Why health insurance in the US needs fixed, reason 24664335789

Or, Cigna sucks.

In no particular order:

Points to share in an email to the CEO of the wonderful corporation I’m a fucking team member of….

– Health insurance illustrates a company’s social policy, look to employee policies to see how a corporation really truly feels about the employees
– Employee health – need insurance that doesn’t leave employee’s afraid to go to the doctor
– Since bottom line is so important… Missed work
– Communication with understanding of the employee’s position – not just information providing
– Discrimination against people who have health problems they have no control over – and don’t even mention morale.
– Other human resources policies reflect company’s interest and understanding of employee and family and health – like not being able to carry over much PTO – which is a great way to prepare for maternity leave
– Did you really actually think this insurance change was beneficial to employees? Was research done? Objectively?
– How much was saved in cost for the company by switching insurance?
– Human resources can’t respond to an email in less than a month
– Cigna communication is stressful and patronizing – statement about saving money received same day I get a bill for more than what I saved.

Taxes & this WSJ graphic with the made up people

I find this horrible graphic so horrible I’ve decided to list the problems I have with it.

1. All the people are sad. If I was making six figures a year I would not be sad. Technically the clip art people don’t even need to be here. With out the illustrations there could be more data, which leads me to #2 on the list.

2. It’s misleading. Based on the mention of deductions they are actually referring to Adjusted Gross Income but just say Income.

3. Why is there race here? It’s not necessary. The single person appears to be vaguely Asian and the retired couple is Black. Was the Wall Street Journal afraid to make the single parent Black? Is that why she’s blonde?

4. The Wall Street Journal must sit in some kind of interesting niche as far as its readers go. On what did they base these examples? I seriously doubt the average family with two parents is going to have FOUR kids. In 2005, before the economy got even worse, $167,000 and up was the top 5% of household income distribution.

5. How did these pretend people make so much in investment income when the market is still so volatile? I have a very small amount of investments in stock as well as rather small IRA, I’ve seen both lose lots of money in the past 5 years, like a roller coaster.

6. The household median income in the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 was $52,762. This is not even in the same tax bracket as the lowest income pictured here ($180,000). Furthermore, from 2010 to 2011, income inequality increased. (page 10)

7. What percent of retired couples actually have income over $100,000, let alone at $180,000?

8. What about people in poverty? Doesn’t the Wall Street Journal think its readers should be informed? In 2011, that meant, officially, 46.2 million people were living in poverty. (page 13)

9. The Wall Street Journal caters to the top ten percent of our country, obviously a very specific class of people. In 2011, 9.1% of households in the country had income of $150,000 or higher. (page 31)

10. I have no interest in reading the Wall Street Journal even though I’m rather well educated with my bachelor of arts and masters of science. My education makes me one of the 28.2% with a bachelor’s degree or higher in this country – as of 2007-2011. I did graduate with my masters in 2011 and received my bachelors in 2009. Also, I researched these statistics in less than a hour while writing this post so it would definitely not be hard for an employee of the Wall Street Journal to find the same information. This is one of the powers of the Internet. Just one.

11. Finally, this entire graphic looks like it’s relying on scare tactics. “If these people are sad, what is it going to do to me?”

In which I complain about not having enough time to…

I want to blog more but life keeps being crazy. I’ve been knitting regularly and getting tired regularly and reading comics, sort of. Spring time is hard to because of allergies and spring storms popping up. (Spring is definitely interesting in TX. See tornadoes in April 2012. Go, ask Google.)

Ultimately, I think I’m just happy to have an income again – as long as I don’t think of the horrendous amount of student loan debt I have from 2 college degrees, very little scholarships and not very much grant money. Money leads to yarn, yarn leads to knitting, knitting leads to happiness. Does that make yarn part of the force?

The amount of books I’ve read so far this year saddens me. I should do a blog post about knitting projects…. I just need to grab the pictures on my phone and on my DSLR and get them on my computer. Something I was going to do last weekend. Turns out the whole writing thing isn’t working out like expected/intended since I’ve had to completely rearrange not at work/sleeping/eating time. I am still applying my creativity to something though, it’s just knitting instead of writing. Eventually, I suspect, I’ll come up with something I actually WANT to write about/on… even if I decide to take the time to do writing prompts. I guess I could do writing prompts 2-5 times a week sort of like exercising 3-5 times a week but then that’s probably the wrong approach. And on top of all that, I’ve restarted the food diary cause I’m wondering if there’s another food I’m allergic to. Increase in headaches is either spring time (and pollen allergies) or something else like food.

I did get to reading some of Anathem last weekend! I’m still not even halfway through!

I’m almost done with a(nother) pair of socks.

I think the next thing I need to do is buy that yarn ball winder and swift so I can wind yarn at home and continue with the projects I’ve got started. Then, once I can wind the yarn I can actually plan out projects. Wonder if I’ll bother?

Pictures don’t do this yarn justice.

I could gather up all the comics I’m reading too… Some are The New 52 (reboot) from DC but not all! I guess I haven’t done this yet because I haven’t gotten into a lot of the new ones. (Like Dark Shadows.)

edit:

I added a new category! COMICS! So yea, maybe I should write up something about being a woman and reading the DC reboot. (Batwoman’s anti-gravity breasts (in her armor) bother me.)

Saving money: forgotten circumstances

I’ve got too many blogs on my RSS reader….some of those include saving money/self help financial type blogs. One thing these types of blogs always seem to miss is saving money when you have chronic medical issues. I have allergies and asthma, those include food allergies and intolerances. Luckily, my food allergies are not *that* bad…I can eat wheat, corn, gluten and have no known issues with any vegetable. And I’m not even mentioning hay fever type allergies here! Further, such recommendations usually don’t consider places of extreme temperature. Few other things too… like access.*

Small annoyances.

Allergies/medical

For example, a person who is lactose intolerant (or allergic to fish) probably can’t eat cheap meals like tuna noodle casserole without substitution of some kind – or being sick later. Chemicals like MSG is another issue too… Season packets need to be MSG free, which automatically makes them more expensive.

Then of course there’s pollen. You can’t open your windows in the middle of allergy season if you’re deathly allergic to what’s out there… which is just a few periods of 2-4 weeks for me….but that sure is long enough.

Gluten free foods are usually more expensive. Foods specifically manufactured to be a certain allergen free are usually more expensive too.

Specific to your region

You aren’t going to open the windows in June, July, August, or even September and go without the air conditioner in Texas or other southern states just as you aren’t going to go without heat in December, January, or February (or March or April?) in Minnesota and other northern states. Some areas of the country see more extreme temperatures than others.

Cost of living. Some things are more expensive depending on where you live…. gas…food…transportation…housing…the list goes on. (And this isn’t even counting states like Alaska and Hawaii.) Transportation varies depending on where you are as well. If I lived in a northeast city I might be able to use public transportation to get from my house to point B…but I don’t. I couldn’t use the bus when I lived less than 15 minutes (by car) from campus to get to school.

Utilities and broadband, cable providers vary by city too. A cheaper option might be available, but you might not have access to. This can be as simple as what side of town you live on.

Cultural/Religion

I can’t specifically think of anything but I would bet money there are cultural or religious requirements that would not allow people to do something that might actually save them money.

Health Insurance

Just another thing that varies wildly and really effects your budget. The cost of the insurance as well as the costs after insurance both vary and should be considered. Dropping health insurance to save money isn’t a viable way to save money.

Family

Maybe you have family you can rely on to help out – like you have dinner at your parents every weekend and they pay for it. Maybe your family relies on you and you could save money if they didn’t. Well, you can’t really cut out your family now can you? You could throw daycare in here too. If you have a family member to babysit for little to nothing then you save money on daycare. A large amount of money – which also varies depending on where you live.

Access

So I guess I’m saying one of the problems with giving advice on the Internet is you don’t know what kind of access a person has to resources – necessary resources or just things that are nice to have.  Like, I live under an hour from an ikea, and they have cheap furniture – but not everyone lives that close to an ikea.

 

*This post was actually sitting in draft form on my hard drive since sometime last summer. I finally finished it because I was looking for something to write today.

fun with AT&T

I hate AT&T. But, they are the lesser of multiple evils when considering the options, the phones available and what you can do with your phone. (Verizon locks down their phones more than AT&T, otherwise I’d switch to Verizon. Probably.)

My husband and I have 2 PDA/smart phones/etc phones with unlimited data. Until today he had 200 texts/month and I had unlimited texts a month. We had old plans they don’t offer anymore. To get unlimited texts on his line I had to get family plan unlimited texts. The rep told me my bill is going to increase about 25 bucks. (She was nice by the way.)

Because I have old plans not offered anymore.

The supervisor I talked to after her to complain about how AT&T treats their customers in general seemed to think I was saving money. He told me the old line by line for unlimited texts was 20 bucks each. Well, if that’s the case how would my bill increase by 25 bucks? (I’d be adding 1 20 buck charge…)

And his best guess as to why text messaging now costs more is because of the national inflation rate. Sooooo AT&T can charge more for text messages because of inflation. Right.

It got fun when he tried to tell me I was having trouble adjusting to the new charges. Riiiiiiiight. After trying to apologize. Why are you trying to apologize when you can’t change anything? That’s when I decided to get off the phone. Cell phone companies seem to exist in a slightly different reality.

And, on a side note. When did mute turn into hold? The rep told me she was putting me on hold but I’d still be able to hear her. That’s not hold, that’s mute. And when I worked in the call center business mute was BAD. Also, last I knew, mute buttons were not 100% guaranteed to actually work. Maybe AT&T has awesome something or other…

So, AT&T = Time Warner. One more corporation that has monopolistic characteristics that someone needs to do something about that will probably keep getting worse.

Calling the credit card company…

So, I had a credit card that was run by a big big credit card company that starts with H. and ends with S. B. C. They decided to close it out because of inactivity.

So I called to find out why. (No, I don’t have this verbatim anymore… just enough for the jist of it all.)

The automated system told me my account was closed but still gave me payment information options…

Once I got a live person I asked why the account got closed. I was told because of inactivity, once accounts are inactive for more than 4 months they are closed, and the last transaction on my account was August 08. So I say again, why. And I’m told this is specifically in the membership agreement. The membership agreement says four months of inactivity leads to account being closed… or something similar.

So I’m thinking, ok, I wonder when this got added to the “membership agreement.” So I ask, when was this added. She’s confused at first as to what my question is.. so I point out I know the membership agreement can be changed at any time thanks to the other notice I got about how my cash advance limit was changing. She says the membership agreement only says the account can be closed for inactivity. Nothing about time period. After telling me different.  She does tell me the membership agreement was last updated April 08.

So, while a complete waste of time, the phone call does tell me one thing. While it’s annoying to now have only 1 credit card (what if that one gets hosed by the recession as well?), losing this card is definitely not a loss.