Health insurance

When I had a car accident 10+ years ago, I had to sue my insurance company to make them pay my hospital bills. After they settled and paid, they threatend to sue me for the full amount at any point they felt like over the next 30 years. They offered to accept 1/3 paid back to them immediately to settle. My attorney said that was a good deal. They stalled paying anything for 6 months. In the mean time, the hospital put debt collections out on me for $30k. I needed an attorney working several weeks to stop it.

I’ve changed insurance companies at least once a year, every year, since 1997. It was great while I was a government contractor, and my first year at a very nice software company. It always gets more expensive. It always covers less. My accident was more than 10 years ago.

While I’m looking for work, most jobs I’m offered (usually contractors) no longer offer health insurance plans, or charge me several hundred dollars per paycheck for basic coverage.

My healthcare for ADHD and related mental healthcare is even worse. Mental health coverage is not covered by the same insurance company, it is always outsourced to a third party not even mentioned in employee briefings. I pay several hundred dollars / month for that even with insurance, because therapy (considered mandatory by most doctors) has been covered for one year out of the past 20.

Same insurance for prescriptions, however. Under my wife’s insurance, I drive more than 20 miles one-way to get prescriptions because only one pharmacy at one location is covered. Almost always, the price of individual medications after insurance is higher than the price for the same medications in countries without health insurance (everywhere). My employers (who ultimately foots the bill for insurance) are charged several thousand dollars / month. That’s what I would pay without insurance. But I’m sure that’s never been relevant to me being picked during a layoff.

I usually go several days every 1-3 months without prescriptions because an insurance company demands that the medication be pre-authorized before the prescription is filled, without warning. For medications I’ve been taking for a decade. They’ll randomly decide that I need to switch to a generic (which usually works differently, for mental healthcare prescriptions), or decide whatever I’ve found that works is no longer covered at all. I’ve heard both that medications I were on were outdated and no longer the preference as well as too new / experimental simultaneously, 3 times. Whenever I switch insurance, I need to pre-auth nearly every prescription. That means going with prescriptions for several days. If you’ve never gone without ADHD medication and antidepressants it’s like this: stop smoking, stop being an alcoholic, cut out caffeine, and go to work with absolutely no sleep on the same day. There is also a risk of seizure, when suddenly stopping any psychiatric medication. No employer is ever sympathetic. No insurance company representative has ever been the least bit knowledgeable of any of those healthcare issues.

All of that is tied to an employer. So they try to get the cheapest plan, get a new plan every year, and there’s no continuation of coverage when I change jobs. If I’m out of work, I’m not getting any insurance for myself. I’m relying entirely on my spouse’s insurance. There is no competitive market, for the consumer of health insurance.

Health insurance is the worst possible way to pay for healthcare in the industrialized world. There are good reasons to make the way insurance companies scam customers illegal.

Thursday ~ August 22, 2019 by b

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Chimps one step closer to full protection

The National Institute of Health has decided that most Chimpanzee research is unnecessary and should be phased out.

The rationale?

From the NIH press release:

However, new methods and technologies developed by the biomedical community have provided alternatives to the use of chimpanzees in several areas of research.

CBS News explains the scope of the new rules:

Collins also announced the NIH temporarily barred new government-funded studies involving chimps as his agency began implementing the new limits. The NIH will also decide whether to phase out about 37 ongoing projects, half of which Collins said probably don’t meet the new standards.

The rule changes only apply to government-funded experiments, not private research. Nonetheless, it’s nice to codify the sentiment that chimpanzee research is generally unethical, even if there are exceptions seen today in practice. I’m not at all sure (yet) about chimp research, but in general animal testing is conducted in the U.S. almost solely because it is required for FDA certification of new drugs. That requirement is generally considered outdated by the scientific community, something added after research is basically complete. Note that places in the world with more stringent rules and bans on animal research also tend to create and certify new drugs years ahead of U.S. schedules.

Some researchers want to use chimps in medical research is because they are like us biologically and mentally. That sounds like a macabre rationale to me. Destroying something or someone doesn’t become more ethical because it’s like an activity most people would label criminally violent.

May 1st

Happy May Day!

For those of you lost, May Day is a celebration that originates from two different places… Most recently from celebrations similar to U.S. Labor Day, and often referred to as Labour Day or International Workers’ Day in other countries. In the U.S., it originally commemorated the beginning of a standard 8-hour work day (as opposed to much longer) that was secured by a combination of unions and other labor-related groups. It originally was tied to remembrance of the Haymarket Affair, a police riot in Chicago during a strike in which several protesters were shot or later executed. The federal government instituted the holiday to draw attention away from the traditional celebrations tied to labor movements.

It’s also a group of traditional festivals from Celtic and Germanic cultures dating to pre-Christian ceremonies surrounding Beltane. The focus of those celebrations is in early May, and varies with the most important day occurring May 5-7. Some groups have heavily secularized the holiday, and others celebrate it as a religious tradition. This is where the May Pole originates.

Saturday ~ May 1, 2010 by b

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Haitian quake 2010

So, now seems like the appropriate time to pimp the charities I like best…:

MSF / Doctors Without Borders is a perreniel favorite of mine. Doctors to anywhere in the world (like Gaza and Afghanistan) for emergency care.

The American Red Cross. Not my favorite for a variety of reasons, but they do a very large job well. Text 90999 with the single word “Haiti” to make a $10 donation directly from your cell phone, repeatable up to 3 times. It’s apparently really legit.

Several groups have banded together under an umbrella organization named the Animal Relief Coalition of Haiti (ARCH). Those groups include: HSUS and HSI (the international counterpart), ASPCA, WSPA, American Humane, and Best Friends. Prior to the quake there was no infrastructure in the country for animal rescues, no veterinary care, no shelters, and no local relief groups like an SPCA.

Saturday ~ January 16, 2010 by b

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Living in Emergency

A documentary about Doctors Without Borders (a.k.a. MSF) in Congo and Liberia.

Tuesday ~ November 17, 2009 by b

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Veterans Day 2009

Have a good Veterans Day. Thanks.

Wednesday ~ November 11, 2009 by b

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Slowly fading blue

Here’s the speech Obama gave in Cairo:

My reaction was fairly much being stunned. I didn’t expect to hear an American president project say things like this in my lifetime. Hope? Sure. But not expect. This is precisely the sorts of thing we need to do, to stop causing the rest of the world to often be righteously angry at us. It’s not projecting moral authority. It’s creating moral authority that we sorely lack, something that’s absolutely critical for a democracy to have for accomplishing any international goals.

Also, it’s impressive that he did not look down at the podium a single time. I would not want to argue against him in a formal debate of any type.

Thursday ~ June 4, 2009 by b

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Dr. George Tiller

Any doctor shot for providing abortion services, who then goes back to it after, is already a civil rights hero. To be gunned down even after that – while fully expecting it – is much more.

Advocating or proclaiming the worthiness of anyone’s murder, for even a moment, is hardly “pro-life” and is simply anti-choice.

Condolences to Dr. Tiller’s family and friends, and many hopes that he rests in peace.

Monday ~ June 1, 2009 by b

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Tea Partying

Today is the day that the IRS wants their forms and money related to income for 2008.

To be blunt, I’m a pacifist, and if anyone says they support how our government spends money less than I do, I raise a very sceptical eyebrow. I still pay my taxes, because I think it’s the most fair thing to do as someone who benefits from the modern economy and uses government services and laws.

Recently, some people in the GOP have sponsored “teabagging” parties in which people throw teabags to show their disgust at the government spending based on allegedly unfair taxation. Presumably doing so is expressing rage at the Bush government with it’s budget-busting spending, as that’s the administration which ceased to balance the budget (thank Clinton for balancing it in the first place, in the similar aftermath of prior administrations). Apparently this is in imitation of the Boston Tea Party. I suggest there are some differences:

Admittedly, like the first Tea Party, today’s event was organized by some of the wealthiest people in the nation.

Wednesday ~ April 15, 2009 by b

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second reactions to PETA

I am, in all reality, impressed at PETA’s continued ability to surprise me. Also, that it’s still a little-known part of PETA’s job description to make dating slightly more competitive for vegan men. Seriously folks, now we have to worry about football players?

Tuesday ~ February 3, 2009 by b

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