Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Remain Pure

I'm happy to report that we made it through airport security this morning with our carry-on bags and our dignity. No scanning, no groping, not even so much as a handshake. Considering we were traveling with the most motley assortment of shit in the world, including an animatronic cat (DON'T ASK), I think we did pretty well. Gianni was even a little bummed that he didn't get to go through the scanner, and also pleased that his least favorite security machine ever, only known as The Puffer and only mentioned in fearful tones, has been retired for a security strategy that focuses less on puffs of air and more on genitalia.

Now relaxing in DFW airport, which resembles nothing so much as a gigantic Greyhound bus station. Mmmmm, urinal cake whiff....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm a Whore....for Convenience

Here at the start of the holiday traveling season, there's a lot of uproar about the new TSA screening procedures. I have to admit I haven't studied them backward and forward, but the gist seems to be:

  • It's gonna take a whole lot longer to get through the god damned security line
  • There will be front and back body scanning
  • Upon refusal to submit to a body scan, there will be groping. Oh yes there will
While I don't welcome yet more delays in my air travel experience and I do think that these measures just add to the growing list of Things That Do Fuckall to Prevent Terrorist Attacks, I'm really a little perplexed and amused by the amount of outcry among people about the impropriety of the body scans and their bastard alternative, the expanded pat-down. There's are movement asking people to Opt Out of body scans and go for the pat-down or even break up with air travel altogether to protest these measures.

I've thought long and hard about this. And I've come to the conclusion that: I really don't care if the TSA sees me naked. I mean, really. It's not anything anyone hasn't seen before. And as far as someone getting off on my scanned image or about the world being able to tell it's me if it ends up on Oh PLEASE. These image scans will be about as erotic as an x-ray or a health class filmstrip. So if some fat TSA creep wants to use the body scanner as his government-issue x-ray specs, whatevs. It's not enough to make me opt for the body search, which in my opinion has MORE risk for offending behavior. And as for the expanded searching, I'm perfectly capable of screaming bloody murder if there's a bad touch, and I encourage others to do so. It's within our rights--just ask Penn Jillette.

Am I REALLY going to drive 2000 miles to visit my parents as an alternative to flying? That may be your choice, but it ain't mine. (Yes, I know it's about larger principle, but if we become a cloistered, provincial nation that spends 2/3 of its vacation time numbing its butt on long car trips, the terrorists really have won.)

I'm not willing to forego air travel or raise a stink about scanners. But I AM willing to ask for concessions. Hey, TSA, how about if in exchange for a body scan, you let me and my family keep our fucking shoes on when we go through security? A chance to bypass the family goat rodeo that is security line shoe removal is worth a peep.

And if I let you get to second base in the pat-down, what say you let me take ALL of my hair and beauty products in my carryon instead of trying to wedge negligible amounts of a select few into a 1-quart baggie? Do you think I just get out of bed in the morning looking like this? It's takes a lot of work to look this good for you, TSA.

In all seriousness, I'm concerned with the usefulness of these tactics and where it will end. But at this point, not concerned enough to get bent out of shape for my Thanksgiving trip next week or any near-future travel I may have. HOWEVER-- if the TSA introduces airport shoe mirrors, I may have to raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Health Insurance 101

Hey, Rep. Andy Harris. I hear you're having a little trouble understanding why government-run health insurance is a good idea. Mostly because you had to wait 3o whole days for your guaranteed government health coverage to kick in.

I feel your pain. Health insurance IS hard. Let me see if I can enlighten you about how health insurance works.

I'm a 41-year-old woman. I have two kids. I'm separated from my husband but he's still on our group health insurance policy. I have a few pre-existing conditions, but hey, by the time you hit 40, who hasn't? Luckily, mine have nothing to do with a shitty heart, ongoing cancer, high cholesterol, or any of those bad things that often require expensive treatment or drugs. In the big scheme of things, the only bad thing about them is that they do require treatment at all.

I left my job in April and am now enjoying a thriving freelance career. If business keeps going as is, and I keep working this hard, I'll be matching the salary I made at my old job. But of course, there's no subsidized health insurance.

We pay COBRA through my old employer. We pay $1450.34 a month. That's right. EVERY MONTH.

Why on earth would anyone do that? Well, here's why.

In a quest for even slightly cheaper health insurance, I just applied for individual health coverage. As part of that coverage, my kids could be added to my policy for a slightly higher premium. My husband, who has enough pre-existing conditions and expensive prescriptions that an underwriter can't possibly stamp HELL NO on his application fast enough, qualifies to be insured under Colorado's high-risk insurance pool. It's fairly reasonably priced and actually, the coverage is not that bad. If I were to be accepted for individual coverage by a provider, at the very worst our combined cost would be roughly half of what we currently pay for COBRA.

I submitted applications, answered hours of questions, facilitated the gathering of medical records, pieced together documents from 11 years and two cities, let the insurance company take a chunk of money out of my bank account for the first premium. These are all hoops that you have to jump through to even be considered for health insurance. I spent 30 minutes on the phone today tracking down medical records for a doctor that I haven't even seen since 2006, just so they could see evidence that I was 90 percent perfectly healthy during that time.

Let me reiterate: I exercise regularly. I wear sunscreen. My cholesterol, heart rate, and blood pressure are a cardiologist's wet dream. I control any health issues I have proactively with inexpensive medication and regular checkups. I've had exactly one surgery in my life. I have never smoked. I wear a seat belt. I don't eat white flour or refined sugar. I drink in moderation a few times a week. I have regular well-visit checkups. I've never had an abnormal pap smear. The last serious health issue I had was a one-time deal, 11 years ago, well past your statute of uninsurability. I have no allergies. I've never had a cavity.

And today, I was declined for health insurance. Why? Because of one pesky condition that requires (again, INEXPENSIVE) prescription treatment. Once again, people who control their health issues so they don't turn into bigger health issues get reamed.

Consequently, my perfectly healthy kids were declined for health insurance, too.

I'm eligible for the high-risk pool now. Which is good news. But here's the thing: I can't insure my kids. Because there is no rider in the high-risk pool for kids. And in response to the recent health care reform that went into effect, insurance companies would rather not insure kids at all, rather than being forced to ensure kids despite pre-existing conditions. Which, I repeat, my kids don't have.

So what are my options? Well, I could keep applying and applying for individual coverage, which is kind of like applying to get kicked in the nuts repeatedly. I could boot my husband off of COBRA and he could do Cover Colorado for a microscopically slightly cheaper total monthly cost. Always good for maintaining amicable relationships, and financial savings really doesn't balance out that cost. Or, and this is most likely what we'll do, we can stay on COBRA as-is. Which goes up next year to $1522.86. Of course, that will run out in a year or so. But then, I can always just give up my flexible, lucrative, satisfying freelance career and get a shit job so we can have the health coverage. LIVIN' THE DREAM, man.

Anyway, my little doctor Republican Congressman friend, THAT is how motherfuckin' health coverage works. Really, what's not to love? If you need me, I'm moving to Sweden.

Try not to catch a cold in the next 30 days.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pulverizing the hand that feeds you

Am I the only one out there who is irrationally afraid that when I stick my hand down a garbage disposal that's in off-mode, it's going to suddenly turn itself on, Amityville-style, and grind my hand into dog scraps?

I am? Okay, never mind then.