Thanks for the reminder!

Just received a copy of my “Valuable Personal Property” floater for my renter’s insurance. Included with it was this:

usaa

As for question C? Well, obviously “YES!” to all – who hasn’t? Though I mostly acquired furs and guns. Just lots and lots of furs and guns. So many furs and guns… FURS AND GUNS!

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Screw you, Curascript. And as for Blue Cross? Inhumane, greedy, disgusting.

Obluecrossnce again, Blue Cross has created a new “tier” of pharmacy benefits – Tier 4, a.k.a. “specialty” drugs a.k.a. a long list of medications for the treatment of HIV (they’ve included a few cancer and other drugs as well – though literally every single medication used for the treatment of HIV is now Tier 4) and for which there are no alternative or generic medications.

And what is different about this tier? Well, rather than a standard co-pay (it was $30.00 per prescription in 2012), patients are required to pay 20% of the cost of the medication or $150 maximum. Since all of the medications are expensive, the bottom line is that most co-payments are $150 or close to it, i.e. a 400% increase in out-of-pocket expenses for those being treated for HIV. In other words, Blue Cross has specifically targeted their most vulnerable patients as a new source from which to wring profits. Despicable.

Oh, and that’s not all. As a user of a “specialty” medication, I am now forbidden from getting my prescriptions from Walgreens or any other pharmacy (unless I want to pay full retail price). I have to use Curascript and do all of my ordering via phone and mail – that’s right, no option to do anything online. Yes, patients are required to always speak to a pharmacy rep to deal with any transaction or issue. This seems counter-intuitive, given the expense of paying actual people to interact with customers over the phone and Express Scripts’ (Curascript’s parent, natch) focus on profits before patients – until one realizes that the frustrating and time-consuming nature of such a system is going to result in patients receiving their medications more slowly (or even giving up on Curascript altogether) thus positively impacting Curascript’s (and Blue Cross’) cash flow.

My initial sign-up took around 30 minutes – a frankly ridiculous amount of time, given that I’ve been taking the same meds daily for nearly a decade. But other than that, it was fine. But I knew better than to expect things to run smoothly…

Several days later, I received an automated voice call from Curascript advising me that my prescriptions were being processed; that they would be sent to me soon; and that no action was required on my part. Given that they’d already told me the date to expect the delivery and it was still several days hence, I have no idea what this call was for – it served only to mystify and irritate me, particularly given that it could have been sent by email. Oh, right – Curascript has no online or email functionality.

Another few days later, I received a voicemail message (UUUGGGGHHH) indicating I needed to call Curascript right away. Which I did. Apparently, the date they had promised to deliver was too soon for Blue Cross to pay, so they had to push the date out a week. No big deal – except for the fact that they kept me on the phone for 15 minutes, asking questions, putting me on hold, making me repeat information I’d provided during my first call and during the IVR when I returned their call. Absolutely infuriating – again, particularly given the fact that a simple email with the new delivery date would have been sufficient notification.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that my prescriptions were not delivered on Friday as promised. I received a voicemail from FedEx at 5:17PM, advising that my parcel would be delivered on Saturday and a signature was required. Since I’d had the package directed to my office (and had advised each Curascript rep that I spoke with of this fact), there was no one there to sign for it. Which is just a perfect way to start a three-day weekend. I did check the FedEx tracking – and despite promising to deliver on Feb 18, Curascript didn’t get the package to FedEx until the evening of Feb 18. Yeah, let me put on my surprised face again…

Oh, and then I contacted Curascript on Saturday morning. Things did not go well…

Robot: Please tell us your phone number so we can look up your account.
Me: (enters number via keypad)
Robot: You entered number 415-###-####. Is that correct?
Me: Yes.
Robot: I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you.
Me: YES!
Robot: I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you.
Me: YEEEEEESSSSSSS!
Robot: I’m sorry, let me transfer you to an agent.
Robot: Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9AM to 7PM and Saturdays, 9AM to 1PM. Please call back during business hours.

What is most infuriating of all is that I have no choice but to accept this level of incompetence and indifference. My only option for insurance at work is Blue Cross, so I can’t take my business elsewhere. And, to be honest, I’m one of the lucky ones – that is, I have insurance (even though it is provided by a for-profit insurer who is actively pursuing policies to prevent those with the most serious health conditions from obtaining treatment) and I have the stamina, wherewithal and persistence to demand and obtain satisfaction. But again, Blue Cross and Express Scripts surely calculate a drop-off in claims and payments (and therefore an increase in profit) by going after a population of insured that includes people who are too ill or simply too baffled to get the treatment to which they are entitled.

It’s times like this that I have some regret about being an atheist – the thought of people like John Cannon (Well Point CEO), George Paz (Express Scripts CEO) and Pam Kehaly (Anthem Blue Cross California president) spending eternity in the lake of fire is an appealing one.

Exactly

HydkU
“An open relationship? Yes, I know what that is…”

There’s a part of me that realizes that if two people are in a romantic relationship, they can have whatever arrangement they like as far as monogamy (or lack thereof) is concerned. And good for them for making it work.

That being said, I’m sick to fucking death that every “social” app aimed toward gay men is populated (and I’m honestly not exaggerating) by upwards of 75% of users who list their relationship status as “married,” “partnered” or “open relationship.” Don’t be so greedy, fellas! Leave some for the rest of us…

Of course, I’m also well-aware that my being both closer to 50 than 40 and unable to honestly claim to be “disease-free” are unlikely to result in suitors duking it out for my affections. But still…

“For the guy is second best to none…”

There was a marvelous tribute to Marvin Hamlisch a couple of weeks ago on Live from Lincoln Center. A particular highlight for me was hearing Audra McDonald, Megan Hilty and Kelli O’Hara (!) singing “At the Ballet” (it’s at the 1:03 mark in the show, if you want to skip forward…)What a treat – not just watching this performance, but remembering again how astounding A Chorus Line is – the music, obviously… but also the dancing and the deceptive simplicity of the staging. A true masterpiece of American musical theater.

However, I also learned a rather fascinating tidbit about Mr. Hamlisch – his first hit song, composed at age 21, was “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows”! OK, OK, not exactly “The Way We Were” (so amazing) – but a pretty irresistible pop confection. Check out this performance by Lesley Gore (known lesbian – you go on with your bad self, Ms. Gore!) from Ski Party Weekend.

This is pretty much exactly like every ride I take on Muni! And I totally have that same outfit! Which I wear on Muni! And I would totally give my eyeteeth for that ‘do…

Bikes of the Netherlands

As an enthusiastic urban cyclist here at home in SF, I’m quite ashamed to admit that I never once rode a bike during my week in Amsterdam last October. This was due to a combination of not-great weather (I did actually have a bike tour scheduled on the coldest, rainiest day of my trip – cold I don’t mind, but riding in the rain is no fun, so the tour was on-foot instead) and the fact that it took me most of the week to become comfortable with my navigational skills in the city (“These canals all look alike! Where the hell am I? Oh, right, lost – again…”).

Nevertheless, it was quite fascinating to observe how integral bikes are to life in Amsterdam. There isn’t a bike subculture, as in SF – bicycles are an essential component of the culture of Amsterdam. It’s great! And when I go back (soon, I hope), I promise to ride… Well, unless I stay too late at the discotheque…

And though I didn’t ride, I did take a few photos…

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

So, sitting at home the other night, minding my own business and cuddling with my kitty, when I hear the knockety-knock from my computer – someone is messaging me on Facebook! Who could it be? And what important news have they to impart?

Here is the message I received verbatim:

This is my Facebook impression of you:

I have a cat but no sex sometimes I eat food and I went to Paris.
I have a cat.
I have a cat.
Look at my cat.

Sigh. Tempting though it might have been to protest this characterization, I really had no alternative but to respond thusly:

accurate