Keep the health insurance you love. But first, some questions

The healthcare debate is entering its 25th year, and one thing that confounds me is the politician who’ll stand up on stage and promise that you’ll be able to keep the healthcare you love, or that you’ll still have freedom of choice in healthcare. I imagine this is the same sort of politician who would likely struggle at a gas pump or, if presented with the necessary ingredients for a sandwich, would take 30 minutes to complete the job. But what confounds me most is the number of people out here in the real world, who deal with actual health plans on a regular basis, who applaud the idea of keeping the insurance you love.

So some questions.

  • Do you have health insurance?
  • Did you choose your health insurance provider?
  • Did your employer choose your health insurance provider, giving you no say in the matter?
  • What would happen if you chose to opt out of your employer-provided healthcare plan?
  • Did your employer offer you a range of plans? Is the top one fairly decent and, while not perfect, will cover most things with what passes for minimal hassle when dealing with health care? Does that one cost an arm and a leg? Is the bottom one a low-cost, high-deductible plan that won’t break the bank but is really only suitable for a single person who goes to the doctor once every two years?
  • Has your employer dropped the ability to choose your plan and now only offers the low-cost, high deductible option?
  • Could you buy a used car for the price of that deductible?
  • Does adding a family member exponentially increase the cost of that plan and the deductible?

A few more questions

  • Does your employer actually pay for your healthcare?
  • If so, do you work for the government or some other tax-payer funded entity?
  • Or do you have to contribute money every pay period to pay for your “employer-provided” health insurance?
  • Has the amount you’re required to pay crept up steadily every year?
  • Do you consider a set amount of money taken out of your check every pay period a tax?
  • How much is your own private healthcare “tax” every month?
  • Do you have to pay for a separate vision plan?
  • Do you have to pay for a separate dental plan?
  • Are you ever suspicious that maybe your employer isn’t paying a whole hell of a lot?

Some final questions to wrap things up

  • Is your insurance plan accepted by all the doctors and medical service providers in your area?
  • Does your insurance company make sure costs are reasonable and the pricing transparent and easy to understand?
  • Does it make getting health services simple and efficient?
  • Can you just walk into a doctor’s office, or do you have to wait until an appointment opens up?
  • What are the copays like?
  • Does your plan cover prescription medication?
  • After meeting the deductible, is it smooth sailing from then on out?
  • When it comes time to pay a medical bill, does the insurance company make it easy to understand what you’re paying for and why?
  • How many phone calls on average does it take to settle a standard medical bill?
  • How many phone calls, emails, and faxes(!) does it take to settle a dispute with a health service provide?
  • Do you sometimes ignore the first three bills sent from a doctor’s office, hoping the insurance company will communicate that it paid its share and then you can figure it out?
  • Have you ever cried while trying to figure this all out?
  • Have you ever put off medical visits because the thought of dealing with your health insurance company just made you want to crawl under the bed and die?

One last question before you go

  • Do you love your health insurance?

It’s election season: Let’s play ask a politician!

As a recovering journalist, I know that working journalists love nothing more than other people telling them how to do their jobs, especially folks who never covered that particular beat. I was never a political reporter, so maybe I shouldn’t be writing this. After all, I don’t have the level of expertise it takes to pitch tons of soft-ball questions to continue my access to a politician and the occasional hard ball designed to make me look cool in front of the other reporters. Or something something something Russia.

The thing is, politicians pretend to be public servants but rarely act like either a servant or a member of the public. There is also a certain breed running around screaming about elitists–and then jumping in a limo or first-class to make their next meeting. So I’ve come up with a list of questions all politicians should be asked. I’ll be honest, I first came up with these because of Donald Trump. And this list is a hell of a lot more fun if you imagine Trump successfully answering ANY of them. But the questions should work for any politician of either party–particularly incumbents.

Continue reading “It’s election season: Let’s play ask a politician!”

Donald Trump is the father of us all

“Who ya gonna believe? Me or your own lying ears?” Photo by Gage Skidmore

So Donald Trump is now suggesting that actual audio tape of him talking about grabbing women by the cooter could be fake. This even after he previously admitted that it was his voice on the tape and that he did, indeed, say those things.

Sure, previous Liar in Chief Bill Clinton tried to weasel himself out of a corner by arguing over the legal definition of “is.” (And I wouldn’t put much past either of the Clintons when backed into a corner. Those two are like badgers.) Those were different times, though. Hell, we didn’t know that we were supposed to believe all women, all the time. Apparently, Hillary didn’t either. She especially didn’t believe the ones who accused Bill of nonconsensual attacks and rape.

But in this case there is actual audio proof AND a confession from the man himself.

Continue reading “Donald Trump is the father of us all”

I Voted. So What? Who Cares?

This morning, I voted. Are you proud of me? Would you like to give me a sticker, kiss me, buy me a beer, buy my book?

Before you get too excited, let me tell you why I voted. I voted because, when I showed up at the polling place, it wasn’t wholesale chaos. I voted because there wasn’t a line. I voted because this year, at this particular time, at this particular polling place, the poll workers weren’t being the incompetent, disenfranchising, Democratic party hacks I’ve come to expect from certain districts in Brooklyn.

Stop right there. Don’t lecture me about these patriotic volunteers doing their civic duty. In New York, they’re paid to be there. In fact, they’re paid even more if they bother to get trained. (Yeah, training, last I checked, was optional.)

Obviously, I’m a horrible citizen because I even considered not voting. Then again, I live in one of those districts in New York that go Democrat, oh, 110% of the time. Indeed, I’d bet if NO ONE showed up at the polls, the Democrats would still do pretty good. Yes, I know there are precincts in other states that are just as reliably Republican. I’m sure there are districts in, say, Texas where a vote for a Democrat is akin to french-kissing Satan. This is the state of our nation.

So why do I vote? I guess mostly so that I retain the right to bitch about the outcomes for the next two to four years. If you don’t vote, you resign that right. How did I vote? It doesn’t matter. Andrew Cuomo sounds like Al Pacino and Carl Paladino is running because he’s sad about his dead son. Cuomo is the sort of political hack who thinks he is owed elective office and Paladino is batshit insane. Oh, and Cuomo was going to win big anyway. As far as the issue of term limits? Why does it matter what we vote on that when King Mike and his minions can simply overturn the will of the people when it suits them?

If I’d had my wits about me, I would have written in candidates for every office, but I was drawing blanks.

But yeah, I voted. Perhaps you should vote, too. Perhaps you shouldn’t. If you don’t know who the candidates are, if you don’t know what the issues are, if you have to ask someone else how to vote? Stay home. I don’t know where we got this idea that everyone needs to vote — even people who haven’t been paying attention or know the first thing about government. That’s not to say you can’t figure out the basics in the next few hours and then get to the polling place. But if you don’t know, don’t go.

You don’t need an “I Voted” sticker that bad and you can just lie to Facebook if you want a virtual button.

Jesco White for Senator from West Virginia

Now that Robert Byrd has gone to that great Klan meeting in the sky, West Virginia needs a new senator. I nominate Jesco White, of the “Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.” Because if funneling billions of federal money to build bridges and buildings with your name on it is enough to make up for a past that included the Klan and voting against civil rights laws, then certainly being funny and having a documentary made about you is enough to make up for murder and drug dealing!

Nanny-State Jackass of the Week: Felix Ortiz

The Brooklyn Democrat Felix Ortiz, a state assemblyman in New York, “has introduced a bill that would ban the use of salt in New York restaurants – and violators would be smacked with a $1,000 fine for every salty dish.”

Of course, he’s portraying this as a way to save lives. What kills me is that anyone is even taking this joker seriously enough to debate him on the harm to the restaurant industry or the quality of food. I’m going to guess that Felix Ortiz is a man-child who’s never cooked a single meal in his life. Perhaps his mama still cooks his meals. And he’s obviously never worked in a restaurant. Probably doesn’t know a thing about food preservation.

Hey, Felix? Don’t like salt? Don’t eat it. And if your constituents have health issues supposedly related to salt, tell them to stay there asses home and eat fresh vegetables and fruits. The rest of us, we who actually have some element of personal responsibility and self-control remaining, kindly request you leave us alone.

Barack Obama = Grand Theft Auto

Did you keep your kids home from school yesterday as a protest against Barack Obama’s speech? Good going. You could have let your kid go to school where he or she would have found out that the Super Coolest President of the U.S. Ever is about as stimulating as day-old decaf. You could have exposed your kid to the reality of a grown-up in a suit blathering on about staying in school and being good and trying to be cool by mentioning Facebook.*

But no, you just made the president as cool as an M-Rated video game. You really showed him!

*(Of course, you could also have sent your kid to school, telling Little Johnny that though you disagree with the president, he IS the president and, in a Democracy, we give even our opponents a chance to make the case. But that’s just deranged commie talk on my part.)

One Bill to Rule Them All

Before Congress passes one more bill this year, the following should be signed into law:

No bill shall be voted into law without every member of Congress having read said bill.

And, yes, it’s that simple. I’m sure there will be those who claim I’m oversimplifying very complex matters, to which there is only one valid response: bullshit.

Continue reading “One Bill to Rule Them All”

Sustainability Is the New Fascist

Watching the news this morning, I heard some wank going on about his project and it sounded like this. “Blah blah blah sustainability blah blah blah urban blah blah blah sustainability blah blah blah buy this.”

The word sustainability, much like the word fascist, seems to have lost all meaning due to overuse by loads of people who, having never even known the original intent of the word, throw it around as a catchall. Perhaps not coincidentally, it seems that the people who ground fascist into a meaningless pulp are the exact same people who like to use sustainability.

As far as I can tell, these are the current definitions of both words.

Fascist: someone who disagrees with my historically ignorant and vaguely progressive world view.

Sustainability: a marketing term implying something environmental; used to sell pretty much anything to green-worshippers. Please view my sustainable water bottles, my sustainable shirts, my sustainable car tires, my sustainable dog-grooming kit, my sustainable art project. (See also: organic)

God, I feel like such a fascist for writing this.