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Jan 23

Long Time, No Update

1-23-2015 – Well, gee whiz…  Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess!  Can’t believe it’s been over 3 months since my last update!  Where does the time go?!  It’s been so long, I don’t even remember all that’s happened, but I’ll try to hit the main points.

I guess the first thing is that I finally took my oncologist’s repeated advice, and got a regular general practitioner doctor to take care of my medical issues that aren’t directly cancer related.  As far as I can tell, she knows her stuff, and I get along with her, which is important.

The first time I saw her I had a severe flu kicking my butt, even though I had a flu shot this year, as always.  She said it was unfortunately a new strain that the shot didn’t cover.  I got a shot, some pills, and a few days later I was feeling much better again.  The second time I saw her was this past Monday for a physical.  Prostate’s still good, but the blood pressure was a little high, so she put me on a prescription for that.  She also prescribed me some inhalers for my COPD, so that I can breath better.  Just since Monday when I started using them, I can tell they’re making a big difference.  I haven’t been able to breath this deep and really feel like I’m filling up my lungs with air in years, and it really feels great.

My Medicare started in October, and those around me with knowledge warned that I’ll want to get a supplemental prescription coverage plan.  They also warned that inhalers I’d probably be prescribed can be expensive.  I went to the Medicare web site online to find out about it all and it was just a bunch of insurance-gibberish that I couldn’t make heads nor tails of.

So mom suggested we go down to the Senior Center in Petoskey and talk to those folks to get some advice.  She’d been there before, and they helped her.  I was all for it, so she made an appointment.  When we got there, a very helpful fellow got my information and set me up with a prescription plan with Walmart Humana.

He also set me up with a hospitalization plan with Blue Cross of Michigan.  For about $123 per month, they’ll supposedly pay any and all hospitalization costs, should I need to be hospitalized for some reason.  That seemed like a pretty good idea since I’m not getting any younger, and a stay in the hospital can be a whopper of a bill.  Better to pay a buck and a quarter per month and not have to worry about it, I think.

When I went to get the first inhaler prescription filled though, they said at the counter it’d be close to $300, and I was like, “WHAT???!!!”  So I walked away and called my doc’s office, and explained that we need to find something less expensive.  They called in a different prescription, and that one was only going to be a couple dollars less, so I walked away from it all, determined to get some answers before trying to continue.

I spent two hours on the phone with Humana trying to get a straight answer about it all.  After being accidentally hung up on and doing the dance through the whole gamut of prerecorded messages when you first dial in for the second time, I finally got transferred to a fourth person and, after repeating the whole story for the fourth time, got the straight dope on what was going on.

Deductible.  I have to pay a $320 per year deductible before they take care of my prescriptions.  And THEN, it’s still subject to the pharmacy cost AND what “tier” level Humana has placed that drug on.  So, For an inhaler that costs, say $800 and is on “tier 4”, I’ll still have to pay 35% of the total cost, which is $280 out of my pocket.  Like I can afford that.

My daughter and the doctor’s office suggested I go to a website called “goodrx.com” to find the best deal, so I did.  Walmart was only a couple dollars more expensive than the cheapest pharmacy in the area, and when we’re talking several hundred dollars, I’m not terribly impressed.  In any case, the website says to use their coupon for best savings, so I print it out and take it with me.  I also have a prescription discount card I got from the doc’s office.  I take all of it with the prescriptions to Walmart, and ask how to work it.  They ask me which I want to use, the Humana, the coupon or the doc’s card.  Then they explain that it’s one or the other, you can’t use them in combination with one another.

So, I decide to pay the Humana cost and get my deductible for the year paid off, so that it can stop being a thorn in my wallet, and maybe then I can get a better deal somehow.

It’s all a bunch of insurance bullshit, designed so that the average person has no possible way to successfully navigate it in a way that will actually benefit them much.

I mean, I get it.  I’ve always got it with insurance companies.  Their model, like any business, is to take money in and not pay it back out if at all possible.  It reminds me of the scene in The Incredibles where the little old lady is in the insurance office getting shafted, and Mr. Incredible gives her the information she needs to get through the maze of crap to get some real help.  Then his boss gets all worked up because the customers are penetrating the bureaucracy, which of course is bad for business.

Anyway, I’ve got a month’s supply which gives me some time to figure it all out better with my doctor, the deductible for the year is paid off, and I’m breathing much easier.  But just so you know – When I’m king of the world, my first order of business is to burn the insurance companies to the ground and implement Single-Payer for everyone.

My next appointment with my doctor is in about a month, on 2/19/2015.

I had another colonoscopy since my last update, which turned out just fine this time, and was told I won’t need another for 5 years.  I had a couple more visits with my oncologist in that time also, with nothing new to report from them either.  I’ve got a PET Scan scheduled for 2/5/2015, just about 2 weeks from now, and then I’ll see my oncologist again for a followup to it on 2/18/2015.

Aside from the medical stuff, I also bought a car, a 2002 4WD Jeep Grand Cherokee that runs great and looks pretty good too.  Because I always drove company vehicles throughout my career, it’s the first car I’ve owned in about 25 years.  I put it off for a long time after retiring, like over 2 years, but it was finally time, and I’m really glad to have it.

I also bought myself a big screen 65″ 3D TV for Christmas.  I haven’t owned a TV of any size in several years, since my last one was stolen from a U-Haul storage in Dallas, Texas back in 2009 or 2010, or whatever it was.  Honestly, I’m not much of a TV watcher so it didn’t really bother me not having one, but watching a 3D movie from time to time is fun, even more fun on a big screen, and it gives my grandkids and other youngsters who visit something to watch.  I still can’t bring myself to get cable, as expensive as it is for a crap load of stations with nothing but crap, and all the stuff I’d actually want to watch on “premium” channels that cost extra.  For now I’m perfectly satisfied with my NetFlix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other internet-based offerings.

I also tore down, cleaned out, rebuilt and upgraded my computer storage system to 30 terabytes, reupholstered my office chair, shot some great photos of Gracie and Casey and a few other folks, fixed the neighbor’s dead laptop and Casey’s dead-for-over-a-year laptop too, put up new curtains, got some new kitchen appliances and started making some new recipes with them, put up an additional 90 square feet of shelves in my house, built a Dexter-style plastic containment area to paint a bunch of them, fixed my mom’s touch-lamps that were burned up by lightning, and on and on and on.  I like to keep busy, and I’m still feeling well enough to do exactly that, and more!  :)

Till next time!