Let’s talk about – Yes I’m Going There – Socialized Medicine/Single Payer/MediCare for All

I used to be against it but after five years of dealing with BC/BS of Michigan, I now know what Evil is

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor and Fix Things. I also wanted to be an astronaut. My life has not gone according to plan.

I really was against socialized medicine.

In my first job out of college, I worked for a health insurance company. This was back in the days when employers would actually offer benefits to employees instead of trying to sell them the BS that true freedom was to be found in driving other people around, even when the cost of operating your car plus the self-employment taxes is more than the money you make.

In those days, employers paid all the premium or most of it. We had a deductible and then we paid 20% and we had a pretty decent idea of what it would cost us to go to the doctor or the ER.

Socialized medicine, as we understood it back then, meant rationing.

As if certain people, for lack of money, do not get the care they need in this country.

As if care were not rationed here.


A few years ago, as I was riding to work, I fell off my bike. I found the only spot of hard in an acre of grass – my helmeted head hit a manhole cover. Even so, I managed to lead with my (prescription) sunglasses, which broke and did not stop my eye ridge from hitting the iron.

A kind stranger drove me to an urgent care, where Mr T met me.

Urgent care would not treat me.

We went to my doctor’s office.

My doctor would not treat me.

We surrendered and went to the ER, where I waited a few hours to be treated. That is not unreasonable – I was not about to die – but I later realized that the delay was not because they were triaging me but because they couldn’t reach my insurance company to see if a CT scan would be covered.

While we were waiting, I was asked a series of questions including did I feel safe in my house.

Although I had lost consciousness in the fall and was not feeling too great, I did roll my eyes and answer, “If my husband was beating me, do you think I would tell you while he’s sitting next to me?”

(YES I KNOW IT’S A GOOD IDEA FOR MEDICAL PEOPLE TO ASK THESE QUESTIONS. I HAD JUST HAD A HEAD INJURY, OK? AND I THOUGHT I WAS BEING FUNNY.)

I kept asking them how much a CT scan would cost – we had a $2,500 deductible and had not met a penny of it.

They would not tell me.

The whole point of high-deductible plans is that people will make more rational medical decisions if they are paying for part of those decisions. In the old days, with low deductibles and co-pays, people would go to the doctor – or, more problematically – to the ER – for anything. So yeah – having a financial skin in the game can help reduce ER trips for diaper rash and broken toes.

But how do I make a rational decision about my medical care if I can’t get a price?

I can’t get my doctor’s office – and we really like our doctor – to tell us what an office visit costs. I have emailed the hospital system he works for to ask and they will not give me an answer.


Ten days ago, Mr T went to the library to pick up some books for me. It was about 4:30. Our library is in our city hall. That day, they were doing a covid vaccine clinic at city hall. Mr T and I were not eligible yet.

But when Mr T walked into city hall, a man standing in the hall asked if Mr T wanted the vax. They had two doses left over, he explained.

YES I SAID YES! Mr T answered.

Then he called me, only I didn’t hear the phone because I was downstairs working out with the music loud and my phone was upstairs.

Mr T called and called and then he texted.

When I went upstairs ten minutes later, I saw his calls and texts and I tried to call him back but he did not answer so I texted YES I SAID YES.

And I read the rest of his messages, which included the news that he had accidentally taken both sets of car keys, which usually would not be a problem as the library is only half a mile from our house and I always walk anyhow.

But now I had to run because I WANTED THAT SHOT.

And I have not been running but I RAN AND I RAN AND I ARRIVED JUST AS ANOTHER PERSON WAS ASKING FOR THE LAST DOSE AND THE CLERK SAID NO MR T’S WIFE IS COMING

And there I was.

And I gasped, “Oh no! I forgot my insurance card!”

And they said, “Nah it’s free don’t worry.”

(I know it’s not free free, OK? I totally get that. But I also pay and have paid a lot of taxes in my life and dang if my tax money can’t pay for a vaccine that will help keep millions of people from dying, then what’s the damn point?)

I didn’t even have to show an ID. I just told them I am who I say I am.

They wrote it down.

They gave me a shot.

Fifteen minutes later, Mr T and I walked out of there.


A few years ago, my sister and I were in Italy at a cooking school. She got sick or injured – I don’t even remember.

She went to the – ER? urgent care? – and they saw her.

She tried to give them her US insurance information and they brushed her off. Charged her like $11 or something.


I saw a specialist whose office was in the basement of the hospital. So – specialist visit for $45 copay, right?

Not according to BC/BS of Michigan.

No, according to them, that’s a hospital visit because – you know – it’s in a hospital. Which means hospital deductibles apply – $700, for what it’s worth.

A visit that I thought would cost $45 cost me hundreds of dollars.

When we had United Healthcare, I would visit my neurologist in that same building.

Cost me a $30 co-pay and not a penny more.

BC/BS of Michigan, I hate you so much.


When Mr T and I had our colonoscopies, BC/BS kept billing us $800 each we weren’t supposed to have to pay anything at all.

It took eight months of fighting to get it straightened out.


In the ER with my head injury.

I don’t know how much a CT scan will cost.

I don’t feel like giving a blank check to the hospital.

My sister the nurse practitioner says yeah, I should get the CT scan.

“Natasha Richardson,” she says. “That’s all I’m going to say to you. Natasha Richardson.”

So I get the scan and fortunately everything was fine but three weeks later, we got a bill for $4,800 because turns out they do know what to charge for a CT scan after all.


During our 2020 unemployment, we paid $1,200 a month for health insurance.

And we still didn’t know what actually getting sick would cost.


If covid vaccine = socialized medicine

and “Surprise! bill of $4,800” equals Our Great System in the US

Give me socialized medicine. Give it to me now.

I don’t care if my taxes go up. I just want to know what it’s going to cost me to get sick so I can plan for it.

Increase my taxes so I can walk into a vaccine clinic and walk out after doing nothing more than giving my name.

If this be socialized medicine, I am happy to have it.

Women: A Manifesto for How We Groom Ourselves at Work

Join us in The Revolution: We’re not going back to makeup or to clothes that hurt

on etsy

When I started my new job, I was very worried about this idea of being on camera for zoom meetings. I have used Skype in previous jobs, but we were never on camera – we just talked. Like in the old days, when people talked on the phone and sometimes had no idea what the person on the other end looked like.

AND THAT WAS FINE.

People used to just call people on the phone without warning or an appointment and we thought that was normal

(Also – remember when people would call you and you hadn’t planned for them to call? Or you would call them and they weren’t in the office so you had to leave a message with the receptionist?)

(People used to just call. That seems so bizarre now. If I get an unexpected phone call from a family member now, I expect to hear that someone has died.)

(And even when my uncle died, my cousin texted me.)


ANYHOW.

I was worried about being on camera because I hate being on camera, most of all, but also, I was worried I would have to change my 14 months of unemployment habits, which were to shower – eh – whenever.

I mean, it’s not like we were going anywhere.

And it’s not like Mr T was showering any more frequently than I was.

It’s amazing what you can get used to.

Showering – whenever – and wearing gym clothes every day.

Those were the upsides to unemployment.

Oh – and not having to get up to an alarm clock.

However, unemployment also meant not having money and paying $1,200 a month for health insurance, which was not so great.

I thought, I guess I can wash my hair for money and for health insurance.

When I started the job, I took a shower every day. Every day, y’all!

And I dried my hair! With a hairdryer!

And I put on makeup.

I put on makeup after throwing out the old mascara, which I had not used in a year, and had dried out.

And I wore presentable clothes.

And I gritted my teeth and turned on the camera and there you go.

But then I realized something.

Other people were in gym clothes.

Almost every woman I talked to had her hair in a ponytail or bun.

And almost nobody was wearing makeup.

I asked my new work friend, Lyla, what she thought.

“I haven’t shaved my legs in months!” she said. “I asked my husband if it bothered him and he said he hadn’t even noticed!”

And she agreed on the makeup with a comment about screw the patriarchy we should be evaluated on results, not on our appearance, which made me love her even more than I already do.

And we agreed that when we return to the office, we are going to normalize not wearing makeup and not doing our nails and maybe even wearing sleeveless clothes, which is Not Done in the corporate environments where I have worked.

What’s wrong with sleeveless clothes?

I used to be against Sleeveless At Work.

Why? Why is it so bad?

Much of it of course is that it’s usually too darn cold to expose much of my skin.

But the other was The Rules.

The Rules that certain parts of a woman’s body are off limits.

And I helped enforce those rules.

Holy smoke I have been part of The Patriarchy.

But now – after over a year of THERE ARE NO RULES, I think, yeah, whatever. Just wear clothes.

I am not going to be an Agent of the Patriarchy anymore.

If they don’t like it, let them try to fire me for it.


However.

And you knew there was a however.

If we do not put time and money into our appearances, we will be putting our incomes at risk.

I read about this in Soraya Chemaly‘s FABULOUS YOU HAVE TO READ IT book, Rage Becomes Her.

(I am even more furious after reading this book. And I was already pretty angry.)

(Ha. “Pretty” and “angry” are mutually exclusive, according to how the world sees women who are expressing their anger.)

Chemaly wrote,

Few women, particularly those living in the United States or other industrialized countries, escape the press to be eternally dewy and lineless. Indeed, they are rewarded for conforming to standards, in other words, being “good.” According to a recent study in the journal of Research in Social Stratifications and Mobility, the more time and money a woman spends on grooming, the higher her salary at work, regardless of how well she rates on job performance. Prior theories have focused on the benefits of being attractive, but this study teased out the difference between attractiveness and investment in appearance. Researchers speculate that women who use makeup signal that they are responsive to social norms, gender stereotypes, and society’s greater propensity to police women’s behavior, “in ways that keep women distracted from really achieving power.”

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility

Here’s the TLDR:

Physically attractive individuals have higher income than average individuals.

This relationship is reduced when controlling for grooming.

Surprisingly, the attractiveness premium does not vary by gender.

Grooming explains all the attractiveness premia for women, but only half for men.

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility

And this, from the Washington Post:

Like past studies, the research showed that attractive people tended to earn higher salaries. But that wasn’t all. Their research suggested that grooming – practices such as applying makeup and styling hair and clothing — was actually what accounted for nearly all of the salary differences for women of varying attractiveness. For men, grooming didn’t make as much of a difference….

However, the researchers did find a big difference between men’s and women’s salaries when it came to grooming. Controlling for factors such as age, race, education and personality traits like agreeableness and conscientiousness, they compared how interviewers rated people on attractiveness, how they rated the same person on grooming, and that person’s salary….

They found that a substantial amount of attractiveness was the result of grooming, and here’s where they found gender differences, Wong says. “For women, most of the attractiveness advantage comes from being well groomed. For men, only about half of the effect of attractiveness is due to grooming.”

In other words, the study suggests that grooming is important for both men and women in the workplace, but particularly for women. Changes in grooming have a substantial effect on whether women are perceived as attractive, and their salaries. In fact, as the charts below show, less attractive but more well-groomed women earned significantly more, on average, than attractive or very attractive women who weren’t considered well-groomed….

One is that these gender differences are the result of a cultural tendency to monitor women’s behavior more than men’s, in ways that keep women distracted from really achieving power. Wong quotes Naomi Wolf, a third-wave feminist who argues that unrealistic standards of beauty that women are encouraged to pursue – an ideal she calls “the beauty myth” – is ultimately a way to control and constrain women’s behavior.

Washington Post

So. We can do as men do and not worry about makeup and elaborate hair and spend our time, as men do, accumulating power.

But if we do, we might sacrifice income.

My house is paid for. I’m in. I don’t judge any woman who decides differently – and of course wear makeup and clothes that hurt if you want to! – but I hope there are enough of us who are at a point in our careers where we don’t care about (we don’t want!) being promoted that we can effect change for those who come after us. So that getting yourself fancy is a choice, not a requirement.

Join me. Cast away your chains of makeup and join me.

Let’s talk about how women are portrayed in Hollywood

Also, we have to kill the new racist voting law in Georgia

“I’m not crazy, M’Lynn, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!”
Photo credit

Oh for pete’s sake could we please please please get some movies and TV shows that are not about how men view women but are just about women and our stories? This can be done. It has been done. So why would anyone make a show where it’s not like that?

(I know I know I know. But still. Women do have purchasing power. If nothing else, Hollywood, do it for the money. Even my very School That Is Old uncles knew how to sell cars. “Women make 80% of the purchasing decisions for the family,” my uncles, who owned a small car dealership, told me 20 years ago, after I complained about my car-buying experience. “We ALWAYS talk to the woman when a couple comes in.”

The bar is so low. They talked to the women! But it was and is the smart thing to do.)

I have been watching a bunch of old shows – 9 to 5, which sadly, ages very well. Steel Magnolias also ages well, although I identify more with Ouiser than with Shelby these days. Shirley MacLaine is brilliant. I think I will have to watch Terms of Endearment again, too.

Mr T and I watched The Big Chill and man. It hits home now in a way it didn’t when it first came out and we were just college students.

There are TV series I love – series that center women and are about women, not about women who are about men. Rizzoli and Isles is great. I am sad it’s over.

Scott and Bailey. Vera. Veronica Mars. No Offence. Agatha Raisin.

Watch these shows. They are about women doing cool things. They are not about women worrying about men or about men who need a female character to round them out.

And then there are the crap shows.

I AM LOOKING AT YOU, STEPMOM.

Good grief. I had watched Steel Magnolias and thought, Yeah even though Shelby made Very Bad Decisions (and it turns out, sadly, that Steel Magnolias is based on a true story), Julia Roberts is a pretty good actress.

So I watched My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Whoa. Did I hate that movie that much the first time I saw it?

Her character was despicable. I kept watching only to see if there was any redemption and there really wasn’t. The character was awful in the beginning and continues to be awful. Do not watch this movie unless you want a good Hate Watch.

(You know – like in book club in the Before Times when we had more fun talking about the books we hated than the ones we liked.)

(Also, it was made in Chicago and I wanted to see Chicago because I miss traveling so much.)

I had already picked up Stepmom from the library and it was that or PBS’ The March and I wasn’t in the mood to be completely depressed about how our country is going completely backwards on civil rights – YES I MEAN YOU GEORGIA, so I watched it.

A few minutes in, I opened the imdb page and started reading the reviews.

I was looking for other people who might have noticed that Julia Roberts’ character is doing all the work that her boyfriend, Ed Harris, should be doing.

Ed Harris and Susan Sarandon are divorced. Harris has since met Julia and she has moved into his place.

The opening scene is of Julia trying to get Ed’s kids ready for school.

Ed is not in the picture.

He is not in the scene.

This scenario plays out repeatedly in the story. Julia – who is not married to Ed – she is his live-in girlfriend – is doing all the work of caring for his children on the days they stay with him.

She cares for his children to the extent that her own career is put at risk. Her boss threatens to fire her because she keeps leaving early to pick up the kids.

Why is Julia taking care of Ed’s children? Why is she in charge of doing the laundry and making their breakfast and picking them up from school?

I kept watching, just in case the writer was playing a trick and Julia would realize she was being used as an unpaid nanny.

Nope.

That did not happen.

Reader, do not watch this movie, despite its cast.

(If you want to see Ed Harris and you do, watch Tender Mercies. He’s not in it, but his wife is. It’s a wonderful movie. Ed is in The Right Stuff. Watch that. Don’t watch The Hours. I hated that movie and I don’t even remember why. I think it was super pretentious. Plus, it’s impossible to make Nicole Kidman not beautiful.)

Do not watch this movie.

Actually, don’t watch anything but The March. Because after I watched Stepmom, I was already cranky, so I thought watching a documentary about the march on Washington in 1963 couldn’t make me any angrier than I already was but guess what?

It could and it did.

We are going backwards in this country and we need to do something about it. Write and call your legislators. Boycott products from Georgia (easy for me to say – I kicked the diet Coke habit years ago). Participate in BLM marches in your area. Send money to the people who are doing the work on the ground. We cannot let our country become a haven for white supremacists.

Let’s talk about the shame of being poor

(Or of being thought poor. I am very lucky – I have never worried about having enough food or a roof over my head)

We do not waste in this house.

I posted a photo on facebook of Mr T’s Favorite Jeans after I patched them (again) and he was concerned.

“What if people think we are too poor to buy new jeans?” he asked.

At first I laughed, but then I thought, “Why do we even think like this?”


I am in the habit of picking up hair ties from the sidewalk. We live by an elementary school and a middle school and I guess the hair elastics either slip out of girls’ hair or their pockets. (When they have pockets. Which we all know is a luxury reserved for Men because Women Have Purses and We Can Carry All The Things In Our Purses.)

Obviously, I don’t pick up the dirty or nasty ones – but one in good shape? Clean? No hair attached?

Of course I am going to pick it up! I don’t want to have to buy them and we all know they last only a short while before the elastic is shot.

So – I pick up and use clean hair ties I find on the sidewalk.

Do you think that’s gross?

Maybe it is. But – it’s not like the girls around here have filthy disgusting hair.

Anyhow.

Mr T and I were visiting friends, Jack and Jill. We were on a walk and he spotted a hair tie.

“Do you want this tie?” he asked.

“What? NO!” I answered.

He was confused. I always want the ties. And he is a practical man. This is the same guy called out to our friend Brandi, who needed us to stop at the drugstore because surprise, her period had shown up unexpectedly, “Texan might have some pads!”

She rolled her eyes at him and shook her head as she walked into the store.

“Maybe that’s not the sort of thing you yell at someone,” I told him.

“But – we could save her the trouble of going into the store!”

“Most women don’t want to talk about their periods in public,” I answered.

“Why not?” he asked. “Women have periods. Is that a secret?”

This is the man who bought menstrual supplies for his stepdaughters and for me, always trying to optimize price with other desired features. To him, it’s an engineering problem to be solved and why don’t we just solve it the most practical way?

He’s so right.


Going off topic.

I am helping a VP prepare a presentation about diversity and why it matters. We are looking for examples of times where lack of diversity on a team has led to a bad product and of course, Apple’s failure to include a period tracker in the FitBit is the first thing to come to my mind.

My VP agreed that it was a great example, but laughed and said no way was she going to talk about periods in a speech where men are present.

How are we supposed to normalize a biological function that half the people in the world experience – that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN IN THE WORLD EXPERIENCES – unless we say it out loud?

Deep breath. Baby steps.

But I digress.


After we had gone home, Mr T asked why I denied the hair tie.

“I thought you needed those!” he asked.

“Yeah, but I don’t want anyone else to know I do it, especially Jill.”

“Why not?”

Why not?

Why didn’t I?

I am not ashamed that we wash and re-use ziplock bags (although a friend teased me about that once and I was embarrassed, so I guess maybe I am a bit ashamed).

I thought about it.

“Because Jill grew up rich and she has no idea what it’s like not to have money,” I explained.

“So?” Mr T asked.

“Because – because I don’t want her to think I’m poor or tacky.”

Why? Why is it so shameful to be thought poor that we don’t want our friends to know that we pick up hair ties (which – OK – that one is a little weird)?

But – why is it so shameful to be thought poor that we don’t want our friends to know that we patch our jeans?

What kind of BS have we been sold in this country that if you are poor, it is your own fault?

Yes, I know our poverty here is different from poverty in other countries. I talked to a cab driver in Morocco who told me America was different – that we didn’t have poor people.

Yes, we do, I told him.

But – your poor people can work and become not poor. It is a possibility, he answered. But here? No matter how hard we work, we stay poor.

He spoke the truth. I had seen the same thing when I was a Peace Corps volunteer – that no matter how hard some people worked, they would stay poor. They weren’t lazy. They weren’t slackers. They were part of a system that wanted to keep them in their place.

In this country, we are supposed to be able to rise above all that.

That’s a myth.

That’s a lie.

I used to believe the pull yourself up by your bootstraps myth, but then I learned more. I got more information. I discovered that there were aspects of our society that make it very hard for people to leave poverty.

Yet our attitude is still that if someone is poor in our country, it’s her own darn fault.

That she is lazy.

That she doesn’t want to take care of herself.

That there is no need for us to help her because if she really really wanted not to be poor, she could do it.

And that’s what it is, really, right?

This idea that being poor is shameful and it’s shameful because it’s a condition the poor person has chosen.

If it weren’t actually the fault of the poor person – if poverty were actually a result of social and economic and structural conditions that could be changed – then we would have the moral obligation to change them.

And we don’t want to do that.