Posted by: facetothewind | October 11, 2013

Facing a Dying Nation

This just in: Get a load of the front page of the NYT today…a couple days after I wrote the following. (I’m sure they’re not related.)

I am not a big fan of the Affordable Care Act. It’s not that I’m a Republican or even an Obama hater. But the plan is flawed. It should have been an expansion of Medicare. Plain and simple. The law could have been written in 3 words. Medicare. For. All.  Oh and let’s just cut the military budget a bit, OK?  We spend $682,000,000,000 annually on our military. Couldn’t some of that go to health care? Is that so wrong and simplistic?

So Congress and the White House in all their brilliance with expert advice from the enormous health insurance lobby devised a plan that is hard to figure out and still will leave millions without insurance. OK, so it’s the law and I’ll stop whining about it like the Republicans.

And now for the unveiling. Ten days ago I tried to log on to the “marketplace” to sign up. I got nowhere. I couldn’t even get a username b/c the multiple layers of security questions they have to ask me wouldn’t work. Really? This isn’t like I’m asking for the nuclear detonation codes. Accessing my bank account is far easier.  These security questions fields were blank and I’m not a tech idiot. I manage websites. I tried 3 different browsers and was stopped at this same place each time. I wrote it off as server overload and tried again today, 10 days later.

This time I was able to get a screen name and get logged in. Wehoo. Off we go to find great insurance deals…

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 10.34.31 AM

Ah but once I’m logged in, this is what I get every time. A lovely big white screen…

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 10.35.09 AM

Isn’t it pretty? So stark and yet it gets the blood pumping when you think how much we paid for this. In fact, it gets me so invigorated I could call it an aerobic exercise just to log on to see that white screen. It reminds me of Robert Rauschenberg’s white paintings. Minimal. Radical. Spare. He turned the art market upside down when he sold them for millions…

rausch

After staring at the white screen until my temples were throbbing and my nostrils flaring, I decided to call the toll free number 800-318-2596 to see if I could enroll on line. I was hoping for some informed agent to walk me through the enrollment process and advise me of my choices and answer all my questions. That’s what we should expect. We are AMERICA, after all — the bestest and most capable country in the world. We put men on the moon. We invented the iPhone. But America is also the country that brought you chicken & waffle flavored potato chips, and the AMC Pacer…and we did manage to blow up 2 space shuttles, didn’t we?

chips

My call to the customer service center was about as much fun as applying for unemployment benefits or getting a full body groping by the TSA at the airport. I talked to an agent named Kevin who couldn’t listen. He talked over everything I said. When I spoke it was as if I’d said nothing at all. He fished around on the computer and with his southern accent that sounded very Ozark Hills he declared that his computer was down and had been for 2 days and that IT hadn’t fixed it. He could do nothing for me. “I’m sorry Mr. Gilmore. Please call back and talk to another agent and maybe their computer will be working. Thank for calling and have a nice day.” Then he hung up. Alright I’ll have a nice day because Kevin told me to and I can look at that white screen to calm my nerves. That white screen might just be my key to good health. I’ll let go all attachments and expectations staring into the emptiness.

pacer

Let’s just say that the Affordable Care Act and the support center is the AMC Pacer of health care programs. Not quite what the people want or need. One day we will be laughing about this like we laugh at the Pacer or that black people had to drink from different water fountains in my lifetime. What were we thinking? Yes, maybe a step in the right direction if you call going out with the wrong shoes on and stepping on a big dog turd a step in the right direction. I think it was a misstep and didn’t quite hit the mark. It’s okay for a government to be a big bunch of losers who can’t find their asses with both hands. That’s kind of what most governments are (except maybe Germany). But why do we have to run around saying we have the best health care in the word? Let’s just admit it. America is falling apart and we’re in complete denial about it. We are a third-world nation in the making and we should just face up to the fact that we wasted our promise and resources on blowing shit up all over the world.

Personally, I get all my medical care in Thailand and I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is FAR superior to healthcare in the US. See my previous blog entries on Thai medical care. In Thailand I can walk in the door and see any specialist (whose name might be something like Dr. Kittiphorn) within 7 minutes and be advised of all costs by the doctor. And for the record, it’s about 20% of the cost of American health care. And guess where their doctors were trained? The US, mostly — doctors who had the good sense to opt out of practicing in America’s broken down system.

I think I am going to pay the fine for not having a health plan (knowing our tax code, that fine will likely be tax-deductible) and just continue traveling to Asia for healthcare. When you have to pay $178 a month for a plan with a $10,000 deductible — is that what we call a health care plan? I’m sorry folks, that’s just bullshit. That’s not health coverage that is going to allow you to sleep at night. That’s just fun money for health insurance executives.

And while I’m swinging, let me talk about that debt ceiling looming. Our national debt increases by $1,820,000,000 every day. Our national debt is currently at $16 TRILLION and counting. I don’t even want to type in all those zeroes lest I exhaust my pinkie finger (and need a physical therapist that wouldn’t be covered in my “bronze” health plan). Each day our interest payments are well over $1 BILLION. Each year our interest payments on the debt are over $400 BILLION. That’s not paying back the principal…that’s just the interest.

Everyone into the lifeboats!

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Responses

  1. Though I share your sentiments about the ACA, I think I’m most horrified by the chicken-and-waffle potato chips.

    Dear god. I had no idea.

  2. David —

    Thanks for saying this. I’ve been preaching your first paragraph for years. A news report today suggested that it was getting harder and harder for politicians to figure out which of the remaining social programs to close to bring down the deficit. WTF? How about we kill the F-35 fighter jet which has been in production for a decade and now is expected to cost just shy of eleventy-leven bjillion dollars a copy. Couldn’t we maybe just have some kids from Auto Shop soup up a few of the jets we already have? Maybe spring for a paint job and new shocks? I imagine that we could hire as many as five teachers for the cost of one of those planes….maybe more!

    What the rabid-Right doesn’t say when they quote numbers of people who oppose O-care is that many of them are like you and me: folks who are deeply disappointed that we finally have a President who championed healthcare reform and this is what he got us. Why is health insurance still provided through your job? Where’s the public option? And, really, for whatever faults it has (any program is going to have some level of waste, fraud, and abuse) wouldn’t an expanded Medicare system have been infinitely better?

    If this President has failed (as Rush and Glen and Ted and Mitt assure us) it’s not because he’s too liberal or he over-reached. It’s because he has embraced too many of the policies (from drones to the Patriot Act to a disregard for the environment) that failed under the last guy.

    Honest-to-god, I carried water for Barack in 2008. I had such high hopes that we had elected a true progressive. But when he arrived I discovered that the warehouse had shipped a moderate Republican instead. If I could find the packing slip, I’d send him back.

    phw

  3. Goodness, David! I LOLLED at the idea of the white screen as stress reduction, but the rest of your post sounds as if your blood pressure is steaming…I think the ACA is going to take a while — having 24 million people try to sign up the first day was a sign of success, in my book — we’re proving the Republican adversaries wrong. Meanwhile, I’m relying on my travel insurance, bought from Australia, where they really do know how to do healthcare right (and, oh yeah, they spend a bit less on bombs).

  4. Once again, you force me to face the realities of the good ol’ USA today. It is ugly and pathetic how this once-decent, even at times great, country has fallen. I bemoan its loss as I know I have probably experienced the best. I pity the poor victims who are living there now, at the mercy of the Tea-partiers, Monsanto, big insurance and big pharm. industries.

    At first, I thought you made a typo with the “chicken and waffles.” Reminds me of the cuisine gone awry in Thailand.

    Laugh out loud I did at your Rauschenberg reference.

    Thanks, David, for once more giving me more than I would have had the courage to ask for.

    Dianna


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