Please fire me. I was written up for receiving too many phone calls from the same number. My job is to handle referrals from two major medical entities over the phone. Most of my calls come from two numbers.

Hello, I am Katie, your personal health insurance navigator

Less adorable than Baymax, but you get the idea.

I wanted to create a blog that helps people figure out how to effectively use their health insurance in ways that will help save them money, time, and sanity. There are so many pitfalls in this landscape, and there’s too much specialized knowledge for an “average layperson” (actual industry term) to be familiar with.

A little bit about myself: I write plan documents for a third party administrator. My company administers health plans for self-funded companies. I am an expert on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). I will only post about topics I’m very familiar with, including:

  • how plans are designed
  • WTF ‘preventive care’ even means and what is included (and how to make sure it’s covered at 100%)
  • how to save money
  • which provisions apply to which plans
  • how to appeal incorrectly paid claims
  • how to navigate cost containment programs
  • avoid eligibility catastrophes
  • ugly industry truths

I’m not a tax advisor, and I don’t work for the government. I don’t help administer any of the Exchange plans, and I have never been on a Medicare or Exchange plan, so I can’t really help in those areas. But pretty much everything else is on the table. 

I encourage questions and requests for specific posts. Rather than create huge master posts, I will focus each post on a special topic. I hope this helps even just a few people. If you feel frustrated, you are not alone. I know engineers who cannot understand the difference between a premium and a deductible or preventive care and treatment care. This is a highly specialized world, and I have some specialized expertise to share!
Exxon Knew about Climate Change Almost 40 Years Ago
A new investigation shows the oil company understood the science before it became a public issue and spent millions to promote misinformation
By Shannon Hall

A good read about how the rise of corporations and vulture capitalism have finally doomed the Earth - America, home of the ultimate loser.

Exxon was aware of climate change, as early as 1977, 11 years before it became a public issue, according to a recent investigation from InsideClimate News. This knowledge did not prevent the company (now ExxonMobil and the world’s largest oil and gas company) from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation—an approach many have likened to the lies spread by the tobacco industry regarding the health risks of smoking. Both industries were conscious that their products wouldn’t stay profitable once the world understood the risks, so much so that they used the same consultants to develop strategies on how to communicate with the public.  

Experts, however, aren’t terribly surprised. “It’s never been remotely plausible that they did not understand the science,” says Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at Harvard University. But as it turns out, Exxon didn’t just understand the science, the company actively engaged with it. In the 1970s and 1980s it employed top scientists to look into the issue and launched its own ambitious research program that empirically sampled carbon dioxide and built rigorous climate models. Exxon even spent more than $1 million on a tanker project that would tackle how much CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. It was one of the biggest scientific questions of the time, meaning that Exxon was truly conducting unprecedented research.

In their eight-month-long investigation, reporters at InsideClimate News interviewed former Exxon employees, scientists and federal officials and analyzed hundreds of pages of internal documents. They found that the company’s knowledge of climate change dates back to July 1977, when its senior scientist James Black delivered a sobering message on the topic. “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,“ Black told Exxon’s management committee. A year later he warned Exxon that doubling CO2 gases in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by two or three degrees—a number that is consistent with the scientific consensus today. He continued to warn that “present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.” In other words, Exxon needed to act.

But ExxonMobil disagrees that any of its early statements were so stark, let alone conclusive at all. “We didn’t reach those conclusions, nor did we try to bury it like they suggest,” ExxonMobil spokesperson Allan Jeffers tells Scientific American. “The thing that shocks me the most is that we’ve been saying this for years, that we have been involved in climate research. These guys go down and pull some documents that we made available publicly in the archives and portray them as some kind of bombshell whistle-blower exposé because of the loaded language and the selective use of materials.”
One thing is certain: in June 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen told a congressional hearing that the planet was already warming, Exxon remained publicly convinced that the science was still controversial. Furthermore, experts agree that Exxon became a leader in campaigns of confusion. By 1989 the company had helped create the Global Climate Coalition (disbanded in 2002) to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change. It also helped to prevent the U.S. from signing the international treaty on climate known as the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 to control greenhouse gases. Exxon’s tactic not only worked on the U.S. but also stopped other countries, such as China and India, from signing the treaty. At that point, “a lot of things unraveled,” Oreskes says.

But experts are still piecing together Exxon’s misconception puzzle. Last summer the Union of Concerned Scientists released a complementary investigation to the one by InsideClimate News, known as the Climate Deception Dossiers (pdf). “We included a memo of a coalition of fossil-fuel companies where they pledge basically to launch a big communications effort to sow doubt,” says union president Kenneth Kimmel. “There’s even a quote in it that says something like ‘Victory will be achieved when the average person is uncertain about climate science.’ So it’s pretty stark.”

Since then, Exxon has spent more than $30 million on think tanks that promote climate denial, according to Greenpeace. Although experts will never be able to quantify the damage Exxon’s misinformation has caused, “one thing for certain is we’ve lost a lot of ground,” Kimmell says. Half of the greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere were released after 1988. “I have to think if the fossil-fuel companies had been upfront about this and had been part of the solution instead of the problem, we would have made a lot of progress [today] instead of doubling our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Experts agree that the damage is huge, which is why they are likening Exxon’s deception to the lies spread by the tobacco industry. “I think there are a lot of parallels,” Kimmell says. Both sowed doubt about the science for their own means, and both worked with the same consultants to help develop a communications strategy. He notes, however, that the two diverge in the type of harm done. Tobacco companies threatened human health, but the oil companies threatened the planet’s health. “It’s a harm that is global in its reach,” Kimmel says.

To prove this, Bob Ward—who on behalf of the U.K.’s Royal Academy sent a letter to Exxon in 2006 claiming its science was “inaccurate and misleading”—thinks a thorough investigation is necessary. “Because frankly the episode with tobacco was probably the most disgraceful episode one could ever imagine,” Ward says. Kimmell agrees. These reasons “really highlight the responsibility that these companies have to come clean, acknowledge this, and work with everyone else to cut out emissions and pay for some of the cost we’re going to bear as soon as possible,” Kimmell says.

It doesn’t appear, however, that Kimmell will get his retribution. Jeffers claims the investigation’s finds are “just patently untrue, misleading, and we reject them completely”—words that match Ward’s claims against them nearly a decade ago.

Robear is designed to perform tasks such as helping elderly patients stand up, or lifting them from a bed into a wheelchair. The latter task can be severely strenuous for care workers, who do it an average of 40 times a day. It’s no secret that Japan’s aging population is one of the biggest problems facing the country, and researchers are hoping to find solutions in technology.

Full Article


Dog becomes first pet with medical insurance in Guangxi

Meet CPU, a 4-year-old dog in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region that has become the first pet to have a medical insurance in the region.

On Friday, CPU’s owner, Ms. Jiang, bought the medical insurance worth 880 yuan (135 US dollars) after making sure her pet was in good health. The dog will enjoy professional treatment and a reimbursement of up to 70% of the treatment fee in the future.

The pet insurance covers up to 132 kinds of diseases, ranging from external wounds to internal diseases, and offers a maximum reimbursement of 10,000 yuan (1,535 US dollars) a year.

To make sure the insurance process goes smoother, CPU was implanted a microchip that serves as an identity card for pets.

While medical insurance for pets has only existed for about two years in China, it has received much applause. Some believe that such insurance may reduce pet abandonment, as many owners let go of their sick pets because of the high treatment fees.

Why the fuck doesn't insurance pay for supportive bras again?

So many people with breasts could be helped and not have to be in pain if legit supportive wear was something insurance paid for instead of them paying for medicine to mask the pain from not having enough support. The “preventative care to save us money” thing is a big trend, as well as HMOs pushing “wellness”, so why not cover some basic shit for people to be well?
'Close to criminal'
As an oncologist, I've had patients delay or actually stop treatment because of the high cost. They're stopping and they're dying as a result. That's why I've taken a stand with many of my colleagues around the try, country to call attention to these pricing issues and how unsustainable and devastating they are to our patients.

’Years ago, oncologists never talked about costs. Patients rarely brought the issue up because they had the means to pay for their treatment, and the drugs they needed didn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. They were insured in many cases and if they weren’t, we could either write it off as an institution or appeal to the drug companies under compassionate use.

I’ve practiced oncology for more than 30 years – in the Southeast, the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic area and now the Northwest – and I’ve been caring for cancer patients long enough to see a trajectory. In the ’80s, the ’90s, even in the early 2000s, it was almost unheard of for patients not to be able to get drugs because they couldn’t afford them.

The financial distress to the extent we’re experiencing now is really a modern development.


anonymous asked:

Hey there! So I more or less have this spring semester of college off and I want to start T. But I'm not super comfortable around my family already and its stressful for many reasons. One reason is that my dad is losing his job/insurance. So can I start T without insurance of any kind? And do you think this would be a good idea to start this semester? I haven't even worn a binder or remotely passed because I've been too scared to get men's clothe/a masculine haircut on my own...

Hey buddy,

There are a couple strategies for starting HRT without insurance. First of all, some colleges provide health plans for their students. Research whether your institution provides this and what coverage that would entail.

Second, if you can’t afford insurance, there are options that many countries provide. In the United States, look into applying for medicaid or other programs your state might have.

Third, several clinics and doctors work on a sliding scale payment plan. If you can’t find one in your area, message us and we’ll be happy to figure out the resources available in your area.

Fourth, use GoodRx. This site is a lifesaver for many trans people. It can help you find the most affordable pharmacies. Walgreens also has an online pharmacy that can often be the most affordable option.

Fifth, look into fundraising. A lot of trans people on tumblr set up fundraisers to afford HRT, surgeries, or simply cost of living. Our tag includes some additional advice on setting up a trans-related fundraiser.

Finally, in terms of when you should start, that’s a question only you can answer. There’s no right or wrong time in your transition to begin HRT. For me, it was the first thing I did, before I even worked up the confidence to change my gender expression. It doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t done yet. All that matters is if you want to go on hormones and if you feel emotionally, physically, and financially ready to begin this journey. If you are, you’ll feel it.

Much love,


Money problems are very real if you have a chronic health condition, it’s something that you can sit and pounder about for hours saying to yourself, “if I didn’t get this surgery I would’ve saved myself all this money…” Or “Why are medications so expensive? I’ll try to go to the doctor just to get them lower so I won’t pay that much anymore”, and whatever goes on your mind the guilt is there! Specially if the condition keeps you from working or makes it hard to find a job! Who has experience problems as such?

Going back in.... wish me luck

stopped in at the office

loaded up with espresso, 3 egg muffins, and ½ and avocado

checked email

slammed a couple of espressos

booked flights to Vegas - another tradeshow

sent $1,000 for some medical bills (just some….not all, holy shit)

now getting back in my car, driving 90 or so minutes north, finding parking, and wading back into the tradeshow

team dinner tonight

I’d really prefer to do a WOD right about now. Anybody with me?

not going to lie, I actually love what I do. But with everything there are good parts and challenging parts.