F…ing insurance

Warning! My potty mouth comes out of storage for this one.

We got the official fuck-off letter from the other guy’s insurance company the other day. I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it, but it was still a bit maddening. The dude had the minimum amount of insurance required by law, which apparently dates back to when a dollar was still a lot of money… back when change wasn’t spare.

If you know me at all, you know one of the issues I care about is healthcare. If you know my liberal leanings (my heart swoons for “social” medicine), then guess how much sense it makes to me to rely on someone else’s car insurance for healthcare. Accident attorneys are free to keep their comments to themselves. Yeah, our policy provides some coverage, and everyone is required to have a minimal amount of coverage to cover their own injuries (in Florida), but why should any part of the healthcare industry involve auto insurance? Maybe it makes a lot of sense to you, but it’s a fucking mystery to me. (No, not really – but it feels good to swear every now and again.)

I have this sneaking suspicion the health coverage from auto insurance is among the worst. If that’s true (it is in my case, but my situation may not be representative), I’d really like to know what percentage of healthcare spending is attributable to car accidents. Maybe that’s why auto insurance gets thrown in the mix. How much love do you think health plan administrators or employers (those folks that pay most of your premiums) have for the money losing, unpredictable nature of car accidents?

That would work out well, eh? Take a chunk of the system – possibly some of the more expensive parts – and outsource it to the hinterlands of auto insurance, where people are more likely to be un/under-covered, thereby footing more of the bill themselves. It’s a win-win for the insurance industry! Woo-hoo! Three cheers for private fucking insurance!

Yeah, some of this is sour grapes. We could have paid more for auto coverage so our health in and out of the car was equally protected. We could have paid closer attention when our manic agent on speed was going over the policy. When we read it, we should have asked more questions. Then we would have known “stacked” referred to more than the work at my office (or the hired help at a certain kind of restaurant). But here’s the question of the hour: why the fuck should we have to? Toss out the old “you’re not entitled to healthcare” line, and so help me….

Surely this is a system that isn’t ideal for doctors either. It’s like we’ve got two different healthcare systems – one for sick people, and another for accident victims. I’ll wager that doesn’t make the paperwork any easier. And it gets better. Most of the folks caring for Cheryl are holding the bills until the insurance company knows what the whole claim will be. Who knows when that day will come? In the mean time they’re eating their costs (and I’ll bet them are some tasty costs). And when judgement day finally comes (and we find out our share) at least one of us may need more healthcare.

It’s just one more fuck-you very much from the private (for profit) healthcare system.

The card market

Folks I talk to are researching what gift cards to buy like they’re buying stock.

This year some of the more specialized retailers with plummeting revenues like The Gap and Circuit City are a definite SELL. However, Target (on the heels of relatively steady earnings) rates a tentative buy.

Let’s hear it for the mail

A few amusing things came in the mail this morning (the last week really… we haven’t been checking for a while). The first was actually a stack of things: a whole mess of “this is not a bill” from our auto insurance company. They don’t want anything from us now, they just want to remind us they’ve been billed for another ten grand from various providers, and they’ll be expecting our twenty percent at some unspecified time. Thanks. Appreciate it. I’m sure they’re required by law to do it, and a computer does it for them automatically, but I can’t help imagining some deranged insurance executive rhythmically pressing the “print/send/mail” key, a tent in his trousers, filling a small dark room with maniacal laughter.

The other thing was another sign our baby is growing up. We got our first abstinence education flyer from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

That one’s wrong on so many levels I don’t even want to talk about it.

Then why did you bring it up John?

My doctor says I’m not supposed to talk to you anymore.

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I demand respect!

Miss me? You know you did.

In the last week or so, all of my spare time has been devoted to reading up on bathroom repair and remodeling. We’d planned to do some work on “the most expensive room in the house” eventually, but planning a remodeling project is kind of like planning to travel when you retire. It’s a nice to think about, but there’s always something more important popping up, grabbing your last discretionary dollar.

I say that like I have one.

Well, it’s not discretionary anymore. Woo-hoo! A chunk of tile, wall board, and soap dish came off in Adam’s firm grip a week ago, and now the only thing our bath tub holds is post-consumer construction materials. It actually feels liberating, having circumstances dictate priorities.

One side-effect all of this reading has been the unraveling of Cheryl’s nerves. She’s getting this idea I’m considering doing some of the work myself, and there’s a little doubt floating around. She dares to doubt my skills?!? Am I still the guy that did the tile floors in her parent’s condo, the wood floors in our house, or the sagging shelves in our bedroom? Let me tell you, I’ve got skills. My shop teacher in middle school used to tell me all the time my work was interesting. I’m convinced he meant it in a good way. Plus, I’ve got a pretty good selection of tools meant for cutting, pounding, and prying… just itching for a little action. I figure that old rusting tub has finally met it’s match! Pull up a picture of me and you’ll be looking at him.

I think I know what clinched it for Cheryl. I was feeling full of myself and I let something slip. I told her I needed a small sledge hammer (and possibly a chisel) to break up the cement shower pan installed by the prior owners. In case you’re not a long time reader, the prior owners (of the home office in Dunedin) own a dark chapter in Kauffman history. They promoted “short cut” to a way of life. No one dares speak their name in my presence, out of fear for my safety. Remember the DIY A/C job they made to make a sale, the home inspector who didn’t spot it (or didn’t report it), and the consumer who took his word for it? AGH! I was so naive. It never occurred to me to check the attic on our walk-through, prior to closing. It still hurts to talk about it.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Wait just a tub pulling minute! What does a shower pan have to do with a bad tub?” (Hey! I saw that. Don’t you leak any more water mister! Bad tub! BAD!) That or you’re thinking to yourself, “I’d pay money to see you swing a sledge hammer.” (I’ll pretend you didn’t think up that last one.) You see, I may be a little slow, but I’m not (usually) stupid. You just have to connect the dots between our two bathrooms: two places where the prior owners worked their magic. Just make sure you leave enough room on the page to draw a jagged line/detour down the street to the bank, and your friendly neighborhood loan officer.

Here’s Cheryl’s dilemma. Do we pay the big bucks for a licensed contractor, or let my mad skills roam free? What’s the worst that can happen? Heck, we all know how to swim.

I’m not particularly fond of indoor swimming myself, but if you can do something yourself for a quarter the price, finding your inner Bob Villa (assuming you have one) looks pretty tempting (especially when you couldn’t afford it at a tenth the price).

I think I’ve got a brilliant compromise. I do the demolition and most of the re-construction, but we leave the plumbing hook-ups to a plumber. See, I can do reasonable.


A new MacBook

My wife was good and mad this morning when she saw this in our email inbox:


I don’t know about you, but I’m not allowed to make this kind of purchase on my own. Lucky for me, the internet age has allowed us to pull up our credit card statements online – so I could prove my innocence really quick. But that got us both to worrying… had someone stolen my identity? We pulled a free copy of my credit report to see if someone had applied for credit under my name. Lucky for our mental health, the internet age also allows us to pull up my credit report instantly. Fortunately, it looks like this was just a simple mistake.

So now that Cheryl isn’t mad at me anymore, and neither of us are worried that someone is ruining my credit, I wonder if this a good time to discuss another computer purchase? Guilt is a terrible thing to waste.

Paid Off

Those are two beautiful words. I’m not saying this because I’m a lobbyist (I’m not by the way). Those two words are significant because we paid off our magnificent iMac today, courtesy of a bonus that appeared in our checking account today (and well deserved, if you’re willing to take my admittedly biased word for it).

I’d feel better if we’d paid off the cars, the roof (which we had to redo last year), or the house; but I’ll settle for this too.

There’s a Judge I go before about once a month who says something to every couple that appears. I hear it all the time (so much that I sometimes hear it in my sleep), but it never ceases to ring true in my ears, particularly now… when I’m paying off a computer we bought on credit (“***WITH NO INTEREST FOR SIX MONTHS!!!***“).

“You guys are probably like everyone else in this country. You spend about 105 percent of what you make….”

There’s usually a lot more to it (including an admonishment, like “… what I’m telling you now is you’re going to have to redirect some of those earnings to your children”), and occasionally with a few well placed swear words mixed in to taste, but you get the picture.


Writing what you know

I could write about travel. I could tell amusing anecdotes. I could tell you where this entry is going, if only I knew.

At the moment I know about colds. Adam’s nose looks more like a Superfund site than a piece of harmless human anatomy. Beth thinks it’s really cool that she’s loosing her voice. I’m on the brink of a critical shortage of Motrin.

I’m wondering how much better my photography would be with a fancy new DSLR. The painstakingly programed consumer in me is convinced that the road to bliss begins with a new Nikon D40. It’s hard to remember that a month ago that road was supposed to begin with a new iMac, but somehow I got lost.

(Not that the new iMac isn’t a wonderful piece of hardware – it’s been great; but the answer to all mankind’s ills it ain’t.)

My idle mind has been working overtime to scheme up ways to scrape up a little dough for this latest obsession. Maybe a small withdrawal from our home equity line of credit is in order? Maybe if I put a Google ad on my blog, and convinced all of my readers to log into 100 different computers with different IP addresses and click on each add from each one, every day? Maybe there’s still someplace that buys plasma? (It was really big when I was in college.) Maybe someone would pay big money for an old computer collection? Bondi Blue iMac anyone? I’ll throw in a mint MacPlus for free on winning bids over $300. Maybe I could stand on the highway with a cardboard sign that read, “will sing for camera money.” (Would I get a few bucks for gall points?)