Wednesday, January 4, 2017

HealthNet, The GOP & The Origins of Consumer's Entitlement

 While not totally unexpected, I still had my second medicine shock in two years today. You see, when I turned 65 I turned my Medicare medical plan over to HealthNet. After a series of illnesses and a regimen of medicine to keep me healthy, I got the shock of my life at the CVS Pharmacy here in Palm Springs when they said the medicines I had been taking, that cost in December 2015 around $198 a month were now in January 2016,  $1400. On that note, I might question that line, "A better decision" because it sure wasn't for me.
     Calling HealthNet I found out that the three medicines I needed to take daily had been bumped up to HealthNet's Tier 5, the "you're screwed" category. When I got some assistance help to pay for these medicines, easily about 30% of my monthly income, I finally got a new doctor who changed the medications. We got rid of the most onerous of the three and changed first to two medicines a day and finally one. That new one was the one that went from $112 a month from July to December 2016 to $806 in January 2017.
     Calling HealthNet yet again, second sticker shock call in two years, I was told that my new medication was now a Tier 5 medicine. Since I had already gotten it, I then asked if there were also medicines that were equivalent, as effective but in lower tiers. There were and she gave me two (though she admitted there were others) names and the cost per month would be $90 for one, $30 for the other. However, she warned me that I should talk to my doctor before changing my medication.
     Talk about letting my fingers do the walking, that was my next call. My doctor is out this week but will be back next week and her receptionist was going to leave her a note and she also suggested I also call just to be sure she got the message. I put that call in my calendar for a week from today.
     I think, the thing that bothers me the most about this scenario with HealthNet, and I'm sure all other providers as well,  is that I was given no notification, ever, that my medicines were changing tiers and that there were alternatives for me and my doctor to consider that were affordable and would work about as well.
The Grand Old Party is not 
so "grand" anymore
     What also bothers me and I would imagine many other HealthNet, Medicare and anyone in Obamacare, is that our politicians seem to think that the citizens of the United States feel they are "entitled" to these "expensive" entitlements given to us. What they fail to understand is that these programs, originally created as trusts, are and have been paid for by the people!  Politicians themselves raided these trusts literally for the money and now moan that this money is a drain on the government and these programs are again running out of money. Let me tell you and them that if over a period of 40 years I had invested the money I have paid to the government in taxes for my Medicare and Social Security, SSI and whatever other ways to grab my money have been added ... monies that I would invested myself, I would be a multimillionaire, many times over. Instead, I have a piddly monthly check that I nightly hear politicians moan about having to give me as if it were free money and I was on the dole. In a sense I am. My 40 years of payment money is doled out to me at a rate that would keep a church mouse even poorer!
     A visit to the local Social Security office is also very enlightening. In fact, the one near me had only one other native English speaker, an African-American rent-a-cop that was a holdover from the SS. Everyone else was speaking either Spanish, Cantonese or Mandarin. And, from the look of most of them, had never put a penny into the system. So Social Security, in my mind, is not for those who put money into it, but a feed the world's poor program paid for by the citizens of the United States. Is it any wonder they are running out of money? It's a program to feed the world's poor!
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan
     My father died when I was 16. In watching Paul Ryan, in a variety of programs, most recently "60 Minutes" talk about Obamacare and Medicare and Social Security and what a drain they are and create a big government, realized of course that he also lived in circumstances similar to mine. Yet to hear him spout off the drivel that he does, I am sickened.    He knows the struggles his mother and mine had to raise children when the main breadwinner dies at 40.
     I can say this because I too am a Republican and probably have been since I was about 6 handing out "I like Ike" campaign buttons on street corners in 1952, putting up Goldwater signs on section roads in Oklahoma, cringed during Watergate and more. To hear my party put down the common man while they themselves with even one term in office get a healthy pension and medical care for life, not having to struggle like the rest of us for the very things they bemoan, sickens me. You can rest assured that if every politician in this country had to depend on the same programs the rest of us do, Social Security, Medicare, there would be sweeping changes.
     Life in the United States is not Orwell's ANIMAL FARM. Or, it is not supposed to be. Some animals are not supposed to be better than others and yet, and the old guard still doesn't get it, that is what brought defeat for the Democrats, the pollsters and all the insiders. They had all the answers, or thought they did. So busily talking to each other they truly missed the angst of the country and as Peter Finch said in "Network" they were mad as hell and wouldn't take it anymore.
The Capital of the United States
 The Chinese have a very old curse, "May you live in interesting times" ... and already even before Donald Trump is sworn in as President, we are. In just about every radio broadcast, on the nightly news on television we hear, just like the talking heads on ESPN missing with every broadcast what we and they have seen, say that we are entering the abyss. Maybe we are but then 2018 is just two years away and if "the Donald" doesn't deliver, the by-elections will create a new House and Senate and he will be a lame duck president.
     I spotted a headline the other day where I believe the New York Times asked the question "Can There Be Too Much Capitalism?" I would hazard a guess and say yes. Watching our government cozy up to the very entities they are supposed to watch over protecting the citizens, many of which were created by another Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, the Epi Pen boondoggle, the Takata airbag disaster with millions of potentially unsafe cars on the highways, taking over 100 years to provide national healthcare to all citizens, something every other industrialized nation has had for over that same 100 years, you have to wonder. Maybe the question is, have we gotten too big for our britches? Has our government and its elected officials gotten too big and overreached their original Constitutional mandate? To think this isn't design is to ignore reality. In typical fashion what we have created was designed and designed some more until what we have today is, to many, is design gone haywire. A few, and I might add, a very few, have gotten theirs and left the rest of us in the dust.
     So again I say, "May you live in interesting times" because I think we are and maybe, just like on your smart phone, we need to hit the reset button!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please, take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here and always is to explore the ways design and art affects our lives ... and always has. 

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