I've had some of these things on my mind (or on a piece of paper that has gotten crumpled up in the bottom of my purse, but survived nonetheless) for a few days or even a week or two, and am finally getting around to chatting about them. I like the sound of "mental meanderings," because my mind really does meander around sometimes. And Monday works better than Thursday. So here we go.
Insurance and Medical Bills: ARGH! I am amazed at how much hospitals and doctors charge for things. I took K to the emergency room last month. Don't worry, she is fine. But she woke up after being asleep for several hours, coughing. At one point, she made a strange noise, almost like she was choking. I picked her up, turned her over and did the "baby Heimlich" on her, to make sure that there wasn't anything blocking her airway. Rob and I were both a little worried. She calmed down but still sounded like she was having trouble catching her breath, so I took her to the ER. At 11 at night. The place was empty when we walked in, and we probably would have been taken right back, except the intake person said that the computers were having trouble. So we sat for a bit. Then a nice tech (I don't think he was a doctor, not sure if he was a nurse) took K's blood pressure and asked some basic information. He said we'd be taken back "soon." About 10 minutes later, the nurse called us back. By then, we had watched several people come out and 1 or 2 people come in. A few questions, some data entry, another BP check, and the nurse turned us loose back into the waiting room. I'm not sure what happened in those few minutes we were "in the back," but the room had exploded with people. We found a seat and sat down. I had brought my iPad to keep us both busy and we read Winnie the Pooh and played a few games. About 20 minutes later (it could have been longer, I'm not even sure,) we were taken back to a bed and told that the doctor would be with us "soon." At some point, a doctor came by and listened to her chest and asked a few questions. He was with us no more than 10 minutes. He did not order any tests or x-rays, no labs or any other "work-up." He talked to us and used his stethoscope to listen to her breathing. (By this point, she had calmed down quite a bit and was content to play on the iPad and watch the boy across the way with the broken arm.) The doctor left but told us to stick around because "registration" needed some information. A woman came by with a rolling computer and took our insurance information and address. She mentioned that the hospital bills separate from the doctors and so had to input the information twice. She finished up and we were told to go home.
Last week, I got a bill in the mail from the hospital. Considering we were in the ER and waiting room about an hour, and saw the doctor only for about 10 minutes, we used no resources of the hospital other than the chairs and bed (for about 20 minutes), no medicine, no labs, no machines, nothing, how much do you think we should have been charged. Nope.... it was more. The bill that was submitted to the insurance company was $760. Are you kidding me ?!?!?!?! For what ??? I honestly have NO idea what they base those charges on, considering the hospital did NOTHING. I am floored! Also, keep in mind that we have not seen a bill from the doctor yet. (The registration person told me that they bill separately.) I cannot wait to see what the doctor will charge for 10 minutes of his time. I am just amazed that someone came up with these charges and sent it out with a straight face. Seriously. By the way, the notation on the bill just says "emergency room general." What is that supposed to mean?
I won't begin to pretend that I understand hospitals or doctors or how insurance works. I do know that I pay a lot of money during the year, so that my out-of-pocket costs are lower when we visit the doctors. I am sure that everyone has their hands out and that it takes money to run a hospital. But what exactly was I paying for? Maybe the nurse's time to check K out. If that's the case, what is her hourly rate? Maybe I am paying some money towards the cost of the bed that she sat in. But if you divide the cost of the bed by the number of patients who sit in it, over the life of the bed and take into consideration the depreciation over time, that could only be pennies. I think circumstances like this may be at the heart of the move for socialized medicine. I can only wonder how families who barely make minimum wage or who live below the poverty level (and these days, there are many in this position) could afford a trip to the ER, particularly if they don't have insurance to defray some of the expense. I can only sit and shake my head.
SMASH - The Voice of a "new" generation? I'm a Smash fan. I'll admit it. I was sad when I heard that the ratings were going down, I was sad when I watched the first few episodes of this Season (not as good as last season) and I was really sad when it moved to Saturday (surely a death knell for the show.) The story line for Karen is interesting - although I must echo her father's questioning of her decision to drop Bombshell to work on Hit List. Would most people in her position, clawing their way to the top, do that? I doubt it. That question aside, I find her male counterpart to be a more interesting character these days and have to wonder what the writers are thinking, in the way that they have written him through the first 1/2 of the season. He is whiny, unappreciative and downright rude in many situations when he should just be grateful.
Someone gets you an opportunity to write a song for a well-known and famous performer? Great! Someone decides that they may not need your song? O.k., well, keep it and we'll try again next time. Nope, not this guy. He goes and gets wasted and then barely makes it back in time to comb his hair when plans change again and his song is put back in.
Someone brings in an award winning director to listen to your work? Wow, that is awesome! Let me take some time to really listen to what you are saying and take advantage of this opportunity? No, not him. He pouts and sulks because the director says something he doesn't like and then is rudely dismissive and walks away.
Is this the "voice" of the newest generation? Is this a sign of the times? Are we to be subjected to "kids" who think that it is o.k. to spit in the face of opportunities that us "old" people would once have killed for? Yes, I realize that it is a show. But how often does life imitate art, or art imitate life? The writers are getting these attitudes from somewhere - or are creating a form that the younger generation will think is o.k. to adopt, because they saw it on t.v. (Although some might argue that in this show's case, no one is watching.)
How many of today's youth have this sense of entitlement, a sense that the world owes them something, and if they are not handed exactly what they want on a silver platter, they can toss whatever they are given out the window with yesterday's trash? How many want what they want and want it "now"? When did this attitude become acceptable in today's world?
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I've worked for everything I have in my life. I picked myself up by my bootstraps and made a life for myself. I've known what it is like to write a check at the grocery store, so that I can eat and pray every night that it doesn't get processed before my next paycheck. I've known what it is like to pay all of my bills and have $5 left to last 2 weeks until the next paycheck. I don't regret any of it and I don't begrudge those who may have had it easier. But I do take issue with those coming up through the ranks who believe that things should just be handed to them without any hard work, because someone once told them they were "talented." In Smash, Jimmy believes himself to be a great songwriter. Yet when Karen tries to introduce him to someone who can help his career, he fails to see the opportunity and instead gets upset when that person is unable to meet, but wants to reschedule.
I have to remain hopeful that his story is more of a cautionary tale than a statement of the norm. I have to believe that today's youth know that hard work is still a "good" thing and that the world is not going to do them any favors. I have to expect those who come to me for a job to understand that I will expect the same hard work from them that was expected of me as I was working my way up. Maybe I'm delusional. I guess we will have to wait and see.
More Random Thoughts- I recently figured out that Jillian Michaels is my age. Aside from the fact that she could absolutely kick my butt up one side of the street and back down the other, that just struck me as odd. I sometimes look at others around me and see all that they have accomplished in their lives and careers and wonder what I missed. That is not to say that I don't recognize the success I have had in my own life and career, but I wonder... was there an exercise video out there for me? ha! Seriously though, it is funny to me to think that she is the same age, because she comes across as such an authority figure. She yells at contestants to motivate them and she speaks with such wisdom about fitness and health, that I guess I assume that she is "older." Maybe that is because I still see myself as a "kid" and don't think that anyone would look at me as an authority figure. I'm not sure on that one.
"Um, yeah, I mean." Can we all PLEASE agree that sentences, whether spoken or written, should NOT begin with "I mean." I love Adam Levine and came to appreciate Christina Aguilera on the Voice, but the comments that start with "I mean" are driving me nuts! Where did this come from? Who said that it was o.k.? Did you all skip your high school english classes? Maybe I am just lucky that I had teachers who taught this kind of stuff, but really, we need to get back to the basics here. Maybe these celebrity judges can hire themselves some elocution help, because it is really, really getting annoying. Do they realize how ridiculous they sound?
I had more to chat about, but as I look at the clock, I realize that the morning has gotten away from me and I must get some work done. It doesn't help that I spent about a 1/2 hour looking at old videos from my high school basketball playing days. But that is beside the point.
On a completely unrelated note... a very, very good friend of mine has had a rough road in her life. I won't go through the details, but suffice to say that she has had more bumps than anyone I've known, combined. Yet she has this incredible spirit and desire to overcome, both for her own sake and for that of her son. Her son was recently chosen to participate in a group of high school choir and band performers, to tour Europe. She is furiously trying to raise money so that he can go. If I were anywhere close to home, I would be doing more to help. Having had the opportunity to see some of the places he will see, I truly believe that he should go and see the world. If you are interested in helping, message me or comment and I'll get you more information.
Now, I really do have to get some work done.