Thursday, March 25, 2010
A Big F***ing Deal
I've looked everywhere and I can't find them. Even though there are at least 50 boxes that have not been opened, I know they're not in one of them. The day the driver pulled up with his massive 70-foot rig filled with all of our belongings, they were the first things he handed to me. The mirrors to my scooter. I put them somewhere, but I can't, for the life of me, remember where I placed them.
This past Sunday, the temperature hovered near 70 degrees with plentiful sunshine. It was a perfect day for a scooter ride, my first since moving back to Ohio. I had to charge up the battery, but after sitting overnight it turned over on the 2nd or 3rd try. I grabbed my riding jacket, gloves, and helmet. I asked Donna to check the brake-light to make sure it was operational before I started out. Then, right before I was set to twist that throttle, I heard her call out over the purr of the engine, "Where's your mirrors?" The movers unscrewed them before hoisting it on to the truck in Illinois, and now I can't seem to recall where they are.
After the historic events this week regarding health-care reform, I've had time to reflect on my own health-insurance situation. It wasn't that long ago, while starting to work for KDKA, that I was asked to make the decision to either choose the plan offered by CBS or the one offered through AFTRA, the union. I remember going back to my little one-bedroom apartment that the station rented for me across the river at Allegheny Center and spreading out everything on the floor in front of me and trying to decide. I'm generally not very skilled when it comes to these things, since Donna usually just handles it. But I was alone and I needed to make a decision. Since the AFTRA policy required me to make no premium-payment, I decided that it was too good of an option to turn down. It wasn't long after that AFTRA announced that the fund could no longer enable us to be payment-free. Then, the premiums went up exponentially. Eventually, after being down-sized from my position, I could no longer participate in the plan after claiming "financial core" status. I was in the market shopping for insurance just like everyone else who is self-employed.
My plan is relatively mediocre, and in that sense I'm wagering a guess that it's not unlike many people's plans. When I started to shop, I had no shortage of insurance companies willing to talk to me. However, whenever I would get to the "pre-existing conditions" part of the application, things suddenly came to a grinding halt. "You have GERD, Mr. Anthony? Did that occur before or after you started sleeping with a CPAP machine because of sleep apnea? Is your apnea a result of your asthma, or vice-versa? What did the specialists at the Voice Center tell you about the effect of LPR on your voice?" Sure, they would take a couple of days to get back to me, and they never failed to do so. They also never failed to deny me coverage. After going through several of these applications, I finally found a company willing to take me on.
Certainly not everything about "ObamaCare" is perfect. Far from it. But I am still a bit perplexed as to why the Tea-Baggers, Glenn Beck, most of my friends on Facebook, and especially my parents are so gung-ho on supporting a maintenance-plan on the current system. When I made my trip to Pittsburgh to the Voice Center last October, absolutely none of the over-$1300.00 bill was covered by my policy, simply because I hadn't yet met my deductible. Not one test, including a very expensive videostrobe, that I had done the year before at the Missouri Voice Center was covered by my policy because of pre-existing conditions. The prescription they gave me to have filled after the appointment was also not covered, however Walmart would gladly fill it...for $239.00! When I visited my new doctor several weeks ago, I gave them my card so that they could make a copy of it, and then was prompted to pay a $40.00 co-pay, the highest co-pay that I've ever had to make. People are gathering together, spitting on congressmen and tossing out racial slurs because they don't want this re-formatted?
I'm convinced that the only way my insurance policy would be beneficial to me is if, G-d forbid, some SUV pulled out in front of me on Darrow Road. Many times while I've been riding, I've thought to myself that I really only have insurance in case something catastrophic were to happen, like twisting my spine into a pretzel-shape on this damned scooter. And yet, I'm lucky, because I've been able to scrape enough money together each month, so far, to pay my premium, unlike the thousands and thousands who can't even begin to think about coughing up a monthly payment for themselves or their children.
No, I don't like more numerals added to the deficit. If David Axelrod goes on This Week one more time and says that health-care reform won't add to the deficit, I'm going to bounce my remote off the LCD. I'm Pro-Life, so, yes, I'm concerned about government-funding of abortion. And I'm a bit puzzled as to why a good portion of this doesn't kick in until 2014. But what portion of "insurance companies can't reject you for pre-existing conditions" does the Republican party not like? An "insurance marketplace" in order to boost competition is bad....how, again? Mitt Romney didn't seem to mind it when he was the governor of Massachusetts. I watched the President's "Health-Care Town Hall" and I agree with the the Republican's proposal to allow customers to shop for insurance across state lines. But unless I missed something, I didn't hear too much more of substance from them, and being able to buy insurance in New Mexico, or wherever, is not going to renovate a system spiraling out of control.
What's the role of government in our lives? What was the intention of the Founding Fathers? These are questions that have been the subject of Ph.D. dissertations since Harvard and Yale became institutions of higher learning. I don't know if one person can answer it, although Glenn Beck is convinced he can, especially when he breaks out his erase-board and his pointer. Does government have a responsibility to us, and if so, when does it start and stop? And what is my responsibility to my fellow citizens? Can I, or my government, sit silently aloof as fellow citizens suffer? Or is that considered "socialism", giving me free reign to leave threatening phone-messages for members of Congress? And if I'm a Catholic Christian, do I urge my government to have a responsibility to those citizens who don't have what I have, or does that add more fuel to the fire of the Church-State debate?
What I do know is this: I'm tired of sending off premiums every month and still having to pay for everything out-of-pocket. I'm tired of not being able to afford the prescriptions I need because those crucial to my well-being are not covered. I'm tired of apologizing to insurance companies because of medical conditions that aren't my fault. And as an entrepreneur, I'm tired of being penalized because I don't have access to a healthy amount of choices when it comes to choosing a policy. Joe Biden said it...it's " a big f***ing deal". Will the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cure these ills? Time will tell, but isn't it better than trying to justify the status quo?
The pundits say we have the best health-care in the world. The statistics from independent sources say we don't. I don't know. There are so many questions. Are insurance companies to blame, or is it the hyper-inflated cost of health-care? Are the wait-times for care in Canada really that bad? Would a government-option for health-care place all of American democracy in a situation of great peril? I suppose it depends on whether you're watching Fox News or MSNBC. As for me, I've had good doctors and not-so-great. As far as my condition, I've heard doctors from the same specialty come up with radically different conclusions. Sometimes it's a coin-toss.
I'd like to think about these questions, but I'd like to do it on my scooter. But I can't. Not until I find the mirrors. I can't ride without mirrors. I'll get arrested. Worse still, I might get in an accident. But at least I know that any ER charges above $2500.00 will be covered. I think.
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