Gone to the Dogs

First, go over and support the Stewman, who is fighting cancer without the aid of health insurance.  Yeah, if that don’t scare the shit out of you, nothing will.

Second, Smiley got another dog!  Which he is trying to name.  I believe our efforts to help him name his first dog were roundly ignored, but we should still go and offer up suggestions.  Sadly, my vote for “Robert Plant” is not winning fans.  But, I tell you, I’d be sorely tempted to name that dog Robert Plant if he were mine.  I would almost buy a dog just to name it Robert Plant.  I’d love to go to the park and yell, “Hey, Robert Plant, come here!  Robert Plant, leave that poor girl alone.  Robert Plant, what are you eating?  Ooo, good pooping, Robert Plant!  Robert Plant, go lay down!”

See?  Good times.

Third, Mack took the cutest picture of his dog, which I would gladly link to, if he put it up on his blog.  How cute is it?  Cute Overload-worthy cute.  And, the best part is, pictures of Mack’s dog give you all the cuteness of it with none of the rancid farts.

38 thoughts on “Gone to the Dogs

  1. A guy I knew in NYC — a really fine musician, a funny and smart bar buddy — died last weekend after being left to sit in an emergency room for 5 hours with a thyroid siezure. He had the siezure because he had had untreated thyroid trouble for a couple of years. Because, as a musician, he had no health insurance. So I’m afraid I can’t contribute to Stewman, because I put all my spending money into a fund for Drew Glackin’s family.

    Things are wrong, very, very wrong, in this country.

  2. Thanks B. He has Cobra but the big issue is he lost his job a couple of weeks ago.
    Cobra is about two grand a month for normal folks.

    nm, you are right. So very right.

  3. ‘Coma, if you think COBRA hurts, self-insuring once it runs out is even worse. If you’ve ever been sick with anything, the only policy they will sell you is a HIPAA policy, and those cost even more than the COBRA. That’s where I live.

  4. NM, the thing about your situation, just stepping back from the personal for a second, is that it illustrates why relying on charity to do what the government should be doing is so troublesome. You have to make sure the right people hear about it and then you have to hope that their money isn’t going somewhere else first.

  5. Oh, absolutely. I mean, here I am, a person of good will but limited discretionary income, stiffing Stew because of Drew. And feeling angry about it all.

  6. My dad’s best friend/best man from wayback was diagnosed with cancer, and wound up having to ask friends and family for nearly $300,000. I don’t know if he got it, but he seems to still be alive today. I think he even had health insurance, it just wasn’t enough.

    I absolutely agree about the charity vs. government issue. A big part of that is simply practical; budgeting (and expenditure) within a charity (or, in the cases of what I’m working in, non-profit) setting is precarious, up to a certain size and level of complexity. When you’re relying on donations (or grants, or other periodic sources), your fiscal horizon is very much foreshortened … which gets in the way of providing services and requires devoting a disproportionate amount of human resources to making sure that material resources will be present. (And, of course, that’s not counting all of the other problems one runs into with small to mid-sized organizations in this model.)

    Larger organizations have different problems, mainly being that they tend to operate like corporations (while having to do tremendous amounts of tap-dancing to avoid actually looking like corporations on paper). This allows for relatively stable service provisions, but… doesn’t generally fit well into the existing economic landscape.

  7. Didn’t he choose to be a musician, basically self-employed? Nothing and no one stopped him from either, buying his own health insurance, or pursuing a different career, one that might either include working for a company that provided health insurance, or one that paid enough to buy his own.

    Sure, I’d love to be a race car driver. I’d love the freedom of answering to nobody but myself and doing what I love. But I’m not great at it. I might be able to squeak by, but one wreck, one broken body part, and I’d be bankrupt and unemployable. So I choose to keep schlepping to work for the man, because he pays me sufficiently to provide for my family, and even race recreationally on the side.

    The choices we make in life often have consequences down the road.

  8. Oh my god, Jay. You’re right.

    Hold on, everybody. No one give Stew any money because Jay has pointed out to me that he deserves to have cancer because he’s not psychic.

    That’s right, folks, if you aren’t psychic and don’t plan for the cancer you should have foreseen you’d get, if you dare follow your dreams instead of selling out and “being responsible,” you will get terrible cancer and maybe die and YOU WILL DESERVE IT.

    Oh, or wait, do you mean that the guy sitting in an emergency room for five hours with a fucked up thyroid deserved to die?

    Okay, then, we’ll go ahead and leave his family in the lurch, too.

    Because my money is mine, all mine, and you can’t have any, no matter what’s happened to you, because you deserve your troubles, and I have none so I am perfect. Mine, all mine. Bwah ha ha ha ha.

    Seriously, Jay, you heartless jerk, what on gods’ green earth do you think you’re adding to the conversation?

    You see a bunch of people grieving and trying to do something nice for folks who’ve gone through a tragedy and you’ve got to jump in with “Hey, I had to give up my dreams so fuck them for not giving up theirs.” Are you evil or do you just play at it on the internet?

  9. Actually, Jay, it isn’t all that easy to buy health insurance when not part of a pool. If you never had insurance through an employer, any health insurance company can turn you down for insurance for any reason or no reason. If you were previously insured through an employer, and have used up your COBRA, they can be forced to sell you HIPAA insurance, which is almost prohibitively expensive for most people.

    If you are saying that no one who is talented enough at something to support him/herself doing it (and it’s hard to make a living as a musician — Drew Glackin was one of the few) ought to do it unless they can be so wildly successful as to be able to afford to self-insure, I can only say that I hope you like Top 40 radio.

  10. B,
    I didn’t say for you or anyone else not to do whatever you want with your money. Give it all away. It’s yours. I respect that you have the right to do what you want with your money.

    You don’t have to be psychic to know that at some point in your life, you’re going to need major medical care. Not planning ahead for it is irresponsible.

    I’m not telling anyone what to do with their lives. Follow your dreams. Live on the beach. Surf. Play Americana music to 3 people a night in bars. I don’t care. It’s your life. It’s your choice. But take responsibility for your choices.

    Have all the fund raisers you want. Raise money to help your friends. I think that is great. People taking care of each other. I attend many such functions. My problem is when it becomes compulsory. When the government decides who needs my money more than my family does. Because that’s not a choice. That’s armed robbery.

  11. Anyone who starts their own entreprenurial business typically has no health insurance. It’s not about choosing a self-indulgent career. Farmers don’t have automatic health insurance coverage, neither do most ministers, garage owning car mechanics or restaurant owners. Have you even considered insurance coverage for Independent Doctors that have their own clinics and private practices? If they are fortunate and profitable they can purchase their own market rate policies, but it is definitely not cheap.

    I’m willing to bet even the Facebook mogul did not have company paid health insurance after he left the umbrella of his parent’s policy. Most Americans are one Accident/Cancer/Health disaster away from bankruptcy.

  12. “I’m willing to bet even the Facebook mogul did not have company paid health insurance after he left the umbrella of his parent’s policy. Most Americans are one Accident/Cancer/Health disaster away from bankruptcy.”

    This is a critical point. Jay is right, that many of us turn away from our first choices so we can pursue less optimal jobs that provide insurance. And Sara is pointing out one of the consequences — a lot of creativity and entrepreneurialism go out the window when too many are up against quiet desperation.

  13. No, Jay, what you are saying is that you want people to make music to entertain you but either (1) as a hobby, on the weekends, because they have to have a job that provides insurance so they won’t bother you, although their being part-time artists means that they won’t be all that good, or (2) as a major act on a major record label (Top 40 stuff), which won’t insure them but will give them big enough advances so that they can self-insure. But you don’t want the gov’t to mandate cheap health care or to provide it itself, because that might cost you more (it might — I don’t know what you do or what you make, but the truth is that if the gov’t stepped in and took over basic health care you’d probably have more disposable income, not less), and you don’t want to pay enough for CDs or at bars so that a working full-time musician doesn’t have to worry about how to pay for health care.

    Saraclark, I’ve spoken to physicians who want to set up independent practices but are afraid to for just that reason. And it’s not just doctors. Small law firms, CPAs/accountants, all sorts of professionals don’t have group insurance, or provide insurance for employees. Indepenent professionals and consultants these days get no help.

  14. Armed robbery.

    Puh-lease. I hear conservatives say that all the time and all it does is convince me that armed robbers need to switch neighborhoods. Anyone who’s ever had a gun pulled on them can tell you that it’s actually much, much different than paying taxes, which is, at best, annoying and not at all actually life-threatening.

    Do you not get that insurance companies are (also) stealing your money? That they take money out of your pocket every month and, if you get a disease or have an accident or come down with some condition they don’t feel like paying for, they won’t? That, even though most hospitals are non-profit and required by law to treat uninsured patients, many of them will do what they can to avoid treating you?

    And what, dear Jay, can you and your family do against that?

  15. nm,

    Answer these two questions and then we’ll most likely just have to agree to disagree:

    Do you think the cost of healthcare will decrease when it is ran by the government?

    Do you think the quality of healthcare will increase when it is ran by the government?

  16. Jay,

    For whom?

    I bet people who don’t have access to healthcare won’t give two shits if it’s not that great, if it’s at least priced within their reach. And, presumably, if the cost is spread out among more people, your costs won’t rise. Or maybe your employer will continue to offer you cheaper healthcare. Who knows?

  17. B,
    It is quiet life threatening. What happens if you don’t pay taxes? You go to jail. While not directly life threatening, the threat of going to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison is not something most people take lightly.

    I’m not saying I love insurance companies and that there aren’t problems with the system we have. Obviously there are. But I trust an insurance company more than I do the government. At least I know they’re just out to make a profit. The government I’m not so sure about.

  18. “Do you think the cost of healthcare will decrease when it is ran by the government?

    Do you think the quality of healthcare will increase when it is ran by the government?”

    On average, yes.

  19. Sure. Anecdotally, the best health care, and lowest cost, I’ve ever had was paid for by my state government.

  20. Anecdotally, now that I think about it, the worst health care I ever received was at the hands of a military oral surgeon.

  21. Ugh, no wonder you have a poor view of state-sponsored health care, if you’re basing it off of how military medicine has been practiced.

  22. Jay, I’m with Helen on this one. The costs will unquestionably be lower, and the quality will probably increase for almost all Americans. Look at life expectancy, fetal and maternal health measurements, treatment outcomes for heart disease and diabetes, all those nice, quantifiable measurements of how good health care is in industrialized countries with National Health, and compare them with those same numbers from the US. Sadly, we don’t come out well in those comparisons. We do, however, spend more per capita on health care than those same National Health countries do.

  23. Do you think the cost of healthcare will decrease when it is ran by the government?

    it certainly can. lots of countries out there have perfectly decent, quite acceptable-quality government run healthcare systems for much less (in percent of GDP, and/or per capita terms) than the U.S. system costs.

    in fact, i would go so far as to claim that if the U.S. institutes a government-run healthcare system and it doesn’t turn out cheaper overall, it will likely only be because (cough, cough) SOME political players who will remain unnamed will have sabotaged the system so as to discredit the idea. such things have happened in this country before.

    Do you think the quality of healthcare will increase when it is ran by the government?

    it certainly can. lots of countries out there have perfectly decent, quite acceptably cheap government run healthcare systems which provide care as good as or better than what the average patient gets in the U.S.

    in fact, i would go so far as to claim that if the U.S. institutes a government-run healthcare system and it doesn’t turn out better overall, it will likely only be because (cough, cough) SOME political players who will remain unnamed will have sabotaged the system so as to discredit the idea. such things have happened in this country before.

    what it boils down to is, people in the USA do not get any healthcare at all unless they either (1) pay for it themselves cash on the barrelhead, or (2) their insurer believes that paying for it would be cheaper than the administrative trouble of denying payment.

    because what happens here, today, all the time, is that people pay into their insurance companies for years on end, then when they need anything particularly expensive, the insurance company turns them down. safe in the knowledge that most folks who need to buy insurance cannot afford to sue their insurer, and that most people who need really expensive medical care will die before the case can be fully litigated anyway. they can afford to keep expensive lawyers on the payroll; you cannot.


    You don’t have to be psychic to know that at some point in your life, you’re going to need major medical care. Not planning ahead for it is irresponsible.

    this is one of those deceptive lies designed to seem truthy.

    the obvious, pre-plannable thing is that at some point in our lives, we will all need some medical care. we cannot confidently predict it will be major, because we cannot even define what counts as “major” over an average lifetime, much less what counts as “major” over any one particular lifetime.

    “major” for me, given the financial situation i’m in right now and for the foreseeable future, is anything that’d hit me for more than a couple grand. “major” for a multimillionaire would be an entirely different story. i and the multimillionaire cannot make comparably similar plans, much less can we prepare to equivalent levels of readiness. you cannot resolve this discrepancy without either (1) abandoning your dogma, or (2) calling me irresponsible and blaming me for not being richer. nor do i, at present or for the foreseeable future, have any realistic prospects of becoming rich — not even if i and my partner both remain healty; certainly not if either of us should fall ill first.

    denying somebody medical care and condemning them to whatever slow death because they had the temerity to not be quite as rich as your political dogma would have demanded they be is idiotic.

    in this country, about every other grocery store i walk into, there’ll be a collection box at the cash register with a name and the serious illness they need help paying for treatment for. not infrequently, there will be a single-digit age of the patient listed, too. i haven’t told my family overseas this fact; they would not comprehend that the world’s “richest” country could possibly tolerate such travesties. they would suggest i move back, no doubt. should i ever contract something severe, i may have to — i can get free healthcare in the country of my birth, still.

  24. Wow. I missed all of this because yesterday was insane.
    nm, I’m sending you many kind thoughts. I think the whole spirit of helping anyone, Stew, Drew, others is wonderful. We do what we can and I honestly love seeing people helping other folks because it makes me optimistic. It shows that we do care.
    Now, on to health care, Insurance owns us. I would have left my job a year ago (and intended to) but could not FIND insurance that I could afford. As I am making that move again, I’m going to probably go a few months without it although I think I can swing a major medical which I think is imperative. Of course, I realize that Im making a personal choice here.
    Stew is on insurance right now but one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve seen recently is that he wanted to get a specific kind of treatment recommended by his local physician (more of a clinical trial really) at Vandy. His work insurance (before he was let go due to the cancer) denied him this choice and he was sent to Baptist East in Memphis where they didn’t have the same treatment. I was in the hospital room with him when he got this news and he told us “I guess I’m going to have to settle.”
    Why should he have had to settle if he had insurance?
    So we, as his friends, did what we could on a grassroots level, utilizing the tools that we had available to us. None of us have any money, but we banded together and raised what we could yesterday due to the kindness of others.
    Recently, I was supposed to have a stress test due to some blood pressure issues. I met with the cardiologist for 15 minutes, set the date and then insurance denied me the option of having the test. The doctor sent me a $900 bill though.
    Insurance cost me a fortune last year as it does most people. But sometimes, and I’m blogging out loud here, I can’t help but wonder how the need for health insurance binds us because we are beholden to it.
    The whole Stew benefit for me was about being an individual and doing what we could. See, that’s where our personal power comes in or at least I think I’m right on that one. I’m just talking for me here.
    Whether it’s Drew or Stew, it’s just doing what we can for our friends and neighbors. Insurance companies could care less. Drug companies don’t care.
    But people actually do.
    With that said, when I lived in Montreal, I became very ill. As an American, I had some of the best medical treatment of my life.
    Incidentally, Jay, Stew isn’t a musician. He was a disc jockey among other things and worked every day since he was 14 until he got ill. Sometimes three and four jobs throughout the last 30 years.
    Just saying.

  25. No need to apologize. You know I hardly believe there’s such a thing as thread hijacking and I think you raise important points. It’s not enough to have insurance. The whole healthcare industry is screwed up and that’s the facts we have to face.

  26. Full disclosure: I work for a very,very large healthcare company, on the provider side.

    Help me out here – Everybody keeps mentioning National Health (which I believe is the British system, right?), when I’m pretty sure that even the most radical proposals for health care reform in the US involve single-payer health insurance (the Canadian system).

    There is a monster difference between the two, and which way the US goes (I think it’s inevitable now, one more economic downturn will do it), will greatly affect the company I work for. National Health means they go out of business immediately; Single-Payer means they’ve probably got another 20 to 30 years till rationing does them in.

    Regardless, I’ve always wanted to write professionally, but had to take care of my family first. Health care reform will force my hand , but, at least we’ll have health insurance :)

    I want to make this perfectly clear: I do not wish to hold onto my job by denying health care to those who need it.

    Seriously. I hold no grudges, it’s always been my dream to be paid to write, and on a very small scale, that’s been happening. It gives me hope that I could translate these small victories I’ve had into a career. Writing seems to be one of those few careers that does not age-discriminate. In fact, a little seasoning is considered a good thing.

    I believe that God gives us signs when it’s time to change. I’ve been seeing a lot of signs lately that I am going to have to move my life in a new direction.

    Anyway, now it’s been my turn to hijack the thread. I just wanted to explain that my interest in healthcare reform is not just from an academic or even an altruistic point of view. I know it’s coming, and I know my life is about to change in a huge way, and there will be no going back.

  27. Again, people, there’s no such thing as thread hijacking here. If you have interesting thoughts spurred by the discussion here, even if it seems tangential, I’m honored that you share them.

    Plus, when you’re trying to think about big problems, sometimes the answers come in the tangents.

    As for what’s being proposed, I think there’s a world of difference between what ordinary progressives want and what the Democratic candidates are proposing. As I’ve posted about before (but am too lazy to look up right now), the Democratic candidates all seem to back some form of healthcare reform that would just make it illegal for folks to not purchase health insurance.

    This, to me, seems so far removed from what the actual problem is to be laughable. What we need is for people to be able to afford health care and for them to not be denied health care if they need it, even if they can’t afford it.

    Health insurers could work to this end. They could have policies that actual people can afford, even when they’re self-employed or between jobs. And they could cease refusing to pay for treatments.

    They might have to become non-profit or less beholden to profits in order to do it, but they could do it.

    But, if they aren’t willing to work with what people want, then I’m for something radically different.

    I just keep thinking about the fact that, with how my dad’s insurance is set up, even though one of his benefits is that he’s covered by the Church’s insurance until he dies, if he retires now, it will cost my parents a thousand dollars a month to cover my mom (until my dad turns 65, at which point, it will go back down).

    The chances of my mom needing $12,000 worth of healthcare this year are pretty slim (knock on wood) and, even if she does, she’s still got to cross her fingers that insurance will pay for it.

    I think a lot of people without insurance are angry that they can’t get it and a lot of people with insurance are angry that they can pay in tons more than they ever take out and then when the time comes that they need to take out a large sum, the insurance companies deny them.

  28. Everybody keeps mentioning National Health (which I believe is the British system, right?), when I’m pretty sure that even the most radical proposals for health care reform in the US involve single-payer health insurance (the Canadian system).

    Not everyone, just me. And I’m aware of the difference between ‘single payer’ as a generic term and ‘National Health’ as the name of the British system. But National Health is also the name of the system most industrialized European countries have, in the local language, of course. They are slightly less complex systems than they have in Canada, so I guess that technically Canada doesn’t have National Health. But every Canadian I know (a large handful) says that ‘single payer’ is only the euphemism USians use to discuss a National Health policy, and has nothing to do with what they do in Canada. So I don’t use it. And anyway, a girl can dream, can’t she.

    But to your main point. Yes, getting rid of or limiting the role of the health insurance companies will put some people out of work. I’m not sure that it will put all that many people who work for providers (as distinct from insurers) out of work (except the ones who do the coding for the insurance companies), but it will certainly change the way you work, and may make some of you gov’t employees. But losing those coders alone will make health care sufficiently cheaper to put more money in everyone’s pocket (not to mention the effect of other economies of scale), which will increase demand for other things and create more jobs in other areas. If it means that those with a little more spending money are willing to buy a few more books or magazines, or pay a little for web content, that’s a good thing for writers, too.

  29. WTF? How can you lose your COBRA? The one decent thing to come out of the Clinton administration is that you can’t lose it if you pay the premiums. Newscoma, I’m pretty sure that can be fought and won.

  30. nm, I’m working on it now. A lot of this doesn’t make sense to me either. And fighting, well I’m doing that. That was my thought, but we are looking to see what the hell is going on with Cobra, insurance and it’s daunting. I know the premiums were being paid so I’m confused about it. Stew is medicated sometimes, and when he told me this last night, I’m having to figure it out.
    And they pulled him, due to infection, from his chemo, and on top of it all, I can’t go see him because I have a sinus infection. I know when they pulled my mom’s chemo, the psychological impact that has on a person is horrifying.
    It’s so damned frustrating I could just scream.

  31. Shit, honey. That’s awful. Let me know whether there’s anything I can do. I still find it hard to forgive the Clintons for messing up health care reform, but I did think that the one solid thing we got out of it was COBRA.

  32. I have been on the phone all day. It was a paperwork/computer glitch.
    He’s still on Cobra but it got all fubared. I think we have it worked out.
    Christ. This has been a whirlwind.
    Thank you guys for letting me process this over here.

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