Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dear President Obama: My Experience at the Marketplace

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation, 
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all. 
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation 
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call. 
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander, 
This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief. 
Hail to the one we selected as commander, 
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief! 

Dear President Obama:

Every nerve ending in mine body is frayed, frazzled.

I began the search for coverage via the website promptly on September 13.  I know, it didn't go into effect until October 1, 2013, but I was anxious.  At that time, there was but a single insurance company in the bustling marketplace and since easily distraught, I became distraught.  Which led me into the arms of a very nice, calm, optimistic "navigator" -- our helpmates through this process -- Bill Rencher of Georgia Watch.

[Four Ruffles and Fluorishes for him, too!]

Since 1 October, I've been pestering the website dozens of times a day and receiving nothing but the the most polite error messages ever seen in cyberdom.  Repulsed, refused, unrecognized, I had about given up hope, despite the reassurances that the bugs in the system were slowly but surely being smushed into little bug pieces.  A carapace here, long sticky legs there, bulbous eyes strewn about.  Exoskeletons piling up, and with the government shut down, no one to sweep up the entomological detritus.  I say send 'em all to "Cry Me A River" Boehner.

Usually, Mr. President, I give no hints as to my political persuasions.  Yes, I used the plural, for like Whitman I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.  Ahem.

This morning, at 5 am, revolted by the idea of getting up to do something profitable for the domestic brood around me, I grabbed the computer and hit with something like a vengeance, but definitely with weepy eyes and no coffee.

After diddling around a bit, I created a new profile, ditched the old one, and kaboom, shazaam, wowza -- I was in!  Then I screwed up and had to call one of those blessèd telephone helpers, who was also confounded but wished me well.  I think, Mr. President, that she ended up helping out somehow, for a mere half-hour later, the glitch slid into the background of things.  It didn't disappear, but I was able to navigate from screen to screen and ignore the hell out of it.

Navigator Rencher, who helped calm the waters in September, had made several predictions about what my best options might turn out to be, coming from the Affordable Care Act's PCIP program, which ends precisely on 31 December.

He was right on all counts.  If I take up gambling, I'm bringing him with me to the racetrack.

If I could sneak past the First Lady and give you a prim kiss on the forehead, I'd do it in a heartbeat.  But what with all the shooting going on up there, they'd drop me with a head shot, for sure. (Gun control, anyone?  No destruction of the Second Amendment, just no guns for crazy people, registration and permits for all, no assault weaponry or accompanying ordinance, and equal restraint from law enforcement, including the Secret Service and Capitol Cops)

Since I doubt you'd break out into any Al Green on my account, I'll just say this here, in the safe haven of a nondescript blog:  God bless you, and thank you, President Obama.  I am a person with loads of physical woes that are constantly ganging up on my meager finances and limited sanity -- I worry, you see.  I don't want to be a victim, or whine about entitlement.  I don't want to bankrupt this good country.  But damn it, I need help.  My entire work life was dedicated to turning out well-educated citizens, both at university and at the proverbial "urban" high school level. I put my life at risk substitute teaching for the little ones, too, those cagey rug rats!  And I worked in Middle Schools where my status as a rube spread like wildfire, and the tweens often had me cornered between desk and blackboard, forcing me to throw chalk and lob erasers as a distraction.

In all seriousness, I had my life threatened and a student broke my hip in an attempt to escape capture by the kind and courteous police-people chasing him.  When I came back to work, one of my homeroom seniors stole my walker. To this day, I am convinced he was simply finding a novel way to encourage my physical therapy progress...

I was a GREAT teacher, Mr. President.  I loved my subject, I instilled a love for it in whomever the registrars put before me, and my students reveled in the concept of critical thinking and superb writing.  I'm just sayin'.  But these days, living on 60% of my year 2000 salary, no adjustment for the crazed costs of living, I need a little help.

Ted Kennedy would be bear-hugging you about now.

That website is going to drive many a USAmerican bonkers.  People unfamiliar with the terminology and the mathematics of health insurance are going to be breaking the backs of the Emergency Departments around the country as their heads begin to explode. I hope that was worked into the cost analyses.  But, like me, they will figure it out.  They will work with the outstanding navigators in their area, the phone wizards with infinite patience, and the online tech folk who speak plainly and make real suggestions -- even if those suggestions are initially aggravating.

I am now insured -- including a separate basic dental policy -- for less than what ACA's PCIP (a wondrous creation, that!) was charging. There's a whopper of a deductible awaiting me, and some nasty negotiations over medication formularies, and a doctor to switch out (but I've been secretly wanting to lose his Hoity-Toity-ness for some time, anyway).

And then there's the fear that this is all a dream.  That I filled something out wrong.

If I could throw chalk at a few Republicans for you -- I'd be up there in a minute.  But again, Mr. President, I don't want my pedagogical corrective measures to be misconstrued as some sort of attack, thereby ending my entretien with the GOP by a bullet square between my eyes.

Anyway, thanks.

You've done a great thing.

Me and all the Gang at Marlinspike Hall
Tête de Hergé
(West of the Lone Alp)

P.S.  Should you and your family ever need access to an unmappable, unflappable resort that is impervious to GPS systems, Captain Haddock has ordered us to keep one of our finest wings ready.  He has even offered to ferry you here past the sharp eyes of your protective service, courtesy of an inexplicable undersea network of blackholed miniature submarine passages, all of which end nicely in our moat.

P.S.S. I decided to repost, just under this new letter to you, an older one, so as to aggrandize the scope of my experiences with obtaining heatlh insurance under your administration.  Let's call them bookends.  There are other mentions of you throughout this blog, as you've probably surmised.  My apologies for some of them.  There is even a shot of you in a video made at one of my lowest moments, but even that connection made for a "sí, se puede" rallying cry.

© 2013 L. Ryan

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