Texas was full of guns everywhere I went. Christmas presents, AK-47’s on the couch at home, my uncle has become a federal arms dealer since I saw him last, and I nearly shot myself while digging through the center console of my mom’s car looking for her phone charger and found my hand gripped around a small handgun trigger with the barrel aimed straight at me. Responsible gun ownership FTW.
I handled it as well as possible for the most part.
I started breaking about 5 days into the trip when the Maury show was on the tv in a podunk burger diner my family and I were eating at, and my parents started riffing off of each other that we don’t need gun control in this country, we need Obama to take trash like the Maury Show off of TV because it incites more violent thoughts than any gun availability to consumers ever could.
The conversation got heated, but there’s just no point in trying to argue against a ridiculous point like that. Apparently I am just very naive as to the power Obama has to come into their house, break the lock on their 4’x4’x6’ gun safe, and take all their weapons away.
On a different note, my mom was telling my aunt at Christmas dinner that the company that checks my grandmother’s pacemaker remotely over the phone semi-regularly had gone out of business last summer because of the new Obamacare laws being in place. This absence of the company was a huge stress on my mom’s life apparently. I verified that the company she uses is the same company that I use (I have a pacemaker as well that I get checked over the phone), and then I got really confused because I just had a phone-checkup with them less than a month ago. My mom told me that was impossible and I had no idea what I was talking about because Obama put them out of business.
Thankfully I escaped in one piece. And zoomed up to week 4 in C25K in the process as getting out of the house and running around was the only escape I had from the insanity some days. So one positive came from this trip I suppose.
big thanks to reddit user CaspianX2 for typing all this out!
What people call “Obamacare” is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, people were calling it “Obamacare” before everyone even hammered out what it would be. It’s a term mostly used by people who don’t like the PPaACA, and it’s become popularized in part because PPaACA is a really long and awkward name, even when you turn it into an acronym like that.
Anyway, the PPaACA made a bunch of new rules regarding health care, with the purpose of making health care more affordable for everyone. Opponents of the PPaACA, on the other hand, feel that the rules it makes take away too many freedoms and force people (both individuals and businesses) to do things they shouldn’t have to.
So what does it do? Well, here is everything, in the order of when it goes into effect (because some of it happens later than other parts of it):
Already in effect:
It allows the Food and Drug Administration to approve more generic drugs (making for more competition in the market to drive down prices)
It increases the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare (so drugs cost less)
It establishes a non-profit group, that the government doesn’t directly control, to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money.
It makes chain restaurants like McDonalds display how many calories are in all of their foods, so people can have an easier time making choices to eat healthy.
It makes a “high-risk pool” for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of “pre-existing conditions” altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered “pre-existing conditions” can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them.
It renews some old policies, and calls for the appointment of various positions.
It creates a new 10% tax on indoor tanning booths.
It says that health insurance companies can no longer tell customers that they won’t get any more coverage because they have hit a “lifetime limit”. Basically, if someone has paid for life insurance, that company can’t tell that person that he’s used that insurance too much throughout his life so they won’t cover him any more. They can’t do this for lifetime spending, and they’re limited in how much they can do this for yearly spending.
Kids can continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26.
No more “pre-existing conditions” for kids under the age of 19.
Insurers have less ability to change the amount customers have to pay for their plans.
People in a “Medicare Gap” get a rebate to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend.
Insurers can’t just drop customers once they get sick.
Insurers have to tell customers what they’re spending money on. (Instead of just “administrative fee”, they have to be more specific).
Insurers need to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse other than a lawsuit when they’re turned down.
New ways to stop fraud are created.
Medicare extends to smaller hospitals.
Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored more thoroughly.
Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly.
A new website is made to give people insurance and health information.
A credit program is made that will make it easier for business to invest in new ways to treat illness.
A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they’re not price-gouging customers.
A limit is placed on what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. Basically, your insurer isn’t paying for the Aspirin you bought for that hangover.
Employers need to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms.
Any health plans sold after this date must provide preventative care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge.
If you make over $200,000 a year, your taxes go up a tiny bit (0.9%)
This is when a lot of the really big changes happen.
No more “pre-existing conditions”. At all. People will be charged the same regardless of their medical history.
If you can afford insurance but do not get it, you will be charged a fee. This is the “mandate” that people are talking about. Basically, it’s a trade-off for the “pre-existing conditions” bit, saying that since insurers now have to cover you regardless of what you have, you can’t just wait to buy insurance until you get sick. Otherwise no one would buy insurance until they needed it. You can opt not to get insurance, but you’ll have to pay the fee instead, unless of course you’re not buying insurance because you just can’t afford it.
Insurer’s now can’t do annual spending caps. Their customers can get as much health care in a given year as they need.
Make it so more poor people can get Medicare by making the low-income cut-off higher.
Small businesses get some tax credits for two years.
Businesses with over 50 employees must offer health insurance to full-time employees, or pay a penalty.
Limits how high of an annual deductible insurers can charge customers.
Cut some Medicare spending
Place a $2500 limit on tax-free spending on FSAs (accounts for medical spending). Basically, people using these accounts now have to pay taxes on any money over $2500 they put into them.
Establish health insurance exchanges and rebates for the lower-class, basically making it so poor people can get some medical coverage.
Congress and Congressional staff will only be offered the same insurance offered to people in the insurance exchanges, rather than Federal Insurance. Basically, we won’t be footing their health care bills any more than any other American citizen.
A new tax on pharmaceutical companies.
A new tax on the purchase of medical devices.
A new tax on insurance companies based on their market share. Basically, the more of the market they control, the more they’ll get taxed.
The amount you can deduct from your taxes for medical expenses increases.
Doctors’ pay will be determined by the quality of their care, not how many people they treat.
If any state can come up with their own plan, one which gives citizens the same level of care at the same price as the PPaACA, they can ask the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for permission to do their plan instead of the PPaACA. So if they can get the same results without, say, the mandate, they can be allowed to do so. Vermont, for example, has expressed a desire to just go straight to single-payer (in simple terms, everyone is covered, and medical expenses are paid by taxpayers).
All health care plans must now cover preventative care (not just the new ones).
A new tax on “Cadillac” health care plans (more expensive plans for rich people who want fancier coverage).
The elimination of the “Medicare gap”
Aaaaand that’s it right there.
The biggest thing opponents of the bill have against it is the mandate. They claim that it forces people to buy insurance, and forcing people to buy something in unconstitutional. Personally, I take the opposite view, as it’s not telling people to buy a specific thing, just to have a specific type of thing, just like a part of the money we pay in taxes pays for the police and firemen who protect us, this would have us paying to ensure doctors can treat us for illness and injury.
Plus, as previously mentioned, it’s necessary if you’re doing away with “pre-existing conditions” because otherwise no one would get insurance until they needed to use it, which defeats the purpose of insurance.
I bolded the bit about the mandate that a lot of folks are ignoring — basically the part about not being able to afford it.
There was something in here that I wasn’t too fond of/too clear on (yes, I’ve forgotten what it is already, I’ll need to re-read), but it’s outweighed, imo, by all the good things it does.
Actually, aside from a few blips with the parents’ nonsensical political outbursts, my trip to Houston was probably the absolute best time I’ve had in the city since…. 2006. I got to see a lot of old friends I wasn’t expecting to encounter, drank a lot of delicious local beers (and barely paid for any of them. I apparently know a LOT OF BARTENDERS in that town still), ate things like pig ears and whataburger spicy ketchup, and in general, had a really really great time.
I also attended a spin class at a local 24 hour fitness (the gym I belong to). That was interesting enough [I felt like the only person in the packed class who knew anything about what to do on a spin bike], but then I saw this craigslist missed connection ad. The details described within match up pretty solid with my appearance that day and the appearance of the chick on the bike next to me who I caught staring at me the whole time. Granted, she left out pretty important details like which location of the gym she was at, and what machine she was on that involved “moves” and a competition of sorts (both of these things could easily be about spin bikes, and not much else). Not sure why there is mention of a tight ass, but in the process of accepting that this might be about me, I guess I’m flattered?
Headed to Houston tomorrow actually for a weekend of seeing old friends and their new babies/baby showers (ick). I will probably be lectured non-stop about health care and not-white people, or indirectly screamed at by the fox news on the television 24/7 for any period of time that I spend at my family’s house. Which is why I always feel all sorts of unbearable anxiety in the days leading up to a trip home. Which is why I will probably be making the trek to the old ‘hood to play pinball and drink beers/whiskey as much as possible.
It’s been a really dramatic and emotionally wrenching day for everyone in my immediate family back home in Texas. They can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea of their beloved Tim Tebow leaving their favorite Aggie-backed NFL team to play for the “yankee” team they hate the most.
My family says some sort of stupid prayer before every meal they sit down to, thanking Jesus.
Last time I visited home (I don’t visit too often) while being driven home from the airport at night by my mom, I expressed surprise (and joy!) that a new fancy HEB store had opened just down the highway from their home (which is in the middle of nowhere wayyyyyy far outside of Houston). For non-Texas residents, just be assured that HEB is a kick ass grocery store, and at 9PM at night after the liquor stores close there is no better place to find beer. My mom was mentioning that she was really happy about the store when it opened, since they had better food and more reasonable prices than most other grocery options in the area. But when this political mess came up on the Fox News, she decided to fervently boycott HEB due to the company owner’s stance on illegal immigration. Then she lectured me about the evils of HEB for a while and all of the damage they are creating in this world, given I was not too versed in my recent Texas politics. Upon arriving home, I immediately left again to go buy beer and some non-processed food stuffs at HEB since neither of these things existed in the house. My mom just glared at me when I returned with the HEB marked bags.
I managed to escape Texas today. And not a moment too soon.
Dealing with my family is rough enough. They’re mostly nice to me, and my parents are generous people. But their world views are so narrow, misinformed, and offensive to me that it just leaves me feeling scared and really bothered about what may be hiding out in my DNA somewhere.
Then there’s the general largeness of texas. As in fat people. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And jesus fish on cars. EVERYWHERE. And horrible roads with lots of pot holes, and terrible drivers, and OH MY GOD you have to drive for like 50 minutes solid to get to anywhere worth going to from my parent’s house. I feel that I spent more of my trip driving to places than actually doing things at those places.
I got to see a lot of friends while visiting which is always nice. One of my closest friends from my childhood and beyond (we worked in Durango together via a strange twist of life events, even) announced to me in October that she was expecting. This kind of freaks me out, as I’ve never been one to have too many female friends in the first place, and those that I do tend to surround myself with are either very anti-having-kids or very much not at that stage just yet (30’s the new 20, right?). So, I’ve definitely never had pregnant friends. Especially not one who is practically a sister to me, and in her being an only child, has deemed me to be the official Aunt of said unborn child. I made sure to hang out with her as much as possible, given the next time I see her, she will most definitely be with child.
Then I went to visit my other near-sister, a dear friend from junior high and beyond who recently married and is in the process of finishing out her residency in medical school currently. I arrived at her house, and walked in exclaiming about how pregnant friend [A] was, and she was like, WELL GUESS WHAT! She’s totally expecting as well.
So now i’ve got 2 very long-term female friends with babies popping out in the next 6 months.
I had to get the fuck out of Texas mostly because I fear there must be something in the water.