The Idealist vs. The Realist

Video – This is a series part of me taking me new theme and formats out for a test-drive – 🙂

Here’s an ‘inside view’ of my thought processes (Quick!  Save the children!)

And yes, the Idealist usually wins, and gives the Realist in me a chance to say, moments or years later, “I told you so…”  🙂

You Won’t Need to Visit Me In Jail, Afterall

jailLast fall, during the Government Shutdown Fiasco, I made a decision.

Come 2013 tax filing time, if the powers-that-be dictated I owed them tax payments,

“I’m Not Giving The Money To Them.”

I made plans to donate any amount specified as ‘owed’ to our local Fire Department, Road & Bridge Department, Food Bank, Ladies Auxiliary, American Legion  – in short, I was going to give the money to the folks that actually provide the Emergency and Social Well Being services federal & state governments claim they provide to the vulnerable members of my community –  namely, children, the disabled, elderly, those injured/maimed from service to our government and families left without a Head of Household due to those Killed in the Line of Duty.

I gleefully imagined making a photocopy of said donation checks and Photoshopping in Red over the top of them,

“I gave my taxes directly to my local good-works organizations, eliminating the need for you to budget, argue about, hold umpteen votes in Congress & Senate about, shutdown operations during a stalemate, regulate and do associated accounting for – please send me the $2.8 gazillion I just saved you by streamlining your processes”

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get much work this past year, so I don’t owe any taxes – My “Cut-My-Nose-Off-To-Spite-My-Face” stand against those who fail to do their duty will have to wait…

or be fulfilled in some other outlandish manner…

Still, the thought of actually doing this brought a smile to my face and cheered me every time I thought about it the past 3 months – I got vast enjoyment envisioning the posting of what I did and having untold thousands of others downloading the Photoshop Red Overlay to attach to their own tax filing documentation –

Ah well… it was fun while it lasted…

I’m somewhat relieved because I don’t like orange and look a fright in it…

My mother is vastly relieved – she has to live in this community and having a daughter in jail for non-payment of taxes is not in keeping with her idea of ‘maintaining a good reputation’.

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On the same general topic, it turns out Colorado did finally approve me for Medicaid under the new guidelines – I received my card, but have not used it for any services.   Basically, because this coming year, if:

  • I get the hours at my part-time job that have been promised AND
  • I pick up any new website customers or get new work from existing ones AND
  • My brother or mother share their good fortune with me, via a gift as they have done in the past AND
  • My ex shares his good fortune of overtime with me, as he has done previously

THEN – If All these things happen in one month, I could end up over the maximum amount I can make and qualify for benefits.  Funny, because if you average out my yearly income to 12 months and strip away gifts from family, I never even come close – but that’s not how they look at it, best as I can tell.

(You have to report ALL income – and oops! forgot to include the $7 I won from stocking-stuffer scratch tickets – who cares, that was in December and thus, not countable towards 2014 – – Santa, probably best not to bring me lottery tickets, in case I won $500 and had a heart attack, all at the same time….)

My doctor doesn’t take Medicaid…

My one prescription for thyroid medicine is doable, without using Medicaid benefits.

I live in fear of using my benefits and finding out I used them in a possible overage month – I can see the headlines now –

“Jailed for Medicaid Fraud – How One Woman Cost Taxpayers $626”

The above amount calculated thusly:

  • Regular doctor visit ($73 /visit, pay-at-time-of-service discount rate as a goodwill, community support gesture from my physician)
  • x2 (annual visit in August 2014, oops, I got mastoiditis in January 2014)
  • x4 (to account for regular fees charged by providers to cover associated “f**cking with insurance/Medicaid filing costs“)
  • Annual prescription costs

Alas, I’ve decided to keep that card tucked away – to not scour the slopes & plains of Colorado for the one doctor who will take new patients who have Medicaid.

Instead, I consider my card a sort of Life Insurance Policy (which I cannot ever get real life insurance affordably, because I’ve had a stroke).

I no longer worry some unforeseen catastrophe will happen and the EMTs will disregard my DNR tattoo, leaving my mom and brother with untold medical bills which exponentially accumulated before they mercifully pulled the plug on me –

I just need to remember not to have any catastrophes in the same month small good fortune arrives – if great good fortune should arrive, I’ll do my patriotic duty regarding rising government healthcare costs and dutifully purchase regular health insurance  – –

🙂

I did have to laugh – the paperwork accompanying the Medicaid card made sure to inform me, repeatedly, how illegal it is for me to use my card to pay for the treatment of others – heck, a cursory search last October didn’t net  anyone locally who will accept it as payment for me, let alone someone else…

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My Liberal/Democrat friends are disappointed the changes to healthcare law didn’t make huge changes for me – although I try to make them see how much I am benefiting – I no longer have to pay a healthy premium each month for insurance that doesn’t really pay anything until I’ve satisfied a $10,000 deductible.

And, I’m not getting fined by the powers that be, for being irresponsible and not having any health coverage at all – –

On the other end of the political scale in my circle, I believe there is some quiet glee that the Affordable Health Care Act is costing gazillions of astrobucks without making any difference – again, they choose not to look at the issue as I do.

The nice thing about having a diverse circle of friends is your ability to see the world from a myriad of perspectives.

I still think my perspective is best, but it’s nice to know I’m not narrow-minded because I failed to broaden my horizons –

I do it on purpose with a full knowledge of vast, opposing opinions….

🙂

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Things must be getting better for some, because I’ve had the opportunity for more work these past few weeks – I hope the trend continues throughout 2014 –

I’d love to make HUGE donations to my local community next year –

I’m sure you’re disappointed there will be no need for you to bake brownies and bring to the jail for me…

And, I still have the Photoshop Overlay – which took me around 30 minutes to make –  would hate to see that time wasted…

Never Fear, there’s always Next Year!

P.S. Yes,  I’m still slogging away at archives of those blogs I follow – if I wasn’t so rusty at writing, I would have made it to a few more today – alas, 25+ revisions of above article and time to log out and get ready for work – – -25?  really?   Man, do I need to get back to writing – – – and quit Saving Draft every whip stitch…  🙂

Healthcare Update

A lovely blogger commented on a previous Healthcare post and reminded me to give you the update – but first a recap:

July – My current insurer informs me they’ll be out of business 12/31/13 – and to be on the lookout for the insurance marketplace and to apply for new coverage on October 1st.

August – I visit the new website of the new marketplace – coming along nicely.

September – I use the calculator on the new website to figure out what my estimated insurance costs will be – it informs me I need to apply for Medicaid.

October 1st – I apply for Medicaid.

October/November – I make copies of everything regarding citizenship, income, number of tattoos, required by state agencies.   I double check that I reported cash gifts from family members correctly so I don’t end up on the front news of the local paper as one who has been milking the system.  I have weekly chats with my ‘case worker’ who is very nice and as frustrated by the process as I am.

November – Am denied Medicaid, because even though I qualify come January, I don’t now – but can never ascertain exactly what the requirements are now.  Am informed to reapply Jan. 1st.

November/December – Receive emails and phone calls from marketplace, wanting to get me signed up for a healthplan, because I’ve been denied coverage on Medicaid.   I cannot afford the cheapest plan and prepare to be charged with my ‘fine’ for not having health insurance.  Little do they know, I intend not to pay my taxes this year because I’m still pissed about the government shutdown, so I really don’t care if they add a fine on top of what they think I owe them.

December 21st  – Receive letter in the mail telling me I’m approved for Medicaid and to get online to check my benefits.   I log in and find that my account status still shows “Application Submitted/Pending”   I update my income to reflect the earnings from my new 10 hour a week job.

2 Days ago – Received my Medicaid card in the mail, with attached paperwork informing me that it’s a huge crime for me to let someone use my card.   Which is funny, because I’ve yet to find a provider in my neighborhood who takes Medicaid, so just who, exactly, will me and all my friends wrack charges up with?

2014 year Health Plan – Continue to see my regular doctor.   Had checkup on 12/30 and paid $73 cash for the visit.   Next visit scheduled for 08/08/14.   Still cheaper than paying for insurance each month, as long as nothing big happens.

My new government sponsored health plan is nothing but catastrophe insurance to keep my family from going bankrupt when paramedics ignore the “DNR” tattooed on my chest – – -what can I say?

Will let you know how much I’m fined and which jail I’m in for non-payment of taxes come April 16th…..

A Ballad to Those Who Milk The System

Um…Yeah…this isn’t really a ballad, cuz I’m not in the mood to write poetry –

For decades I’ve heard about all those “Lazy, Decadent Saps’ who milk the welfare system and deprive hard-working Americans of their hard-earned wages.

Because I’ve been in the ranks of those lazy, good-for-nothings for 2 years now, I thought I would report…

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Right after my son died of bacterial meningitis, I was pretty shocked by how many people in our ‘sphere of influence’ asked if I sued the doctors and if so, how much did I get?

(Really?  Upon learning of my son’s demise, your first thought about what to say to me was to find out how much profit I gleaned from it?)

After my stroke, I learned (second hand, because I wasn’t talking to anyone) how many folks asked if I had applied for Disability.

I didn’t apply after my stroke.   The doctors said I had received treatment in time and I should make a full recovery and every month, at my check-up, I was assured to give it time, 6-9 months was normal for recovery, though no one could say for sure.

Now I’m sure this is indoctrination, because upon filing a disability claim, you must have doctor reports claiming you’ll be disabled for a year or more – – interesting, eh?

My 3 month brain scans indicated my brain was “Normal”, with “no visible damage”.

I have to laugh – who the hell in the entire world has a Normal Brain?!?  And if there’s no damage, why do I still talk like Porky Pig?

Around my one year anniversary of the stroke, I was somewhat depressed and pissed at my healthcare providers (primary, neurologist, acupuncturist, chiropractor)- I did what you told me to – I came for treatments twice a week – I’m still not well enough to work – WTF?!?

I adjusted and changed healthcare providers.

I pushed myself.

I tried harder.

Around June of last year, I had pretty much run through my little ‘nest egg’ divorce settlement.

I needed paying work.

I still didn’t apply for Disability – confident I could cobble together enough work to keep us going.

September came and I finally seriously looked at applying for Disability and any other help I could get, because things were getting bad.   A lawyer, who is a professional friend-of-a-friend tells me he will take my case pro bono – but I have to be denied benefits first by Social Security, and he assures me I will be denied:

“They do not care that no employer in the world wants to hire you with the caveat that you can only work 2-4 hours a day and must rest every 1-1 1/2 hours.   As long as you can work, that’s all they care about.  But go ahead and apply.  Get Denied and then come see me.   I’m telling you right now, from what you tell me, yours is going to be a hard case.   You need to start keeping a journal notating every day what your symptoms/capabilities are and you’ll need at least 3 doctors to back up what you’re saying….blah, blah, blah”

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Okay, I have a journal – I’ve kept one for years – it’s all there.  I keep it because the variables affecting your state of health are numerous and you can only learn what to do to get better if you take notice of every stinking thing you are or are not doing.   Didn’t keep me from having a stroke, but that is beside the point…

3 Doctors agreeing and putting in writing something that will actually benefit me – hmmm….problem …. I tend to go to healthcare providers that have some hope of my wellness – whether for continued insurance billing or from a sincere desire to help their fellow man.

I’ve yet to visit a healthcare provider that says, “Yup!  You’re hopeless and there’s not a damn thing we can do to help you.”

Okay – so scratch Social Security, Disability, a system I’ve paid into every year but 3 since 1984, off the list.

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TANF  – Colorado’s Back To Work Program seemed like a viable option – maybe if I’m part of a ‘back to work’ program, I can have limited hours until my health gets better, or at least, not get fired for having frequent rest periods during manual labor – –

You can’t qualify if you have any income that totals more than $248/month.

Who the fuck lives in anything other than a cardboard box under a bridge for less than $248/month?   Homesteaders?   Constitutionalists that inherited property and don’t pay property taxes, utility bills or insurance?

Understand, my insurance purchases are either mandated by law (vehicle) or purchased in a sincere attempt to keep my family from going bankrupt in case zealous paramedics and ER personnel choose to ignore my DNR orders.

Sorry – maybe you are a wonderful person who manages to live off less than $248 a month in either cash or bartered trade – I’m not there yet and even if I sponged off my relatives, but contributed to grocery fund and paid my own insurance, I can’t do it for $248/month- – So I do not understand this program and figure no one but those already living on the streets qualify for it.

On one hand, this is good, a program to help the homeless – on the other hand, do you have anything that prevents people from becoming homeless in the first place?

Full disclosure – If I became penniless tomorrow, neither I nor my son would be homeless and starve – I still have a mother & brother who would like to see me well and self-sufficient, but who couldn’t live with themselves if I were housing in Frigidaire Cardboard – and I have in-laws who wouldn’t let their grandson live in such filth and squalor – so yes, I’m lucky.

Scratch the back to work program.

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If I get any work at all each month, I’m close to not qualifying for Food Stamps.

Since I try to get work of some sort each month, why even bother applying?

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In 1990, I became a single parent at age 21.   I worked 60-70 hours per week, but sometimes, my babysitting bills overwhelmed me.   The first time, I asked for help from the agencies my tax dollars helped to fund – it was not forthcoming –

A car repair bill left me short on formula for the baby – I needed one can to get by till payday -I called the local WIC officials and asked for a can of formula which would promptly be replaced on payday – They told me to come in next Tuesday (5 days past when I was going to run out of formula) so they could determine if the baby was “nutritionally needy” or not….

I informed them that hell yes, he’d be nutritionally needy by then and to forget it, I thought it would be easier to sell my body for a can of formula….

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I’ve come to the conclusion that Yes, there are those who milk the system, but I do not believe their numbers to be as high as the experts would have you believe.

There are those who get ‘milked’ by those who live without any pretense of trying to contribute and here’s the list of those who help their fellow man, and get milked by the “Lazy Poor”:

Local community bankers who, when you tearfully ask for a loan til payday say:

“You write a check for whatever that baby needs.  Call me and if it shows up before your paycheck does, I’ll cover it myself.”

Friends and Neighbors who say:

“Hey, I got 10 jugs of the 10-for-a-dollar juice – can I give you a couple?”

Farmers and Ranchers who say:

“Yup, you can pay for your yearly purchase on payment plan – no interest – and if you need that money for the doctor, I’m not going to sweat it – I’d rather see you healthy than get that $100 and if you never pay it back, I’m not going to hold it against you.”

Local Food Banks who say:

“Thanks for coming and helping out – whatever is over there, take as much as you want.   Something in the box we fixed for you not work?  Let us know, we’ll change it out for you.”

Doctors who say:

“Oh – you won’t be insured come Jan. 1st?  Okay – here’s a cash discount rate – and if you need to, come in, we’ll work it out.  Don’t worry about it.”

Business Owners who say:

“We’re interested in what you have to offer for our company.  We do not expect you to work yourself to death for us.   Tell us what you feel you can commit to.”

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Social Justice, I’ve come to believe, will never be meted out by government programs financed by taxes – it comes from the same place it has for millenia – from those in your community who are dedicated to achieving those principals set out by our Founding Fathers.

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At the end of my attempt to get help from systems I’ve spent many years paying into – I decided, it’s easier, quicker and less heartache to sign up to dig ditches and drop dead while working for $4/hour, 14 hours a day, with no break, than it is to get any help from any tax-payer funded program.

Happily, I’ve slowly cobbled together part-time work each month – the total of this income, in the best month for the year to come, is $947/month.

Which renders me unqualified for most social aide programs and you know what?

I’m so happy I could jump to the moon….

Affordable Healthcare Act – The Ideal and The Reality

Throughout October and November, I experienced the reality of the new healthcare act.

I believe that public perceptions are affected by personal experience shared –

Hence, I’m gonna tell you all about it….

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For the record – After my stroke and divorce, the only health insurance I qualified for was a state (Colorado) run program for those with pre-existing conditions. I was lucky to live in a state that provided this option.

Because I still was renting a room from my mom at the time of my application, I had to report both her earnings and mine – even though I did not have any access what so ever to her earnings, either through good graces or by law.

Surprisingly, I still qualified for the reduced price of $154.76/month of basic coverage, with a $10,000 deductible – which meant, I could go for any office visit or yearly check-up i.e. if I have pneumonia, but anything other than wellness/yearly/routine fell under deductible.   My rates raised to $189.64 in August this year because you miraculously become a higher risk the second you turn 45 years of age.

(The company I purchased from will no longer be in business come 12/31/13 – for the scoop on how they handled the customer service relations for their impending closure Click Here)

On October 1st, I dutifully created an account and logged into the New Marketplace for Health Insurance for my state. (connectforhealthcolorado.com)

If I told the truth about my monthly income, the calculator referred me to another state run site to apply for Medicaid.

(I’m lucky, Colorado chose to embrace the new Medicaid income guidelines – many states did not and those who live in those states are just as screwed as they were before the law took affect.)

I dutifully apply for Medicaid on October 1st.   I answer honestly about who lives in my household.  The website form automatically signs my son up for Medicaid, because he lives in my house, even though he still has insurance through his Dad.

(and, another example of my ex’s generosity, if the laws allowed ex-wives to be kept on policies, I wouldn’t even have to be doing this shit….)

Some two weeks after submitting my application, I receive form letter pages from the county/state agency requesting proof of a variety of things – i.e. income, citizenship, etc.    After a phone call to straighten out that I’m not applying for my son, just for me, I learn that the web form is not functioning the way those who actually have to deal with it’s repercussions wish it would and I inform the gal that if the state ever wishes to hire someone who builds tools that End Users Love, please call me, I have a good track record and need work – she is friendly and polite even in face of my arrogance.

I get off the phone and submit the requested information.

Note – they have my divorce decree showing my child support though I never submitted it – they can view my bank records to make sure I”m not lying about my income, but they can’t tell if I’m a US citizen?!?  They are the state, but they can’t confirm me or my son’s birth records?  (yes, we were both born here in Colorado)

Hey, Big Brother, falling down on the job, there!

After jumping through the hoops, I’m informed that I do not qualify for Medicaid – because the software is basing it off the old income standards and not the ones that are in effect come January 2014.

(Do not ask what the old income qualifications are – neither I, nor anyone else knows – come Jan. 2014, if I make less than $3,118, for my household, according to the marketplace website, I qualify – according to the Medicaid website, I must make less than $1,781/month, because even though I house, clothe and feed my son, he is not counted as a person, unless I sign him up for Medicaid.)

Even though I qualify come January, my application is denied for now.  I”m instructed to re-apply January 1st (or the first day their government run offices are open) and yes, they will have on file everything I’ve submitted and it will go through, no problemo.

I must interrupt myself here to tell you, the case worker assigned to my case was Awesome!   She, a worker bee, is just as frickin’ frustrated as I am.   She was ticked that what they were told in ‘training’ for the new system and what’s actually occurring are two different things.   She specifically asked during training if the new system would allow early registration of the new 01/14 guidelines and was told “Yes”– she’s not a happy camper – – I told her it was okay – that those who build these tools will say anything to sell them, because they aren’t the poor saps that actually have to use them everyday….

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The plot thickened when I learned if I didn’t sign up for some kind of coverage by Dec. 10, 2013, then my coverage would be delayed on starting by Jan. 1st.

And, since I can’t apply until Jan. 1st, but Medicaid can take up to 60 days for a decision, it seems that I may be uninsured for a month or two – –

Thank god the law says the companies and government can no longer penalize me for daring to go uninsured awhile….

When I was 18, my boyfriend’s brother borrowed my car – – -and blew the engine in it – – I lived in town and walked to work, so whaddo I care?   I didn’t own/drive a car for 18 months.   When I purchased another used car (paid cash, no loan) and went to insure it, they were going to charge me a higher rate, because I had been “Uninsured” for 18 months – even though I wasn’t even driving a frickin’ car to be insured – – When I pointed this out, the agent said, “Where is that car now?  The one that you used to own?”  “At my Mom and Dad’s – they towed it home and there it has sat, waiting to be hauled to the scrap recycler.  Too expensive to repair.”  

“Well, see,” she said,“It should have been insured,  What if visitors to your Mom and Dad’s played on your car and got hurt?

And I said, “Isn’t that covered by their ‘Homeowners, We Pay For Other People’s Stupidity‘ policy?”

Seriously, who the fuck plays around and injures themselves on a 1979 VW parked on the back 40 acres of a place in the middle of Nowhere Eastern Colorado?

After much discussion, the agent removed my ‘elevated’ rate increase, because I dared to not insure what I wasn’t even using.  I’m sure this is because the discussion lasted past 5 o’clock, she was dating a good friend of mine and I bought her pizza and beer for supper….

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Alas, this is all irrelevant now –

Since my hiring of my two, part-time jobs, I will be, for at least 3 of the next 6 months, $34 over the maximum income levels I can have to qualify for Medicaid.

The cheapest insurance policy I saw, after tax credits, was more than $34/month.

I’ll keep you posted, but I don’t hold out much hope for me.

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I will say that I support and defend the Affordable Healthcare Act.  I don’t care if Obama or someone else tried to make changes to our healthcare system in this country, they were doomed to criticism and failure – – Our country has chosen to walk the line in Twilight Zone – that thin line between State Provided and Free Enterprise healthcare.

Each system has it’s pro’s and con’s – – If you don’t believe me, then watch “Sick Around the World”

Anyone who tried to get us moved to one system or the other would have experienced defeat – for there are those (hardworking Americans/entitled rich) who can afford their own healthcare and abhor the “Lazy, Good-For-Nothing Poor” milking the system whose views are just as ardently opposed by those (Social Justice/pinko commies) who believe everyone is entitled to basic benefits regarding health.

I may not agree with every line of the law or the implementation of it – I may not agree with the disparity caused by states exercising their 10th amendment rights in regards to income guidelines and paying for their own marketplace infrastructure – but if we are going to pretend like we have a democratic, free & advanced society, health care reform, of some sort, had to happen and had to be watered down enough to frickin’ try to please everyone.

I dare anyone to come up with a comprehensive bill that would have passed uncontested and been applauded by the majority – Oh, in case you are thinking you’re up to the challenge, it had to actually make a difference for the majority of American Citizens….

Until we find our way, we must walk through experimentation – and yes, not everyone will be taken care of – but dammit, it’s better to try, fail and fix, than it is to do nothing at all….

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As for those who met with the software programmers and/or the programmers themselves –

YOU GUYS ARE IN THE DOG HOUSE!

You clowns failed to provide a satisfactory experience for those employees and customers who use these tools everyday.

Politicians – Please take a refresher course in “Learning Worker’s Who Actually Implement the Laws you Pass” and “Geek Speak 101”

Programmers, attend “Understanding Your True Customer, 101”

‘Nuff said…