The Constant Sharp-toothed sucking

Frank Zappa had a song called “The Torture Never Stops”, which is about right. Like pugnacious people looking for a reason to punch someone, it’s one of those things that hums along in the background of our enraged, maddening world.  Here’s a seemingly random one, crosswise in the old throat, that I will try to briefly dislodge.  

That’s one of the beauty parts of writing.  Describe it well and experience a moment of relief.  Why am I foaming at the mouth, you ask?  Let me wipe away the foam, like Mr. Hitler delivering a coherent, if amoral, description of effective propaganda in a book otherwise composed of rabid dog spittle, and give myself that momentary illusion of relief.  

The current figurehead of our Deep State, an entitled, irascible and seemingly unhinged reality TV big shot, has promised, among other things, to abolish and replace Obamacare.   That he is the man to provide America with a health care scheme like the one citizens of every other wealthy nation depend on is as ridiculous an idea as his modern day Great Wall of China proposed for our long southern border.  I have critiqued the corporation-friendly, cynically-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at length.  You can click on the Obamacare link stage left (to the right for you pogues) to read the disheartening details.  I am no friend of Obama, a probably good man with a record of accomplishments as shameful as Bill Clinton’s.  Depleted uranium and cluster bombs dropped in Syria?  Not done by Mr. Trump, that was the handiwork of my man the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  

Anyway, in the last phase of Mr. Obama’s second term, New York State came up with a pay-as-you-go Medicaid plan for New Yorkers living slightly above the poverty line.  It’s called the Essential Plan.  The name turns out to be apt.  You can essentially get the health care you can force someone to provide under the plan.  Based on my income I qualified for this no-frills plan.  In fact, I was forced to enroll, or have no health insurance and pay a fine as a scofflaw come tax time.  

My experience with this “Essential” plan was literally sickening.  I wound up so sickened that my visit to the ER resulted in my being hospitalized for cardiac tests.  Follow-up care was deemed unnecessary, an undue burden, no doubt, on the corporation to which I paid my low monthly premium.  

When I enrolled for health insurance in 2017 I was determined to pay more and get a plan that could provide me with some measure of actual health care.  My subsidy level, and choice of plans, would be determined by my projected 2017 income.  It had to be above a certain level, to allow me to choose anything but the Essential Plan.  My actual 2016 income would have doomed me to the Essential Plan.  Luckily for me I was not asked my actual 2016 income, I was asked to project my 2017 income.  

After hours on the phone I learned what was not available anywhere on the internet– what the income threshold to choose a health plan was, somewhere around $29,000.  Nobody could tell me if this was gross or net income, so I declared my 2017 income to be a robust $32,000, to leave myself a margin for error.  

I instantly received a Notice of Disenrollment.  What I mean is that, this shit popped up on my screen within seconds of clicking in that income number.  I got a document emailed to me at the same time, helpfully labeled Template 09, like all the others, which informed that I was no longer qualified for the Essential Plan.  Good news, I naively thought.  

I will spare you a hundred details and tell you that my Navigator (the website and marketplace are so opaque it literally requires a navigator to help you get around) informed me that my income level qualified me for a subsidy of about half the monthly premium.  Meaning, with the subsidy I’d pay an affordable $230 a month for “Silver level” Obamacare with only a $1,200 out of pocket deductible.   Meaning that’s what I should be paying, under the law.  Except I’d had another notice telling me, erroneously, that I was not entitled to any subsidy.  Fair enough, we have already had vivid illustrations of what contemptible morons the administrators of the complicated and opaque program are.  

It will take about six months to have my appeal heard, my Navigator (also an attorney at a New York non-profit mandated to help consumers) informs me.  In the meantime I will pay $453 a month and have a $2,000 deductible.  Although, once they correct their mistake and reinstate my subsidy I will get a tax refund, some time in the second half of 2018, for the overpayment in 2017.  All I need to do to get an appeal of their clearly mistaken determination is to submit a letter, my 2015 tax return (the last one filed) and a Tax Transcript from the IRS.  

What the fuck is a Tax Transcript, you ask?  No fucking idea.  Click this  shit to learn all about it:  https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript.

OK, easy enough.  The IRS will send you an electronic one, chop chop.  All you need to do is create a log-in and request one.  They assure you it’s quick to create a log-in, only about 15 minutes.  Easy.  Except that each of the four times I have tried so far, over the course of more than an hour over two days, punctuated with Tourretic outbursts that have terrified, and horrified, Sekhnet, they log me out, sometimes because their system malfunctions, other times informing me it’s done for my own protection, before I can complete the process.  There is no 800 number where you can speak to a human being for assistance.  

So, I can just relax for Presidents’ Day Weekend, since there is nothing to be done at the moment.  Two days in a row, unable to complete this easy log-in business.  No reason to get excited.  Just keep loaning this giant insurance company $230 a month, since I’ll, theoretically, get it back a year and a half from now anyway.  Assuming this Orange Winner does not actually make good on abolishing the whole plan and replacing it with something terrific.  

I feel much better now, thanks, I really do.

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