Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Explain this to me...

As many of you may know,  I find the concept of insurance distasteful.  I  consider it gambling that something bad is going to happen to me while the insurance company is gambling that it won't.  In either case, it seems like a lose-lose situation for me.  However, even though the concept strikes me as screwed up, I am grateful that I do have insurance.  I will even go out on a limb here and state my opinion is that anyone who thinks this country does not need good universal health care is living in a fantasy world.

I am eligible for Medicare--age will do that for a person.  I have a supplemental plan that includes prescription medication coverage.  I really had no difficulty signing up for any of this a year ago.  Also, because my bike accident involved a motor vehicle, my car insurance paid for medical expenses related to that.  It is easy to be grateful for insurance when I consider that the combined expenses for that little bike accident adventure rang in at over $11,000.  I mean, I did have an MRI, but other than that I walked out of the ER with a band-aid on my eyebrow and an ice bag for my face.

Mike also had Medicare and supplemental insurance that seems to have covered his extensive medical costs from last year.  He had a harder time getting signed up for all that, but, again, I am really, really grateful that he had the coverage.

Here's the difficult part--figuring out who paid what and how much of what was charged actually got paid.  I know that I won a bet here--something bad happened to me.  My prize, a face that looked like an overripe eggplant, but no broken bones or long term effects.  I should be happy with that and just get over it.  The thing is, I really am curious about the hit taken by insurance companies.

I am curious and the reams of paper, boldly labelled THIS IS NOT A BILL, do nothing to enlighten me.  An entire mountain denuded to generate the paper-work:  definitions, instructions, charts, lots of charts.  I don't know who paid what to whom.

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR MEDICARE: HOW TO CHECK THIS NOTICE

Do you recognize the name of each doctor or provider?  
(No.  I had less than five minutes of face time with two female doctors.  I recognize their names.  A doctor interpreted my MRI, I am sure.  Dr. XXX: Emergency department visit, moderately severe problem.  Have no idea who that was or what he did.  Host the ER visit?)

Did you get the services listed?
(Yes.  I got the visit, the MRI, the band-aid and two ice packs.  A nurse walked me around before discharge.  All those things had medical terms attached and the application of the band-aid was a "procedure."  So were the ice bags, although I was handed those and told to hold them where it hurt most, which seemed casual for a "procedure.")

If you paid the bill, did you pay the right amount?
(I don't know.  I paid a $147 deductible, but then the hospital sent it back to me.)  

The paperwork from my supplemental plan is equally obtuse, but it comes in fewer sheets of paper.  The amount charged, the amount allowed under Medicare ("generally 80%" but sure seems a lot less to me), the amount Medicare actually paid (less than allowed amount), the amount we paid, and the amount "you saved."

My car insurance (Horace Mann, a company and agents I really like in spite of it being about the dreaded insurance thing) just sent me a letter stating they paid $5000.  At least I understood that.

I suspect that because the car insurance paid that amount, the hospital actually got paid more than they would have from Medicare and my supplemental insurance, but I don't really know.  It is all smoke and mirrors to me.

And my big question is why insurance can look at a charge of $217, say our approved limit is $63.15, we are actually going to pay $0.00.   What happens to those who don't have any insurance?  They're stuck with paying the full $217?  I can't imagine John Q. Public gets away with saying, "Oh that amount doesn't work for me.  Here's 25 bucks."

Really.  I won the gamble and got a swollen, purple face.  They lost the gamble and got to inform me that I had saved $5000, like they should be my heroes.
Phooey!

And yet I have to feel grateful.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

To all those who celebrate Easter, my wishes for a happy one!

 These are the results of time with the grandchildren--bunnies, chicks, eggs, and bird nest cookies.  I did not have the noodles you are supposed to use, but Dane suggested pretzel sticks would work just as well and taste good too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Springtime in Vermont


The view out my back door this morning, April 16.  At least the sun in out.  It won't last.  Hard to believe it was up to 80 degrees on Monday though.  Between the mountain snow melt in the warm temperatures and the heavy rains yesterday, there will be flooding down hill of us for sure.

 I opened up some windows on Monday.  The winds that were ushering in the cold front also blew in a great deal of pollen.  I sneezed about twenty times in a row before I thought to close the windows again.  At least all the rain and snow
settled the pollen for a bit.

Spring means spring cleaning. I emptied out my closet and gave it a scrub.



I did some purging, although not enough.  Anyway, a trip to the Salvation Army is in my future.

We did some baking this past weekend.  My loaf of bread is on the left and my son's loaf of bread is on the right.  I follow a recipe and he throws ingredients together from memory.  I bake bread once or twice in any given year.  He bakes a loaf of bread every Sunday, the way some people go to church.


Drat!  I can no longer blame my oven.  Practice effect?  My mother made beautiful bread, but if the skill is genetic it's the type that skips a generation.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Cards

I have missed making cards over the winter.
 Since I airlines give a weight limit, I did not drag supplies to Florida.  So it was fun to get together for a playdate with my card making friends.  The idea for the sea gull card was stolen from Donna.

This is my creation,

as is this.

I made the last card the next day.  I used stamps and gelatos for the water color effect.  Gelatos are a new toy for me.  They were great fun to use and I want to do more experimenting with them.

I did the cards, I went to a poetry reading, I went to a long restorative yogi/Reiki class which also featured aroma therapy.  It was a full weekend.  Today I have library volunteer time and the poetry workshop tonight.  Tomorrow I am going with friends to a story reading at the Renegade Writers in Burlington.  Then I am having a visit from the grand kids.  I needed the restorative yoga because I feel so pressed for time!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring

There is a reason we call it mud season.

The middle of the road is muddy,

but the thawing releases its own sweet scent.

the sun is shining & warm,

the sky is blue,

a rushing stream washes the air.

I am grateful for this day.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Do I Really Need a TV?

I had turned my television on briefly on Monday night after coming home from the poetry workshop at the library.  I did not see anything that I wanted to watch so I turned it off and read until bedtime.

Tuesday rolled around and I had a meeting with my regular writing group.  I switched on the TV set before I headed off to the library once again to see if I could catch some of the news.

This was all I could see.

I called Comcast's automated service and pressed "1" for a refresh--"all that is usually needed" according to the non-person on the other end of the line.  When I got back, the same screen.  I called Comcast again and eventually got connected to a live person who assured me this was "a common problem that I can help you with right now."
  • Press the cable button, then the power button.
  • Try that again.
  • Again.
  • Read the cable box serial number to me.
  • Find the input button on the TV remote.  Press that.
  • Press that again.
  • Unplug the cable box for ten seconds.
  • Wait for me to resend the signal.
  • Press the cable button, then the power.
  • Is the box plugged in?
  • Is the cord connected correctly?
  • Press the input button on the TV remote.
Repeat.  Repeat. Repeat.  She told me that I would need to go to Comcast and switch out the cable box.

My son took me out for lunch on Wednesday.  After that I went to Comcast and swapped the cable box for a brand new one.  I went home and set it up then called the activation number, waited for things to load, turned on the television, and:

I called the number on the activation sheet and got an automated service again. "I see you have a new cable box.  Are you having trouble getting a picture?" Yes.  "I will resend the signal.  If you do not have a picture in five minutes call this number again.  No picture, call again.  Call three got me transferred to a live person.  The first thing I said was that I needed to schedule a service call, but noo-oo-o:


  • Press the cable button, then the power button.
  • Try that again.
  • Again.
  • Read the cable box serial number to me.
  • Find the input button on the TV remote.  Press that.
  • Press that again.
  • Unplug the cable box for ten seconds.
  • Wait for me to resend the signal.
  • Press the cable button, then the power.
  • Is the box plugged in?
  • Is the cord connected correctly?
  • Press the input button on the TV remote.
  • Repeat all.
"Well, I guess we will have to send a technician."  Right.

As I was going out the door for my new exercise class, Comcast calls to ask if I would do a costumer satisfaction survey.  Sorry, I don't have time, I am already late. (Lucky for you, Comcast!)

Thursday, I took my Prius to the dealer to have the two recall notices that I got over the winter taken care of.  I took the shuttle to the mall and did some shopping while that was being done.  Later in the day, Comcast called.  "We want to resolve this issue remotely."

  • Press the cable button, then the power button.
  • Try that again.
  • Again.
  • Read the cable box serial number to me.
  • Find the input button on the TV remote.  Press that.
  • Press that again.
  • Unplug the cable box for ten seconds.
  • Wait for me to resend the signal.
  • Press the cable button, then the power.
  • Is the box plugged in?
  • Is the cord connected correctly?
  • Press the input button on the TV remote.
  • Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And Repeat.
The voice on the other end of the line was getting quite cranky.  Look, I am not making this up.  I have unplugged and plugged, pressed buttons, checked and rechecked all the connections, nothing changes.  Big sigh,  "Well, we are going to have to send a technician."

I hate to be like this, but is the entire country on India going to be docked a days pay because my television continues to say NO SIGNAL?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mud Season Walk

Most Vermonters are celebrating spring, otherwise known as mud season.  People are happy to see the slush and mud because it means the temperatures have finally gotten above the freezing mark.  Tiny shoots promising crocus blooms and even day lilies can be seen huddled along sunny walls.   The ducks and geese up the road are happily splashing in the melting skating rinks that have covered so many lawns.  Robins are hopping around, poking through the mole hills and mouse trails that have wrecked those lawns not covered in water.

Personally, I have not been able to get warm since last Wednesday morning.  Here I am, ready to go out for my exercise walk: