06 March 2012


I just finished doing my taxes for 2011. It was not a good year. I had $13,821 in deductible, unreimbursed medical expenses (including my over $5,000 insurance premium.)

Which is to say that I've got health insurance. My insurance did pay more than $13,821 on my behalf, but not a whole lot more.

It's a very good thing that my blood clot was diagnosed in Mississippi. It's nearly impossible to figure these things out exactly - what hospitals charge for medical care is about as transparent as the average lead-lined bank vault - but from what I have been able to gather, had my clot been diagnosed here in Los Angeles and had I gone to Cedars-Sinai (the big name hospital in town) it would have cost me and my insurance company at least three times as much money.

And I don't see how any of that is going to change with the new healthcare law.

Certainly, as of 2014 if the Republicans don't manage to dump the thing - which I don't think they will - I'll be able to get health insurance even if I want to change plans, even with my pre-existing conditions. And that's not a bad thing, nothing to sneeze at.

But I'm still going to have to pay through the nose for it. Possibly even more than I do now because the insurance companies aren't prevented from raising their rates to make up for what they see as higher costs. The word "affordable" in the act's actual name of record is laughable.

And if I need to use it, it's still not going to cover me well enough to avoid enormous out of pocket expenses.

I don't know what the solution is to any of this. The asswipes on both sides of the Congressional aisle talk about increasing competition among the insurance companies as a way to lower prices. Yet no one has bothered doing the simple thing of allowing companies to sell insurance across state lines - using the lower costs in, say, Mississippi to help offset the higher costs here in California. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know there are complications involved, but are they really any less surmountable than all the grief that the current system is causing?)

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that at some point in the next 10 to 15 or so years I have but one of several alternatives:

Get rich, really rich, somehow or another.

Move to a more civilized country where even if they don't have a national health care plan, at least health care is affordable - like Thailand or Costa Rica or Romania.

Suicide - a trip to a pet store in Mexico to stock up on Pentobarbital isn't such a bad idea. (By way of a related aside - read my friend Ashley Ream's recently published book: Losing Clementine.)

That's all I've got to say about my taxes this year. Well, I do wish to hell that I owed a whole lot of taxes, enormous amounts of taxes, enough to kill at least one Taliban fighter (which is pretty damn expensive) or fill 50 or 60 potholes on my street even - which is a lot less expensive. If I did, it would mean I made a whole lot more money than I did.

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