A Costly Egg Sandwich

I have a lot of experience with the medical system. Not just my transition, or my physical problems, but also my experience billing for insurance, running a clinic, etc. I have seen all sorts of ridiculousness.

Right now in my life there are a lot of doctors beyond just the transition. We are still working on the mass on my thyroid, and also the infamous espohagus/stomach issues and my vomiting. Right now we will talk about the esophagus/stomach issues and an example of why capitalistic medical system is bullshit.

I went into Kaiser on January 14th for a test that would trace radioactive material through my esophagus and into my stomach. I got a gastric emptying test, basically a test that detects how quickly my stomach breaks down and passes food through.

The end result was clear (meaning that isn’t the problem). However, the problem I had was the costs. They utilized a plain white bread fried egg white sandwich. No toppings, completely plain except it was coated in a specific radioactive substance that they tracked.

Most expensive plain egg white sandwich you will ever have. Could have at least used nice bread.

No big deal, the staff were incredibly nice and it tasted like a horribly bland egg sandwich. That is until I got the bill for it. I won’t even cover the cost of the procedure itself, just the cost of the material in the egg sandwich.

I am fortunate, I have medical insurance (an HMO) and they basically “charge” themselves for it. The total bill was about $1,853 or so for the procedure, they wrote off $590.16 to magically pay themselves (and also they still make a profit on that $1,200+ test.

The kicker was the $507.52 charge for the egg sandwich. Yes it is a radiopharmaceutical agent, but there is just something ridiculous about the cost. It appears they probably used Tc-99m Sulfur Colloid which the outdated information I had was $36 per dose. Let me be very generous and say the price increased 2.5 times or more and is $100 per dose.

That means for my sandwhich that should have probably cost $100 + less than $1 for the bread and eggs was a total of $101. Yet they charged me more than five times that much at $507 (and the odds are they got it closer to $50 and it is ten times as much).

This is why the capitalist system is bad for the individual. The government already payed the majority of the R&D (that is a whole other aspect), and yet they are still charging a minimum of 5-10 TIMES more then the cost for an agent that they don’t have to incur any danger with.

It is ridiculous, and I admit my yelling here won’t change anything, but it does make me feel a little better.

Bailout bullshit

I say here and now that this whole bailout is bullshit its a last desperate gasp of the corrupt administration and rich backers. I have been reading some articles and there are non banking institutions who are claiming money from the government (including Rudy Guiliani’s company wanting money to help with the bailout). 

Not a single middle class American will be helped by this bill. Sure everyone is going to claim it saves our middle class by saving our economic capabilities. That is bullshit, it wont save any mortgages, it will only give the rich more money.  I keep hearing how the market will take care of itself, evidently it wont and that was all bullshit. Does any of the poor or middle class get health insurance, no. Does anyone get help with their mortgages or credit card debt, no. Is there more jobs, no. This is the same trickle down theory that caused this bullshit.

Our best option would be to let everything crash and then rebuild. Yes it would be hard, but maybe what came out of the ashes would not be a house of cards. None of this fixes the inherent problems of wall street or banks, its just a “get out of jail free” card.

I have a feeling I will have a lot more rants about this coming up.

Disappointing Work Update

I will make this pretty quick. There has been two rather disappointing things that have occurred this week. I do dislike the job, and I have already gone on ad nauseum about the other issues.

1. Monday I was given back an extended return. Basically earlier this month we had thrown together numbers for the return to be sent in with the extension. Not a big deal at all. I got it back and was told to ensure that the personal business showed no profit. Basically report all income, but only enough expenses to offset that income to zero. This is technically legal, althouh the IRS hates when people don’t report all their losses. So I turned to my boss and asked if he was sure. The losses were close to $300,000 and who doesn’t want at least carryover for the next year? He said no, don’t report any losses. “We don’t want the IRS to look at him closely, because of the sale we did last year.”. Now, there is nothing technically illegal about what we are doing, however it somehow bothers the ethical socialist in me. Why are we worried about IRS interest? I mean if everything is legit, this should give him some benefit over the next few years. It left me a little discontented, but its somethin I have to do.

2. The second issue is even more frustrating. I was originally told when I was hired that we would be going to 4 10 hour shifts in May. That is still the case, however we are still going to have to check email, voicemail, and check in 2-3 times each Friday. In addition we cannot take Fridays off where there is a deadline, or if a client is coming in (which is about 30% of the time). If there is a holiday (such as Memorial Day), we will only get 8 hours of credit, not 10 for the day taken off and we will have to make up the 2 hours on another day. There were about four other small bullet points on restrictions for 4 10 hour shifts. Its disappointing and I think for the most part I am just going to keep the 5 8 hour days (although on a good note I get to wear jeans/t-shirt on those Fridays).

Just relaying some of the disappointments.

Long Update

I woke up this morning incredibly angry. I don’t mean “in a bad mood”, I am talking a rip-roaring I would like to crush someone’s nose under my fist anger. I do feel much better now, the wife and I went to the mall and got her some shirts, she then got me fed.

I am sure some of my anger comes from no time, finals decompression, and the fact we just got our electricity bill (double what it normally was), it just adds up. Actually I was angry enough that I called up work and cancelled coming in today (and no, I don’t want to run a game or have visitors today either, just not in the head-space to share my world paradigm with anyone but W, I love the rest of you, but we had already planned not to play today so this wont change anything except it will give me a breather from all my responsibilities, game still on 23rd). Mostly I cancelled today with work because there is no way I could handle my manager.

There is a lot of ranting, to save your friends page and to avoid making you have to read my inane ramblings I will cut most of it. I will post about school after I get my grades finalized (and that is another stress factor, how the fuck long does it take to grade a multiple choice test)

I will start with the Xmas Party. The wife and I have both been a little tense about this. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t really fit in with the upper class. I like my coworkers, but there is not very many of them I have any similarities with.

The wife and I started Saturday looking for presents. We are supposed to buy $10 presents each for a blind gift exchange. This was annoying because when I signed up for the Xmas party, I was told there were no gifts required. I don’t have a problem spending $20 total, but honestly we are still pulling ourselves out of the hole, and I hate the consumerish pressure that gets given out at Christmas.

We end up going to the “Lucky Monkey”. It’s downtown, and its a very neat little import/kitchey type of shop. After several minutes of looking for two $10 gifts  we end up getting two identical presents, they were little wooden gift boxes with different types of tops (different designs). In each one we bought a “lucky kitty” statue and a Guatemala Worry Doll to fill up the box.

We leave the house at 5:30pm, the dinner is at some restaurant named “Grammy’s”. We get there at 5:45 (party starts at 6pm). There we met Dr. C and his wife. Dr. C is an awesome older man, his wife is very nice, but I think very aware of her station. We stood around looking scared (wife and I) as more and more people arrived. Soon it was packed with 26+ people, I knew half, the other half were of course the first half’s significant others. The wife and I both still kind of stood around, not really fitting in we were talked to by a few of the workers, and my manager, but not for very long. 

The wait/cook staff actually talked to us quite a bit more, we all discussed the world and how things were going and in short I was pleased with the mingling we did with the staff.Dr. C’s wife seemed a bit put off by the fact that wifey and I did not drink, we asked for non-alcoholic drinks (which the staff happily gave us).

Dinner came (an hour after the party officially started, we were starving). We sat next to P and her husband G (names hidden for their privacy). They are both pretty nice (P is the one who works my M-Th shifts now that I am in class). Her husband works as an engineer for a security firm and they both seem very down to earth. L (a dental assistant), El and her Husband (also a dental assistant sat with us along with Dr. C and his wife).

Dinner was awesome, I take my hat of to Grammy’s. True, Gabe cooks better, it by no means diminishes how well they did. I had a vegetarian alfredo dish with Portabello Mushrooms. It was good (but would have later effects I may or may not go into). Dinner at the table went by relatively smoothly, the wait staff kept checking up specifically on me and W and I think it annoyed Dr. C’s wife that they didn’t ask her nearly as much if things were going ok. Its sad, even though I know in my future as a CPA I will have to go to shindigs like that, I would rather be on the other side of the register (working as part of the staff), I am just not comfortable with the official dinner like proceedings.

Oh I forgot to mention the wife and I never approached the appetizer bar before the dinner, it was surrounded by coworkers/significant others and they wouldn’t let the work staff in to refill the appetizers, it was like they didn’t even notice the work staff. I always wondered if thats how it was (you hear it sometimes in movies and books that the help are “invisible”).

After dinner Dr. C’s wife announced that three of the plates (one at each table) had a note under it saying “Merry Christmas” it meant whoever had it won the christmas center piece at each table (really was looking to me like a Kmart center piece of red and green, although I am sure it came from a upper income store). For some reason at our table no one had a note, so Dr. C’s wife had us all pick numbers.

I ended up winning it, however just as I won it, someone at another table had a second note (the notes were not evenly distributed). I told Dr. C’s wife by all means give the center piece to that person, they won it fair and square. Later El commented how gracious I was, I neglected to tell her I thought the center piece was horrible looking and I didn’t want it to begin with, she didn’t need to know that.

After the meal we were informed that we were to go back to Dr. C’s house. The wifey and I got outside and found it incredibly funny to see all these new cars (Lexus SUV, Mercedes Sedan, brand new Ford Ranger pickup) and then there was our rusted out 1989 GMC pickup. We were amused because we knew out of 13 cars, we had the only one paid outright. Sometimes I just look at the money people spend on “high end” products, I just don’t even understand.

We got to Dr. C’s house and it was huge. It was wired for outdoor music, and literally couldn’t have been smaller then 5,000 square feet (and I am sure it was quite a bit bigger then that). It was on prime beach front property and the inside everything was “Neiman Marcus” style. The only really funny thing was there were pictures of their dog “Buster” everywhere.

Now, during this whole time Dr. C would go out of his way to entertain everyone. Please do not confuse my amazement at the height of consumerism going on to imply that Dr. C was nothing but a very genial host who made sure to talk to us repeatedly and to try and make us feel welcome (Dr. W and his wife also were very very nice, Dr W’s wife was a very down home kind of feeling to her, I like her alot).

Dr. C went out of his way several times during the night to offer me and W something first (refreshment, pie, etc). This was going fine and there were numerous tiny conversations we had with others that will probably get talked about over time. Eventually there was the “gift giving” phase. It consisted of us setting all of the gifts in the middle then drawing random numbers. The idea was, when it was your turn you could select a gift and open it. There were two additional gifts (given by Dr. C’s wife), one was a “very good gift” the other was a “gag” gift. Those gifts could not be opened. A person would select a gift they wanted. The next person in line could then either take the first person (or any previous person’s) gift or take a new one. There were lots of funny moments (the digital tire air pressure gauge was very popular and even though it was taken from W by Dr C’s wife (who didn’t even really want it, she just did it to stir things up) I was able to get it back for her and secure the REI card.

It was a cut throat game though, I didn’t think anyone would really push to get those two “unopened” but I saw no holds barred greed as people kept grabbing for those two gifts. Actually it kind of made me sick, it seemed inappropriate for a “Christmas” party, somehow I think Jesus would not approve.

As the party wound down I talked with Dr. W about what I was doing next week. He mentioned that we were very short on time and things had to be done in 10 work days. I looked at him confused and mentioned that the manager had said it would take much longer. Dr. W’s wife looked unhappy for a brief second that my manager thinks that. I then reassured Dr. W that I would take care of it. for him

This means I may be working a lot of hours next two weeks (although part of me wonders if it wont be that bad).

The wife and I then left, came home whereupon I spent most of the night with my stomach/reflux killing me.

So here I am exhausted, in a bad mood from lack of sleep and unable to do anything but nap.

Oil Barons

Oh, its confirmed, the oil companies this quarter have broken historical records of the largest profits in a single quarter in all of corporate history. Exxon led with 9.9 BILLION profit, with the other four large companies right behind.

Yesterday representatives of all five went before Congress, when a republican senator asked for them to be sworn in, the head Congressman in charge of the investigation refused them and told them that they would not allow forcing the CEO’s to be sworn in and be held under oath on why they charge what they do, hmm can we say oil money bought him. For some reason even with all the supposed problems and storms, their profits are actually officially up 62% since last year.

http://money.cnn.com/2005/11/07/news/economy/oil_hearing/

http://houston.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2005/11/07/daily40.html

fucking thieving corporate assholes, I so can’t wait until the oil runs out and we have to go to biodesiel.