Sometimes our little setbacks or disappointments can open doors for big steps forward. One frustration
and disappointment with my return to the US after 9 years in China was
discovering how difficult health care and especially insurance has
become in the U.S. It seems that foreigners in the Communist nation of
China have more options and economic freedom when it comes to health
insurance than US citizens do in the U.S.
To be more
specific, my disappointment came in two parts: (1) the surprise
discovery that US health insurance would not be available through my
work as I had been counting on, and (2) finding that purchasing private
insurance was extremely difficult. In China, if you want basic insurance
or added coverage, you call an agent, choose from a wide variety of
plans, and sign up right away. It’s much harder here, but these disappointments led to unexpected blessings.
In the US, I found that
healthcare companies didn’t return my calls and seemed to have no
motivation to work with me. Those that I reached told me I needed to
enroll through Healthcare.gov.
I wasted hours trying to enroll there, ultimately finding that the US
government’s system did not recognize me as a US citizen.
system would not allow me to enroll for their expensive plans due to
technical glitches in their poorly programmed website. Technical support
could not resolve the glitch after nearly two hours of effort, having me try
all sorts of variations in the application process for an engine that
just would not recognize me in spite of having paid US taxes faithfully
for the past 9 years in China and many years before that, always filing with the same US address where
we have kept and owned our home while renting it out during our China years. In the end, the supervisor at Healthcare.gov
admitted that, “Yeah, sometimes this just happens. Sorry.” I could not
accept that and didn’t give up as I think he wanted me to do. I
pressed on and asked what they could do. He finally agreed to call the
developer, then put me on hold, and after a few minutes predictably
(according to a doctor friend of mine) just hung up on me. When it
comes to health care, why does it seem that capitalism, choice, and
customer service are more alive in Communist China, at least for
privileged foreigners, than in the US?
With COVID raging, it
seemed like health insurance was a necessity, so I was getting worried.
Then I heard ads for Medi-share on the radio and saw a ray of hope, but
they require a religious declaration that I could not sign in good faith
largely because I believe their statement on the Bible contradicts
the obvious existence of gaps and errors, however minor, that are
clearly present, if only because of the challenges arising from the lack
of original manuscripts and the numerous variants that exist for
numerous verses in the competing texts that have been preserved. I
accept it as the word of God, but can’t say it is “completely
authoritative and entirely true.” It struck me as odd that my ability to get insurance would be limited by my faith. But this is a consequence of US law (the controversial Affordable Care Act), or rather the steps needed to avoid the very costly implications of US law. Such “healthcare sharing programs” aren’t actually insurance per se but are collective efforts to share health care costs organized under ministries or other religious organizations, resulting in substantially reduced costs but also some reductions in coverage.
At last I found Liberty Healthshare (https://libertyhealthshare.org/), another healthcare sharing program. Their statement of belief required for members (https://libertyhealthshare.org/do-i-qualify)
is actually more restrictive in some ways that Medi-share’s, but is one
I can fully accept and actually like. To my surprise, their plan is not
as expensive as the government plans, and the plan came with a
wonderful surprise: a personal health coach who helped me set specific
goals to improve my health, and encouraged me in periodic calls to
pursue those goals.
I soon found myself motivated to exercise
not just a time or two per week, but almost every day. I tracked blood
pressure carefully for three months and paid lots more attention to
diet, sleep, etc. I met the goals and feel better than ever and grateful. Regular
exercise is a much bigger deal for me now, and with my wife back in the
States now, our main date is going on bike rides around beautiful
Appleton, which has become such a fun part of our life together, almost daily. I also
found that I love going to Crunch Fitness in Appleton, the best gym I’ve
ever been to. And I always look forward to going there — such interesting equipment
and friendly people.
Many thanks to Brooke Preston, my health
coach, and the good people at Liberty Healthshare. Also special thanks
to the programmers who developed the Obamacare software that governs the
health insurance for millions. Had it not been so deficient, I’d be
less healthy today!
58 thoughts on “Faith, Insurance, and Blessings from Disappointment: How Bad Programming Made Me Healthier”
People may doubt my statement about customer service in China vs. the U.S. But in China, when there is technical trouble, utilities problems, etc., most recently it seems that I could reach someone within minutes, often an English speaker, and when a house call was needed, someone could be there the same day or maybe the next day. In the US, I had to wait 5 hours to reach a Delta representative in a time of personal emergency. Trying to teach my Internet provider had a nearly 3 hour wait time once. A billing glitch with Apple took three calls yesterday and today, a failed return call that never came, and about 3 hours of phone time (most of it being on hold) to resolve something that should have been easy to fix. Many service personnel such as plumbers are booked out for one or two weeks. Getting something delivered may take two or three weeks. All these things can happen much, much faster in China. Customer service used to be a huge weakness in China, but it's something the nation has conscientiously addressed for years and now it's surprisingly good in many sectors, at least in Shanghai. But it's been quite a surprise to return to the US and see that wait times are longer and customer service effectiveness often far worse than when I left the nation.
It's just going to get worse, Jeff. You might want to think about moving to CH. I'm thinking about it.
I hope if you're getting compensation for this pitch you'd at least be honest enough to disclose it.
My experience has been completely different. I signed up online via CoveredCalifornia (California’s ACA exchange) and ever since I’ve been covered by a Blue Shield “Silver” plan, with roughly the same coverage as the pre-ACA plan I’d had through my employer, for just a couple hundred dollars per month.
Jeff is right that the ACA website is glitchy, but, as my experience with Covered California indicates, he would be wrong to attribute that simply to the fact that it’s government-run. In fact I’ve experienced far more frustration with the Blue Shield bureaucracy than with the state government’s.
FWIW, many years ago I was mountaineering in Mexico when my partner slipped and injured his ankle. Fearing it might be broken, we went to a clinic in Amecameca. Fortunately, an examination proved it was just a sprain. At the end of the checkout process we were surprised not to be presented with a bill. Upon asking about that we were told something like, “No, no bill, in Mexico we have national healthcare.” My friend responded, “Really? Even for us? We’re not citizens.” To this we got a pitying look and a simple reply I have never forgotten: “We believe health care is a universal right.”
We did have to pay ca. $5 to rent crutches, though. This was ca. 1983, I believe.
And yes, I realize their system is flawed in many ways, but still I’ve always been impressed with what they’ve managed to do with the resources they have. And it doesn’t surprise me that Jeff should be impressed with China.
Also, Jeff, I think some of the differences we see between the U.S. and China re customer service have to do with differences in the labor market in the two countries — e.g., there’s probably a bigger pool of suitably educated customer service workers, with fewer more attractive job possibilities, in China than here. (I’m guessing China doesn’t outsource a huge amount of this work to India? Not sure.)
As for the American healthcare system, I think some of its problems stem from the fact that we’re a representative democracy, and there are two roughly equal factions that fundamentally disagree on the best way to deliver healthcare services.The result is that we get this kludgy mix that frustrates all of us.
To OK- Yes, and thank you on both counts.
Let's see. Healthcare is a right. So the gov't has the right to force someone to give it to you.
Anon 4:07: Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has the authority (not the “right”) to raise revenue — by taxing people’s incomes, among other ways — and to use the money however the duly elected representatives of the people see fit, within the bounds set by Article I, Section 8.
To condemn the resulting initiatives as the government “forcing you to give someone something” is to condemn a lot more than just universal health care. One might as well say the Interstate Highway system “forces people to give us roads.”
I am confused. Jeff is older than 65 isn't he? Why does he need to buy insurance, medicare does not cover him? His prior employment pension didn't have a health care plan?
Mexico's health care system is something it doesn't realize it does well. The best health care system I have seen for price, quality, and speed. The public free health care though is not always the best, but at least it is free. Many Mexican Doctors I know will work at a public clinic for 6 hours and 6 hours at their own private practice where they give better care and attention.
America has the best emergency care (though expensive) and the highest cure rate. So if you get some rare terminal condition, the place you want to be is the US. Or may be not, death is a part of life isn't it? May be Americans have the wrong attitude. Get a rare terminal condition, just make peace with it.
Jeff isn't 65 yet. And no one ever says we have a right to roads, but they do stupidly say we have a right to healthcare.
"America has the best emergency care (though expensive) and the highest cure rate. So if you get some rare terminal condition, the place you want to be is the US. Or may be not, death is a part of life isn't it? May be Americans have the wrong attitude. Get a rare terminal condition, just make peace with it."
Then perhaps you'll, explain why the US ranks 46th in the world for longevity and higher than 55 countries in infant mortality.
7:53 – Seriously? You didn't know longevity has way more to do with life style than the health care system. Seriously, the old infant mortality stat? You didn't that is by zip code and drug use? Neither is very indicative of the health care system. You didn't know that?
Not 65 explains it. I witnessed several lose gainful employment around 60 and seek out J O B s not because they needed the money, but because they needed the health insurance. Good or bad thing? Medicare for all folks may have a point, but much of that brain power may have retired early if they had access to medicare earlier. However, my observation of Americans in general is they like being employed, so maybe regardless if Americans had a guaranteed safety net or not, they would probably seek out employment.
To 8:02- OK. You don't want to contend with the reality of lower life expectancies and higher rates of infant mortality. How about medical bankruptcies? Let's compare the rates of medical bankruptcies around the world? And we can do that just as soon as I find another country that will allow people's life savings to be drained because of a medical condition. Back attacha when you or I come up with that information…
Anyone else here remember the magic of this night 51 years ago?
"I hope if you're getting compensation for this pitch you'd at least be honest enough to disclose it." — No compensation, neither from my healthcare provider or my gym. Not even from Brooke, my health coach. Crazy as it sounds, I'm just sharing something positive and, at the same time negative, about some experiences coming back, showing how coping with disappointment can lead to surprising gains at times.
I'm just a tad too young to experience this in person. Was the Apollo project politicized at all or was it something that the nation rallied behind? It would have been fun to watch this.
Steve, as far as I recall (I was thirteen at the time), the Apollo program was a little bit politicized, with some people arguing that its budget would be better spent on something else (fighting poverty, medical research, fighting communism, cutting taxes, whatever). But the objections didn’t really break down along left/right lines and were extremely mild by today’s standards. IIRC, both parties supported it in Congress.
Of course, there was no social media then. 🙂
For a 13-year-old science nerd, watching Armstrong take that first step was mind-blowing.
Forced slave labor in China is alright though. Persecution of any religion and religious people is alright though. Communism is wonderful according to you ( and too many other self proclaimed Christians and Mormons)
And for the others…..death panels, long waits for specialists, long waits for surgeries, sub par treatment,a even refusal of care is good though.
Anon 1:59, it sounds like you’ve been in a pretty lengthy coma, so let me clue you in: it’s not the 1950s anymore. Ezra Taft Benson is dead. Negroes are allowed to use the same drinking fountains as whites. Science has discovered that interracial sex does not result, as one prophet put it, in “death on the spot.” Soviet Communism is gone. It’s been replaced by a new evil, a kind of state cronyism, that has ensnared President Trump and the Republican Party. Your reprise of the old conservative objections to Medicare and Medicaid is incredibly stale.
There’s so much more for you to catch up on I can hardly do the job justice here; please do your best to get up to speed.
OK, you must be delusional, because anyone with half a brain knows which party seeks to impose its will nationally, in myriad ways, continually growing gov't and their own power, defining liberty only as gov't determined liberty, zoning suburbs, working toward single payer, practicing nullification like confederates, destroying the many cities they control, etc.
Anon 3:15 – I know the party you are talking about. BOTH! Say what you will about Jeff, at least he is consistent, hates the war mongering conservatives, and the mask imposing liberals. However, it is not clear if his value system helps him chose between the lesser of two evils, the way a value system is suppose to. Which is worse? Borrowing a ton or lessening the borrowing with little bit of taxes? The way it is now, 10% of the economy is taxed by (inefficient) health care, far exceeding the drain of military largess. America spends twice as much of the same health care of other developed countries.
Anon 3:15 accuses the Democratic Party of trying to “impose its will” through the horrible, terrible, nay, tyrannical means of winning elections and passing laws.
How DARE they!
Know what I just learned from the left, that math is a product of western imperialism / colonialism.
Democrat party — party of slavery, nullification (continuing), Jim Crow, segregation (Wilson), KKK (Robert Byrd, praised by Clintons, Pelosi and even Obama(!) at his death), white liberal control of cities (warned about by Malcolm X), destruction of black communities for decades. Now they want to control the make-up of communities across the land with their latest control grab (AFFH). Way past time to cancel the Democrat party.
Anon 3:42, you must have a very low opinion of African Americans, the great majority of whom support the Democratic Party. Why do suppose they shifted their allegiance from the Republicans to the Democrats, if the latter are in fact still the party of Jim Crow? Do you think it’s because African Americans are innately stupid, or lazy, or what? Feel free to tell us the reason! Or do you think they understand the political shift that has taken place since the 1960s? Hmmm, I wonder which it could be!
To put this another way: Anon 3:42, take your racist hogswallop outta here.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anon 7:47 says the Democratic Party is evil, racist, rejects MLK, destroys black families, etc. Yet he doesn’t answer the basic question of why something like 90 percent of African Americans support Democrats. Is it because they’re stupid, Anon 7:47? Or what? Feel free to explain.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I get the impression Mormonism doesn't do very much for helping you love your fellow man.
You seem angry and threatened by people who don't believe the same things you do. I hope you can make a happier life for yourself.
This is progress, Anon 9:40. At least now you’re trying to explain. You say Jewish Democrats are “self-hating,” and black Democrats are “sucked in by false promises.” And you, of course, know better than they do what is good for them.
It kinda reminds me of the way so many LDS prophets have for so long claimed to know better than anyone else, including Native Americans themselves, of Native Americans’ true origins and true spiritual destiny. Not sure if these two things are related.
Because of LDS programs, my parents took in an indigenous youngster from a broken home, for three years. She was given a chance by others to escape the rage, the killing, the thievery back home. To this day, she's grateful for what she learned with us and for the educational opportunities. Instead of becoming an inmate, like her mother, she became a schoolteacher.
Yeah, by your logic, OK, the Germans of course knew what was good for them, going along with Hitler's party in the 1930s. There was no possibility that they might have been wrong to trust the Nazis. It wasn't possible that they might have been propagandized and hoodwinked. Unbelievable.
Had Anon 12:51 been in 1930s Germany, he’d have been wondering why more Jews weren’t joining the Nazi Party. I mean, even Jews benefit from the trains running on time, right?
Jeff, have you heard of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing plan that Obama hatched and began imposing on Westchester County? Biden pledges to continue with it in spades. It's a way to reshape the suburbs and exert a high degree of control on local governments and tens of millions of people. It's another big move toward Marxism, American-style. Check it out, when you have time.
Sorry, I deleted a comment that went on a relatively uncivil anti-Democrat rant. This isn't the place for that, please. At the least, it's off topic.
Deleted a couple rants of that nature. Too far off-topic and not very civil, meaning they weren't about discussion but just shouting. It's OK to have strong opinions, netter to have strong facts, but both should be shared with a touch of courtesy for others and with a willingness to discuss.
Of course, I recognize that I fail in this difficult objective and thus am a hypocrite, hack, etc. Perhaps I expect more from anonymous commentors that I do from myself. So be it.
Anon 2:52 – Politics is highly influenced by geography. Today that geography plays out in urban (liberal), suburban (swing), and rural (conservative). Urbanization is a long term trend and the demise of conservatism.
The democrats probably did not plan it on purpose, but at the state level, democrat thought to preserve that small town feel by limiting housing supply accelerated urbanization and the party's future. Reagan and Nixon both came out of California. California swung dramatically left in correlation with the long term rise in the price of housing, where as Texas did not. Both had large amounts of immigration, but in California fertility rates of native born Americans dropped faster than in Texas. The price of housing correlates to two major life decisions, marriage and children, two decisions influencing a person's direction towards more conservative or liberal. It sounds like the AFFH is a deliberate plan to extend this accidental success into deliberate federal policy. Right or wrong, the dems have leadership.
AFFH should be legislated not back-doored like it was and will be.
How is it that the dems have leadership? You mean in a technical sense? Certainly not in a moral sense, since they're enabling violence in many parts of America now.
Yes, Anon643, AFFH is a massive program imposing huge burdens on local jurisdictions. It shouldn't come from the administrative state. The whole country needs to agree to it through the House and Senate.
A question for you, Jeff. Here we have OK, continually attacking what you hold dear, LDS scripture and the LDS church. From your perspective, at the very least his works indicate that he has evil intent. In Moroni 7 it plainly says that "a man being evil cannot do that which is good". So we get this steady drumbeat of content powered by evil intent. Heavily biased, one-sided, meant to destroy, destroy faith and destroy the church. The only consolation for me is that the law of restoration is and will be operative, karma if you will. "The meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil or carnal for carnal or devilish for devilish" (Alma 41:13). Your thoughts?
Anon 6:43 –
It was legislated in 1968. You are complaining about the 2015 administrative implementation of the law.
Administrative implementation of law was one of Boyd Packer's arguments against the ERA. He sited the 1972 Title IX that end up with 100s of pages of administrative implementation by un-elected bureaucrats. OK thinks thinks the executive branch has become too powerful, so he might agree with you and Boyd K on this one. However, the courts have ruled if congress doesn't like the way the bureaucracy is implementing their laws, congress can always pass another law restricting the implementation practice.
I have another idea. Why don't the conservative states just refuse to accept the money in the first place? That is all the 2015 implementation threatens to do anyways, keep the money. "If the Federal Government is not satisfied with a community's efforts to reduce disparities, federal funds could be withheld."
If federal welfare is so deleterious in the first place, it would be a blessing to not let it in your state. Plus, if you do not want the feds in your life, refuse all their money and let the feds spend more on ruining another state. Liberal states are doing the opposite, making it a crime to for landlords to refuse to accept section 8 housing vouchers.
Anon 8:44 –
A little vague don't you think? With Mormon beliefs, Jeff has made it abundantly clear many Mormon beliefs are errant, even if dearly held. He advocates destroying faith, faith in erroneous things.
Also, no one is good except God, at least according to Jesus.