Not fit for mealtime reading
March 15, 2013
The mud season has begun in earnest now. Nothing like a few 60-degree days with the ground still frozen to really mess things up. Friends are talking about getting out on their road bikes. It sounds interesting, but between my house and the nearest pavement is a quarter mile of muck that would swallow the propane delivery truck without a trace. So to go for a bike ride, I either have to start out in hip waders or put the bike rack on the car and drive it out, spraying it with mud. I think I’ll stick to skiing for the time being, though conditions may push me over the edge if this warm weather keeps up.
My fear now is that we get a full winter’s snow in April, just after the lifts close. We need it for the water supply, but once I’m down to bare ground, I’m done with winter.
This is unusual, to say the least. Last fall, there were no hornet nests to predict the winter. Instead of building high in the trees or low in the bushes, they just packed up and left entirely. I think they knew what kind of spring we were in for, and decided they didn’t need to be part of it.
As if the state of the winter weren’t enough, I had a colonoscopy last week. If you haven’t had the pleasure, it’s something to dread. On the other hand, compared to colon cancer, the choice is clear. At least it all looks good on paper.
When you are sitting there in the kitchen contemplating a 55-gallon drum of high-test laxative, a little colon cancer, years from now, doesn’t seem all that bad. It’s enough laxative to shut down an entire prom at a rival high school, and the instructions say you are supposed to chug it all by yourself. Even after a day and a half without solid food, the results were alarming. It blew the lid off the septic tank out on the yard, which was kind of a side benefit. It’s been a long time since I built the house, and the yard has really grown in over the years. I wasn’t completely sure where it was anymore. But now I know it’s right there in the crater.
I have about the worst health insurance in the world. Over the years, I’ve paid the company the price of a house. In return, they have paid almost $38 in claims. The company reported a net profit of $2.65 billion (with a "b") in 2011, and the CEO managed to eke out a living on $13.2 million. You don’t get there by paying claims. Still, I’m not complaining about being healthy enough that I haven’t run up big medical bills. Health insurance is a bet you make that you really hope to lose.
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I had to call and get the process pre-approved. They expect that with a heart attack, too, and demand you get several competitive bids while in the ambulance.
The woman on the other end of the phone asked me, "Why are you having this procedure?"
Because my doctor recommended it for a whole lot of very good reasons.
"Is it medically necessary?" she asked.
"It’s not recreational," I answered. What kind of question is that?
It turns out that under Obamacare, a preventive screening colonoscopy is now something they are required to pay for. Socialist bastard. The insurance companies don’t much like that. If all of their customers get one colonoscopy every 10 years, and they have to pay for them, it might knock that $2.65 billion profit down to $2.64 billion. Next thing you know, the CEO will be living under a bridge.
If there was a way to weasel out of it, she was going to find it. If the procedure was because I actually had colon cancer, well, then the claim was denied and would be applied against my deductible in ways that guarantee that the deductible will never be reached. Obamacare won’t let them cancel sick people anymore. So now they just hope you die quickly before eating into the bottom line.
If you didn’t read Steven Brill’s article on medical costs in the March 4 issue of Time, it’s well worth digging up. His analysis of the health industry makes the banks look benevolent.
The process itself isn’t bad, mostly because you are out cold and have no memory that a room full of women you might find attractive under other circumstances did unspeakable things to you with a drain snake. When it’s all done, and you wake up (surprisingly quickly), the doctor stops by and gives you a written report, a bit of a pep talk, and, just for fun, a souvenir photo album of your nether reaches. Now there’s something to post on your Facebook page.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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