The ACA vs ACHA

Health insurers have taken advantage of the populace and raised their rates as soon as the ACA passed. That’s the biggest problem with healthcare in the US: insurance companies. Greedy insurance companies. Worried only about the bottom line and how much their investors will profit. Denying people medical care that would save them, things like heart and liver transplants, experimental treatments, and the elderly in understaffed, underfunded nursing homes. Sending home the 70 year old woman who just had a massive stroke. She gets 6 weeks of rehab same as everyone else. It’s unfortunate that she hasn’t improved. She’s had her six weeks. She’s out. Same for the mentally ill or addicts. The insurance company decides whether or not you are well enough to be discharged, regardless of your doctors’ recommendations. Who gave insurers this kind of power?

The GOP and insurers do not care a whit for the people they supposedly work for. Our millionaire senators don’t care if I receive life-saving treatment or not. If it costs too much for the insurance company, I won’t get it, unless I can pay for it myself. According to the GOP that is how America works; you have a choice to pay for your treatment without the benefit of insurance funds. If you decide you cannot afford the treatment, it is your right not to take the treatment. It is your right to decide if the premium too expensive. I’ve read that reps of the GOP have actually said it will be your choice to pay for health insurance or rent, car insurance, credit card bills, food. A choice. Yeah, a choice between the frying pan and the fire.

Our elected officials have the best care, with no cost to themselves. What do they care about the rest of the US. They have insurance and it’s paid for by our government! Yet they do not want the blind lady to get her Medicaid.

Let the people become millionaires and the problem will disappear. Oh, people need a hand up to become millionaires? You mean they are not smart enough? Because, you see, they live in a poor area, where the schools have no books, no wipe boards, no art, no sports, no music. When the student test scores were poor, government funds have been withheld. Does that make complete non-sense? Instead of supplying the most underperforming schools with more funds, they received less. A punishment for the students’ poor test scores. Those scores have nothing to do with the lack of educational material. Or so it would seem.

They should go to college, says the GOP. Like they did. On their daddy’s dime. People born into money (even middle class money) have no idea what it is like to live in the Projects. Because of no funding most students do not have enough of a basic education to even attempt college. If they somehow managed to graduate high school, college just costs too much. They then have a choice, go deep into debt, paying usury interest rates, for the education they know will help them move up in the world. With a business degree in hand they go looking for that job, that career that will line their pockets with gold. What’s that? There are no jobs in the area where they can use that degree. So they take a job at movie theaters, coffee houses, and fast food places.

Yet, our government representatives somehow deserve special treatment. Like they are better than the rest of us. They do only one thing, but they do it brilliantly: helping the poor stay poor and the sick get sicker. That is how it works. Pay someone a low wage, he lives in a bad neighborhood, crowded and dirty. People are prone to be sick. He has many doctor visits, lots of expensive medicine, he can’t afford, so he stays sick. The employee misses many days due to illness and gets fired. He collects unemployment, applies for food stamps and Welfare, while he searches for another job.  Now he is on the government’s dime. Completely. If he had only lived in a clean neighborhood he’d still be working, probably even get a raise. He might even make enough repairs to his old house. You see how it works?

As long as the senator is completely, 100% covered for the $7,000 worth of dental work he needs, getting the right amount of tail on the side, winning over a plump lobbyist. Meanwhile, poor students must learn to live in bad neighborhoods. Sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a 350 square foot studio that had been so dirty for so long there was no getting it clean again. A place destined for Repurposing and Beautification, as the entire neighborhood undergoes massive evictions, and trendy shops and restaurants replace your cheap, dingy, little apartment close to work. And don’t forget the bad teeth, caused by poor nutrition and lack of affordable dental care.

The way I see it, the only way to fix the ACA and get the GOP working on something else, is give every American the same insurance as the senators. Better yet, give the senators the same insurance they want every American to accept.

 

Care For The Mentally Ill

When will there be no stigma or restrictions regarding mental health.  My son just spent 7 of the last 10 days in a mental health ward.  He acts no different.   Still surly and angry, which I have come to understand can be part of BPD (bi-polar disorder).  Unfortunately, that is very hard to take.  I’ve never handled the anger of others well.  Get mad at me and I just want to run away.

The docs sent him home with lots of scripts, including Depacote, but I’m not sure what else.  He’s not very talkative right now, except to complain to me about his dad.  Somehow Son blames his dad for most of his problems.  It’s really hurt my husband deeply, to think their once very close relationship has come to this.

Frustrated?  OMG!  I don’t think I could feel more helpless.  We are unable to get Son to do much to improve his situation.  I have begun the necessary paperwork to get him on federal disability.  Now I have to find him a new GP, a therapist, and a psychiatrist.  Because if I don’t do it, it will never get done.  I’ve been on the phone every day the last two weeks trying to get him into a 30 day program.  I have left message after message, but never received a call back.  My last call, yesterday, I thought I was making progress, as I finally got a name (though they gave it so fast, I didn’t get it, but I did get his extension, which is helpful.  I’ve left him a message.  You know, if they don’t have the space, fine, just let me know and I will try elsewhere.  Almost NO ONE takes a patient with Medi-Cal.  The plan is absolutely worthless:  Poor quality care, lousy doctors, horrible office staff, red tape, ridiculous rules, and the docs don’t get properly paid.

I thought I found a psychiatrist last week.  The office staff and website all refered to her as Doctor, but she is a Nurse Practioner .  I think labeling her Doctor is misleading.  I asked her about her education and I find out her masters degree is in epidemiology!  And you know what else?  In California it is nearly impossible to check up on a Psychiatrist.  If you’re a lawyer you’re a member of the State Lawyers Association, and usually, a member of the national lawyers association, both of which can be easily accessed by the lay person if you want to know what their specialties are, make sure they are properly licensed.  But you cannot do the same for psychiatrists.  That most definitely seems quite wrong.  Especially when that “doctor” prescribes a drug (in this case Rexulti), but doesn’t mention any side effects.

He took one of these pills and his regular meds and a lot of alcohol, and by midnight he was hallucinating and speaking gibberish, he was paranoid, and angry, and just plain out of control.  So we took him to the ER where he sat for 5 hours during which time, nothing was done.  Why?  Because they could not make sense of what he was saying.  They would not speak with me about what had been going on.  All they wanted to know was whether he was suicidal, and because they got a “no” they just released him.  At home about an hour later, things got worse and we had to call paramedics, but since we didn’t know at the time what he may have taken, the police also arrived.

Why should I have to call the police?  They aren’t trained to recognize psychiatric problems, they just treat everyone like a criminal.  I specifically requested paramedics, assuming they were trained at least minimally in psychiatric disorders.  But they never even spoke with Son.  So I had to watch the police manhandle my poor boy and take him back the hospital to be placed on what they refer to as a 5150.  Basically it’s a 72 hour suicide watch.  It was a horrible place, where he got very little help, but when we got him back he was able to converse.

Then two days later he checked himself back in.  He came home today.  He has been drug and alcohol free for about 10 days, but his mood is still black.  He is quick to anger and always yelling.

The thing is, if he’d cut himself, or had cancer, or had appendicitis, he would get immediate and appropriate care.  But because he has a mental condition, nothing is done.  I am so angry with this broken medical/insurance system in this country I could scream.  Why is it we have to wait for bi-polar individuals to totally lose it and hurt someone before anyone intervenes?  And then again, it’s the police.

Why are mental illness and addiction treated as crimes?  How do we change that?  Finding a solution is very hard, but I’m trying.

 

 

 

 

 

MS Reality Check

Last week the neurologist didn’t give me anything for this flare, since I was already improving when I saw her.  I’m about 80% normal right now.  I’m not taking 4 hour naps, and I’ve even been able to walk around a short block, and make a quick trip to the store.  It’s nice to be feeling better.

weedI didn’t find out much on paying for a new prescription.  I spoke with one of the helplines and my doc has to submit something to them, then they will see if I am eligible for any program.  If I don’t then I’ll investigate one of the other drug programs.

I’m trying hard not to be upset with myself for stopping my treatments.  I guess I had to prove it to myself that the drugs were really doing something, and that I really had MS and it could be just as bad as when I was first diagnosed.  It’s strange, but I felt like I really wasn’t sick at all, and felt sort of guilty somehow that others were so bad off when I felt fine.  Isn’t that ridiculous?  I felt guilty about not feeling bad.  What’s that mean?

So today they called to schedule my MRI.  That’s next Tuesday.  Actually, they will do three of them.  I’ll get there at 8:00 AM and won’t leave til about noon.  They said they didn’t usually do all three on one day because it’s so long, but since that’s how I’ve always done it, they agreed to do it in just one day.  I’d much prefer to get it all done in one visit.

Then on Wednesday I see the neuro again, and on Friday I see my new psychiatrist.  Finally, I’m getting a handle on my medical conditions since the move.  It only took me 9 months.  Kicking and dragging my feet at each turn.  I haven’t been seeing a therapist, but I decided I will also find a new one and see them for a few months at least.  Get myself back on track.  Then, maybe after I’m on the new drug I’ll be feeling good enough to go back to karate.

Life Without Health Insurance in the US

I am currently without health insurance.  Only three months, but it hasn’t quite gone as smoothly as I had hoped.  I take 6 prescriptions and 27get them all filled for 90 days by a mail-order service.  This isn’t my favorite way to get my meds, but it is significantly cheaper.  This service has a bad history of not getting my scripts filled in a timely manner.  That’s what happened this last time I used the service.  Three of my scripts are anti-depressants were ordered by my psychiatrist and came without a hitch.  Luckily.  I get two meds from my neurologist and these were submitted with plenty of time.  I’d get my 90 day supply and make it through to July when I start getting medicare.  No sweat, right?  Wrong!  Even though they had three weeks to fill them, only one arrived.  A week passed and the second, Lyrica was still not filled.  I got online and checked on it, and they said the pharmacist had a question and the doctor didn’t reply, and the request was cancelled!  Yay.  That’s the way to take care of people.  I got online, requested the script be re-requested.  At that time I also ordered a refill for my thyroid meds.  They said the doctor would be contacted.  I called to follow up, as nothing arrived and I was down to the last few days of my coverage.  In the end, neither the Lyrica (a pain med) or the thyroid med was filled.

logoIt’s been a week without Lyrica and I am feeling the lack quite significantly.  The right side of my head is on fire and it feels like I’ve got an icepick in my right eye.  If I pay cash for just 30 days of Lyrica at the local pharmacy, it costs $900, so I ordered some neurontin from Canada.  Cost me $150 for 120 tabs.  It will take far more of the neurontin to relieve the pain by 3:1.  The only bad thing is the neurontin has yet to arrive.  It may be another week before it comes.  Meanwhile I am working on controlling my pain with meditation.  I am able to take it from a 6 to a 3, which is manageable.  But if I hit a ten before I get control, it’s nearly impossible to bring the pain level down much.

I am not exactly sure what going without levothyroxine will do, especially stopping suddenly.  So I’ll just see if I can make the last 20 doses last me 5 weeks.

I looked into getting a 30 day supply of each from the manufacturer.  But  it would take longer to get that paplevothyroxine-sodiumerwork completed and involve a trip to two doctors in order to have a prescription written for them.  It’s just easier to live without for a short time.  I hope.

Lyrica is notorious for weight gain.  Taking it on top of a low functioning thyroid and going through menopause it’s a wonder I don’t weigh more than I do.  So I have to look at the positives–I have already lost 8 pounds and I only have 5 weeks before I am insured again.

I have always felt for those in the US without health care.  Not health insurance.  People don’t need insurance,  just health care.  This experience has made me even more sensitive to the lack of proper health care and easy access to medication.  I’m glad I quit taking the Copaxone injections.  Those run some $3500 per 30 day supply.  Outrageous.  These drug companies want our support, our tax money to do all their research, yet they don’t make the drugs accessible to everyone.  That’s just wrong on so many levels.

I hope to be down 20 pounds before July and I get back on the Lyrica.  At least something good will come of this experience.  Plus I know the Lyrica really works.

 

Medicare

Wow.

It is ridiculous that I get Medicare, but it doesn’t cover much more than hospitalization.  I need a whole ‘nother policy to cover my doctor visits and medications.  Thank you GOP!!!suicide hotline

Anyone out there unraveled the Medicare site?  Talk about un-user-friendly (user-un-friendly?).  I have to pick out the rest of my coverage.  I list my numerous medications and it provides me with many choices for supplemental insurance.  But it won’t let me enroll.  Argh!  So I wait a few days.  I have to go through the same tiresome, tedious process.  This time I get different choices, but I am finally able to enroll in a plan.  I later discover the one I chose has almost NO specialists in the area where we will be moving.  Of course, I had picked the cheapest insurance, but I didn’t see anything else affordable.

So I did a little more digging and found a few other plans.  Plans that did not show up on the list provided by Medicare.  At least I didn’t see them, but as I said, the site is hardly easy to move around.  This time I figured I would call.  They called me back this morning and talked about their plan.  They will email MS logome the enrollment forms.  Now I will cancel the other plan.  This new plan sounds so much better.  But again, I can’t access the provider list unless I am enrolled!  That’s the First thing people want to know…whether their doctors are on the plan.  Still the lady on the phone looked up the area and specialists I will need and told me there were numerous choices, all in town.  She was also able to tell me my current doctors are not on the plan.  The only one I might’ve wanted to keep was my neurologist.  It would’ve been a drive to see her, but it already is.  But she’s not part of the plan.

I with my move I’d have to change anyway.  Still I think this is a better plan than the one I selected and enrolled in.  I hope it’s not going to be as difficult to cancel as it was to enroll.  It costs me more, but it’s not too bad.  And it’s loads better than the drug coverage I would get through Medicare, and costs me less.  Some of my medication co-pays would have been $75 – $90 per month!  Now they will be $15.  And when you take 6 drugs, that really adds up!

All in all I guess it will be ok.  There is going to be a lot of adjustments, new insurance, new rules, new doctors.  At least I’ll get the provider list before July, so  I can start calling doctors to see if they are accepting new patients or not.  My coverage starts July 1, so I’ll have some time to interview some and make an educated choice. happy

Somehow this is probably the most difficult move we have made.  So many things going on.  So many changes.  Son won’t be living with us any more.  All our doctors will be new, the city will be sort of new.  It’s where Husband grew up, so it’s not totally foreign.  Soon we will start packing and really selling the items we can.  Packing for two households.  Moving from one place to two.  Not going to be easy.  And I’m tapering off one of my meds.  Maybe I shouldn’t do that right now.  I’m doing ok so far, but with all the upcoming chaos, I’m a little concerned.  I see my shrink next week and we will work it out.

((Big sigh))  One thing at a time. 🙂

More Car Crap

Mom will not release her unused and unusable (by her) car without signing over the title to Son’s ex.  Her desperation with transportation is very high, but Mom won’t budge.  Ex said she can have the car insured immediately, but Mom thinks if she gets into a car accident, Mom will be held responsible. 

It puts me in a serious bind, because no one else seems to understand how this process works and I apparently am unable to explain it.  There are three forms we need, one is a request to transfer title without a title (we have no idea where the title to the car is), then there is the release of liability, then we have to fill out another form explaining why Mom isn’t on the title, then take it all to the DMV with the death certificate.  The only thing I’m not sure about is whether they are going to request a marriage license.  That would just push off transferring the title of the car for at least another month.

Arrgh! 

Son is getting upset, ex is getting freaked out,and I feel I am smack in the middle, Mom is scared of getting stuck with a huge bill

Health Care

Is access to medical care something that governments should provide, or is it better left to the private sector? Are there drawbacks to your choice?

All human beings should have medical care available.  The problem is you can’t afford it.  Not without insurance, which is also unaffordable.  Some people with insurance and a 30 hour workweek now work only 28 hours, because their employer can’t afford the insurance (or he’s a greedy bastard like Papa John).  The only way to fix the problem, as I see it, people just need more money.  (Personally I don’t need money, but my mortgage company does.)

So how do we solve this dilemma?  Well, some places institute country-wide health care.  In the US we already have medicaid, but you pretty much have to be homeless to qualify.  Here in California, we have County Hospitals, the only not-for-profit hospitals, with the poorest paid employees of questionable expertise.  I have had direct contact with these facilities and they are just one step above a back alley abortionist.  They reside in County buildings, so they are rundown, using decades old equipment and out of date techniques.  The staff is overworked, underpaid, and have lost their compassion.  Now we’re getting Obama-Care.  So far I haven’t seen anything change.  My son still doesn’t qualify, and he has no job and no insurance.  So who does qualify?  I’m still waiting to find out.

I don’t want a government-run medical system, because, based on current conditions, the government doesn’t know how to.  There is nothing wrong with “mainstream” medical care, those who have insurance get better care.  As always.  Of course, privatized medicine, like we have now, is greed driven, influenced by drug companies and subsidized by insurance companies.

My answer to the question of health care is get rid of insurance companies.  No one needed insurance 50 years ago, why do we need it now?  Insurance companies are the ones running the show, setting the prices, and making money off the backs of the working class.   We should also regulate drug companies.  I take a prescription that without insurance would cost me $3500 a month.  That’s 30 doses.  With insurance, my co-pay is $100.  What’s wrong with that picture?  How can the drug company afford to make such a discount?  Who pays the rest?  Insurance premiums, which keep going up to compensate for the high cost of drugs.  Who sets the price?

Any time you want to change a situation, find out who’s making money in the current situation.  That’s where we need to look.  Then the question is, how do we eliminate the profit margin?  Sorry, that’s too big a mess for my muddled head.  It’s as it has been throughout history, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.