Saturday, July 08, 2017

Blows Dust Off Blog....

Nothing's bad (other than the grand scale national everything, I mean). I'm just struggling to organize my thoughts.

I'm feeling very broke lately. I thought I was ahead of the game on cash flow for the month then, "FUCK! CAR INSURANCE!!" and I was no longer ahead. I'm in a position I'll call "well off on paper, but cash flow challenged." I'm not whining. I know I'm fortunate. I have a modest retirement account and equity in two properties, and I can get by on my income, but damn, it's annoying to be paycheck to paycheck in reality when "well off" on paper. So I stepped back a bit and looked at where I am.

I'm "rich". I really am. I have books and yarn and a comfortable home in a safe neighborhood, and a newer SUV I only sort of regret buying. I have equity in two properties, so on paper, I'm "rich," while in day-to-day life, I'm just getting by, because I have to hold onto that equity as my retirement security. I'd been kicking myself for not settling for a Corolla, until I actually comparison shopped and realized that a Corolla with similar mileage and equipment would have cost maybe $1k less than the RAV4. So no, that wouldn't have been the difference. I've survived a whole lotta bad shit, and while I am seriously cash flow challenged and will be for the next year or two, I'm totally aware that I'm very, very fortunate to be where I am, dealing with the petty annoying challenges I whine about every day. I'm also very aware how quickly this can change, which is why I'm following the Republicans' latest attempt to destroy the progress we've made on health care, rather than do the bipartisan work to fix what's not working and improve on it. (The things that aren't working are largely due to poison pills and compromises the Republicans demanded when it was passed.)

I'm very aware that my present cash flow challenged but relatively secure life is very tenuous and could change with any random medical problem, despite having insurance and the appearance of being "safe." In 2001-2003, I stood at the edge of that abyss. My husband had terminal cancer, and through the grace of my wonderful regional EVP at the big corporation where I worked, I was able to hold onto my job and insurance and transfer my husband to my policy, which re-started the clock on his million dollar coverage cap, which basically saved the house. We spent every penny of the money he'd put away for retirement. I truly think it was a "there but for the grace of God" moment for the EVP. He was the same age as my husband, had met him, knew he was a fit and healthy-looking guy, and it was a holy shit, that could be ME! moment, and I think of him often and bless him every day. I still remember when he came into my office, and I really expected him to say we'd have to work something out to make sure I could still do my job. I was actually, physically holding my breath. He sat down in one of the guest chairs and said, "Whatever you need. Take as much time as you need to care for him." And I cried. I'm still tearing up, all these years later.

Most people don't really grasp how our current system works. If people really paused to think about this, they'd realize how our employer-based for-profit health care system is cruel and a nightmare. After my husband died I counted myself among the few and the fortunate: I was "only" $100K in personal debt, still had a job and had held onto the house, which had a mortgage which I immediately refinanced at a much lower rate. I worked my ass off to get out from under those years. I made some mistakes, but I survived. And now everything I worked to keep is at risk again.

And that is why the Republicans' garbled "ideas" to repeal and replace the program they've LIED ABOUT for the last SEVEN years are so freaking cruel and disgusting. Please, yes, let's reinstate exclusions (or prohibitive pricing, which amounts to the same thing) for pre-existing conditions. I'm a brain aneurysm survivor. I would not be able to afford coverage on the open market if I lost my employer coverage.

Medical bills used to be the biggest reason for bankruptcy. Often it still is, because most people are still getting their insurance through their employers, so if the breadwinner gets a serious illness and can't work, they lose that insurance when the breadwinner loses that coverage. All of the relatively modest assets I've held onto by the skin of my teeth and the goodness of others would be lost if I get seriously ill and unable to work and would quickly lose my employer based coverage. I'd have to use everything I've worked so hard to hold onto, then go onto Medicaid, and I'm in Florida and that's terrifying.

That is the fucking cold, cruel reality of American health insurance. It's not care. It's a for-profit business that is designed to profit shareholders at the expense of the people who trust it to pay for their medical expenses and not leave them bankrupt. And we have a population of brainwashed morons who swear this is the greatest health care system in the world. They don't understand that the innovations in treatment and care are often coming out of those "socialized medicine" places, because they aren't "for profit," so they can actually do things that work without worrying about their shareholders.

I don't believe in cursing people, but if I did, I'd curse every Republican defender of our current "system" with a child or grandchild who contracts a disease that is insanely expensive, so they can spend the rest of their fucking smug "I've got mine, fuck you," lives holding car washes and bake sales to help keep the child they love alive. And the grandparents can think about this awesome system they are so proud of, while the child's parents lose the house they worked hard to buy, worry about their child's survival and also keeping the electric bill paid, but still can't get out from under their student loans. You people built this.

Young'uns, don't blame the Boomers as a class. Many of us have fought this for decades. We need to transition to single payer, but we can't flip that switch overnight, because health care is 1/6 of the economy and you can't just turn it off and reboot it in another program overnight. The ACA was the first baby steps toward single payer, and would get there if everyone who actually understood how insurance works acted like grownups. But that doesn't mean it can't be eased into faster, with things like a Medicare buy-in for people my age, and other ideas that are already out there but get shouted down by Republicans.

Which gets us to where we are today, when the Republicans have control of all three branches of government and still can't get anything done. Don't watch Putin's Dancing Apricot Poodle. He's the distraction. Yes, it's ridiculous that Ivanka Who Never Went on a JOB INTERVIEW in Her Life sat in as a representative of this country in an international venue. That was so embarrassingly banana republic, it humiliated us as a nation. We are temporarily not a world power. But let's not take our eyes off the real issue: the shit the Republicans are pulling is the dismantling of the American Dream.

Whew. Okay, I feel better! My next rant will be What the FUCK is Wrong with the LEFT? I'm mean, seriously. Twitter makes me fucking crazy. Our house is actually burning down, the drapes are on fire and the roof beams are cracking and in danger of collapsing, and they are purity testing the people in the bucket brigade, and engaging in slap-fights over how Bernie could'a won (except for that petty little problem of not winning the primary vote, because DNC voodoo something, and give me a fucking break) and IF ONLY Hillary hadn't snubbed the rural vote in Wisconsin - sanctimonious punditry ignoring the big fat ugly of massive and targeted Russian interference, voter suppression, the pernicious Fox News, etc. Fuck them too.

The grownups see what is happening. They are calling their representatives, showing up at town halls, marching, writing, tweeting, and it IS working. The Treasonous Turtle's basically admitted that OH HORRORS! They're going to have to do a bipartisan fix on the ACA. ("Bipartisan" is a dirty word in some R circles.) This is going to be exhausting, but we must not get exhausted. And we must not be discouraged that Bob Mueller's not talking about what he's doing. Patience, Grasshopper. This is bigger and deeper than the Puppet, and removing this tumor on our democracy will take exhaustive research and some really deep surgery. Meanwhile, we can keep the pressure on Congress, and tell them every day that This Shit Must Cease.


Donna (Random Knits) said...

American "healthcare" baffles me. I'm Australian, and will defend our socialised healthcare to the end!
My husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, stage 4 in 2003. 6 months of treatment, he's now cured and our out of pocket was ~$600. Six hundred dollars. That's it.
It's tax time here, and I just lodged my tax return. We pay a 2% levy to cover Medicare, yet I paid ~25% of my income in taxes. More than happy to pay that to ensure the availability of Medicare, public education, welfare and whatever else for EVERYONE.
I did see something on Facebook this morning where someone pointed out that maybe people opposed to single payer who say the US can't afford it actually think that medical care costs what you guys are charged for it?
I'm preaching to the choir, but still. Baffled.

Anonymous said...

We also have an option here that really helps - member owned health funds. "Not for profit" funds as opposed to the big, heavily marketed commercial funds. No prizes for guessing where we are!

Holding our breath here - Ernst has family in Hamburg, and Hamburg looks like a war zone - Hamburg did cop it hot and strong in WW2, they do not need destructive anarchists (is there any other sort?)

Best of luck,

Gae, in Callala Bay

wednesday said...

Oh, Lord, if only the folks who are allegedly looking out for us would quit waving the flag and look around at how other countries get things done. Yes, Capitalism built this country, but now it stands poised to destroy it, and then sell of the smouldering wreckage for a profit.

Catherine said...

We Americans know for a fact that these stories of people who love their socialized medicine are NOT TRUE!! People in those countries DIE waiting to see doctors!! They wish they could come here for the BEST medical care in the WORLD!!

No, seriously, people here believe that. Not all Americans of course, but I've heard the above all my life. They hold bake sales and car washes and set up Go Fund Me accounts, lose their homes, file bankruptcy, because they truly believe the horror stories of "socialized medicine" fed to them by the for-profit insurance industry.

Kirsten said...

I wish "those people" could spend ten years trying to figure out how to pay for medical coverage. I checked myself out of the emergency room because I knew we couldn't afford a hospital stay, and ended up back in ER four hours later. It was a tiny bill, $5,000 or so, and lucky for us it was a Catholic hospital, and they wrote it off. But yeah, $360 for a month's prescription? Good luck with that.

And I can't believe the old white dem's saying The Party Must Go To The Center! NOOOOO!

Anonymous said...

I checked all Ernst's medications - without our " socialist" subsidy for prescriptions for age pensioners, the assortment would cost $320 per month. As it is, we pay about $42 per month.

Gae, in Callala Bay