Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The white envelope lay on the floor below the mail slot when I pushed open the door this afternoon, shepherding Sophie along and into the house. When I leaned down and picked it up, I saw that it was from Anthem Blue Cross, that lovely arbiter of fairness and excellent healthcare (the greatest in the world, remember!), and I felt a stab of fear. Sure enough, when I opened it and waded through the polite mumbo jumbo of due to rising costs of healthcare, etc., I saw that our premium will rise another 15% by July 1, 2011.


Anthem Blue Cross has now, officially, DOUBLED our premium from when we first signed up less than three years ago. And that doesn't count Sophie's policy which has nearly TRIPLED in the same amount of time.

I honestly don't know what to do. Join the ranks of the uninsured? Flee to another country where we can afford to live and have our healthcare needs taken care of in a civilized manner?

I'm weary.

I'm not listening, anymore, to anyone who claims to be a conservative or tried and true capitalist.

IF YOU HATE PROFANITY, READ NO FURTHER. And honestly, I'm generally the sort of person who uses profanity when it's deserved.

I don't know what the answer is, but this isn't it. The idea of forking over thousands of dollars every month to that goddamn, immoral piece of shit company is repugnant.



  1. Thanks for the cuss words, they made me smile. I share your sentiments. Our BCBS coverage is a joke these days, our premiums have jumped 20% again, and our deductable increased to the point where the only point having the insurance is in the event of major surgery or calamity. It's insane. We're already buying meds from Canada, and aren't sure what to do next. There ought to be a LAW.
    I wish I had some answers, but for now, I too have nothing but complaints. This is pure bullshit.

  2. I have no suggestions either. I don't think there is an answer here, in The Greatest Country In The World. We are at a place where we have NO insurance at all. None.
    And no one seems to want to answer Mr. Moon's calls about getting some.
    I don't know baby. I do not know.

  3. No suggestions here.
    We pay $267 a week for our Great West coverage.

  4. I can't imagine Elizabeth.

  5. Shit. I knew it was bad in the U.S. but I didn't know it was that bad.

    I am from Canada where we have a decent (decent, not good) medical system. I think there is some misinformation that it is FREE but it isn't. We do pay premiums and they do go up. Our wait times for surgery is horrendous, usually a couple of years. If you need care for a special needs child you usually get put on a wait list. We do not have enough doctors so 50 million Canadians don't have one.
    That said, my mom is in the hospital right now and it is not costing her anything. I am on anti-depressants and they are paid for. My daughter had 100% full access to physio, occupational, speach and hearing, preschool, genetics and loads of services. If you are low income you do not have to pay a premium. No matter if you are rich or poor you get the same opportunities as everyone else. But the problems that exist are terrible. Last year at our local hospital 9 people died from diseased that were direcly related to poor cleaning of the facility. It is gross. People are being put in storage rooms and at the end of a hallway and totally forgotten about. (One person had to call 911 from his cell phone while in the hospital because nobody knew he was there.) A few months back people were shuffled to the coffee shop in the hospital because there was no room.
    Our ass of a leader wants to change everything and bring in American style health care. We may not have a choice.
    I don't know what the answer is.

  6. I don't have any answers, either Elizabeth ... but I do know that my neighbor, who works in the NICU at the local hospital, is weary of assisting in the delivery of baby after baby of uninsured people, who continue to have babies that "we" pay for ... so that there is healthcare for the uninsured. This may sound crazy, but seriously, have you tried to solicit the help of your local congress person? I think I might start by laying my problems on their doorstep.

  7. I am so sorry.

    I wish I could offer helpful suggestions, but if the problem were easy to solve I am quite sure you would have already solved it.

    I agree with Katie, it sucks.

  8. Lisa: I have a problem with your friend's weariness of delivering babies to mothers who have no insurance. While I understand the impulse, I think the attitude is borne of the same capitalist, every man for him or herself, selfish philosophy that our country, if not founded upon, appears to be deeply mired in. Perhaps those mothers, "daring to have babies" work in the homes or pick the crops or wash the cars or babysit the children or flip the burgers of those "who pay." I am perhaps naive to hope for a world, a country with no such borders or nationalism -- no us and them -- those who pay and those who do not -- our country is grotesquely rich and intensely exploitive, particularly now.

    As for talking to a congressman -- well, I don't have one whit of confidence that a congressman could help -- especially given the fact that more people in our government are interested in the next election and bringing down the current president than coming up with policies that help the country.

  9. Birdie - I think the problems we have here are very similar, except if you're very, very wealthy.

  10. Elizabeth, I feel your frustration with the woman who complains about delivering babies to women with no insurance. We have, for far too long, lived in a culture that puts "personal responsibility" on too high a platform without providing individuals with the tools to actually take care of themselves. For example, politicians talk about doing away with abortion after cutting birth control coverage and doing away with sex education in schools. Makes me crazy! And it makes me think it's time for a revolution.

    I wish I had an answer. In the meantime, I'm thinking it couldn't hurt to put together a well-worded petition to circulate online to your blog-readers and Facebook friends and then submit it as a letter to the editor in all your local newspapers. I would sign it!

  11. So awful. I am truly sorry you have to deal with these jerks.

  12. This is so horrible. I don't know what to suggest, other than to try to get on TV or appeal to a BIG blogger, who has TV connections. I wish I knew someone important. It seems that people will pay attention if they can see it on TV. Our local TV stations have a "people-helper" segment, and I wonder if such an angle would help you temporarily to cover the cost - and help to put your story together for "the big leagues." I know that you can write it and say it, but it has to be put before the right people in order to get attention. If you don't trust your representatives, who is next on your wish list of people to tell? The president of Blue Cross? Could you get through on the phone, or go to his/her office? Who are the lobbyists?
    My heart breaks hearing your anguish at the hands of this RICH, SWINDLING company.

  13. I have no suggestions other than a bunch of words for ABC that would probably make other posters squirm. So, best not to carry on. Ms Moon summed it up very well: "The Greatest Country In The World. We are at a place where we have NO insurance at all. None."

    That's terrible.

    Greetings from London.

  14. The term "health care" is an oxymoron in the United States. Those are "services" provided by "health corporations", i.e. the hospitals and insurance companies in collusion. Prices for everything "health related" are much higher in the US than anywhere else and the quality has done nothing but go down for regular folks. Oh, sure, you can get some of the best doctors/hospitals/physical therapy if you can pay for it. But the US is not The Greatest Country in the World in maintaining its citizens health and in so many other ways these days.

    I have made the choice to be "self-insured" rather than to give my money to an insurance company that is then unwilling to provide the service for which I have paid, i.e. paying for the health services that I need when I need them. I carry "catastrophic insurance" (for accident, heart attack, stroke or other big events). I decide what I need for everyday health care and pay for it out of the money I save by not paying a "health insurance" company.

    I know you are very much between a rock and a hard place with Sophie and her special needs. But what about setting up a health care bank account and putting the payments you would give to the insurance company in there? And how might that positively affect your health care deductions from taxes? (Link to the health deduction info: http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502.html)

    Think of the mental health you could buy by not having to deal with those Mendacious Usurious Greedy Assholes!

    Sending Hugs. x0 N2

  15. a stab of fear. i felt it for you.

    i am sorry, dear Elizabeth. it's just so unfair.

    sadly, we have no choice but to keep fighting the good fight. i am glad, so deeply glad that Sophie has you.

    And that we do too.

  16. Its disgusting. I wish i had a suggestion for you.

  17. Did you read Paul Krugman's editorial this week? He talks about how immoral it is that we now talk about patients as consumers, and how immoral it is that doctors are now seen as simply providing a service that can be commodified. I thought it was brilliant. Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/22/opinion/22krugman.html?_r=1&ref=paulkrugman

    Sometimes I fantasize about what country I will move to when the shit really hits the fan here. I never thought this way before.

  18. PS. You should send Paul Krugman an email. Maybe he would write more about this important issue. He certainly has the audience that none of us have. The link to email him is right on the NYT's site.

  19. what is the price of a life?
    and please tell me...why do we have to quantify this?

    i want to live in a world that acknowledges that we are all inextricably tied to each other.
    that we are all in this together and until we respond in compassion, care, respect....we are falling so pitifully short.

    i am so sorry, i know to well the negative far reaching effects of this.

  20. I have no suggestions. But I relate to the "stab of fear" upon getting a letter from the insurance companies. My husband gave up his own business (which he loved) many years ago, because we could no longer afford the health insurance premiums. He gets insurance through the company he works for now, for as long as THAT lasts. Who knows?

    I'm sorry. That's lame, but it's all I've got for now.

  21. All -- Thank you for your quick support and wise words! Above all, I know our family is not alone in struggling with the system. I will, perhaps, pursue this further with the powers that be, whether that might writing Paul Krugman or appealing to my congresspeople. But like I said, I'm weary of it all.

    N2: I find your suggestion incredibly interesting. I am going to look into doing that for, at least, the policy that covers my two boys, my husband and myself. Sophie's would be much trickier! Thanks for your wise words --

  22. It is so unfortunate that the current health care plan (which will probably be overturned at some point) mandates that everyone become customers of the insurers. And yet for a huge country like ours, I have no confidence that the government can manage truly individualized health care well, either----I know many doctors (and recently a wheelchair vendor, too) who refuse to deal with Medicare at all. We urgently need new ideas. I didn't read Krugman's column but I'm not so sure the idea of "consumer" is so inferior to "patient"---consumers can and do make demands, and maybe a paradigm shift is going to have to come from all of us who are paying through the nose...

  23. my head hurts just trying to wrap around why this has to all be so complicated.
    I wish will all of my heart that it could just magically be okay for you and everyone else.

    I don't have the energy to deal with day to day seemingly unfair but the way it is things, let alone this black hole .

  24. and seriously? thousands of dollars every month?

  25. My husband works for the federal government... we have amazing health coverage for our family of four and pay what we consider very little compared to what we paid for in any private sector job. The reason why the gov't can get such good coverage at great rates for its employees is because it employs so many people and insurers compete for the business, keeping costs reasonable or at least lower than the private sector. (i.e. if insurers can cover large numbers of people they can afford to make less profit per insured) Hilary Clinton's health care plan (when she was campaining against Obama) was modelled after the govt's current structure but would've included all Americans. Obama's original plan was similar but in my opinion, not as good as Hilary's but clearly got "doctored' up in Congress with many special interest changes to get it thru, a real problem in any universal health care plan. Any solution to the health care dilemna has got to include some type of healthy competition between insurers to keep costs down. For now, are there any openings in the federal government where you live??? So sorry to hear what you and your family are up against. We are Anthem BCBS as well ( but with the important word "federal" after it)
    FYI: on doctor radio there is a very knowledgeable person who has a regular show and speaks on the health care insurance crisis. If you have access you might want to listen in someday, he also will take calls where people describe their situations and he gives advice. He is very knowledgable on the new plan and when each part takes effect. Maybe worth a shot. Good luck.

  26. Oh Blankety-Blank. I don't have any answers but I share your cussing. It's a heart-break. Makes Switzerland look warmer...

  27. Oh, I like Colleen's suggestion---I think we ALL have to work for the federal government! I did everything I could to help elect Obama, and truly had high hopes for change, but I wish the Clintons, warts and all, were back in the oval office. Hilary had it right when it comes to health care.

  28. I believe I've asked you this before, but isn't Sophie eligible for medi-cal. It's not perfect, by any means, but it has saved us with Maggie.

  29. Can your husband buy into some group policy through some sort of union or association?

  30. Colleen -- Interesting comments, but I don't think there are any jobs in the federal government for my husband who is a chef (unless he were to walk away from his business!). I am unable to take a full-time job with my daughter's precarious health situation, but I do what I can. I'm afraid an individual health insurance policy is our only option at this time.

    Deb: Thousands of dollars? Between the premiums for the two policies, the co-pays and the deductibles, horrifyingly, yes.

    Maggie World: Sophie does have Medi-Cal as secondary. Do you think I should think about dumping her private insurance for Medi-Cal only?

    Victoria B: I don't think so. He is a business owner and can't afford small group insurance right now. Hopefully, this will change soon, but I don't think there are any associations (other than us moving back to his native Switzerland!).

  31. Yes, hugs all around. And this: It's just wrong. And the people who can make it right, ought to be ashamed.

  32. I just read something last night (after reading this) that suggested contacting your state commissioner of insurance. Maybe they would help?

    I appreciate Birdie's comment, because we are always being told how great healthcare is in Canada. We all need to know the truth, wherever we live.

  33. I wish I had a better suggestion than leave the country...

    Seriously, this is ridiculous. I have decent municipally funded Anthem coverage (being a teacher, with our AMAZING (cough) benefits), yet I still need (and am grateful for and pay premiums for) the Katie Beckett waiver to cover my sons therapies and meds.

    I can only imagine a small fraction of what you are going through. Maybe have Sophie covered entirely by Medicaid? Is that possible?


  34. If Blue Cross went up then that means Blue Shield will next. Great....

    I just keep raising the deductible to make it affordable...that is all we can do with a self-employed husband. No other miracle for us.

  35. I'm so sorry. We've been spared a bit of this in working for corporate america. Not that we don't have rising premiums, but the blow is softened by my employer & the economics of group health. That said, we still just got a $1500 bill for a 5 day hosptital stay. The politics of this elude me - I will NEVER leave my employer, who'll provide med insur for adult dependent children, but surely it has occured to someone other than me that forcing those with ANY preexisting condition (even the "minor" dx: HBP, high LDLs, diabetes, etc) onto the federal rolls (medicare/-cal/etc) and/or effectively barring them from ever venturing out into the-American-Dream-start-your-own-business isn't exactly the best long term plan? They ***** about "socialized" medicine but those that need care end up on the federal dole anyway. Same diff. By leaving all this as is (more/less unregulated), they end up pricing families like yours -who appear(ed) willing to go it alone- out of the private sector and... back onto the not-"socialized"-federal books. It's ASNINE.

    Done venting. sorry.

  36. One more thought: I do think looking into having the state insurance as your sole policy for Sophie is worthwhile and may be a great savings for you and your family As a nurse practitioner here in Ct., many of my patients have better coverage on HUSKY than anything the private sector can offer the middle class - HUSKY is much better at "expensive"
    drug coverage than many families with "average" insurance coverage.
    Re: your husbands job change... I thought he could be Obama's chef....but I erased that part....

  37. Sorry, Elizabeth, I didn't mean that I was weary of the babies being born to uninsured moms, just that someone pays their bills -- in other words, they obtain healthcare -- that's all. In Orange County, we'd go through the Regional Center -- I will try to find out what is LA County's equivalent.

  38. Oh fuck that shit.

    I figure if anyone got this far they'd be okay with a few extra swears.


  39. I am part of the uninsured. I feel your pain!! My husband gets insurance through his work, although we pay quite a bit for it. My kids are on the state plan for low-income families, but there isn't anything for me. I am a parttime employee and a student right now and we can't afford to get me anything!! This is my 2nd year uninsured. At this rate I won't be covered until I graduate and get a FT job!! ARGH!!!


  40. that sucks.

    Blue Cross shelled out $2mil for Owen's initial hospital stay. And when he was discharged, he qualified for SSI disability and has been on that ever since.

    Sophie doesn't qualify for SSI??



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