Speedo and A.H.I.P.
by, February 13th, 2010 at 01:39 PM (3075 Views)
Yesterday, when I went to K-Mart to pick up some drugs, my chest felt weird in a painy kind of way, and people were asking me if I was all right. It is possible that various pressures of late have been escalating the graying of Jim. When I look in a mirror lately, something I try to avoid, it's hard for even me to ignore a certain corpse-like quality that is accelerating its hold on my features.
While awaiting the prescription re-fill for what is, in effect, a legal form of speed without which perambulation itself would go from excruciating to impossible, I decided to check my blood pressure.
I was hoping for either low/normal readings, which might preminisce a few more good months; or astronomically high readings, which might indicate more immediate relief of some species is at hand.
The results were equivocal.
158/78 with a pulse of 40.
Since I am not close to meeting my deductible, going to a doctor for an informed opinion was, of course, out of the question.
I made the diagnosis myself:
Systolic blood pressure: high.
Will to live: low.
I think one of the factors that set off yesterday's red hydraulic pressure spike (which strangely enough managed to add no color whatsoever to my skin, which has remained uniformly crepey and cadaverous) was an AP story on the WellPoint health insurance company's decision to raise the rates on some of its individual customers in California by 39 percent.
California, according to our esteemed free marketeer and fiscal austerity booster, J.L., has much better regulations and protections for individual consumers than my own state of Pennsylvania. I intuited that whatever species of buggery is allowed in California is thus likely to transform itself into an even more rapacious form of rectal rape in less progressive states.
Today, I woke to find that California is not alone in this massive increase in rates for those of us caught in a death spiral.
Please consider checking out today's AP story at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...tesstates.html
A few sample quotes:
- "We frankly have been very frustrated by the size of these increases," Pingree told The Associated Press. "Obviously, they are attempting to price certain people out of the market."
- "Premiums are far more volatile for individual policies than for those bought by employers and other large groups, which have bargaining clout and a sizable pool of people among which to spread risk. As more people have lost jobs, many who are healthy have decided to go without health insurance or get a bare-bones, high-deductible policy, reducing the amount of premiums insurers receive."
As regular readers of this vlog might have realized by now, this topic of health insurance is one that has been bugging the Holy Living Bejesus out of me for the past several years.
One of things that has proven particularly onerous to me is the "advice" I have received from the J.L.'s of the world, advice that is usually offered in both a condescending and bamboozingly uninformed way. It boils down to this: there is a Magic Solution out there for you, but you are not looking hard enough for it.
Check out this high-deductible plan from AARP.
Join an association.
And if none of these things work, move.
Mr. J.L., I do hope you have access to good proctological care, because it appears to this layman that you have a severe pre-existing condition here.
*Like blind men examining an elephant, I know that my perspective on the health insurance situation in our country is parochial at best.
For most of my life, I have been by most reasonable definitions a middle class person.
This is starting to slip away with increasing alacrity, and it has not made me into what, by most reasonable definitions, could be called a better person.
I feel for the first time in my life a very strong sense of prejudice and discrimination-Ėfeel free to laugh if you want, J.L., but there you have it.
When I decided to pursue my career as a magazine writer in the early 1980s, I knew that it would not be the easiest route to a secure life. I knew that I would have no employer to match my social security contributions, and hence have been paying 15 percent off the top of everything Iíve earned.
I knew, as well, that I would have to pay for my familyís health insurance premiums.
What I didnít know then, and I am not sure anyone would have been able to predict this, is that:
* two of the most commonly treated conditions in the U.S.Ė-depression and high cholesterol-Ėwould render both my wife and me uninsurable if we ever tried to change policies after going on treatment for these
* that the policy we bought at the time, and found quite affordable when we were 31 and 27 respectively, now takes up 40 percent of our pre-tax income.
This is the part of the elephant I am looking at, and I assure you, it is a very disgusting part indeed.
You may want to write this off as a political rant, Mr. J.L. and your Ayn Rand love-slave ilk, but I am telling you, I have spent the last year looking at options to get out of this trap, and the only possibilities I can find are to give up insurance altogether, or to try to lower my income to the point where we will qualify for a state-aided policy that is basically a welfare kind of thing.
J.L., you may have the luxury of getting all huffy about this in a political sense, but I am certain it does not effect you in a personal way. You sound like you are old enough to be retired; chances are you are sucking the socialist teat of Medicare already, the kind of socialism I suspect you independents with the little iís rant against when itís offered to anybody else.
Again, I am slipping into ad hominem territory here, and I apologize. Itís just so damnably frustrating to have no way out and the responsibility of your family on your shoulders and a sense that the system is rigged against you.
All of which circles me back to the title of today's vlog: Speedo and A.H.I.P.
As most of us suspect, Speedo's decision to add a rubber-like flotation material to the LSR suit, which soon lead to competitors, from B70 to Jaked, adding even more rubber-like flotation materials to their racing suits, appears to have been the final straw that forced FINA's hand.
This overreaching on Speedo's part, in my opinion, was what killed the golden goose. If they had stuck with pure textiles, and world records had continued to fall on some reasonable schedule--as opposed to an explosion of them--I suspect that FINA would have never had to ban tech suits.
Speedo would still be selling $400 FastPros and the like.
I, for one, will never spend more than $25 on a swimming suit again in my life.
My prediction: America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the lobby "representing nearly 1300 member companies providing health insurance coverage to more than 200 million Americans," should have learned from Speedo's mistake.
Go ahead and raise rates by 10-39 percent per year till virtually all people in my boat are uninsured, leaving only the best actuarial "risks" with private insurance.
At some point, this is going to come back to bite you.
I only hope I live to see the day.
American Private Health Insurance