Category Archives: Health

Out of Iowa

We left Center Point, Iowa and made our way west to Council Bluffs on the first of the month. Our travels across Iowa for RAGBRAI and back west across the state kept us mostly on state roads and county highways. In Iowa, most of these roads are either slabs of concrete butted together, worn asphalt that’s been chip-sealed many times over or dirt/gravel surfaces.

The concrete slabs are most common along state roads and they heave where the slabs butt together making a rough ride. At the best of times, the tires set up a rhythmic slapping sound and the coach gently bounces along. More often than not, the slabs launch the coach from one section to the next. The chip sealed surfaces are no better. I could usually see if cross traffic was approaching by the dust cloud raised as the vehicle approached on the gravel/dirt side roads. The dirt is a fine, light, powdery dust.

When we made our stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa near the Nebraska border, the constant pounding had taken its toll. First off, we couldn’t find our Jetpack wifi. We usually move it to kitchen counter before we move, but had forgotten to do that this time. The power cord was on the counter, but no Jetpack.

We searched under the slide-outs and everywhere we could think of. We found several wood screws – I’m thinking these are dropped screws when the crew rebuilt our living room slide wall. When they drop a screw, they don’t look for it, they grab another one and keep moving. It was a good time to do some real cleaning under the slide-out.

We usually place our Jetpack on a small shelf on top of the kitchen slide-out. It gets good reception there and is out of sight, but we don’t travel with it there – usually. It occurred to Donna to get out our step stool and look on the ledge and sure enough there was the Jetpack – whew! I was getting worried.

I also discovered that the stud holding the toilet seat hinge fell out! I found the stud and re-installed it with Threadlocker.

Toilet seat hinge stud

We ended up staying for two days at the Ameristar Casino while I was recovering from a virus that had me down. We moved a short distance to Papillion, NE to Walnut Creek Lake Recreation Area. This is a city park with electric hook-ups – no water or sewer. I was still feeling the effects of the virus and spent most of my time resting. I couldn’t even muster enough energy to post to this blog. We spent four nights there before heading westward to Kearney, Nebraska.

While we were in Papillion, I looked the engine compartment over – it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on things. I was surprised to find a damaged pressure cap on the coolant surge tank. I replaced this cap about three and half years ago. I’m not sure what makes the surge tank on our Cummins ISL diesel such rough duty. I found a replacement cap at an auto parts store and replaced it. If the cap doesn’t hold pressure, coolant can boil prematurely. The cap holds 13psi and raises the boiling point by 39 degrees.

Damaged seal on radiator cap

Kearney RV Park and Campground boasted 100′ pull-through sites on their web page and it may be true in one area of the park, but not where we are. The park is split into two locations. It’s a little strange. The GPS directions will take you to the north park area that sits along the north channel of the Platte River. We pulled in there to find it mostly empty with what appeared to be a few long-term occupants. A guy came out of his RV and directed us up the road to a different location where the office and the “Getaway Bay” area of the RV park is.

We found the office and checked in. They had us in the Getaway Bay in a pull-through site with a nice view and easy fishing access. The pull-through site has a level concrete pad and was just long enough to fit our 65′ length.

Our windshield view

Last night, a thunderstorm came through with heavy rain. I’m not certain, but I think I may have heard some hail in the night. Today is overcast and cooler. We plan to hang out here until Friday. There’s plenty of good biking, pickleball if I’m up to it and it’s good place for me to continue to rest and recover. Maybe I’ll catch a fish or two in the pond.

There Are No Old, Bold Pilots

Yesterday didn’t exactly go as planned. I felt better for most of the morning, but still off. I filled our fresh water tank in anticipation of hitting the road Friday. Then I spent most of the afternoon napping while Donna went for a run around Lily Pond.

Donna fixed a plate of leftover pasta with meatballs for me. I could only eat one meatball and a little of the pasta. I haven’t eaten much over the past few days.

I went to bed around 7:30pm and was out. Donna stayed up a watched a movie. Friday morning I woke up feeling well-rested despite gusty winds in the night. My head felt clear. Donna made a Switchel Sports Drink – it has maple syrup, fresh ground ginger, apple cider water and a pinch of sea salt. It was good and I had an appetite for a small bowl of cereal.

Donna remarked that I looked much better. I was feeling better for sure. But she had reservations about hitting the road. It was windy with occasional unpredictable gusts well over 20mph. I have to digress here for some background.

About 17 years ago, I took an Airman’s Medical Exam and was issued a certificate. I started taking flying lessons. I’ll never forget my flight instructor telling me that the most important trait a pilot must possess is one he can’t teach – good judgement. After a few flight lessons, cancer intervened – realistically I couldn’t afford it at the time anyway. Several years later, I went for another Airman Medical Exam. By then a lot had changed. I had been through several surgeries and no longer had sight in my right eye. The doctor told me he thought I was a risk taker based on my medical history.

I had to admit that racing motorcycles was definitely accepting a certain level of risk, but much of the rest was the result of a very active lifestyle. I can’t help it if while riding my bicycle I get hit by a car driven by an inattentive driver on his cell phone – what am I going to do – just give up cycling? He said he had issued certificates to one-eyed pilots before but it adds to the risk factor and he needed a little more time to review my history. He finished the interview with the old adage – there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.

I received my certificate a few weeks later but never took another lesson. So, what am I leading up too? Donna felt the wind conditions were tricky at best and could be tough even if I was at 100%. Even if we waited to see if the gusty winds would improve, we would be heading right into thunderstorms in the west by afternoon.

I did a self-assessment. There’s a game app on my smartphone that I play at the highest level. I’m usually quite proficient and score among the top five on their weekly results board. I opened the app and tried a few rounds. The games ended quickly when I would make a wrong move or my reaction time was too slow. That sealed it. Donna called the office to see if we could remain where we are for another night. I bit the bullet and paid the premium.

That being said I am feeling quite a bit better today. What was slow, incremental progress became a big step today. Hopefully we can move west tomorrow and not battle the weather conditions.

 

Prescription Runaround

In a previous post, I wrote about changes to our health care plan this year. My former employer quit offering group health insurance to retirees. Instead they funded a healthcare reimbursement account and I was on my own to find a plan on the healthcare exchange. The result was a plan that costs triple what I paid in 2016 and essentially leaves us self-insured for the first $13,100 – we’re really only covered for a catastrophic event.

Our previous health care coverage also included prescription medications under a plan through CVS-Caremark mail-order pharmacy. When I looked at the healthcare exchange, I wasn’t too thrilled with the prescription coverage and cost. I called CVS-Caremark to inquire about retaining the plan. I have a few medications that I take on a daily basis. CVS-Caremark told me there were no changes in my prescription plan, prescriptions would continue to be mailed every 90 days. Now that was good news.

In February, they mailed me my prescriptions. Then in March, they sent me an e-mail telling me that I was no longer enrolled in their plan, my previous employer had terminated the coverage. Now I had a problem. I already enrolled through the healthcare exchange and adding prescription coverage would be problematic.

After looking at a few options, I decided to buy my medications out-of-pocket through the AARP discount mail-order plan. I spoke with their customer service and was told I needed to download a form from their web site and send it in along with written prescriptions from my doctor to start the service.

I obtained the written prescriptions and completed the form – including credit card payment information and mailed it to them about 10 days ago. Yesterday I checked my account on their web site and no prescription order was showing. So, I called their customer service again. After the usual automated phone system runaround, I spoke to a representative.

When she found my information, she told me they had the paperwork and prescriptions but I hadn’t asked them to actually fill the prescriptions – what!? I had filled out their form completely and followed all of their instructions. Maybe it’s just me, but I figure that when I drop off a prescription at a drug store, it’s understood that I want the prescription filled. When I sent in the form including billing information it should be de facto evidence of me ordering the prescriptions. After more than 30 minutes of runaround, giving them all of the information that was on the form I sent in, she finally told me the order would be filled. I should expect the meds by April 13th. Whew!

A couple of hours later, my phone rang. I picked up the call and it was a recorded message from OptumRx – the supplier for the AARP discount plan – telling me there was a problem and I need to stay on the line for a representative. I was on the phone listening to their music and recorded messages for 20 minutes before a representative came on the line. She looked up my account and said she needed to verify some information.

We went over all of the same information that was on the form I sent in and also gave to the representative a couple of hours earlier. She put me on hold several times – once for 15 minutes. After 41 minutes on the phone, she told me she had everything she needed to fulfill my order – I hadn’t given her any new information at all, we just repeated everything they already had. After this call, I got a confirmation e-mail, so maybe that’s a good sign and things are moving along as they should. They also sent a link to complete a satisfaction survey. Oh boy – this will give an opportunity to tell them what I really think.

On Wednesday evening, Donna prepared some chicken breasts she bought at WinCo Foods. She spiced them with a green chile BBQ rub that she bought when we were in Taos, New Mexico. I cooked the chicken on the Traeger. About 15 minutes before I took them off the grill, I basted them with Pomegranate and Mango Chipotle Sauce. The combination was excellent, giving the chicken a spicy-sweet flavor.

Green Chile Spicy BBQ Rub

Pomegranate & Mango Chipotle Sauce

Chicken breasts hot off the Traeger

Donna served it with steamed asparagus and garlic smashed potatoes. Once again, I’m dining like a king! We sat outside and enjoyed the meal al fresco.

A meal fit for a king

Yesterday Donna joined me for pickleball in the morning. She took a fall in her first game and scraped her knee and shin. But she hung in there and we played several games. This morning I played again for the fourth straight day, but Donna woke up feeling a little punky with a sore throat, so she passed.

The temperature should reach the upper 80s today and tomorrow, so it looks like we’ll be running the air conditioners again.

Heat Wave

Wednesday was pretty low key for me. Donna went to the pickleball courts in the morning while I stayed home and nursed my hay fever. I ended up spending most of the day indoors – just as I thought I would. The thermometer hit 92 degrees in the afternoon. This heat wave may be a blessing in disguise – it seems like the hot daytime temperatures are causing the orange blossoms to drop from the trees prematurely. The pollen counts are still quite high, but I slept well last night and I’m feeling a little better this morning.

Donna and I had a conference call with our tax accountant in the afternoon. I always dread these things. We uncovered a mistake in last year’s filing and it looks like we overpaid, so that may be a good thing for us this year.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, there’s live entertainment from 3 to 5pm here at ViewPoint RV & Golf Resort. Donna walked down with her hula hoops and hoop danced to the music. She always takes two hoops in case someone wants to join her. Yesterday, she offered a hoop to a young girl who was visiting her grandparents and the two of them had a lot of fun. I only got out once all day and that was just to make a run on the Spyder to the store.

Donna defrosted the last of the lamb rib chops we bought from the farm in Portland near the Columbia River RV Park. She put them on the grill along with some sliced zucchini, peppers and onions for dinner.

Grilled lamb chops with zucchini, peppers and onions

Lamb chops are very flavorful but a little fatty in my opinion. I guess it’s an acquired taste – I didn’t like lamb when I was younger but I find it a pleasant change now. I paired the lamb with an IPA from Elysian. Although Elysian is located in Seattle and typically brews West Coast style IPA, this bottle called The Immortal is more of an English style IPA with pronounced malt flavor and a sharp bitter finish. I liked it but wasn’t crazy about it.

The Immortal

High, thin clouds formed in the late afternoon sky. This always brings a colorful, fiery sunset here in the desert.

Fiery sunset

I’d like to get out and about today – hopefully my allergy symptoms will continue to abate. I plan to hit the pickleball courts tomorrow morning and we’re both signed up to play in a tournament on Saturday. The heat wave is expected to linger through the weekend with daily highs in the mid-90s.

Down for the Count

Before I could go out to the pickleball courts for the Monday morning round robin play, I had to take a Benadryl allergy tablet. The orange trees here are in full bloom. For most people this brings a pleasant aroma to the area. For me, it’s misery. When I was tested for allergies back in the late 90s, the allergist told me he had good news and bad news.

The good news was I didn’t have to get rid of any pets because I had no allergic reactions to dog or cat dander. The bad news was I had moderate to severe reactions to all of the tree and grass pollens they tested on me – I can’t get rid of trees and grass. The pollen will be in the air at various times of the year no matter where I am. Since we tend to follow the sun, I’m more likely to be in areas that will affect me.

Most of the time it’s tolerable. I take a daily dose of fluticasone nasal spray and Opcon eye drops. When the pollen counts get very high – like they are here right now, I suffer. There’s so much pollen in the air that the Spyder looks like it’s covered in yellow dust. Last year it wasn’t so bad – I’m hoping this is a temporary condition and the pollen count will subside soon.

Taking Benadryl before pickleball wasn’t the best idea. It made my throat dry and I felt a little woozy a couple of times after playing long rallies.

Pickleball courts at ViewPoint RV Resort

I mentioned in an earlier post the hawk’s nest near the courts. I haven’t seen the adult hawks for a while. Monday morning I saw an immature hawk fly to the nest. My guess is the adults have moved on and the new generation has taken over the nest for now. I’ve read that Red-tailed hawks are monogamous and often return to refurbish the same nest every year. If so, I think junior can count on being kicked out.

Hawk’s nest in a high-voltage power line tower

Donna has really taken to our new Weber Q. She didn’t grill much on the old one. The feature she loves most on the Weber Q 2200 is the built in thermometer. She can set it to the temperature she desires without having to guess if it’s hot enough or too hot. Monday night she rubbed chicken thighs with a green chili rub she bought in Taos, New Mexico and cooked it on the grill. I usually do all of the grilling, but she wanted to do it and it came out great. Along with the chicken, she roasted a mixed baby squash medley with garlic and herbs and and served it with crumbled feta cheese on top.

Green chili rubbed chicken and baby squash

Tuesday morning I woke up with burning eyes and stuffy sinuses. It was time to break out the Neti pot. I’m hoping this is the peak of the pollen issue. I stayed indoors with the air conditioners running all day and read a book.

The outside temperature was in the low-90s in the afternoon for the last two days. This heat wave is supposed to last through the weekend with temperatures in the mid-90s. This is well above the average high temperature of 77 degrees for March here in Mesa, Arizona. I passed on the pickleball round robin this morning and will probably have another lazy day indoors.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

 

Pickleball and a Movie

The nice weather continued on Tuesday – the temperature hit a high of 77 degrees with sunny, blue skies. We had a notice in our mailbox of a package being held at the park’s post office. As part of my effort to increase my activity, I walked to the post office to pick it up. This is a large park. We’re in the northwest end, the post office is located to the southeast.

It was about three quarters of mile from our site to the post office. When I got there I found they had not one, but two packages for us. One of the boxes was little bulky, the other was a Priority Mail box with a month’s worth of mail forwarded from our service (MyDakotaAddress). Carrying the two packages made the walk back seem a lot longer.

Donna’s keeping her activity level up as usual. She went out for a 16-mile bike ride Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday morning I went to the pickleball courts for the 3.0-3.5 level round robin matches at 8am. Donna came down an hour later to play on the open play court.

A pair of red tail hawks are nesting in a high voltage utility pole near the courts. I saw one of the adult hawks return to its nest with a snake in its grasp. I wish I could have taken a picture. I’m pretty sure there are immature hawks in the nest and it was bringing back the snake to feed them.

The round robin matches consisted of six games played over a two-hour period. I stayed for another hour and played nonstop, ending up with 11 games played. Donna played quite a few games as well.

After lunch, we headed over to the Harkins Theater on Superstition Springs Boulevard. We went to the 3:20pm matinee and watched John Wick: Chapter Two. It was all action and an entertaining shoot-em-up movie. We watched the original John Wick movie released in 2014 a couple of weeks ago on TV.

We don’t go to movie theaters very often. One thing that kills me at the theater is how they gouge you for snacks and drinks. You can’t bring your own, so they charge $4.50 for a bottle of water! A large popcorn, a soda and a bottle of water was $18.25! After sitting in the theater for more than two hours – with very comfortable seats – I was feeling a little stiff from the morning’s activity.

Last night, Donna prepared something new to go with the salmon cakes she made for dinner. She made a cheesy cauliflower bake. This was steamed cauliflower with cheddar cheese, bacon and green onion baked about 20 minutes to meld the flavors. It was a little labor intensive to make, but it was very tasty.

Cheesy cauliflower bake

We had a discussion about whether to call the entree salmon cakes or salmon patties. I decided to call them salmon cakes as they are made like crab cakes. Salmon patties implies something akin to a burger.

Salmon cakes with cheesy cauliflower bake

I opened a bottle of Ninkasi Total Domination IPA from Eugene, Oregon to go with the meal.

Ninkasi IPA

Before I went to bed, I checked the S-Health app on my Samsung Galaxy smart phone. It showed 12,999 steps for the day. I went over 13,000 walking from the living room to bed. The activity bars on the screenshot below show the pickleball activity and then an inactive period in the afternoon – that was the movie theater time.

Steps recorded on the S-Health app

I had to close our bedroom window in the night. We usually sleep with the window open, but a cool breeze was blowing in overnight. Today the forecast calls for a high of only 63 degrees. The next seven days will be cool and Friday the overnight low is expected to be 39! Brrr.

 

Decompressing at Viewpoint

Friday was our second full day here at Viewpoint RV Resort. I feel like I’m still decompressing from four weeks at the RV Renovators shop. Around 9:30am, I went to the pickleball courts. They have five courts here.

Three of the courts were reserved for round-robin play for players that are 3 to 3.5 level. I learned that this takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 10am. Next week I’ll enter to play with this group. I played on the open courts for about two and half hours – I’m feeling it today. Four sedentary weeks at the shop will do that to you.

Donna didn’t play pickleball – she’s not confident in the strength of her ankle – she sprained it on the pickleball court in Pacific Beach five weeks ago. She’s been able to get out and run for the last week and a half, but the stopping, starting and pushing off to the side required on the picklball court may be more than she’s ready for.

We had partly cloudy skies yesterday but the temperature reached the mid-70s. It was windy though – that made the pickleball games interesting. I haven’t played on outdoor courts since we were in Crescent Bar, Washington in July.

Last night Donna made a new favorite – a one skillet meal that she made once before. She calls it garlicky shrimp with white beans. Very tasty!

Garlicky shrimp with white beans and a dollop of pesto

Overnight rain moved into the area. It’s the remnants of the storm that lashed southern and central California yesterday. The forecast calls for rain throughout the weekend.

We don’t have any big plans for the weekend. I’ll probably spend time reading a book. I’m hoping I have a chance to get together with my friend, Howard Graff, at some point. Donna’s hoping for a break in the weather to go up to the fitness center. Meanwhile, she’ catching up on laundry and doing some deep cleaning – these are some of the things that fell by the wayside while we were dry camped at RV Renovators.

A reader posted a comment on my last post. This morning I accidentally marked it as spam and it was deleted. If your name is Mike and you posted a comment, please try again and I’ll take you off of the spam list. I enjoy comments on the blog, but I also have to deal with hundreds of spam entries into comments daily. Sorry about that, Mike.

Unlucky Day

Today is Friday the 13th. Superstition says this is an unlucky day and bad things happen. Well, Donna jumped the gun on that. Yesterday we went to Pacific Beach Recreation Center to play pickleball. We played for a couple of hours. In our last game, Donna was playing on the court next to the one I was on. I heard her fall as she scrambled to get a ball that went deep in the corner of the court.

She stayed down, holding her right ankle. She said she heard a pop as her foot rolled under, hyper-extending the lateral joint. Her partner in the game went to the office immediately and retrieved cold packs. One of her opponents in the game happened to be a medical doctor – his name is Gresham. His thought there was ligament damage, not a break.

Luckily we had Sini’s car since she had the left the RV park the day before and wasn’t due to return until the afternoon. Another guy helped me get Donna to the car. We came home and she stretched out on the sofa with her knee elevated above her heart and her ankle above the knee – we accomplished this with a stack of pillows. She spent the rest of the day icing the ankle – 20 minutes on ice, then twenty minutes off. She also took ibuprofen. This is what Gresham recommended.

I’m happy to report she’s doing much better this morning and can walk, albeit gingerly. Yesterday she couldn’t bear any weight on her ankle at all.

I mentioned Sini leaving the park for a day. She drove up to Temecula with her son, Beau. They stayed overnight at the Pechanga Casino. She encountered heavy rain and wind on the trip – about 60 miles each way – but came through fine. It was her first solo experience driving her motorhome.

The rain had us hunkered down for the past two days. It looks like we should be in for dry weather through the weekend although there is still a 20% chance of rain. I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I need to get ready for the road and I’d like to have everything dry before I pack it up.

Our plan is to drive I-8 east almost to Yuma on Sunday. We’ll boondock overnight in the desert with our friends, Jeff and Deb Spencer (Rolling Recess) – they’re already there. We last saw them in Las Vegas last spring.

That’s one of the great things about the full-time RV community. We make new friends and keep up with each other via Facebook or blogs and then we meet up whenever we find ourselves in the same area.

I’m hoping to get a fairly early start on Sunday so I can be set up in time to watch the Green Bay vs Dallas NFL playoff game.

 

Getting Healthcare While We’re Covered

With the year rapidly coming to a close, Donna and I needed to finish up on routine health care while we still have coverage. After January 1st, we’ll join the ranks in ACA healthcare market place. For us, it basically means we’re self-insured for all but the most catastrophic events. I already posted my rant about the un-affordable debacle that Obamacare created.

On Monday, we both had appointments with Dr. Tim Van Kirk at Eye-Tech for eye exams. Donna’s prescription hadn’t changed, I had a slight change for reading. This exam included a baseline retinal photo showing the current state of the health of our eyes. My left eye is completely healthy with good color in the macular area, nice blood flow and no sign of leakage or diabetes.

Retinal photo of my left eye

My right eye is a different story. I’ve been blind in my right eye since I had a motorcycle racing accident at Spokane Raceway Park 14 years ago. The accident was pretty serious and I sustained a number of injuries including Terson’s Syndrome from head trauma that affected my right optic nerve. The retinal photo looks healthy for the most part – it’s not quite centered correctly because I couldn’t see the target for the photo. The area around the optic nerve – the circular light spot in the photo – shows the damage.

Right optic nerve damage

These photos will be useful in the future as they establish a baseline and can be used for comparison if anything changes. The eye exam was very comprehensive and took over an hour for each of us.

I made the usual Monday happy hour stop at Dan Diego’s and found another Belgian ale on sale for three dollars. This one is distributed by a French Abbey, but it’s brewed at a monastery in Chimay, Belgium. It’s an amber ale, 6% ABV and very tasty.

Mont Des Cats amber ale

I liked the Maredsous I had last week better, but it sold out.

For dinner, Donna made turmeric chicken and served it with Israeli couscous and steamed broccoli. This has become a favorite dish.

Turmeric chicken, Israeli couscous and broccoli

On Tuesday morning, I had another healthcare appointment. It was time for my annual check-up with Dr. Ryan in Point Loma. Everything went well – I just have to wait for the results of blood work – but I feel good.

Tuesday turned out to be a gorgeous day. We had blue skies and the high temperature reached 77 degrees! The wind was light and variable. It doesn’t get much better. I noticed the sail boat which is usually moored in De Anza Cove was gone. The guy that owns it takes it out every few weeks and spends a day cleaning it once a month.

We have three Alpine Coaches clustered together here at Mission Bay RV Resort. One is in the site next to us and one is across the street. They’re both front-door double-slide models while ours is a mid-door triple-slide.

Alpine Coach neighbor – we’re on the left.

In the afternoon I climbed up on the roof of Sini’s coach and took the air conditioner shrouds off again. Some water leaked through the A/C intake grills on the ceiling of her coach. These grills are directly below the A/C evaporator housings. I looked around and didn’t see anything obvious. We sealed a seam on the evaporator housing with silicone, but I’m wondering if there’s a problem with the seal below the unit where it sits on the roof.

On Tuesday night, Donna made mini meatloaves in muffin tins. They were good – she served it with blue cheese smashed red potatoes and sauteed zucchini, peppers and onions.

Mini-meatloaf plate

At sunset, clouds moved in. I wasn’t expecting this. Rain started falling around 9:30pm. It rained off and on overnight and it’s overcast this morning. This wasn’t in yesterday’s forecast. Now the weather guessers are calling for a 40% chance of rain by evening – this will put a damper on the happy hour gathering we were invited to with friends here in the RV park.

Today is the winter solstice – meaning that the sun is at its southernmost point in the sky. It’s the shortest day of sunlight in the northern hemisphere. The actual solstice occurred at 2:44am local time when the north pole was tilted at its farthest point from the sun. Days will start to get longer beginning tomorrow. It’ll be a few months before the longer periods of sunlight bring warmer weather though.

Unaffordable Health Care

It’s going to be another beautiful day in San Diego. The skies are clear, the sun is shining and the expected high temperature is 75 degrees. But I’m sitting at my laptop not feeling so good. In fact, I’m mad as hell.

Yesterday, Donna and I had a conference call with a representative from Towers Watson – an insurance administrator that runs a brokerage called One Exchange. Up to this point, my former employer offered health care insurance as part of my pension plan. That ends on December 31st. I need to find health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obama Care.

I have to say, ACA is anything but affordable – it’s an Orwellian doublespeak term. Since the inception of Obama Care, my health care benefits have deteriorated. Three years ago I paid a monthly premium of about $300 for coverage for both of us. I had a deductible of $600 and had nationwide coverage. Two years ago the cost rose to about $400/month and the deductible went up to $1,000. Last year the cost rose again to $500/month and the deductible jumped to $2,600.

Now the costs have risen so much, my former employer no longer offers a health care plan. Instead, they offer a subsidy if you don’t qualify for government assistance. Apparently it’s more affordable for them to fund a health care spending account for retirees than to participate in group health care.

The subsidy they’re offering me amounts to about $1,041/month. Sounds pretty good, right? Add to that the $500/month I paid for health care last year and I should be able to budget a little over $1,500/month for my premium and out of pocket expenses. But here’s where it gets ugly.

The lowest premium I can find in our domicile state, South Dakota, is $1,399/month. That leaves me a little over $100/month for out of pocket expenses. But there’s a rub – it covers nothing until I meet the deductible of $13,100! Basically, I’m self-insured for the first $13,100 and I get to pay $1,399/month for this! If I want to have a plan that’s comparable to what I had before, it would cost $2,367/month but it doesn’t offer a nationwide network.

How is this affordable? I hope this ACA is replaced with something that’s more sensible soon. I’m thankful for my former employer funding a health care spending account for me, otherwise I would be spending nearly three times my current monthly premium for no coverage until I hit $13,100 in costs. We’re looking into private market plans now since we don’t qualify for federal subsidies. End of rant.

On a more positive note, I was able to get out and play pickleball on Wednesday. I had soreness in my foot afterward again, so I think it’s best if I lay off and rest my foot to allow it to heal.

A couple of months ago I replaced our toilet seat. I posted about the way it mounted to the toilet – it was supposed to be a quick release system for cleaning. Well, that may be good in theory but in practice the quick release would release every time you closed the lid. I got tired of the seat and lid flopping around, so I ordered a new seat and lid on Amazon.

The new one is made of bamboo and has brushed nickel hinges that mount with stainless steel screws. The quick release concept doesn’t work for me. I’m more than happy with the conventional and secure method of mounting the hinges.

New bamboo toilet seat and lid

New bamboo toilet seat and lid

The photo makes the seat look much lighter than the flooring – in reality the difference in color isn’t so noticeable. I think the flash on my camera may have affected the color tone.

Securely attached with brushed nickel hinges

Securely attached with brushed nickel hinges

I threw the quick release seat in the dumpster.

I also set up the decorative laser light that Sini gave us. I have it pointed at a tree in front of our site. The points of light look like a bunch of tiny Christmas lights in the tree.

Points of light from the laser on the tree

Points of light from the laser on the tree

It also splashes a few points of light on our coach.

Laser lighting up the front corner of the coach

Laser lighting up the front corner of the coach

Thanks Sini!

Donna made a spicy beef stir-fry for dinner. She cut flank steak across the grain and made it with shirataki noodles. This was a simple recipe but it was so good! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Stir-fry with shirataki noodles

Stir-fry with shirataki noodles

I don’t have a plan for today. I think I’ll finish a book I’ve been reading and maybe go for a bike ride and enjoy the great weather after our dental appointments at 1pm.