Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Skiing - best of times, worst of times

My first weekend of teaching children was incredible, ending with a powder day on Sunday.  This past weekend was a stark reminder of the realities of skiing in the northeast.  A huge swath of the country was hit by the storm that his us this past weekend.  Sugarbush even managed to avoid the worst of the storm.  Areas to the north were hit with significant amounts of ice.  Regretfully, we did have to deal with a lot of rain and warm temperatures through the weekend.

Frequently, the weekend before Christmas can be somewhat slow in the seasonal ski school programs.  The kids have the entire year to ski, and the weekend before Christmas, the trail count is often low and everyone is preparing for Christmas at home.  The weekend after Christmas, on the other hand, is zoo-like, with huge crowds, often on limited terrain.

The forecast for this past weekend was ominous.  Lots of rain and warm temperatures were the main worries, plus potential periods of icing.  As my wife and I headed home from work on Friday night, the car thermometer read 23F and it was raining.  It was a slow drive home, but the roads weren't too bad.  Well, I also have brand new studded snow tires on a Subaru, which helped a lot.  We saw a handful of accidents in the northbound lane, but southbound remained accident-free the whole way home.

When I got up on Saturday morning (extra early - fearing a bad drive to the mountain), it was 37F and drizzling.  On my way to the mountain, I drop from 1110' (where my house is) to about 690' as I go through our little town.  The temperature in town was 33F, but I didn't encounter any ice.  On the way to the mountain, I cross a ridge-line on a dirt road.  The temperature climbed as I climbed to the ridge, and peaked at 47F.  On the way down from the peak, it dropped to 37F and then returned to 47F at the parking lot at the mountain.

I was very early, picked up my skis from the shop, where they'd been getting a new edge and a wax, and headed to the locker room.  I was supposed to lead a clinic about tree skiing safety, but none of the people who were expected to be there showed up.  We had a number of experienced instructors ready to go by 8:00, but the snow was not fun at all.  Things were firm and un-groomed, and it seemed like a challenging day was ahead of us.  But, the rain had stopped.  And, bit by bit, the warmer temperatures began to soften the snow.  The skiing was really fun as the snow softened, although the trail count had dropped tremendously due to warmer temps.  All of the natural snow trails we'd loved in the powder last week were gone, and we only had snowmaking trails to use.

By 11:00 or so, light rain had returned.  I only had one student for the day and we took an early lunch break.  But after lunch, the rain picked up in intensity and my one student was soaked and cold by 1:30.  She called her dad and ended her day at 1:30.  I headed home, taking every piece of wet gear with me, so I could dry my uniform and gloves and boots overnight.

Rain continued overnight, but unlike the northern tier of Vermont, our temperatures remained a bit warmer, bottoming out at 31F.  My ride to the mountain on Sunday morning was slower than the day before, but there wasn't much ice on the road.  At the mountain, the conditions were again firm and un-groomed, and it was raining.  We did one warm-up run and headed inside for some coffee.  Slowly, the rain dissipated and the temperature started to climb.  I used the varying snow conditions to do some teaching related to pressuring movements - deciding whether to make turns with a dominant outside leg if that allowed the ski to bite into the snow, vs. using two-footed movements on firmer snow where the ski wouldn't grip.  Later in the day, my two students wanted to do some backwards skiing and some single-legged skiing.  I let them do that, but turned both exercises into lessons about how to do those things correctly.  After they realized that even the game they wanted to play was going to be a lesson, they agreed to head back up the mountain for a bit.  We managed to ski right up until the end of the day this day.

The temperatures on Sunday were all over the place.  We would be in fog and cold air on a chair ride, and suddenly get hit by a blast of warm air.  Moments later, the cold air would return.  On my way home from the mountain, I saw temperatures from 30F to 55F - quite a range, and the elevation didn't even seem to be a factor.  It seemed completely random.

So, after a great first teaching weekend, we got a very mediocre weekend for our second week.  Welcome to December skiing in New England.  But, I met some new students, I got paid to go skiing, and I had a lot of fun.  There is no snow in the forecast right now, but the snow-making guns are running at the mountain again.  Hopefully, we will have enough quality terrain for the hordes of skiers expected this coming weekend.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, December 16, 2013

First weekend of ski instruction

This is my 13th season as a ski instructor, and my 12th teaching in the seasonal children's program at Sugarbush.  Essentially, I teach the same students every Saturday and Sunday for 15 consecutive weeks.  When I started this job, I had very young students.  As they got older, I stayed with a core group.  There were always additions and deletions, but the core of the group remained the same.  Six years ago, I had a near complete turnover, keeping only a couple girls from the previous season.  That led to me having an all-girl group for a few years.  Also, as the students got older, our skiing levels advanced more and more.  Two years ago, I officially moved from the standard program to the "Adventure" program.  At this level, students are expected to be solid skiers.  Our focus in the standard program is teaching skiing skills and movements.

In the Adventure program, we focus on terrain-based tactics.  We deliberately seek out advanced and challenging terrain, in all kinds of snow and weather conditions.  This is a really fun program, but at times, it can be very demanding for the instructor.  You must be a solid skier and in very good shape to safely lead advanced skiers through the skiing we do.

Last winter, I struggled a bit.  My boots were pretty much worn out.  I really disliked my skis.  And, I struggled with my skiing.  This year, with new high end race boots and new skis, I feel like I've been re-born.  I am skiing better than ever, and feeling a level of control that I've never felt before.  It is exhilarating to be moving fast on difficult terrain, with a feeling of complete control and a calm focus to what I'm doing.

My group this year is all girls again, at least for now.  We invariably have some changes during the year, but I'm likely to stay with an all-girl group for the season.  Saturday, four of them showed up for a very cold day of skiing.  For one of my students, it was her first time skiing this season, so I needed to give her time to get used to skiing again.  It didn't help that she was on inappropriate skis.  She really needed longer skis, and by the end of the weekend, her father had agreed that a change was needed.  Next time I see her, I hope she is on different skis.

The focus on Saturday was light.  Get used to being on skis.  Reinforce a few basic movement patterns.  Keep the upper body quiet and facing in the general direction of travel, while actively steering the legs under the upper body.  And, stay warm.

We had a major storm on Saturday night, and Sunday morning was amazing.  There were people in line at the chairlift incredibly early.  By the time the first chair opened at 8:00 a.m., there were hundreds of people in line.  I managed to get two runs in before work, but just barely.  The new snow got hit hard, but we found some un-tracked lines to ski on those first two runs.  My first few turns were tenuous, but then I was able to relax and focus, and everything changed.

By the time I had my group, I had everything dialed in.  At one point, I was skiing an intermediate bump line and I skied past a former supervisor.  I got a very loud "attaboy" greeting from him as I went past.  I don't think he'd ever seen me skiing so dynamically and in control before.  I felt like I had the ability to independently pick up and place each ski exactly where I wanted it to be on every single turn.  It felt like time had slowed down and I was in absolute control, regardless of the terrain.  Now, a lot of fresh new snow does make everything easier to ski, but this was simply a new feeling for me.  To many long term skiers, this may be second nature.  But, despite the number of years I've been teaching, I got a late start in life in this sport, and I'm still improving.  This was truly an epiphany for me.

I'm sure my time at CrossFit makes a big difference.  My recent focus on mobility before and after CrossFit workouts has made a difference.  My new boots have made a huge difference.  And, the new skis are a huge improvement over the skis I used last year.

But, the sum of all those parts had me grinning from ear to ear yesterday.  I even has me dreaming about taking my level 3 PSIA skiing exam in the near future.

We will see what happens the first time I try to ski huge moguls in steep icy conditions.  I want to see how I perform then.  Or, how will I perform off-piste, in steep, tight tree lines?  But for now, I feel on top of my game and I can't wait to get back out there.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More on Insurance and the PPACA Exchange in VT - this one is political

My current insurance has completely denied the consultation in Boston, which is the same situation I mentioned last week.  The insurance company offered to "help", after I complained.  Basically, they said that a second provider that I've seen locally could appeal the decision and they would get around to processing that appeal as soon as possible.  But, by the time that happened and I got another appointment could easily be a month into the future.  So, I opted for a more local teaching hospital and I have an appointment next week.  This isn't a bad option, but it wasn't my first choice.

The prescription I was fighting for has been completely denied, so I'm buying an expensive medication out of pocket.  Apparently, there is a loophole that could potentially be exploited.  My doctor could give me another medication for a period of up to three months.  If I then claim that the other medication doesn't work, I might be able to get coverage for my preferred medication.  I told the nurse at the doctor's office that I don't want to buy that other medication and I don't want to use it.  Even if I bought it, I wouldn't use it.  If I never used it, I guess I could claim it did nothing for me.  But, that would mean buying medication, throwing it away, and essentially lying to the insurance company.  While I'm not a fan of the games they are playing with me, I'm not willing to play games and waste money to skirt their rules.

And, my wife's employer has refused to budge from her current stance on coverage for us for next year.  In reality, she has doubled down, making things even worse.  My wife's employer originally agreed to allow us to purchase a platinum plan that would limit our out of pocket expenses for the next year.  The policy would have cost more than our current policy, but the net cost would have been a reduction.  But, the same company that has built the troubled national exchange was also hired to implement the VT exchange.  My wife works for a benefits management company, and her company has been helping other companies to get signed onto the exchange.  Yet, my wife's company has declined to do that for their own employees until 4/1.  And last week, they decided that the current policies will continue through all of 2014, not just through the first three months.

We currently, quite honestly, have the worst health care coverage we have ever had.  The policy is expensive and the out of pocket expenses are high.  By forcing us to stay on this policy for the entire year, we will be taking a large hit - possibly as much as $10,000 (or more) for next year, and only some of that will be pre-tax.

So, I've been teased by what's available in VT under the PPACA.  And, due to poor performance by the state and a contractor, I can't have it.  And that will cost me a lot of money.  So, when you hear people complaining that the ACA plans are expensive, I'm a case where the provisions to allow people to keep poor policies will have a significant negative effect.  I didn't want my old policy.  I wanted the exchange policy.  And I can only have it if I pay for it completely out of pocket.  I've thought about that option, to be honest, and it's a crapshoot.  It might make sense to do that, in some ways, if my wife's boss would add her policy contributions to my wife's paycheck for one year.  But even then, the tax ramifications are highly complex and it's hard to know how things would work out.

Under the exchange policy, I could see the doctor in Boston that I want to see.  I could receive treatment in Boston if I chose that.  Instead, I'm stuck for another year on the worst insurance policy I've ever had.

Regretfully, someone else in my family is also dealing with a significant illness right now, so the high deductibles of the old policy, at the family level rather than personal level, will continue to cost us money.

So, by allowing certain poor policies to continue through the next year, I'm being very negatively affected.  If the PPACA had been fully implemented as defined, my situation would be much better.

But, I'm sure the insurance company is happy.  I just hope I don't end up bankrupt in the next year due to this situation.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ski season to date

For the first time in many years, I bought new boots and new skis in the same season.  I have usually tried to alternate these purchase, so I don't have to adapt to both new boots and new skis at the same time.  But, I hated the skis I bought last year, and I simply refused to use them for another season.  Luckily, through Craigslist, I found them a new home with a skier who skis the terrain where those skis performed the best.  And, my old boots were four years old, and truly shot.  Plus, I really needed a higher level of performance in my boot, if I'm ever going to get ready to take the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Level 3 skiing exam.

I ended up buying a very high performance Salomon Race boot.  I probably tried on at least 15 boots over 3 hours, before settling on this boot.  Then, I returned to the shop for a second visit, where I simply wore the boot for two hours and talked to the boot fitter, just to confirm it was the right boot choice.  Finally, I returned to the shop for a third time, to have the external shell heat molded to my foot shape.  In the end, I have a boot that fits exceptionally well and the performance is fantastic.  My only complaint is that the high performance race liner in the boot has allowed my feet to get cold fairly often this season.

For skis, I had been on Rossignol skis for years - at least four different models.  Last year, I switched to a highly rated Volkl ski, but I chose the wrong length, and I found the ski to be a one trick pony.  On groomed terrain, no matter how steep, the skis performed as advertised.  But, in bumps, mixed snow conditions, and in the trees, I simply hated them.  They were too stiff, too long, didn't float well in powder, and I simply lost my confidence on the ski.  But, there are some very good things about the Volkl brand, especially for east coast skiing.  So, this year, I bought the Volkl Kendo, an all-mountain ski designed for a variety of snow conditions.

My first day out this year was before Sugarbush opened.  I really wanted to ski on the new gear, and I found a half-price ticket to Killington online, so my wife and I skied there with some friends on 11/17.  This was one of my earliest first days ever, although I have skied Killington earlier than that at least once - in 1986, I believe.  I don't recall the last time Sugarbush opened by that date - certainly not since I've been an employee.

It was foggy and damp and Killington on our first day, but we were surprised by the amount of open terrain.  We even got to ski the headwall of Superstar - steep bumps in dense fog on our first day out.  I felt a bit unsteady on the new gear early on that first day.  The boots were fine, but the slightly fatter Kendos (89 mm under foot vs 84 mm last year) and the longer turning radius of the ski required me to make some adaptations vs. last year's skis.

One of the nice things about that first day is that I had no pain at all in my feet - either while skiing, later that night, or the next day.  This is a rarity with a new high performance boot.

By the weekend before Thanksgiving, Sugarbush had opened.  I skied my first day of the season with some of my instructor buddies that Saturday.  To stay out of the worst of the crowds, we skied just the afternoon that first day.  We had limited terrain - basically a chair ride to an intermediate run, which then took us to the summit chair.  From the summit, we had one intermediate and one advanced trail back down.  We stuck mostly to the advanced run, and I was struggling a bit with the new skies on that terrain.

The next day was "Train the Trainers" day.  We have about 15-20 people on the ski school staff who are responsible for training the rest of the ski staff before the season and during the season.  We try to get together each season to ski together for a day, and define our approach for training the rest of the staff.  This is always an intimidating day for me.  I've been a trainer in the segment of the ski school where I work for a few years.  But, I've only been a trainer for other parts of the ski school for two years, and this day of skiing with our best skiers and instructors is a bit nerve-wracking.  I feel like I spend that entire day trying to prove that I belong.  We didn't ski much difficult terrain, but we covered some complex topics that day.  Also, it was a bitterly cold day and I was visibly shivering for a lot of the day - something that rarely happens to me.  The day was improved by about 4" of new snow on top of the firm conditions from the day before.

The following weekend was the weekend after Thanksgiving.  On Saturday afternoon, I met some other instructors and we skied hard on firm, fast conditions.  By this point in time, I was feeling really comfortable on my new gear, and I was really letting things go.  I was able to keep up with some other skiers all day long - people who I normally trail down the mountain in any conditions.  I felt like I skied as well or better this day than any other day in my life.  I'm really liking the new boots and skis.

The next day was more "Train the Trainer" training, but this time, it was just the trainers for our seasonal programs, which is where I work.  In the seasonal programs, one coach skis with the same group for the entire season.  These programs cover beginning skiers from age 4 all the way up to highly advanced adult skiers.  I personally teach the advanced kids.  The last few years, I've had mostly 12 and 13 year old students, although this year I will be skiing with 9 and 10 year old students.  We wrapped up the training early and then started doing laps on Organ Grinder - a single black diamond run that had snow guns blowing.  The guns were blowing variable snow and the skiing was tricky compared to the day before.  By the end of the day, the guns were off and some natural snow was falling, leading to a few really nice runs at the end of the day.

This past Saturday, training day had finally arrived.  I had a group of 7 instructors - many of them new to teaching, new to Sugarbush or both.I followed our agenda to the letter and I think we got a lot done.  One of the tough things to explain to new instructors is how little they actually know.  I often train people who are better skiers than I am, but they don't know why they are better skiers and they don't know how to improve other skiers.  It is very eye opening when you initially realize just how little you know, and you accept that you have a long educational journey ahead of you.  I'm heading into my 13th season as an instructor, and each year, I'm overwhelmed by how much I feel I still need to learn.  Except for a final indoor segment to end the day (not led by me), I felt like we had a really good day.

On Sunday, I expected to take a creative teaching clinic.  Even though I am a trainer, I still want to take other clinics to improve my own teaching and skiing.  Regretfully, a limited number of trainers showed up on Sunday morning, and I ended up teaching the clinic in which I'd hoped to be a student.  But, I was prepared to teach this clinic if necessary and I think it went really well.  I got all 8 of my group heavily involved in doing some teaching to the rest of the group.  This is much more interesting than listening to me talk all day.  In the end, I think it was the best clinic I've ever presented.  I got great feedback from our more experienced pros.

In the afternoon, we had even fewer students, so I went along as a second coach with the person who has been my mentor for years.  He got off to a slow start, but finally pulled things together in the last hour to finish on a high note.  And then, we went to Ripcord, for my first double-black diamond run of the year, to wrap up the day.

After that run, my buddy and I enjoyed a beer, and as always, we spent the time dissecting our own skiing and teaching.  Sometimes, I think we learn the most in these post-skiing sessions, where everyone is brutally honest with each other - good things and bad things.  I'm very glad to work with a number of pros who are never complacent and are always trying to get better.  It keeps me on my toes.

So, training is now done.  This coming Saturday we start teaching our paying students.  After last year, where equipment issues took a lot of the fun out of skiing and teaching for me, and into my 13th season, I have to say I'm more ready and more excited for this part of the season to start than ever in the past.  I've never had the luxury of so many ski days and so much training before I started my teaching work for the year.

Now, all we need is lots and lots of snow.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Health Care Thoughts - Not Political

Just a few thoughts as I've been navigating the health care system recently.  OK, it's really a long rant, if I'm going to be honest.

Insurance companies are fine with the everyday things.  They might push you to a generic medication or move you from one brand name to another, but it seems that they won't hassle you for basic care most of the time.

For example, I had a small basal cell carcinoma removed from my arm earlier this year.  I paid out of pocket (hadn't hit my deductible for the year yet), but the forms were processed and it counted towards my deductible just fine.

For the past year and a half, I've been paying out of pocket to an out-of-state provider for some care that my insurance doesn't cover.  But, I knew that going in, and while I'm not happy, I'm OK with that one.

But, when things get a little rougher, insurance is all about one thing - the bottom line of the insurance company.  Your personal health decisions will be dictated by a bureaucrat, rather than what you think is best for your care.

For example, I had a significant health diagnosis recently (people who actually know me are welcome to send me an e-mail and I'll be glad to elaborate).  The specialist I am seeing wants me to have a second opinion.  I consulted with a friend who is an MD in the Boston area, and he recommended a particular provider and hospital.  I went through a lot of work with that organization and got my appointment.  The specialist's office spent a long time getting info to that hospital and information about the referral to my insurance company.

I kept checking my account online with the insurance company, waiting for the approval of the referral request.  After more than a week with nothing at all showing up, I called the insurance company.  They managed to "find" the referral, and insisted they would expedite its processing.

Five days later, the referral request showed up online, with a letter to me stating that they were asking the doctor for more information.  There was also a copy of the letter to the provider, demanding that he justify why this hospital could offer something that another local hospital could not.  At this point in time, I was three days away from my appointment in Boston, and it was clear the insurance company did not want to cover that visit.  I forwarded the information to the provider (the letter to the provider was going by USPS, so it probably isn't there yet), and they followed up with the insurance company.  The insurance company demanded to know why another hospital that is closer would not be sufficient.  And, the closer hospital has a solid program as well, but this is my life that I'm talking about.  Yet, a bureaucrat has decided what treatment is appropriate.  It's not what is best; it's what they deem good enough.

Both specialists I've seen so far have expressed nothing but admiration for the provider I'd chosen in Boston.  It was a great choice for a second opinion, they'd told me.  "Give her my regards when you see her", they'd said.  But, when it was time to fight the insurance company, they caved instantly.  I'm sure they deal with this all the time, and they know it's a losing battle.

When the nurse informed me yesterday that the specialist wasn't even going to submit the form and try to get the approval, I was livid.  I basically told her that if the doc wouldn't fight for me now, I wasn't sure I wanted any more to do with the provider and his hospital system.

Today, I cancelled the Boston appointment.  The people there were very nice, and made it clear that it's a common occurrence.  Many insurance companies refuse to allow patients to go to a non-preferred provider, because they don't have sweetheart financial deals worked out with them.  That last sentence is my interpretation.  I also understand that insurance costs and medical costs need to be contained.  Yet, when insurance is suddenly needed for a significant diagnosis, I'm spending more time fighting the insurance company than I am dealing with doctors.

Today, I tried to make an appointment with the alternate provider that my insurance will allegedly let me see.  This is a major teaching hospital.  They wouldn't even let me get close to making an appointment.  I got all kinds of instructions about having my doctor send information to them, and after reviewing that, they will get back to me (apparently, at their convenience) to set up an appointment.  This is how large health care institutions work these days.  They see themselves as scarce commodities that don't need to provide customer service.  The sick people should consider themselves lucky to be getting care at all.  When I finally get to providers, I'm fine.  But the firewalls around the providers are outrageous, in my opinion.

So, I had to make another request to the specialist to send all of my information to a new hospital.  Who knows how long that will take.  And, I'll need a new referral form for the insurance company.  That will probably be slow-rolled as well, and I'll probably find out that even in-network, preferred providers aren't allowed to offer second opinions.  Overall, I'm frustrated and I'm furious.

On a similar tangent, I had a procedure done a month ago that led to my current diagnosis.  That procedure has had some side effects, and there are multiple medications on the market to alleviate those side effects.  I asked my doc for a prescription for one.  I went to the pharmacy to pick it up.  "Your insurance doesn't cover that medication", I was told.  I contacted the provider for a different medication after researching allowable drugs on my insurance company's page.  The doc agreed to write the script.  I went to the pharmacy to pick it up.  "Oh, that drug requires pre-approval", I was told.  Eight days later, the doctor's office and insurance company are still fighting over that approval.

I'm left in limbo.  I'm furious.  I've complained to the insurance company and to the state.  Not one person has acknowledged the issue from either organization.

The "system" has zero humanity.  Period.

I would guess that there are a few other factors in play here.  First, I have met all of my plan deductibles for this year.  If the insurance company can slow things down and push this into next year, I'm sure they are hoping I'll have to pay more of the costs (medication and referrals) as deductibles.  They are probably hoping I'll be on a different insurance company's plan by then.  However, this company pretty much owns the market where I live, so that's an unlikely scenario.  But, at least I would pay more.  Right now, I would cost them money (aka profit).

Regretfully, my home state hired the same people for our local health care exchange that did the federal exchange.  Even before this diagnosis, my wife and I had planned to pay the extra money to move from a high deductible plan to a higher end plan.  It would cost us more up front, but our total costs would be more predictable.  After this all went down, my wife talked to her employer - the source of our insurance.  Her employer was still fine with us "buying up" in the exchange.  And then, last week, her employer decided that we will be staying on our current plan until 4/1.  Essentially, that means that any costs we incur from 1/1/2014 until 3/31/2014 will have a high deductible amount.  This will amount to many thousands of dollars of cash out of pocket that would not happen with the new plan.

When we switch to the premium plan on 4/1, we will get credit towards the new deductible amount, but no refunds of overpaid amounts.  So, our state's failure to get an exchange working properly will cost my family thousands of dollars.  And, because we are going to start with a high deductible plan and move to a more fixed cost plan, we are limited by how much of our first quarter costs can be paid pre-tax, through an HSA.

This last part isn't an insurance company issue.  It's a failure of our state government and a failure to follow through on a promise from an employer.  The employer could still make this happen before the end of the year, but has chosen not to do that because it's easier.  They've done this despite knowing exactly how it will affect my wife and her family.  And, this is a small employer, who insures only a few people. It's not a huge corporate entity that can more easily justify a decision that only affects a small percentage of employees.

Of course, the company I work for isn't exempt here either.  For years, my employer has provided no health care coverage at all.  Well, if you wanted, they would reduce your salary and then contribute that amount pre-tax towards an individual open-market plan.  So, you could save a few tax dollars.  I've spent many years working for this company, with very limited benefits because I really believe in what the company is doing.  But now, I'm left with no recourse in my health care insurance because of that.  At any other employer I've worked for since college, this would not have been an issue.  Suddenly, I'm questioning if my loyalty to the company (really, my loyalty is towards the founders of the company and my co-workers more than the corporate side of the entity) has been stupid.  I could make just as much money with real benefits somewhere else.  And, perhaps I should.

It's odd to wake up in the middle of the night, and find yourself trying to figure out if it was all just a bad dream.  And then realizing that it's all real.  And then, trying to figure out which is worse - the medical diagnosis and impending treatment, or the never-ending fight with bureaucrats.  This week, the bureaucracy seems way worse than the diagnosis.

Lastly, this is not at all about the ACA.  While I would have much preferred a single payer option from our government, and I hope we get there some day, I still think the ACA is better than where we were.  If anyone wants to disagree with that, send me an e-mail.  I will delete any political comments related to the ACA.

In reality, this is about our current health care system, and how navigating the doctors and the insurance companies is so overwhelming that you can't imagine how bad it is until you are truly sick.  With a single payer option, this might have still been an issue.  But, I wouldn't be fighting a profit-driven company to get the care that I would like to have - care that they have denied because because something else is good enough, in their estimation.

I've told my wife multiple times that I'm just going to quit the system and let my diagnosis run its course.  And then, I realize, that's just what the bureaucrats want, so they can make more money in the end.  So, I will fight on.  But, I feel like I've learned a good lesson so far.  In this crazy world of ours, where corporations are people, none of them are your friends.  You're on your own.