevents the US from going down the path of the British with their mass brain washing techniques of publicly celebrating their pathetic medical system in dance as at the opening of the Olympics to convince individuals that they must be alone with their negative thoughts.

Robin H said...

My husband carries all our insurance through his job and was recently layed off. When we got the COBRA letter they suggested we go to the Healthcare.gov marketplace to see if we could get something cheaper. I wrote a check for our COBRA within minutes of that letter! How long do you think before the option of COBRA for fired employees gets discontinued?

TMay said...

At one point in my life I went on Cobra because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. It turns out that it was more expensive than regular medical insurance because they assume that one has a preexisting condition or one wouldn't do it. They even assumed that I had an existing condition that I was hiding when I wasn't. Maybe it doesn't matter because supposedly preexisting conditions don't matter anymore, and who knows where prices are going. Therefore I suggest that you check into prices and don't look only at Obamacare, look at what insurance companies are offering, like the policies that save you from bankruptcy, even though Obama has ruined those too I think, with the min requirements demanded that all policies include. The doctor at Johns Hopkins said Johns Hopkins was dropping sex change operations because they resulted in a greater result of suiicides than not doing the operations, so much for Obamacare claiming to be be science -based.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Jim- Excellent point. A principled "show vote" might mean something, but this one was only about giving those who voted to fund Obamacare a useful lie to tell the voters.

Regarding Medicaid HMO's, I'm delighted that some people get decent care through them but I haven't worked this hard, this long, and been this responsible only to lose the ability to choose my doctor (as noted before, even though I now have an HMO gatekeeper "officially" I see my real doctor and pay in cash).

@Rod- I know nothing about the supplemental policies which make Medicare better - but will need to find out soonish. Mrs. J hits Medicare age late this year, and I follow next year (she was a cradle robber). And you make a good point that the government seems to be ignoring the rising cost of insurance and medicine when computing the cost of living. Deliberately, no doubt.

@Bernard Tucker- At the point the government's ineptitude is indistiguishable from malice, it almost doesn't matter how you characterize the problem. The suffering on the receiving end is the same either way. That being said, I don't flatter myself enough to think that my family is being targeted for special punishment by the government. But it doesn't strike me as impossible, either.

@John the Econ- You make a very salient point; I could raise hell with a private organization and hold them accountable. But fighting the government is like fighting the 50's sci-fi creature "The Blob" - if you punch it, it simply grabs your arm, sucks you in, and digests you without even giving any evidence that it was aware of your attack.

And you're right that the government hates people who are trying to live genuinely independent lives; they don't fit in the ledgers and they're not controlled. I'm still trying to live that way and will continue to do so.

And yes, regular commenters here on the blog will be welcome on beautiful, luxurious Hope n' Change Island. Everyone else will be "thoroughly vetted" by the army of psychotic mutant oragutans that I'll be breeding.

@NVRick- I'm sure there are many who would categorize me and many others as liars, because our real-life stories don't mesh with the narrative. Instead, they'll go with the heartwarming stories told by crying Barry tonight at the SOTU, perhaps accompanied by a strolling violinist.

@TMay- I guess my red line would be any evidence from some healthcare intermediary that the government is actually conscious of my political activities. Although as I mentioned earlier, yesterday I got another demand to prove my income to Healthcare.gov and had to scan every supporting document from my 2014 taxes and sent it to them.

Amusingly (not), they had no obvious place to upload such documents - even though they were demanding that I do so - and when I did find a page where uploading documents was possible, they wanted every page uploaded individually instead of in a single document (like I had). I sent them the whole enchilada, but I fully expect to hear back that they don't have the (blankety-blank) sense to just print the PDF and then shuffle the papers in the order that makes them happy.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Anonymous- When you say "with any luck, I'll die off first" don't think this isn't on the government's wishlist - and I'm not kidding. Upon reaching retirement age, every citizen is a pure fiscal liability for the government: if you die (or pull your own plug) they're off the hook for your social security and medical costs.

That's why, in this hyper-sensitive "protect people from everything" age, the government hasn't outlawed cigarettes: they get a buttload of money from the taxes on an addictive product, and balance their books still further thanks to deaths from lung cancer.

@TMay- In the spirit of those Olympic ceremonies, I think we should have an Obamacare-themed halftime show at the Superbowl. It should be touted as the greatest, most spectaular show ever - and when halftime arrives, there should be an empty playing field and a prerecorded voice which endlessly repeats "Your entertainment needs are important to us. Please hold."

@Robin H- Depending on where you live, there are still some decent policies available through the Marketplace (well, not in Texas). But the tradeoff is that the government can then suddenly and without explanation terminate your insurance (as they did to my daughter) or put you through an audit-style process of demanding all of your financial records (as they're doing to me).

@TMay- I think you're describing "catastrophic coverage" policies which don't do anything except save you from financial ruin in case the feces hits the fan. Guess what? While not flat out illegal, the government doesn't consider those plans to have the "minimum coverage" necessary to be counted as actual insurance (you know, birth control for senior citizens, and dental plans for nonexistent children) and so you'll be fined exactly as if you had no insurance at all.

If the government's goal was healthcare, or even keeping citizens from being a financial burden on the system, catastrophic policies would be fine. But the actual goal of Obamacare is to suck money out of people's pockets and redistribute it - which is why this affordable option isn't allowed.

John the Econ said...

I think we should have an Obamacare-themed halftime show at the Superbowl. It should be touted as the greatest, most spectaular show ever - and when halftime arrives, there should be an empty playing field and a prerecorded voice which endlessly repeats "Your entertainment needs are important to us. Please hold."

ROFL! Definitely. Certainly, a more realistic demonstration of the state of health care than that embarrassing Olympics propaganda opening ceremony was.

@TMay said "I suggest that you check into prices and don't look only at Obamacare, look at what insurance companies are offering, like the policies that save you from bankruptcy, even though Obama has ruined those too I think, with the min requirements demanded that all policies include."

This is what the Econ family used to do, combined with a Health Savings Account that was available for large expenses up to the deductible. This policy would have protected us against financial devastation should we have become serious sick or injured. These policies used to be very affordable (in the few-hundreds a month) and simple to understand. Unfortunately, the Progressives hate this approach because they empower the consumer, and deny the bureaucrats the complete control they'd like. Today, what's left of these kinds of policies, if you can find them at all, are totally contaminated with government mandated "services" that we neither wish, and/or are totally useless to us. (Every so often, I jokingly suggest to Mrs. Econ that we should seek our free birth control and in-vitro treatments not because we want them, but because we're forced to pay for it) Where they do still exist, these policies have now become nearly as unaffordable as comprehensive policies are because of all of the mandates.

PRY said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong....could not an insurance company cancel your coverage at any time or reason even before Obamacare?

John the Econ said...

Good point, @PRY: Wasn't the entire point of ObamaCare to eliminate this kind of nonsense?

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@John the Econ- Yep. The affordable insurance options which made sense (when matched to people's actual needs) aren't really available anymore thanks to "reform."

@PRY- Actually, I don't think insurance companies were able to drop an individual willy-nilly as long as their premiums were paid up. Nor do I think they were able to charge different prices for the same coverage as is currently the case.

Obamacare has made everything more complicated and even less reliable. Insurance reform was (and is) needed, but all the ACA did is make everything worse.

Dan said...

I know it may sound silly, but have you bombarded your congresscritter? State atty general? Governor? Senators? Railroad commission?
Strongly worded letter to the Austin American Statesman, Dallas Morning News, San Antonio whatever, Houston something or other? Noo Yawk Thymes? Warshington Post?

Stink must be raised!! Might help. Stranger things have happened.

And regarding people who couldn't get jobs no longer existing for the purpose of measurement... Wait until a Republican is in the whitehouse and watch how quickly the real unemployment figures will magically be revealed (unexpectedly, of course). And the fourth estate will discover homeless on the streets, and starving masses, etc., etc.

Ron Ryaawkk said...

Enjoy reading your commentary and the cartoons. Often use them on my "TOTUS" site and others in my network. You have a keen understanding of today's world as well as a knowledge of history. I know, because I'm an old,very old, history teacher and not a fan of the revisionist nonsense being taught today in our schools. Keep up the good work.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Dan- Happily, I don't have to storm political offices with torch in hand as my daughter's insurance has now been reinstated as cryptically as it was terminated. She finally reached some keyboard puncher and said "I shouldn't have been terminated." "Okay," said the voice on the other end. "Now you're reinstated."

Rather than ask further questions, my daughter ended the conversation rather than risk making matters worse. I don't blame her.

And yes, the number of people counted as unemployed will change dramatically on January 20th next year if a Republican takes over the Oval Office.

@Ron Ryaawkk- Thank you! Most of my knowledge of history comes from living through a lot of it in the last 60-some years. Honored to have you here as a reader!

Heisenbug said...

Insurance reform is only part of the problem. The other part, as Karl Denninger has been pointing out for years, is blatantly monopolistic practices in the medical industry that are illegal in any other industry (where similar practices are prosecuted vigorously and jail time not unusual).

But the medical industry are big funders of the piggies with their faces in the trough in DC, so they're more equal.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Heisenbug- I completely agree. It's preposterous that a consumer can't call providers to ask the cost of a service and get a straight answer with which to make a choice. The medical profession has essentially taken competition out of the pricing mechanism, and we're all the worse for it.

NVRick said...

Why are we comparing Dear Leader's administration to "1984"? The way they run things is more like Terry Gilliam's "Brazil". Gov't drones sitting at machines pushing buttons with no idea of what results.

John the Econ said...

@Heisenbug, you are correct that monopolies are the problem; monopolies created and enforced by government. Ironically, the Progressive solution to this problem is to create an even bigger, less responsive monopoly run by government.

Most of our health care issues could have been solved by eliminating the monopolies and allowing companies to operate across state lines. Unfortunately, the government enjoys keeping its monopoly power.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Heisenbug & John the Econ- Significant improvements to the insurance system could have been made with opening up competition across state lines, and tort reform to reduce the liability (and therefore costs which are passed on to consumers) of medical practitioners. These two measures alone would have done far more good than Obamacare, cost taxpayers not a penny, brought costs down, and simplified rather than complicated the process of obtaining health insurance.

But of course, Obamacare was never about health insurance.