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I can’t get sick again…

That's about right.

The middle class burden of drug costs.

Hmm, I can already tell that the usage of quotations to denote sarcasm is going to be overplayed in this post.  I apologize in advance…

So it turns out that my fears were founded.  Last year, my company’s HR department went on an all-out blitz to “promote” (warn?) us about the upcoming major overhaul that Aetna was having “for” us, the users.  Apparently, the idea that health insurance may not be a 4000% profit margin (yep, that’s an exaggeration) in the coming years due to, in part, the Affordable Care Act, they needed to make sure we understood, in no uncertain terms, that we were nothing but a means to the bottom line for the shareholders…and the shareholders are mad that I might get an even shot at their level of care.

I wish I had the numbers with me right now, they are tucked away on my desk to remind me why I hate being a middle-class white-collar American anymore.  I’ll see if I can amend the post with them if I remember to grab it from work tomorrow.  The point is, and this is totally verifiable, that in order to stick with the “standard” healthcare plan of simple co-pay’s and using in-network providers, my costs would increase so substantially it would off-set every raise I had gotten since I  hired on to this company, setting me back 4 years in personal jog growth…plus some.

Makes me miss that “socialistic” nightmare known as Tri-Care (the healthcare plan that the military has which is so highly touted as the best available in our country, by the same people that hate the idea of socialized healthcare), but I digress…

My other option was to gamble on my health.  No seriously, that’s not some clever metaphor, Aetna literally made most of my company decide in about 11 days’ time how much they thought they might need health insurance this year.  And not just us, but our families, too.  It’s literally playing the market on my healthcare, and if I miss, I’m bankrupt.  Again, not a metaphor…there’s a point in the plan that I’m absorbing 100% of any healthcare costs, and it’s completely plausible that I reach that mark in a year, especially with an athletic 9-year old and a 6-year old with an obscenely rare genetic skeletal disorder.  It’s not because I don’t work my ass off for a living, or that I’m under-educated or under-motivated…it’s not because I tried to cheat a system and got caught, or tried to skimp out on something…it’s literally…LITERALLY…a point that Aetna’s profit margins are in danger of shrinking.

So, these first 3 months have been stressful.  I wasn’t being dramatic when I told the ex that we needed to minimize the risks that the children get hurt and sick.  I FEAR FOR MY LIVELIHOOD that one of my family members gets hurt or sick because I’m terrified of the potential costs to me.  The idea that the richest and the poorest Americans are living off my back has enraged me more than I can even put into words.  But for the most part I’ve just put my nose to the ground and pushed forward, hoping beyond hope that Americans wake up and realize that the only way to fix this is to stop making healthcare a for-profit-only business.  The politics of this are obvious, so I’m not going to go there at the moment…right now I’m just making you aware of how bad things are.

Tonight’s rant has been brought to you by my experience just now with the pharmacy.  If you know me personally you know that last year was tough, and I needed help getting past it, and I swallowed my pride and got on Wellbutrin (generic, of course) to help me through it.  I’m still on it, but getting close to weening off, which is exciting.  The crappy thing about Wellbutrin is that when it’s working, you think less about taking it because you feel good…then when I miss a couple days it suddenly hits me and I become very anxious and irritable.  That would be me right now.  I let the bottle run out on Friday, and it’s now Tuesday and I’m really feeling the push.  I went to CVS to fill my last re-upping, no problem there.  Or….

CVS calls me a few minutes later to tell me that Aetna has denied my prescription fill.  This is the ONLY prescription I’ve had all year (besides little dinky thing, but it’s the only refilling one I have had) and this year I’ve only filled it once before now.  So I’m a bit annoyed and surprised about this news.  I call Aetna and I’m told that thanks to this new plan I have to refill using mail-order from now on…and I’ve used my option for my one local re-fill.  Well, now I have to admit that I’ve backed myself into a corner because it’s dangerous to cold-turkey stop this medication, it can spiral me into depression (oops), but I really didn’t see this coming.  I ask the lady on the phone for help to get my out of this pickle, and she says…I am not making this up…that she can give me my ONE LIFETIME WAIVER for a local fill.

Let’s hear that again.

ONCE>>>>>>>>EVER>>>>>>IN MY LIFETIME>>>>>>

I ask her if that’s some weird terminology.  I ask her if that means that I need a life-or-death medication in 20 years if that still means I can’t get it and she affirms that yes, I have to mail-order it or pay out-of-pocket, quite matter-of-factually.  As if the fact that I’m being railroaded is just another day at the god damn office.

I can’t even figure out why this is a priority?  Are they really intent on saving so much with this mail-order scam?  No, I don’t believe it in my heart…I truly believe this is more about the idea that if it’s more difficult to do, then maybe I just wont do it.  And not doing it increased their profits.  Sure, it could make me very sick…physically or mentally…but what does that matter to them?  It doesn’t.

So it’s official, if you’re reading this an you’re not insured and you go to the ER for your cold and flu meds…you’re welcome.

If you’re reading this and you’re well off enough that health costs are just a drop in the bucket and therefore reforming it is no concern of yours…you’re welcome.

To the rest of you who work every day to pad the velvet man-panties of the insurance industry and their shareholders, so they can look down on you for asking for healthcare reform so we can live our lives without having to FEAR it, be on notice…you must fight the status quo.  If you choose to believe the hyperbole and vote against your best interests because you believe that it will get better because the ads tell you so, then so be it…but eventually you will realize that you are just a second-rate citizen in the eyes of the richest 2%.  Your only job that matters is making their live’s better, and it can’t get better while you still believe that.

That’s all for now.

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Great CNN opinion on abortion. May surprise you.

Sent from the CNN App for Android

Opinion: Changing limits on abortion?
http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/01/opinion/osler-abortion-viability/index.html

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The Republican tragedy

Image
This is just an image from Google.  This article is not related to the “New Yorker”, it is simply my thoughts and opinions.  The picture made me laugh.

 

 

Tonight, my fellow Floridians from the right (from what I’m hearing about half of them anyway) are having their ballots counted up and deciding who they want to run in the General Election later this year to try to win the presidency.  It’s a spectacle of epic proportions, thanks to the supremely unwise decision that corporations are people, and campaigns may now have limitless funding.  Luckily for me, I have not paid for cable TV in well over a year.  Yay for Hulu and Netflix.

I can’t help but giggle at the fact that this is happening in a year with a Democratic incumbent and a Republican Primary.  It’s no secret that the GOP can raise money from the uber lobbyists in Washington.  The unions and of course the demographic of the average Democratic voter can never hope to support a Democratic candidate financially as much.  So the average Republican voters is seeing just how dangerous unregulated cash is in the hands of the ultra greedy and power-hungry.  The party is eating itself up by the second, and Obama is just soaking it all in.  I’m hoping that it opens some eyes, but I’m skeptical.

In 2008, I was freshly out of the Navy, working for one of the biggest DoD contractors, and pretty sure I was supposed to be a Republican.  I started to notice though, that everything I was seeing on the news (naturally Fox was the go-to in our DoD office) was horribly negative, and most opinions were obviously false.  I was appalled that these “professionals” were so desperate to hide something from me that they were trying to trick me into these sideshows about birth certificates and muslim-sounding middle names.  I actually started keeping a tally of how often I heard what the GOP would do for our country, and comparing that to what they SAID the Dems would do against our country.  In one sitting, thru 6 hours of “news”, there was not a single mention of Republican policy from any of the conservative pundits or candidates…only spitting accusations against the Left.

I didn’t support Obama, it was simply a matter of the GOP and Fox News made me hate them so much I kinda just fell into the role of supporting him.  I didn’t even know it was happening, and I’ll be honest…it frightened me.  Was I allowed to like a Democrat?  At the end of 2008, I moved from Virginia back home to Florida.  I aws much more focused on this transition to a whole new life than politics, because I am a bit too OCD to punch a ballot when I don’t think I can make an informed decision.  So I didn’t vote.  Luckily, McCain and whichever (likely unemployed) staffer that recommended Palin as his running mate sealed the deal that year by pretty much alienating the entire country by telling them that they were too stupid to see this obvious circus act of a move.

In 2010, again I was not quite sure where I stood.  This Tea Party thing was getting stronger, and although much of it sounded like it made sense, I was noticing that the loudest voices for the movement were absolutely terrifying people.  The name-calling and unsolicited hatred towards Obama was amazing to me.  An entire genre of people just decided to completely ignore any and all facts, and with the impressive financial backing of two of the richest people in the country, were able to spread the voice like wildfire.  Unfortunately it took too long for me to really figure it out, and I did nothing.

I’m not telling the world this because I’m proud that I did not exercise my given constitutional right to vote.  I’m quite ashamed, and for the last two years I have really been into the business of understanding.  I have dug my heels in on the things that matter most to me, but I have also been corrected by may plethora of friends that lean a lot more to the right than I lean to the left…and I have enjoyed the heated discussions and rivalries that this world of social media offers.  But the truth is that I am a registered Democrat now.  Maybe I would register Independent, but my timidity towards having a voice before has made me too intense now to want to avoid voting in a Primary election (well..not this year since Obama is apparently going to run unopposed).

Today, I did something I’ve never done before. I volunteered my time for a campaign, obviously I’m referring to the Obama campaign.  Last weekend I met (actually I stepped on…) the mayor of Minneapolis, who also happens to be the second-in-command in the Democratic Party.  I’m not quite willing to donate my money yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t lend my time and energy, because I am horrified by the idea that any of these GOP candidates would ever get the chance to run this country the rest of the way into the ground.  Even Ron Paul, who I respect a LOT of his policies, would probably do more harm than good right now.  Austerity is great, when the country can afford to do it.  In 1999, he would have probably made this country stronger than anyone could imagine.  But that was a different time…we need a unified government working to prime the economy enough that the middle class can rebuild itself into what made the USA great in the first place.

If the GOP would just get past this unashamed fascism that it doesn’t even try to hide anymore, and would stop holding the nation hostage for the ideological extreme minority, then I would love to be embrace the ideas of a free market where everyone had the chance to pursue the “American Dream”…but that is not what today’s Republican Party stands for, so for now…this is where I stand.

That’s all for now.

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No pain, no gain…

I despise that moniker.  I don’t like pain.  I’m an American dammit, I want it now, and I want it with minimal effort.

Be afraid

It was something like this, as I remember it...

The problem here is that tonight, I got my ego bruised, along with every muscle group in my body, and maybe some muscles that I haven’t even formed yet.  And in the interest of finding ways for you to mock me, I will share that I did it with ZERO dignity in front of a room full of women.

I’ve been the proud member of one of the larger gyms in the area for over 3 weeks now.  So now I’m an expert, right?  No, because this is a completely foreign concept to me.  Even when I was in the Navy I avoided physical exertion at all costs.  It’s just not my thing.  The way I saw it, my sedentary ways were not going to be the end of me; that’s what my smoking, drinking, family history of diabetes, and lack of stress management were for.  Being chubby was just a bonus.  I’m totally selling this as if I was one of those cool fat guys, like the kid from Varsity Blues.  No, I’m not.  I’m just awkwardly proportioned enough to be able to fool folks about my weight and not be able to comfortably fit into ANY pair of pants (does anyone else have the issue that their thighs are bigger than their waists?  No?  Just me?  Moving on…).

My first 2 weeks were neat.  The gym of course threw in all the little freebies in hopes that I would spend more, and it probably worked.  I got a couple visits with a personal trainer, and he successfully made it so I couldn’t walk for two days after that initial visit.  Kinda counter-productive to me…

No pain, no gain…

But I have been pushing hard and eating well enough that I’m starting to feel and even see results.  At the risk of sounding like a 25 year old woman, I was totally rocking my skinny khakis at work today (everything is relative…don’t judge me).  I even maintained circulation in my legs while seated (damn thighs).  So today was the start of my 3rd week, and I decided that I wasn’t in the mood for the normal exercises or cardio I’d been doing…and I was told that I was supposed to switch things up occasionally anyway.  So tonight, I ventured into the world of Group Fitness.  I wander up to the enthusiastic middle-aged women gathered near the door and asked what was the next class.  The trauma is preventing me from remembering the name of this atrocity, but it was followed with a wink and a “you will be very sore tomorrow, but NO PAIN, NO GAIN!”.

Did I say “ahhh thanks, but no thanks”?  No, I looked around at middle-aged women and said “I got this”.  I think I even had swagger…SWAGGER!  What the hell is wrong with me?  We entered the dungeon cleverly disguised with musty wooden floors and mirrors everywhere.  The instructor met me with that “fresh meat” look in her eye and with one professional look at this sculpted sack of potatoes we call my body, recommended to use as little weight as possible.  This was in the guise of learning the form this time around, but I think it was for selfish reasons.  I bet when fat dudes die from their regiment they have a LOT of paperwork to deal with.

Luckily, I’m not a complete idiot so I just used what she gave me and did honestly file away the advice “pace yourself”.  Seemed like a reasonable request that I could humor for the time being. I followed the lead of the Gretas and Lindas of the room and gathered my mat, my step-thingy, and proceeded to position myself quite accidentally in the front of the bloody class.  I did take slight notice to the fact that I had by FAR the least amount of weight with me, and I was easily the 2nd youngest person in the room, the youngest being the instructor. But now, every one of them would be able to take pleasure in seeing that they would absolutely kick my ass in a fair fight.  Pssh, they don’t know that I bite.

So, this was really not a fair situation for a newcomer.  The motivating music that was used to loosely cover the fact we were being tortured was upbeat and nifty and all, but when I’m trying to remember to breath and to balance and to…not die…it’s hardly fair for me to have to decode a high-pitched voice, over-amplified, in a room as acoustically correct as the inside of a beer can. So I was honestly struggling with what the hell I was doing, and this entire debacle is based on working at a set pace to get your heart rate where it needs to be, or some such jazz.  I kept finding myself doing nothing like anyone around me, which coupled with the fact that I have the grace of an epileptic walrus, meant that I was becoming overly self-conscience as the class went on.

Now, here’s a lesson in the difference between women and men.  When women are in a situation like this, they have the good mind to NOT be in the front of the class, but also would quietly keep themselves going at their own pace so as not to disturb the other patrons.  I however, along with most men I know, saw this as a prime opportunity to make a complete ass of myself by trying to keep up, despite my body telling me in no uncertain terms that it was NOT going to happen.  I’m not kidding, I made it through the first SET of exercises.  That’s 6 minutes out of 60.  Or 10%, for you statistical types.  They involved lifting weights and squatting at the same time.  Does anyone else see the twisted irony in this?  I’m in the gym because I’m obviously out of shape, and which part of my body has had the most disdain from my gluttonous ways but my legs…including those already-mentioned thunder-thighs.  So let’s do some effing SQUATS…while lifting weights.  Did I pace myself though?  Hell no,I kept pushing, and before I knew it I was making noises that I can only hope turned on at least some of the women in there to save me at least that much dignity.  I’m purple in the face, wanting to fall over, and I look around and nobody else is even breaking a SWEAT.  But, I made it through the exercise…was told by the instructor to grab a drink…

..and promptly collapsed.  I’m not kidding, my legs had completely gone to jello.  I’ve heard that euphemism before but I’ve never truly experienced the complete and utter loss of motor control on an extremity.  It was almost funny, if not for the pain in my legs and my bruised and bloody ego.  After a moment of people avoiding eye contact with the grunting sack of potatoes on the floor, I was able to crawl out of the way and drink my water so I could finish my workout.  “Only 50 minutes to go!”  Do all fitness people have this sick sense of humor, or was I just lucky?

The good news is that I did finish the workout…mostly…and I was congratulated by the ladies (I think they just want me to come back…I had to be entertaining as hell to watch) and reassured by the instructor (not without a jab at how sore I’m gonna be tomorrow…and the rest of the week…as if it’s something a normal human being looks forward to).  And once the swelling subsides, I think I might even do it again.

But for the time being, I believe I am stuck in my office chair and need to call for help.  So if you’ll excuse me…

That’s all for now.

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Hello world!

“Welcome to WordPress.com.”

That’s what this blog site is telling me.  I’m excited about this, for a few reasons.  First off, I’ve always wanted to try this.  Not because I thought I would have a huge audience for my random thoughts, but because typing them helps me to realize what I’m trying to say.  Ironically, my job involves public speaking, but I feel that I can only express a fraction of what I want to say in words…my real expression is through type.  So we’ll just go with this being my own little section of self-therapy.

The other reason is that I always feel like there is more to say, but I’m wary of saying it in the typical social media outlets.  I’m never one to shy away from a discussion that I’m passionate about, and as my mild case of A.D.D. has grown, I discover that I’m passionate about way too much crap.  I have a nagging feeling that my rants and raves and random oddness have overstayed their welcome on Facebook, but I really do want to be able to have debate with those that do not agree with me, and reinforce my ideals with those that do.

So, after a late evening of setting up the blog I don’t have much else to say tonight.  I appreciate that you even read this much and I really do hope I can connect with as many people as possible by letting them see into this wacky grey matter a little deeper.

-Merrill