Obamacare is keeping health care costs down, by making it difficult to access exchanges.10:02 AM, Mar 10, 2014 • By IKE BRANNON
My wife woke up Saturday with a badly swollen knee. We had no idea what could have caused it—her hot yoga class puts her in poses that put stress on the knee but she didn't remember the knee hurting during her last session.
We called a friend who is an orthopedic surgeon who ventured a long-distance diagnosis— bursitis was his hunch—and recommended that before we go to the emergency room she give it rest and plenty of ice and see if the swelling recedes. After a few days it did, thankfully.
I am especially thankful because we don't have health insurance. For almost four months we have been waiting for the D.C. Health Exchange to process our application to purchase health insurance, and we are no nearer to having health insurance today than we were when we started the process. And we have become adept at economizing on health spending as a result.
We applied for health insurance on the exchange in early November: that it took six or seven tries to get through the entire application on the exchange website was frustrating, albeit comical, but as January approached and no confirmation of our application was forthcoming it became worrisome. I called the exchange, which had no record of my application, and gave them my information over the phone. A few days I called back and they asked for my information again, and we repeated the process again the following week. And then silence.
As January neared we obtained the services of a health exchange facilitator—a health insurance broker—who began badgering them on our behalf, and her efforts did produce responses from them, which I attribute to the complete contempt she exhibits for the D.C. health exchange that she doesn’t bother hiding in her communications with the exchange.
In the last two months a pattern has developed: we bother the people on the exchange, they assure me they are close to resolving my case, and tell me to call the health care provider in two or three days and all will be fixed. I wait the requisite amount of time, make the call, and am told that the D.C. exchange has not yet transmitted the necessary information to allow them to sell me insurance. I call the exchange back and the cycle begins anew.
In the meantime we are judicious in our health care spending: The other night our 2 year old came down with the croup and her fever spiked above 103. Normally that's when I panic and rush to the doctor, but this time we called the our pediatrician’s 24 hour nurse hotline, and the nurse suggested we give motrin and watch her closely for a couple hours to see if the fever breaks. Which it did, thankfully, saving us a few hundred dollars and reducing our nation's health care costs by a similar amount.
We've found other ways to economize on our health care spending too: my wife's begun taking her prescription medication (which costs $350 a month out of pocket) every 30 hours instead of once a day and thus far has not experienced any ill effects. We postponed our six year old's annual checkup and my annual melanoma exam.
Not having insurance has saved us a couple thousand dollars the last two months, but a couple thousand dollars is a hit I can take: what worries me is that we're going to have a broken arm or a kidney stone or some true medical emergency that costs tens of thousands of dollars.
That's all I want health insurance for—true medical emergencies—but Obamacare precluded that option. And because of its rank incompetence I can't get any insurance at all.
Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
It’s not often that The Scrapbook finds common cause with Vincent Gray, the mayor of Washington, D.C. But occasionally, worlds do collide. And in this instance, we are in full agreement with the mayor about a familiar topic for readers of this page: the United States Secret Service.
Matt Labash gets a LyftMar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By MATT LABASH
Now that “software is eating the world,” in the words of Marc Andreessen, every once in awhile, we dinosaur types like to try our luck in the land of Web 2.0, 3.0, or Whatever.0 we’re on at the moment. To that end, I recently applied to become a driver at Lyft, the “ride-sharing” service where drivers who drive their own personal vehicle with a giant pink moustache lashed to the grille (the Lyft trademark) are summoned to your location at the touch of an app. This way, users don’t have to do the unthinkable, like look away from their smartphone while hailing a cab.
Mar 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 25 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook confesses to a soft spot for the preservation of historic architecture. We understand, of course, that cities are dynamic, not static, and that sometimes progress demands sacrifice. But we also understand that the march of “progress” sometimes points us upside-down—has New York ever recovered from the 1963 demolition of its 1910 Beaux-Arts Penn Station?—and that today’s monstrosity might well be tomorrow’s masterpiece.
Feb 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), as its name would suggest, is a longtime denizen of the frozen north, customarily ranging in the polar regions, upper Canada, Alaska, and northern Eurasia. In recent years, however, it has been migrating southward and, during the past few decades, has been sighted in places like Texas, Tennessee, and Florida. In the midst of this snowy, and decidedly frigid, winter, the Snowy Owl’s progress makes a certain sense.
Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
While it was inevitable that a government shutdown would involve vindictive theatrics designed to make life irksome for ordinary Americans, the directive from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to close off the World War II Memorial on the National Mall was remarkable in that it was designed to punish some of our most extraordinary citizens. Since 2005, the organization Honor Flight has had as its mission to get as many World War II veterans as possible to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorial, at no cost to them.
Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
All politics is local, the late Tip O’Neill is alleged to have said. The Scrapbook isn’t quite sure if that’s true. But it has certainly been true during the “shutdown” of the federal government, in which President Obama has used metropolitan Washington, D.C., as a stage on which to dramatize his talking points.
12:50 PM, Sep 23, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The question at the core of most of today’s debates in American politics is whether all people have an unalienable right to keep the fruits of their own labor—as the Founders believed and the Declaration of Independence (properly understood) asserts—or whether the government should funnel vast sums of money to the nation’s capital and then magnanimously redistribute it back to the tributaries. Well, the stats are in, and it seems that neither of these two notions is really being fulfilled. To be sure, Americans’ money is flowing to the nation’s capital. But it’s not flowin
9:03 AM, Sep 12, 2013 • By KEVIN R. KOSAR
Are you feeling impulsive? Well, if you are in the District of Columbia there is nothing to fear—the government is doing all it can to protect you from yourself. D.C.’s health department has issued draft regulations that would require anyone seeking a tattoo to wait 24 hours to be inked. A spokesperson for the agency, explained: “We’re making sure when that decision is made that you’re in the right frame of mind, and you don’t wake up in the morning... saying, ‘Oh my God, what happened?’”
3:02 PM, Jul 11, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Imperial City has ruled that it doesn't need Walmart, the nation's most popular retailer, since Washington has attained a condition of sleek prosperity whereby, according to one member of its ruling council:
Ethan Epstein, keepin' it realOct 8, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 04 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Getting into a taxi at the end of a recent night on the town, I gave the driver my address. “Are you sure?” he asked nervously. I had to sigh in familiar exasperation—I’d been through this rigmarole many times before. And I only moved to Trinidad in May!
Sep 24, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 02 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
It’s pretty hard not to have some misgivings about the increasing government surveillance of citizens, though reasonable people can disagree to what extent this is necessary to keep us safe. However, The Scrapbook would like to think that we can all agree that when the surveillance state becomes just another means of raising revenue it’s entirely pernicious.
A Lesson in Cultural Geography from Steve Martin.5:13 PM, Dec 3, 2010 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
I record with interest and, perhaps, a measure of surprise and sorrow a brief dispatch from the frontiers of culture—in this case, the hallowed precincts of the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Suffice it to say that the 92nd Street Y is the sort of place where Charlie Rose might talk to Anna Quindlen before an appreciative audience, or Leon Wieseltier might interview himself. Culturally speaking, this is important business.
8:00 AM, Apr 2, 2010 • By DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS
The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is now considering the case of several Uighurs, currently detained at Gitmo, who are asking to be released into the Washington metropolitan area. The D.C. Circuit has already ruled against the Uighurs once, affirming the government’s power to exclude them from the country because immigration law bars the admission of aliens that the government reasonably suspects of engaging in certain terrorism-related activities. (In this case, the Uighurs received military training at a camp in Tora Bora, or supported the camp). When I wrote about this case two weeks ago, the Uighurs had submitted a brief urging the litigation to be sent to the district court for further factual development, and the government had not yet filed a responsive brief. The government’s brief was filed last week.