Category Archives: Important Society Issues

Way Too Many of my Fellow Riders, and friends, Have No Health Insurance

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Okay, let’s just all agree to agree on this. We all need medical care during our lifetimes. And, maybe we can agree on this too. Healthcare/medical care is pretty expensive. Expensive compared to the average person’s wage at least.

Maybe some disagree with one of the two above statements, but generally I think we can agree. The key is how to pay for our individual healthcare. Or maybe, the key is how to try to encourage our society to come to some sort of agreement on how to pay for the healthcare of those that don’t have the means to pay for it themselves. I’m not sure what the real issue is. All I know is that we, as a country, are wealthy enough that we “deserve”, and should demand, healthcare for all our citizens.

I’ve been thinking about this since I did rotator cuff surgery in February. Actually, since I tore up my shoulder at Cyclocross Nationals in Madison in January. Participating in the system, as many of you already might know, is a challenge. It is so unbelievable broken that even those working in the field don’t understand how the system works. I’m not sure anyone does.

Yesterday out riding, we had a problem. My friend, Ian, crashed and hit his face pretty hard. He has a history of seizures, but none of us saw him go down. We came back and he was laying on the edge of a gravel road, pretty much unconscious, blood pouring down his face and out of his nose. Little Jack, was already on the phone with 911, trying to explain to them where exactly we were. Bill was holding Ian’s head, trying to keep him still. I called Ian’s wife, Katlin, to see if she could give me some information on his condition. She got into her car and started driving out to where we were immediately.

Long story short, the ambulance arrived, they put Ian inside to get him out of the cold. Ian “came back” after about 15 minutes in the back of the ambulance. He had health insurance, he works at Rebound Physical Therapy, where I did PT on my shoulder, but it was going to cost him a “fortune” to take an ambulance ride to the hospital and do all the necessary tests. Something maybe like 2 to 4 months salary, depending on what they did to him once he showed up. He decided to deny care and get a ride with his wife. The ambulance guys said since Ian was aware, he could decline treatment. I wasn’t so good with the decision at the time. Ian ended up going to minor-med and getting his face stitched up. He decided to take the risk on the concussion and broken nose.

I was talking to Bill while riding and wondering what he would have done. He told me pretty much exactly what Ian did. I think that it is so wrong that we have to make financial decisions that may, and many times do, risk our lives and health. I’m not sure what the answer is, but it needs to be fixed. I don’t understand why no one wants to address the cost issue. No one can ever tell me what it is going to cost to do any test before they actually do the test. CAT scans, MRI’s, tests that cost a few thousand dollars, they have no idea how much.

My brother broke his wrist falling off a ladder a couple months ago. He didn’t go to the hospital. I finally got him to go get it x-rayed and then sent them off to Stacie in Louisville. She said he needed a CAT scan of his wrist. I called around Topeka and no answers on cost. I eventually got some quotes of between $1800 and $2200. I went onto the internet and found a place from California that scheduled them all over the country. It cost $395. He drove the 60 miles and went to a regular imaging place and it was done. The charge less than 20% of the higher cost in Topeka. I don’t understand it.

Catherine had really great insurance when she crashed in Madison at Nationals and punctured her lung. But when all was said and done, she owed nearly $8000 out of pocket because they said she used an out of network hospital. I thought if it was an emergency, your insurance paid for any immediate medical care? Guess not.

We’ve already decided as a society that we take care of really hurt people. It is a law that hospitals can’t turn down patients that need immediate medical attention. When I come upon someone hurt or really sick, I want to be able to call the proper authorities, an ambulance and have the person taken to the hospital and taken care of. I really don’t care if the person was a drug dealer who was shot selling crack, an old lady that slipped on the ice or a police officer that had a heart attack. Or Ian, who crashed on his bike and hit his face onto the ground. I want them taken care of. We are a society of people. All of us don’t necessarily approve of what many of the others do or how they choose to live their lives, but that being said, it is the society that we choose to live in. No one is forcing anyone to live here, so we need to put aside the “I don’t want to pay for the other people’s insurance” argument.

And it’s a law that we do take care of them. So, our society has agreed, by law, that these people get medical treatment. No matter if they can pay for it or not. So we pay for the treatment whether they have insurance or not. Society pays for the treatment. We all pay for the treatment. But, people like Ian can’t afford insurance that pays for anything but a disaster.

Ian is in a very high risk group, as his wife, Katlin is. He has had seizures since he was a teenager and she was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. They are both going to be turning 26 pretty soon, so have to buy their own insurance. Can you imagine how much that would be? Through no fault of their own, they are nearly uninsurable in today’s system. It’s bullshit. It’s wrong.

I heard a radio interview on NPR about a woman in Florida that was trying to get people down there to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, Obama Care. The NPR segment said that Florida was a state that would really benefit from the legislation. But they are having a hard time getting people to look at the information, let alone sign up. I heard interview after interview from people that said that it was horrible legislation and it was just going to cost everyone money, but then admitted that they no nothing about it, but were sure that it would not be any good for them, even thought they had no health insurance now.

Nearly everyone I talk to has some view about Obama Care. And I really haven’t met any one person that could tell me more than one or two things about it. I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about it too. I know that you can get insurance without having to disclose pre-existing conditions, which is a very big deal. That would apply to my brother, whose wrist is still broken, Ian and Katlin. Other than that, I don’t know much.

I can’t tell you if the Affordable Health Act is going to be a great thing in the long run. I do know that our health care system is really screwed up currently and I’m willing to try just about anything different to see if it helps some. I wish we could all have a more open mind and put themselves into other people’s positions. When it comes down to it, our health is the most important part of life. If we are unhealthy, then the rest of life is an uphill battle.

Let all try to figure this out. At least keep an open mind and recognize that we have a big problem that needs to be addressed. This might not, and most likely won’t fix the whole problem, but in my opinion, something is better than nothing. If you want to check out the Affordable Care Act and it’s offerings, click here. If this post just gets one uninsured person to go out and explore the options of getting insurance, then it was a success.

We had to wait here over 15 minutes before an ambulance arrived.  We complained about how long it took, but really?  We are very fortunate to live in a country that has such good emergency services.

We had to wait here over 15 minutes before an ambulance arrived. We complained about how long it took, but really? We are very fortunate to live in a country that has such good emergency services.

Ian taking a rest until Katlin showed up.

Ian taking a rest until Katlin showed up.

Katlin showed up with some medicine.

Katlin showed up with some medicine.

Kansas aren't so inclined to look into the ACA either.  This headline of the Topeka paper says that only 1855 people have signed up for it so far.  That is out of an estimated 363,000 people that don't currently have health insurance now.  That is about 0.5% of the unisured people here.  Wow is all I can say.

Kansas aren’t so inclined to look into the ACA either. This headline of the Topeka paper says that only 1855 people have signed up for it so far. That is out of an estimated 363,000 people that don’t currently have health insurance now. That is about 0.5% of the unisured people here. Wow is all I can say.


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It sort of amazes me how intolerant and impatient we can all be sometimes. You’d think Americans would be more tolerate than not, but in my opinion, that isn’t the case.

I was out riding yesterday, Sunday, and twice during the ride, guys flipped me off. I have no idea why. I was riding by myself, close to the right side of the road, I hadn’t run any lights or stop signs. And still, honk, then finger. That is pretty unsual in Kansas, but it’s becoming more common, which isn’t a good sign. It’s funny, or maybe not, that I seem to get these types of encounters more on Sunday mornings than any other day of the week.

I wonder why so many people get worked up about such nothings. I realize that I sort of live in a little bubble, not really participating in “normal” life like other people and I am pretty far removed from all the anger and rage that people tend to display when certain subjects come up. As far as I can tell, those subjects are, gun control, abortion, politics, and now healthcare. There are lots more, but those are for sure.

The healthcare thing is weird. The post I did last week was just about the acknowledgement that the healthcare system was broken. And that it was time to address that. Then so many people started going off about how screwed we were because of Obamacare or just the opposite. That wasn’t the intention of the post. I think everyone agreed, does agree, that our healthcare system is majorly fucked up, but when someone wants to address it, then everyone is up in arms.

What if you have a leak in your roof and you live somewhere it rains all the time. And the leak is right over your bed. All night it rains and you get wet and can’t sleep. You get up the next morning, having not slept and have to drag through the day. If you just keep status quo, eventually something is gonna give. Your health, you job, your roof, something. So, you decide it is time to fix the leak. You might not know anything about fixing roof leaks, but you need to try, to attempt a fix. So you go up on the roof and survey the situation and then do the best you can to fix the leak. Hopefully you do an okay job and you fix it, but since you don’t know anything about roofing, it is most likely it is more complicated than that. So you learn from your mistakes and then do it again until you do fix it.

That is the way I see the healthcare issue. The problem, problems, are huge and very complicated. The system is substantially broken. But, we needed to start to attempt to fix it. Like I wrote in my post, I really don’t have any idea if the Affordable Care Act is a good thing, a great thing or a complete bust. But, it is at least climbing the ladder to try to fix the leak. If it doesn’t work, then everyone should use it as information to try to do it better.

It is going to take a long time to get the healthcare system corrected. It isn’t going to be a short term thing. But the way everyone, all of us, seem to have such intolerance towards the process, it seems that we are all sabotaging the process of fixing the very thing that, we all agree, isn’t close to right originally, by being intolerant of ideas that we really don’t know much about.

The same goes with our politicians in Washington. We hire them to work for us. To have different view, but to be open to what is best for all. But, that isn’t the case anymore. They have taken such permanent sides that the system comes to a stand still. Nothing gets done. It’s all finger pointing and posturing. If Washington DC was a private corporation, all the officers would be fired by now. But they don’t, because there aren’t any repercussions to their unwillingness to compromise. Life always has small compromises. It should be no different in politics. Intolerance and politics are like oil and water. It used to be different, I don’t understand the change.

It seems to me that as we age, we should be more tolerate and open to new ideas, but it seems to be just the opposite. As people age they seem to be more set in their ways. You think that over the years you’d have so many more experiences, with so many more outcomes, that you’d realize that they are lots of solutions for the same problem. I’m not sure why we don’t use our life experiences and apply them to other problems?

Anyway, most of the people reading this have something in common, the bicycle. The love of the bicycle. It is such a simple thing. A silly thing that makes us happy. We put a lot of importance on it. We all use it for different reasons and get different pleasures and results from the one common thing. We are part of a big tribe. We need to understand even though we all have one common bond, we also think a lot different than one another. But, those differences shouldn’t be deal breakers. We need more tolerance.

The guys flipping me off yesterday seemed pretty intolerant to me. It was a weekend and I wasn’t slowing them down at all. I’ll never understand why a guy riding a bike can bother somebody so much that they get enraged. It seems to be the way our society is heading now. Maybe after the healthcare issue “is solved”, we can work on that a little.