Trump’s Revealing Behavior on Health Care

March 27, 2017

By Karen

Last week’s health care debacle highlighted Donald Trump as the quintessential man-baby. Now I think I know why Ivanka’s got an office in the West Wing. SOMEBODY’S got to change the diapers.

During the campaign, Trump claimed he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on “Day One.” It would be easy. He had “something terrific” and cheaper in mind to cover everybody, and we’d all be very, very happy.

The fool didn’t realize he was describing the single-payer system Bernie Sanders advocates, also known as HR 676.

So why did Trump’s terrific idea never get mentioned last week? He offered NOTHING but vague, untrue promises, and even proclaimed at one point his amazement at how complicated health care is.

He was useless while Paul Ryan crafted an ACA replacement bill, and the result was disastrous. Had it passed and voters realized how deeply it shafted them, making health insurance drastically more expensive and doing nothing to improve medical care, they’d have descended en masse on Washington with torches and pitchforks, demanding heads.

Trump seemed oblivious to potential voter outrage that would surely sink him, if Russia doesn’t first.

Fortunately, congressional Republicans themselves balked. Some were repulsed by the bill’s inherent cruelty in stripping people of what coverage they now have, but others opposed the bill because it wasn’t backward-thinking and punishing enough.

While not having a clue as to what the bill meant, Trump spent a few days stamping his feet and demanding everyone vote for it because that’s what he wanted. If they didn’t, he’d do something mean to them. That’s his “art” of making deals.

Trump’s ignorance rendered him incapable of negotiating compromise on any point in the bill, and he changed no minds.

When his sheer bullying didn’t work, Trump dodged the humiliation of seeing the bill get crushed by having Ryan pull it before the vote and shelve it indefinitely.

With his now-expected spite, Trump immediately dismissed health care reform, saying he’ll let the ACA “explode.”

So much for his campaign promises to make his supporters’ lives better.

Instead of pouting, he could now try to correct the ACA’s deficiencies. Or, even better, he could roll out “Medicare for All,” the single-payer system he touted as a candidate. It’s already up and running, and redirecting the billions insurance companies now pocket as profit could finance its expansion.

Instead, Trump is letting insurers continue to be leeches, sucking subsidies from the government while charging people too much for high-deductible health insurance that pays for precious little medical care.

Trump’s an overgrown baby, grabbing at whatever shiny toy Steve Bannon dangles before him. Last week it was health care. This week, he’s on a tear to resurrect the coal industry by rolling back water protection and reviving air pollution because he thinks coal mines are neat.

Like any infant who hasn’t learned the concept of consequences, he’s making coal miners’ environment even deadlier while doing nothing to improve access to health care, and he thinks he’s doing them a favor.

Happy Freaking New Year, Obama

December 31, 2013

By Karen

I may have voted for him twice, and his family recently sent me a lovely Christmas card, but I have come to loathe President Obama. Since I got onto to check out the possibilities for insurance, I’ve been unable to bring myself to look at or listen to that man.

And just when I thought he couldn’t get any worse, he jabbed a thumb in our eye by “buying” some token bronze policy for himself.

Let’s be clear: Obama didn’t personally deal with He had people for that. And they claim he personally picked the plan, and intends to pay for it himself.

How ducky. His lousy little policy will never be tested because he’s got government medical care.

Meanwhile, I await word on how high my current Anthem policy (which is grandfathered, so “I can keep it” even though I’ve never liked it) will go when it renews March 1.

Everything I see on is even worse — higher premiums, higher deductibles, no dental — as incredible as that may seem, if you’ve soaked in any of Obama’s lies about how great the plans are.

To compare apples to apples: My current policy is $392 a month, with a $2,250 deductible and dental.

On the site, Anthem offers a silver HMO with a $2,250 deductible and NO dental for $534.

That’s why I’m sweating.

And now the Obama folks are crowing because more than a million people think they managed to overcome all website-inflicted obstacles and buy insurance.

Many of them are THRILLED they got premium subsidies. These trusting souls haven’t had insurance in YEARS, and have no idea what’s coming when the other shoe drops.

And it will.

Just wait until they finally see a doctor and the bills start rolling in because they’re on the hook to cover a $6,300 annual deductible before insurance pays a penny. That’s the cheapest ($342/month) bronze Virginia plan.

Obama graciously gave insurers nearly 4 years to plot how to thwart the ACA’s intent, and they’ll use sky-high deductibles to deny claims willy-nilly on all those “affordable” plans.

We’ll soon see people with shiny new Obamacare crying the blues because Obama & Sebelius utterly FAILED to inform them that Job One is for us to keep insurers profitable, while insurers take as much of our money as they can and provide NOTHING in return.

An excellent (albeit annoying) video called cureALL recently came out to explain the reality of health insurance to young people — as Obama should have done, if he were honest. It concludes by advocating single payer as the ultimate solution, through the bill HR 676, which I was pushing back in 2008.

I hope young people get the message and let insurers and Obama swing in the breeze by refusing to play the game. I hope they can finally make Congress get serious about HR 676.

At this point, it’s our only hope.

Gas is Down, but Health Insurance is Up – Again

December 30, 2008

By Karen

Anthem must be missing all the reports that the economy’s in the toilet and money’s tight because they didn’t think 87% profit on my health insurance in 2008 was enough. They’ve raised my rate for 2009 another 14%.

Here’s a simple breakdown:

In 2008, I paid $4,646 for an individual policy.

For one office visit and the usual annual checkups and tests (which revealed nothing unusual), my doctors billed Anthem $1,491.

Anthem spit back $686, calling it “network savings,” and paid $594 — just 13% of my premium dollars.

I had to fork out another $378 in copays and charges Anthem denied.

Bottom line: Anthem kept $4,053 — 87% profit. Now they demand another $636.

An Anthem rep told me that my new rate is based on a statewide review of claims.

However, when I recently reapplied for their insurance (to reduce my ridiculous $488 premium), my personal medical history was dissected with a microscope as if I were the last person on earth as they tried to deny me. Now they’re lumping me in with every invalid in Virginia.

Apparently, Anthem can slice it any way it takes to boost their bottom line.

HR 676, the universal healthcare bill that would stake these vampires, is supposed to come before the next session of Congress. If you’re being gouged by your health insurer, I urge you to send the details to your congressman and senators ASAP.

Hearing that things are “bad and need fixing” isn’t getting through to Capitol Hill. We need to bury them under specifics on how the insurance industry is killing us – financially and literally.

They need to see voters’ names on this problem until they get it through their heads that for-profit health insurers can never be part of the fix.

We must make the putrid stench of health insurers’ greed permeate every corner of Congress until it sickens them enough to act in our best interests for a change.

And to keep Obama’s team on track, share your concerns and keep them motivated. They’re our best hope for implementing the drastic changes healthcare needs now.

Health Insurers: Medicine’s Boa Constrictors

May 1, 2008

By Karen

Now that my cheaper Anthem health insurance is in place, I’ve been playing catch-up on all my routine checkups and the bills are rolling in.

A few weeks ago, my family practitioner checked my blood and urine.

I just received Anthem’s “Explanation of Benefits” listing a total of 7 Lab/Pathology items for these two tests totaling $276. Of this amount, Anthem paid exactly ZERO.

But the good news is that because Anthem’s in my corner, they tossed off $205.40 as lab greed. So I’m on the hook to pay only $70.60 in “allowable” charges. Lucky me. Nearly 75% off is what I get on this extra medical bill in addition to $378 in monthly premiums.

One $30 charge was voided, with Anthem not requiring me to pay a penny of it. I wonder what frivolous procedure they thought that was for?

I’m not complaining (well, yeah, I am, if only at Anthem’s ironclad refusal to cover preventive care to head off bigger claims in the future), but I’m wondering how healthcare providers survive by getting paid only 25% of what they think their services are worth.

Do doctors just pull these amounts out of their butts? Are they grossly inflating the cost of doing business?

Or are health insurers being allowed to systematically strangle the healthcare industry into bankruptcy as they squeeze every penny they can out of policyholders (individuals and employers), keeping the lion’s share for themselves while they do nothing but obstruct good healthcare?

If you’ve read any of my previous posts on this subject, you know what I think.

We’ve had a step in the right direction just by getting John McCain to acknowledge there’s a problem, but all of the presidential candidates have yet to propose a plan that’s anywhere near as effective as HR 676, the universal healthcare bill that’s been languishing in Congress since 2005.

If HR 676 were to pass, “Explanations of Benefits” and the insurers who spew them would be extinct, and routine preventive healthcare wouldn’t be a luxury people are increasingly unable to afford.

Anthem Cut the Crap (Finally)

March 28, 2008

By Karen

After nearly 3 months, Anthem has approved my cheaper policy. It essentially rolls back my premium two years in exchange for me shouldering more out-of-pocket expenses. I don’t know if I’ll really come out ahead in the end, but right now I’m betting on continued good health.

Anthem put me at premium Level 2. Level 1 would have been cheaper, but here’s how that works:

In 2003 when I first applied, I took no medications and my health was nearly perfect for someone my age. Anthem made me Level 2 by dredging up an old stress fracture in my toe from too much ballroom dancing and a few other one-time things.

In other words, unless you’re 18 and have never seen a doctor in your life, you’ll never qualify for Level 1.

This time my Level 2 rating was for my “unoperated hiatal hernia.” That means it gives me no trouble and requires no treatment – but unoperated sounds scarier.

Anthem explains (bold emphasis is theirs), “Even if you are currently healthy and have no immediate health problems, your chances of needing medical care are greater than someone who does not have similar health conditions or lifestyle characteristics.”

They’re referring, of course, to someone who is already dead.

Apparently, that was the best they could do, since my harmless freckle and a blood pressure reading in the 120s over 80s didn’t pan out as crises.

They were so relentless about digging into my records, I really expected a bump into Level 3 to end up paying even more for less coverage. That’s how individual health insurance works.

So I’ll be saving $110 a month at least until December when they hit me with another huge rate hike and I’m back where I started.

I’m 12 years from qualifying for Medicare. If insurance companies are allowed to continue reaching for the moon for profits, at some point I could join the 47 million Americans who can’t get or afford coverage unless I find some employer to cover me.

Politicians of both parties, please, please, please end this nightmare. Passing HR 676, the universal healthcare bill that’s been sitting under your noses since 2005, would be a good place to start.

Anthem’s Leaving No Stone Unturned

March 15, 2008

By Karen

After getting Anthem lab results on my benign freckle they required but failed to request from my gynecologist, I thought I’d cleared the last hurdle in my 2 ½-month quest for cheaper health insurance. They said it was the last thing they needed.

Wrong! This week I couldn’t get approval without a blood pressure reading – from the family physician who hasn’t seen me in nearly a year because I’ve been feeling fine.

Naturally, the irony was lost on Anthem. Why the sudden concern about my BP just when they’ve got me about to blow a head gasket over their endless bureaucracy?

Anthem claimed they asked for the reading in January, but my doctor had no record of it. Instead, they said just last week they received a strange call from someone demanding my blood pressure numbers who wouldn’t identify themselves, so the practice refused.

I got my doctor’s assistant to give Anthem my BP reading by phone, then went home and phoned Anthem myself to double-check. Anthem assured me again that now they have everything they need.

I’ve paid the higher premium for March because Anthem sent me a late notice. I’ve soon got two routine medical appointments I’d hate to postpone again, but I doubt Anthem will have my new coverage in place. I can see them screwing up the billings and my premium credits for months to come.

Politicians are insane to think insurance providers, with their ingrained distrust and callous disregard for customers, hold the key to our healthcare mess. Anthem has now painstakingly picked over every piddling physical imperfection listed on my application. Being healthy carries no weight with them whatsoever. In so many words, they’ve said they’re dissecting my app because I might have slipped some major health crisis past them – while they’ve been insuring me for the past 5 years.

Translation: “We’re looking for any excuse to cancel you or continue making you pay through the nose, even with less coverage.”

I don’t intentionally single out Anthem, except by my experiences. They’re no more devious than the rest. Patients’ only recourse is to eliminate health insurance altogether by hounding our representatives in Washington to pass HR 676, the universal healthcare bill.

Time to Stake Vampiric Health Insurers with HR 676

March 5, 2008

By Karen

Anthem has had another week to get information on the freckle they’re obsessed with as they agonize over letting me have cheaper health insurance. They’ve already got me for $488 a month, so their reluctance to shave $110 in premium from their bottom line is understandable.

They’ve dragged my application into its third month – even though I’ve been their customer for 5 years. I think being 53 years old is working against me big-time.

When I called Anthem this week, they hadn’t yet bothered to request the freckle record. So I called the doctor’s office myself and got it faxed to Anthem in about 2 hours. When I explained the logjam to the doctor’s assistant, she said, “Yeah, that sounds like Anthem.”

My agent says insurance companies typically make customers scrounge up records, which the underwriters then try to use against them to deny coverage or jack up the rate.

Yesterday I called Anthem to make sure they received the freckle fax. The Anthem rep said, “Let me check. Sometimes it takes 24 hours.”

Twenty-four hours to receive a FAX? What do they use, tin cans and string?

But they had it. Then she said, “It’ll take 7-10 days for Underwriting to review it. Call back next week.”

Anthem obviously doesn’t realize that their abysmal, we-don’t-give-a-damn attitude just fuels my support for HR 676, the universal healthcare bill that’s been sitting untouched in Congress since February 2005.

Anyone who thinks healthcare today is just ducky, or that its problems can be solved by relying more on these arrogant, inefficient insurers, obviously has employer-paid coverage and has never been mired in the bottomless bureaucracy.

Clinton, Obama, and McCain, the solution has nothing to do with making more people buy insurance, or making it more affordable (“affordable” by whose definition?). The answer is HR 676, which mandates a single payer system that eliminates the role of insurance companies.

We should all be able to focus on getting the best medical care, not spinning our wheels on useless paperwork just to keep obstructionist insurance clerks in jobs.

Health Insurance Delayed Over a Freckle

February 27, 2008

By Karen

It’s been another month without approval of my cheaper, higher-deductible health insurance, and another $488 is due on my current plan, so I called the company and learned what the hold-up is.

It has nothing to do with the mysterious Saturday-morning phone quiz they gave me weeks ago. It’s over lab work I had done in January 2007.

During my annual Pap exam, my gynecologist found a small mole ‘down there,’ checked it out, and it was nothing.

The rep asked, “So the mole was non-cancerous and your Pap smear was not abnormal?”

“That’s right,” I answered.

But I wanted to scream, “No, you idiot! I found out over a year ago that I have two types of cancer, and I did absolutely nothing. Do you see any follow-up in my records, which you already have? I’m just thrilled to die so your employer can stay in the black and give you a nice bonus for jerking me around.”

The rep asked for the stupid physician’s phone number (it’s already on my application). Apparently, the doctor described my harmless freckle as scary dysplasia. Damn her doctor-speak!

This is supposed to be the last hurdle, and my new insurance should be retroactive to February 1. They’re supposed to credit the extra $110 I was forced to pay for my current coverage.

But no matter what the amount, February has passed and I’ve been afraid to get any regular checkups, so it’s money down a rat hole.

I applaud Patsy Bates, the 52-year-old hairdresser in California who just won $9 million in a suit against Health Net for canceling her when she had breast cancer. Her chemotherapy was delayed for months until she found a charity to pay her expenses. Thank heaven she lived to get revenge, and I hope she inspires thousands of similar lawsuits.

And now that the media has effectively squashed Dennis Kucinich’s presidential hopes and sent him back to Congress, I hope he’ll tenaciously fight for HR 676. This no-nonsense bill provides comprehensive universal healthcare and would revoke the power of life and death from health insurers.

We Need HR 676 Passed Now

December 20, 2007

By Karen

When my health insurance company refused to admit pure greed as the reason my premium’s going up 18% in 2008, I vowed to get even. My first step was to vent my disgust here.

Yesterday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published my letter to the editor calling for private insurers to be eliminated through a universal single-payer system.

That letter earned me a phone call from Dr. W. Ferguson Reid, a distinguished retired surgeon who was the first African American since Reconstruction to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly. Dr. Reid put me on to Physicians for a National Health Program, which supports HR 676, a bill to establish national health insurance (NHI) that has languished in Congress since February 2005. One of its sponsors is presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

HR 676 would create a Medicare-type program for all Americans that includes health, dental, mental, prescription, and long-term care. It would eliminate private insurers and revamp for-profit healthcare facilities. We would all pay into the system on a sliding scale based on income, but never receive a bill for healthcare services, prescriptions, or medical supplies. Because it would squelch the pure avarice prevalent in today’s system, virtually everyone except insurance and pharmaceutical CEOs and their lobbyists would come out ahead in the long run.

Finally, our healthcare system would measure up to those of every other industrialized nation in the world. Who knows? Over time our life span might even catch up because we’d stop ending up in early graves thanks to unaffordable or denied care.

Unless you work in health insurance, pharmaceuticals, a parasitic side industry that feeds off the bureaucracy, or you generally think mankind should just go to hell, you have no reason NOT to support universal healthcare.

If you agree with me, read up on HR 676 and start spreading the word. Add your name to the petitions of grassroots groups like Healthcare-Now and filmmaker Michael Moore.

Guaranteed Healthcare, a project of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, and patients and community groups around the country, is another source of information.

The next item on my To-Do list is to find out which Virginia politicians are obstructionists, enjoying great free healthcare with my taxes while I pay through the nose for it. I’m going to let them know they won’t get my vote until they pass HR 676.

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