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The Horror of Health Insurance for the Self-Employed

dead man cartoon

Some pine for the good ole days of their childhood or early romances. I pine for the good ole days of health insurance.

When I first became fully self-employed, I had a decent Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan for about $99 per month. The deductible was reasonable, the coverage was adequate and my doctor accepted it.

Then Obamacare came along.

My existing health insurance plan instantly went extinct, as it didn’t include all the added baggage every policy now had to have. Like breast milk pumps and pregnancy care, even if you were a woman not planning on children. Even if you were a man.

Those needless novelties skyrocketed health insurance premiums through the ozone, with any plan that offered anything near my former benefits starting around $750 per month.

For several years, I went for the chintziest insurance options just to cover major, unexpected accidents. Like the kettle-corn motorcycle crash, and the hair-dye chemical in my eye. My deductible was $10,000, my premium was hovering around $250 per month, and I was lucky my doctor accepted it since it had some weirdo name most folks have never heard of.

Then the premiums stared going up. Like every three months. By $40 a pop. Damn hair dye urgent care bills must have finally landed on the insurance company’s desk. So I told the company to go fly a kite.

Of course, I did this during open enrollment, when I could actually get a different plan. I landed on this really, really cheap option called short-term health insurance and went for it. Word of advice: Don’t.

Short-Term Health Insurance Risks

While the premium was less than $200 per month, the coverage was pretty much zilch. The deductible was still in the $10K range, and I had to get a new policy every three months. What cemented the belief that I was in a losing proposition was my prescription prices.

It was actually CHEAPER to buy prescription medication on a cash-only basis with no insurance than it was to use the prescription deal included with my plan. And that’s not the biggest horror story I heard about short-term health insurance.

A woman on a short-term plan had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the plan merrily covered her bills – until her three-month term was up. The insurance carrier then dropped her, refusing to provide a new policy. She was now left with a pre-existing condition that pretty much ruled out any plan acceptance and a mountain of medical bills she had to pay out of her own pocket.

Unless you can get any and all possible medical expenses you’ll ever face crammed into the scant, three-month period for which you’re covered, short-term health insurance is a really bad joke.

Health Marketplace Insurance Risks

Why don’t you just shimmy on over to the health insurance marketplace, some may ask, where you can get reimbursed based on your wages? That option comes with its own headaches and risks. For starters, health marketplace is a crummy name. It sounds like a place you go to buy day-old fruit.

The plans themselves aren’t all that great. They’re also priced more in the $750 range – that’s with a deductible of $14,000.  If that’s not enough to deter you, there’s also the marketplace horror story I heard.

A guy who had low enough wages was getting reimbursed for his health insurance from the marketplace. Then his boss gave him a raise of something like 55 cents per hour. Lo and behold, that was just enough to squeak the guy over the income limit for reimbursement – and he had to pay back some $6,000 now that he was in a higher wage bracket.

So What’s Left?

Sigh. Panicky, nighttime internet searching for a health insurance plan in the middle of July. Filling out those little boxes with your phone number usually results in an avalanche of calls the next morning, but my phone rang about two seconds after hitting “enter” on one of them.

The caller’s name was Jentrey Shannon, and he was an agent with USHEALTH Group. To make a long phone call a short story, his PowerPoint presentation, comparison charts and health insurance perks nearly cemented the deal. Thinking about it for a day sealed it.

While the coverage is not cheap, it’s not $750 per month. And it actually covers things I may even need – without having to pay for pregnancy care and breast milk pumps. This is all good. Even better, of course, is if I never have to file a claim.

But that’s the thing with insurance. It follows the same concept as the umbrella theory. When you have one with you, it never rains. When you forget to take it long, it always ends up pouring.

Want to read about stuff a tad more exciting than health insurance? Get a rynski book. 

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Meet Harvey the Hell Cat: Art Therapy Project

art therapy emotional turmoil

He’s flattened. He’s wincing. His wide eyes are filled with fear. Heck, he even has a fear portal located keenly above his solar plexus where fear can be pumped in or sucked out, depending on the mood of the day.

He’s Harvey the Hell Cat, and he’s one creepy creature indeed (who happens to look smashing on my living room wall).

While Harvey the Hell Cat may seem like a peppy enough project to be done for fun, he was actually the result of yet another intriguing art therapy topic from Tucson’s Dr. B.

  • Topic: Emotional Turmoil
  • Result: Harvey the Hell Cat, a kooky critter crafted out of papier-mache-like clay then painted with dark colors. Additional details include eyes made from a metal washer and nut, sheet-metal teeth, and the aforementioned fear portal framed by gold and blue hues.
art therapy emotional turmoil

Why a flattened cat?

Flattened cats have a strong link to my past emotional turmoil, one of which was the star of an incident back in Brooklyn. When my then-boyfriend’s cat was dying, the cat waited until I came home one day to perform his final dying ceremony. It came complete with a swan song.

He crawled into the center of the room, laid on his side, and let out the loudest, most distressing extended cat yeowl I’ve ever heard in my life. I tried comforting him as he continued, until taking his very last breath.

I still get goosebumps thinking about it, especially what I called in a poem “his glazed eye filled with fear.”

Fear of death has kicked up plenty of emotional turmoil in me over the years, although I’m learning to deal with it by reaffirming my belief that yes, our souls live onward and no, I won’t come back as a picnic table.

Is Harvey the Hell Cat for sale?

You bet!

While I cannot part with the original Harvey the Hell Cat, I’d be delighted to make you one of your very own, using any colors you wish. Order now at the rynski etsy shop.

Enjoy!

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Don’t Weld in Your Underwear (and Other Beginner Welding Tips)

beginner welding tips

Alright, you got me. I didn’t really weld in my underwear. It was technically a pair of boxer shorts I wore as pajamas. This was years ago when I bought my first low-powered welder and thought I could be a welding genius in two minutes or less. I wasn’t. So I put the welder in the shed and my burnt boxer shorts in the garbage.

Fast forward nine years later, and I no longer have the delusions of being a welding genius in two minutes or less. I also wear pants and sensible shoes. Yes, I’ve gotten serious about the art of welding, investing in a high-powered, multi-purpose welding machine as well as a plasma cutting system. Heavy metal, here I come.

Beginning welders have a lot to learn, stuff that goes far beyond welder types, shielding gas and the melting point of mild steel. Things you won’t find in a beginner welding guide or manual. Things that include a handful of do’s and don’ts I’ve learned the hard way. Ready?

DON’T wear Crocs.

The little holes in the Crocs tops let little bits of flame fall directly on your feet. Ouch. Invest in a sensible pair of shoes, preferably made of a less-meltable material than rubber.

DO adjust the timer on your automatic watering system.

It’s not a good thing when the automatic watering kicks on at 6:04 p.m. while you’re still on the back porch playing around with metal and electricity.

DON’T expect a regular household current to cut it.

Some welding machines and plasma cutting systems say they can work on both the regular 110 household outlets as well as the 220 outlets, which are usually reserved for things like air conditioning units and dryers. Don’t believe them. The 110 option will sputter out, blow the fuse, and make you think it’s all your fault the metal won’t stick together.

Call Mr. Electric, get the 220 outlet installed, and go to town. It’s amazing what double the electric power can do for sticking metal together. 

DO remember dogs are people, too.

That means their eyes will get all starry and blurry if they look at the harmful infrared and ultraviolet rays of the welding arc. Since outfitting them with a welding helmet or goggles doesn’t work that well, try a welding curtain.

Instead of one of the big jamung curtains that stretch over 12 feet or more, I purchased a rather expensive tabletop curtain that I amended to sit on my welding table. Ever since I bought it, the dogs haven’t even been outside when I’m welding, never mind actually looking anywhere near the general direction of what I’m doing.

Guess it’s like the umbrella theory. It’ll never rain when you’re carrying one.

DON’T listen to piano-based classical music.

Classical piano music is ideal for certain types of creation, like painting, writing poetry or sculpting a naked statue of David. Welding needs a heavier, rougher sound. My two favorites so far have been Robin Trower (thanks, Beezel!) and live Jane’s Addiction, which comes complete with all kinds of swearing. The swearing blends in nicely with my own.

DO keep welding’s universal axiom in mind.

Most activities have a universal axiom that inevitably comes true. The one for motorcycle riding is something like: “It’s not if you’ll fall, it’s when you’ll fall.” There’s a similar one for beginning welders:

“It’s not if you’ll get burned, it’s when you’ll get burned.”

Mine happened when I unthinkingly removed my super-thick leather welding gloves to press my palm on a welded angle I just finished to make it wider. Yes, that was really dumb. No, I will never do it again.

And if you want to get the burning over with early in your welding career, you can always cut to the chase by wearing Crocs or welding in your underwear.

Be safe, and enjoy!

Feel free to check out some of my welding projects thus far, with more to come for sure (especially now that I have a really expensive welding curtain my dogs don’t even need).

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Cranky Today? This May be Why

jiminy crankball cause of crankiness

You know those days. You wake up annoyed and cranky, ready to drop-kick anything that gets in your way. What the heck is going on? There’s a good chance you’ve been invaded by the Jiminy Crankball.

What’s the Jiminy Crankball?

The Jiminy Crankball is a small, fuzzy invasive species that makes people cranky. He usually crawls in through the left ear, first infiltrating the brain and then moving throughout the rest of the body.

How You Get It

The Crankball species is especially adept at pinpointing weaknesses and certain circumstances that are basically begging for members to invade. These include lack of sleep, being hungry, or getting a $290 parking ticket in Phoenix.

Any annoyance that disrupts your normal routine can invite the Crankballl, as can stepping in cat puke and listening to bad house music.

Oh yeah, you may as well set up lawn chairs for the Crankballs during the monthly womanly thing. That’s when they come around in swarms.

How You Get Rid of It

The only way to eradicate the Crankball is to address and resolve the weakness that let him enter in the first place. Get some sleep. Eat some treats. Deal with the parking ticket. Get back into your normal routine. Clean up the cat puke. Shut down that godawful music. Take a hot bath and a nap.

What Else You Need to Know

Crankballs are highly tenacious, breed quickly, and are extremely contagious. Let them fester in your body for days on end, and you’ll end up surrounded by people who are equally as cranky as you are. It’s like going to work when you have the flu only to infect the whole office.

If you’re not sure of the exact weak point that let the Crankball in, try extra sleep or a healthy meal anyway. You can also talk to others about your crankiness. Crankballs prefer to live just under the skin in the dark. When they’re subjected to attention, laughter or light, they tend to rapidly flee.

Need more helpful hints for dealing with difficult things? Check out the rynski guide for dealing with jerks.

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