Monday, March 30, 2009

Lifestyles of the Rich and Healthy

Aaack - I'm drowning in complicated claim forms, elevator music, and underpaid telephone operators who seem to hate their jobs. I'm currently on hold - you know, listening to some John Tesh piano music, interrupted periodically by a perky voice telling me something I'm sure I need to know about products I'm certain I need to buy as soon as someone answers the phone. I am chasing insurance rabbits today... My mom's medicare+ private policy post-heart-attack issues, our home's post-giant-hail storm roof matters, our 4 cars up-almost-30% this six months bill, my son's I-might-not-be-in-school-next-semester potential loss of health coverage concerns, and the megabucks dental work an endodontist tells me I need - how much of that will be covered? It's hard to explain the breakfast dishes in the sink at the end of a day like today. Yes, I have a cordless phone. Surely I could listen to John Tesh while rinsing bowls and coffee mugs. But who wants to be caught for an instant without the policy number, group ID, registration code, online reference matriculation letters, confirmation message, secret code to the future of the human race when the happy corporate insurance specialist finally gets on the line? Yes, I feel most secure on these days in my little nest of policies, which now have Sharpie scribbles up and down the page margins.
3/30/09 Jennifer - gtng back .5% coverage $1,202 at least
100/300 Sean - rtnd call for J $789 before 5 2day
No. I won't be able to decipher the notes. Ever. When my husband asks me what progress I made with the insurance companies today, the answer will mostly sound like the blabber it is. I'll probably sum it all up with a bit of arrogant sarcasm like: How do people who didn't go to college jump through all these hoops? And then I'll feel like a jerk when he says, "Lots of them don't have insurance." 46-million people in the United States don't have health insurance. 37-million of those people are working, but have not been offered, or cannot afford to pay for, or have recently lost company contributions to health insurance. 8.1 million of the uninsured are children. As people lose jobs - college educated people included - the number of uninsured rises. Daily. Only 7% of the unemployed can actually afford to pay for COBRA, which is the continuation of group health coverage offered by former employers. The average cost for COBRA is $700/month for a family of four; $250/month for an individual. When the average monthly unemployment check is $1,000, it's easy to see how health insurance becomes a low priority. Do we need a national health care system? Do we need some way to turn the $100 billion spent every year to take care of uninsured Americans in hospitals and clinics into money that keeps them out of critical medical care centers? Hey - my car insurance is not an option. Mandatory liability insurance on cars makes Texas a safer place to drive a car. My homeowners insurance is not an option. The bank that carries my mortgage insists I protect its investment. Wouldn't health insurance for every American...you know, Americans like the guy standing next to you at the grocery store, the woman holding your child at daycare, the teen-aged boy picking up your daughter Friday night for a date, the team of night workers dusting your office furniture...wouldn't a system that guaranteed paid visits to the doctor when those Americans are sick make for a safer place to live? A healthier, kinder, more compassionate, fair place? Back to the phones, the piano music, the snarly phone staffs. With gratitude. And a bit of guilt. Everyone should have this much fun. I mean it. Peace.

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