Ads Everywhere, Big Brother’s Watching and HMOs

Ads Everywhere

I’m getting sick of commercial advertising being shoved in my face everywhere that I go.

So far this month, just like most months, I have encountered ads (mostly for mortgages) while pumping gas several times, about twenty-five minutes of commercials before watching a movie, in an elevator at a corporate event that I attended at a downtown hotel, at a supermarket checkout and while I was urinating in a restaurant bathroom.

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Years ago, the U.S. was a commercial giant, and now it seems as if we are stuck in a giant commercial.

Print ads are everywhere – park benches, bus shelters and even around the walls at Wrigley Field.

Of course, you will be forced to view ads before watching news clips and YouTube videos.  The algorithms must think that I am a potential luxury car buyer even though I am most certainly not since I often am forced to view Mercedes and Lexus commercials.  I also have a lot of investing commercials shown to me for trading platforms that I have no interest in, and investment firms where I already have all my money parked, like T. Rowe Price and Vanguard.  Perhaps the algorithms think that I have more money invested elsewhere that I should also be moving with them.

Come to think of it, I do.  I have a few grand parked in a Capital One account and also recently opened another savings account with $15,000 so I can make another $200 from the most Evil Bank in ninety days.

I suppose that if the corporate giants who show us these ads non-stop must consider the average Middle Class American a shallow, non-stop consumer of Big Macs, Apple products and trendy clothes.

Come to think of it, maybe we are.

Big Brother is Watching

Where is he watching?

Oh, just reading your medical records, reviewing your credit card bills, your magazine subscriptions, tracking your Internet use, tracking who you speak with on the phone, spying on your house of worship, keeping track of your travel records, tracking your purchases, snooping on your library records, monitoring your political activities, reviewing your energy usage, where you are by your cell phone signal, what you watch on cable and so on and so forth.

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I do not want to sound like a conspiracy theorist to you.  This is just a simple fact of life here in 2017 and in the future.  The FBI, CIA, INS, NSA, DIA and any other three letter government acronym can obtain any of the above records and much more.

I suppose that it was the PATRIOT Act that gave the government unfettered access to snoop on anyone’s and everyone’s everything.  The government was granted the expanded authority at that time to run “sneak and peak” searches without notifying the person being searched, all in the name of trying to ferret out terrorists.

Government agents are given shortcuts around court review of their wiretapping requests and entering anyone’s computer at anytime.  Perhaps a post like this might be enough to hit their radar screens.  Who knows?

Not to mention the biggest information gatherer of them all, the Great God Google.  I suppose that when it all boils down to it, Google alone could probably provide the most information on somebody’s comings, goings and thoughts.  Far from being done developing this amazing and frightening company, I think that Google is only going to expand its capabilities in the field of artificial intelligence and might soon know what it is that you are thinking, what you want to eat and where you want to go before you know it, yourself.

HMOs

My middle class family is on an HMO, which basically sucks.  We were previously on a PPO, but the premiums were so high, over $300 per paycheck, and our co-payments were so high (first $2,000 in bills per person) that we simply could not afford it.

After both of our children had their back-to-school physical examinations one year, we were socked with a bill for nearly $1,000 and were so shocked by that, that we switched that November during open enrollment

We switched to the Blue Cross HMO for about eleven years now, and have been dicked around by them ever since.

We recently had a major healthcare-related issue and, lo and behold, a faceless Blue Cross HMO bureaucrat who undoubtedly spent all of five seconds reviewing the request made the final decision about the treatment.

Not the doctor with years of medical training and subsequent experience, but some HMO employee with some title like claims analyst made the decision not to continue spending the money on treatment.  Never mind what may be best for the patient.

Insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield or whoever your health insurance may be with, assuming that you are fortunate enough to have it, are powerful interests with the one and only goal of being profitable.

If they are given the choice whether to help someone by paying an extra $10,000, or taking the risk that the patient may die or have a relapse or possibly sue the insurer, their actuaries have calculations weighing the risk of not covering or continuing treatment, which they usually deem in the company’s best interest, patient be damned.

The HMOs create so many hoops to jump through, so many referrals upon referrals required, that sometimes weeks or even months go by before middle class families like mine can see a doctor or specialist that we need to see.

One other thing.  The doctors in our network are not wise, experienced top doctors from Northwestern or the University of Chicago or Johns Hopkins. They are Dr. Patel, Dr. Raja, Dr. Shah and others trained in India or third-rate American institutions.  They may be good doctors, but they are not the ones that you or I would choose, given the choice.  They mostly seem to be in their early thirties, recently out of medical school or currently completing a residency and in the experience-gaining mode rather than benefiting from their previous experience.  Just Sayin’.Image result for Dr. Patel

Personally, I had an experienced doctor with a top pedigree for several years up until just a few years ago.  Interestingly enough, he was supposed to be a “good” doctor, a Jewish guy in a nicer suburb in our area.

When we still had the PPO, my former doctor treated me like a VIP, concerned about health problems that I had including stress, anxiety and high blood pressure.  Interestingly enough, once I had to switch to the HMO, he treated me like dirt or perhaps even worse than dirt.

I had a rather unsightly mole growing in the middle of my abdomen for several years and it caused me and my wife a small measure of concern.  When I mentioned it to this “good” doctor, he told me that it was just our imagination that it was growing and that I should come back in another six months to take a look.

When I told him that my ankle still caused me a great deal of pain after ten sessions of physical therapy, he just threw up his hands and said that he could not do anything further for me.

I ultimately switched to a new doctor, my current primary care physician, who made me take my shirt off the first time that I came in to see him even though I wanted to see him about my bad ankle and a skin condition on my elbow.

When he saw the purplish, blotchy mole on my abdomen, all bets were off. In addition to writing me a referral for another foot and ankle doctor, he wrote a referral to a dermatologist to biopsy the mole.

I will not bore you here with details, but I had the skin lesion removed soon after switching doctors in a surgery that required ten stitches across my abdomen.  It tested benign, but it was taken seriously even though I am just an unimportant Middle Class Guy with an HMO.

More rants coming soon, so stay tuned.Image result for so stay tuned

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