After 47 years of life, we’re finally buying a home!

After 47 years of life, we’re finally buying a home!

As we come to the end of another lease year, we have received the renewal offer, and it will be another $150 increase after a $100 increase last year and a $70 increase the year before. Our rent would increase to $1345 if we signed another 12-month lease. Although the house we rent currently is a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom home, it’s in a bad area of town and has structural issues. This has made us look at purchasing a home, and we have been approved for a $200,000 mortgage. we have found a house we like more towards the eastern side of Wichita at a price and mortgage payment that works for us.

The home we have found and had an offer accepted on has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fully finished basement, and a 2-car garage. We are purchasing it for $168,000, with the current owners covering up to $7,000 of closing costs. It does have a HOA, which would normally be a deal breaker for me, but in this case, the $150 monthly HOA payment is good value for money; it covers water, trash service, lawn care, and exterior maintenance, which, based upon what we are paying for in our rental home, seems to save us money, we currently pay $75—80 for water, $23 for trash, paid quarterly at $69, and I have to mow my own lawn, which is becoming harder as I get older and my health continues to deteriorate.

My wife, Erin has considerable health issues, and stairs for her is not an option, which is the prime reason we like this particular home; everything Erin and I need is on the main level, which has no steps to enter the home, and the primary bedroom suite is on the main level, along with a second bedroom, which will function as my office as I work from home, and being able to keep my current AT&T 1Gb Fiber internet connection is a bonus, I really do not want to go back to Cox after being lied to by the company.

The basement has a spacious family room, and two further bedrooms, which are much larger than the bedrooms the kids currently have in our current rental home, along with a second full bathroom, so they will have their own bathroom. Overall, the home we are buying has almost 500 extra square feet of living space. The main level is almost like a 1,000 sq. ft. apartment, with a jack and Jill bathroom accessible from the primary bedroom, second bedroom and living room. This home was literally the first one we looked at; and it was perfect for us, in a decent area of town, but of course there was some challenges.

The challenge was that the home was listed as a townhome, which is fine from the point of view of getting a FHA mortgage, but we found out that Sedgwick county has it listed as a condominium, which we cannot purchase with a FHA mortgage. Our Realtor did some research and found out that the legal definition was changed from condominium to townhome in 2022, and we have all the paperwork to prove it.

Our offer was accepted, and we are under contract, we have paid our $1,000 earnest money, kinda like a payment to show we are serious buyers. We have got an inspection scheduled to make sure we are not buying a turkey. And, if the home comes back with a clean bill of health, we start the 30 day closing period, which should allow us to tell our current landlord that we intend to not renew our lease, and move out by May 31, 2024, and enter the world of home ownership, albeit a lot later in life than ideal.

State sponsored car insurance racket, or Progressive policy?

State sponsored car insurance racket, or Progressive policy?

I received Progressive, forced insurance scam emailan email from Progressive Insurance yesterday evening stating that my son, Conner, would be automatically added to our policy on April 12, 2024. So I called Progressive to tell them not to add him, as he does not drive our vehicles and does not have his own vehicle despite holding a driver’s license.

Conner completed driver’s education, which is apparently all you have to do to obtain a full driver’s license in Kansas, which explains why half of these mother fuckers in Kansas can’t drive for shit. Driver’s education consisted of 8 hours of classroom tuition and six hours of on-road tuition; no test is required upon completion of driver’s education. I have seen Conner driving, and it’s dangerous in my view; without another driver to correct him, he does not have the decision-making skills to drive safely. He needs more tuition before being let loose on the road, but the state of Kansas is happy to unleash him.

This sounds like insurance companies have negotiated a deal with the state of Kansas to force parents to have their children on their insurance policies. Of course, because they are new drivers, this adds more than 100% to the price, which has almost doubled since 2020. Currently, we pay $210 per month for Erin and I, with two 14-year-old Ford’s on the policy. Being forced to add Conner will increase our policy to $490 monthly, which is entirely unaffordable, for basically nothing, as he’d not be driving our cars!

Here are the options, pay the extra 133% more cash, have Conner pay $280 from his part-time income, have Conner get his own insurance on a nonexistent car, kick Conner out of the house so he is no longer part of the household, or have him surrender his driver’s license. Or, switch insurance companies to the cheapest liability-only insurance with the maximum deductible possible, or just cancel all insurance and assume the risk of driving uninsured and unregistered, as we cannot renew our tags without insurance.

The logic is that any licensed driver in the household has access to the vehicles registered at the property, and all licensed drivers must be insured. Of course, an unlicensed teen would never take the car without permission, would they? If an adult child takes a car without the parent’s permission and gets in a wreck, the insurance company would have no liability to pay, as that child is not listed on the policy. The child should have the total liability to cover the other driver’s claim and face whatever legal consequences are associated with driving uninsured, including car theft; it’s all about personal responsibility in my mind.

According to the DMV staff, Progressive is lying to policyholders.

Today, a day after the above was written, I called the DMV and asked whether my son, who recently received his license, needs to be added to our insurance simply because he lived with us. The lady who I spoke with said she faced the same issue with Progressive, being forced into paying for insurance, but she switched insurance companies, and the problem went away, which would indicate that Progressive is scamming people, citing nonexistent state laws, based upon what the DMV lady told me.

So, I will hunt for new insurance before April 11 and maybe find a better deal. We have been with Progressive since 2011 and have been happy until now. This is similar to the situation with Cox Communications, whom I was with until they lied to me, so I looked at my options and found AT&T Fiber.

Final Update and resolution

It’s a week later, after many phone calls, I concluded that all insurance companies operating in Kansas force newly qualified drivers onto the homeowner’s policy if they don’t have their own insurance. I called AAA Insurance, The General, and obviously Progressive. The final call was to Geico, and that was the only company that tried to actually sell me insurance and succeeded. I ended up with a policy matching Progressive’s coverage, which includes renter’s insurance for $277, which is about $67 more than the pre-increase price but $213 less than the new Progressive price, and provides coverage for our son.

Adding Conner to the Progressive policy costs more than I will pay for the new Geico insurance. The moral of the story is that in Kansas, don’t allow your kids to get a full driver’s license unless they have moved out or have their own insurance policy, regardless of whether they have a car (joke). We probably could have found the extra $280 in a pinch, but in the long term, that is not sustainable. But, mostly, I didn’t want to pay it; it’s ridiculous to charge 133% more to add a teen driver who won’t be driving our cars.

Approved for a $200k mortgage, but I am unsure if we should take it!

Approved for a $200k mortgage, but I am unsure if we should take it!

Erin and I have been approved for a $200,000 mortgage, but the payment will be $1,971. This payment worries me because we have existing debt, which I cannot restructure without compromising the mortgage application, leaving us in what I see as a precarious financial position with little wiggle room.

Long story short, our net income is roughly $5,000, and our current debt payments amount to $1,000, so between the mortgage, assuming we buy a home for $200,000 and the other debt payments, that accounts for 60% of our net income. I find myself annoyed and stressed out because I specifically told the loan officer that I planned to consolidate all our credit card payments and existing loans into a single loan, bringing our monthly payment down by 40—45% and making the mortgage more affordable.

Now that we are applying, I cannot make any changes to our debt structure, something that I wish the loan officer had told us before we paid her $150 for credit checks. We cannot realistically proceed with losing 60% of our net income to debt payments, leaving us just $2,000 for everything else, including contingency for issues with the home, which we will be on the hook for being a homeowner.

Our loan and credit card debt totals almost $28,000; and over 360 months, we will pay $710,000 in mortgage fees. If I live that long, I will be at the ripe old age of 77 when the mortgage is paid off. And because house prices are inflated right now, I am concerned we will end up losing money even if we sell

Miss Annie, our realtor and a family friend, looked over the mortgage company’s fee worksheet and said there were excessive fees. She suggested that we look at other options, as she thinks we can do better. I am inclined to do this, but after some financial restructuring, I feel it is necessary to put ourselves in a better position to move forward with buying a home without increasing our overall credit card debt.

Of course, if we can limit our mortgage to $150,000, our payment will be $1,560, which will be only $205 more than our rent from June 2024. This rent increase is one of the main incentives to move, either renting elsewhere or buying a home. When we moved into this ghetto-adjacent house in 2013, rent was only $800, and in the past 3 years, under the third owner in 11 years, despite many deferred maintenance issues, rent has increased by over $450, which I am not willing to pay to live in this area.

None of this is urgent; we have two months before we have to renew our lease, and we can sign a month-to-month lease for just $10/month extra to allow us time to make our choice, whether it’s a different rental home or buying a home; it has to be this year though, we don’t want to be in this house in 2025.

Upgrade! double the CPU cores, double the RAM

Upgrade! double the CPU cores, double the RAM

With the evolution of software and AI requiring more CPU power and more RAM, I have finally taken the plunge and purchased an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 core/32 thread CPU and 64GB DDR4 3200mhz Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB RAM to replace my first generation Ryzen 7 1800x, 32GB RAM system, built way back in 2017, which is really starting to show it’s age in day to day use for photo and video work.

I was thinking of building a whole new system from scratch, but to build a new Ryzen 9 7950X system, only transferring my storage drives, power supply, and case, I was still looking at over $1,600. So I took the upgrade path, which made more sense with the price of last-generation CPUs and DDR4 being slashed, as I could use all my existing hardware, just swapping out the CPU and RAM for $565 + tax.

When I built my Ryzen 7 1800x system, I purchased the best AM4 X370 motherboard available at the time, an Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero, which has a solid VRM capable of handling the 16-core 5950X, and all I need to do is flash the BIOS to v8503 to support the final generation of AM4 architecture CPUs.

It may not be the latest and greatest, but the estimated 27.5% increase in performance for the Ryzen 9 7950x over the Ryzen 9 5950x is not worth the estimated 175% increase in overall system cost.

Now I have gone over my reasoning for my purchase, it is time to move on to the installation and performance. Installation was straightforward, thanks to Corsair using the stock AM4 mounting brackets. I didn’t have to pull anything out of the case; I simply unscrewed the H115i waterblock/pump, cleaned off the cold plate with isopropyl alcohol, pulled the 1800x, dropped in the 5950x, applied the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut, and reattached the cooler. Removed the older 32GB kit of Dominator Platinum, clicked in the new 64GB kit of Dominator Platinum RGB, reinstalled the side panel, and it posted the first time.

I’m sure I am losing some performance of the Ryzen 5950x using an X370 motherboard and not an X570 chipset motherboard launched with the 5000 series AMD Ryzen chips. Overall, I’m happy; stress testing revealed no temperature issues, and running all 32 threads at 100% revealed a max temperature of 78°C, even after a 30-minute stress test, which is not bad for an AIO water cooler that is seven years old.

I could have gotten better temperatures and better performance, but I tuned the fans to not start ramping up towards 100% until passing 80°C, with a ramp from 30% to 50% between 80°C and 85°C and a sharp ramp to 100% between 85°C and 90°C. This means my system remains quiet, even with 3 x 120mm, 1 x 140mm, and 2 x 140mm fans on the radiator. I’m looking for a good balance, I don’t want my PC to sound like a jet engine, which if does when all six fans are at 100%, for maybe an extra 100 Mhz of clock speed.

My newly upgraded system averaged 25,723 in Cinebench R23 over five runs, with a high of 25,943 and a low of 25,752. With my excitement about installing my new CPU and RAM, I didn’t think about running the same test on the older hardware, so I cannot directly compare. But according to Cinebench, a Ryzen 7 1700x scores 8,889; this is a 65% speed bump for the Ryzen 9 5950x. The 1700x is very close to the 1800x in performance terms, so much so that tech reviewers claimed it’s better to buy the cheaper 1700x over the 1800x and apply a mild overclock to bring it up to 1800x performance levels.

The only casualty of the upgrade was Microsoft Office 2019 because the license key was no longer valid after the upgrade; I don’t know why; it was valid before the CPU upgrade. But, whatever, I uninstalled it and installed Libre Office instead, which has all the same features for the bargain price of $FREE.

Final note; the most significant upgrade is the RAM, not because it doubles the capacity, but because it has RGB, which, as we all know, increases performance by a factor of 10. Oh, yeah, also, now I have made it out of the dark ages of computing, Microsoft is pushing me to upgrade to Windows 11.

A positive story about the healthcare industry

A positive story about the healthcare industry

I have expressed many negative views about the medical industry, particularly pain medicine doctors and medical insurance, but this one is very different. But first, some back story, my wife, Erin, has been suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia for over a decade. Because of this, she has required pain management doctors to prescribe narcotics to control her chronic pain.

Erin’s experience has not been good with Wichita pain management, including Advanced Pain Management, and ICT Internal Medicine & Pain Management, who both dropped Erin as a patient due to her use of Delta 8 CBD to help control her pain as both of these offices ignored her pleas about the prescribed narcotics not covering her pain, asking to try something different. Every month, Erin would visit the office, give a sample, and they’d give her a script for the drugs that were not working for her.

Erin had to make frequent visits to the ER for a shot of Dilaudid to help with her pain when it got out of control, i.e., breakthrough pain, where her regular Hydrocodone pills simply don’t work. Erin did find a pain management doctor,  Xavier F Ng, who did listen and tried many different treatments; but, when Erin moved onto Medicaid insurance, she lost Dr. Ng, being without pain management for almost 3 months while we searched in earnest for a new pain management doctor, who accepted Medicaid.

Finally, we found a great pain management doctor, Tiffany Lau, after jumping through loads of hoops to get a referral, and we only found Hutchinson Clinic and Dr. Lau, thanks to an ER doctor at Wesley Woodlawn, who suggested Hutchinson Clinic. Erin managed to get through to January 30, 2024, when her appointment with Dr. Lau was, by a combination of other people giving her some of their Hydrocodone and Tramadol and the exceptional providers at Wesley Woodlawn ER in Wichita.

Erin wanted me to go to her appointment with Dr. Lau, as her previous experiences with pain management doctors, particularly Dr. Baoluan Nguyen, who, on her first visit with him, was incredibly dismissive and lorded it over Erin that he had the power over whether she was in pain or not. Dr. Lau at Hutchinson Clinic was the polar opposite: empathetic and understanding, listening to Erin and discussing a treatment plan. It was well worth the 100+ mile, 1 hour, 40 minute round trip to Hutch and back.

I cannot recommend Dr. Tiffany Lau and Hutchinson Clinic enough; Dr. Lau is everything you’d want from a pain medicine doctor, and they accept Medicaid, and Medicare, which is a lifeline for so many people, often less financially able to pay for private insurance, or on disability, suffering from chronic pain.

Rentlinx is closing down April 15, 2024

Rentlinx by Appfolio - Shutting Down

On January 17, 2024, we received an email stating that our Rentlinx account would become inactive on April 15, 2024, and the service would be shut down. This is a big blow for us as a property management company that has been utilizing the service since 2013. Initially, it was a free service syndicating to all the leading rental listing websites like Zillow, Costar, Realtor, Zumper, and dozens more.

In 2016, Appfolio bought Rentlimx and, within a year, started charging for the service. This was fine, as we got a special deal as an early adopter, saving 30%, paying $1,134 annually for the service, which represented good value for us, the time it saved me being able to syndicate to 40+ listing websites from one website is easily worth the $1,134 annual fee, heck, it would be worth the $1,620 full fee.

In mid-2020, Zillow Group decided to force users syndicating to the platform into an agreement for a service called Zillow Feed Connect. Again, being an early adopter, we got a deal of $1.05 per listing per day, so it was not the end of the world, and overall, the return on investment was still good!

Over the past 18 months, the Rentlinx website has become very slow and unresponsive during regular office hours. Like, the network infrastructure was insufficient to support the service’s number of concurrent users. I mean, it is slow to the point of visiting, leaving the office to make a cup of coffee, and returning to the office slow. So, the news that Rentlinx was closing down was not surprising to me. Clearly, there had not been any investment in the Rentlinx service in many years.

It looks like Appfolio has stripped the assets of Rentlinx and integrated it into their property management software product. We have an established property management software solution, so we won’t switch to Appfolio, as transitioning from one property management software solution to another is a PITA.

Our annual renewal payment was due on February 11. 2024, so I emailed Rentlinx on Thursday, January 18, 2024, asking whether the renewal cost would be 16% of the regular price as the service was shutting down by 4/15/2024, and I have not received a response as of now, January 28, 2024. So, I canceled the renewal, as we do not want to pay $1,134 for the two months before the service shuts down.

I have looked at alternatives, and there does not seem to be any, at least none that syndicate to the Zillow Group of websites, our major lead generator. So we will just list on Zillow directly, costing the same $1.05 per listing daily, as it did when syndicating from Rentlinx. The downside is that we can now only have one phone number and email address; we cannot ‘cheat the system’ and list some of our available units at our apartment communities, leaving us only listing our single-family homes, duplexes, and townhomes.

My health = not good!

My health = not good!

I often write about the US healthcare system and the health situation my wife finds herself in, but I don’t often write about my own health concerns, so here we go. I’ll start with the good news: my A1C is down to 5.8 from 6.3 six months ago and 6.7 18 months ago, so that’s good that my diabetes is under control.

I’ve always had back issues; back in my childhood, I was literally clotheslined. I rode my BMX into a washing line that was not pulled back up by the last person to use it, which caused me to be bent over backward onto the rear wheel. At that time, it was not a big issue, it hurt at the time, but the pain was minimal for years. But now, 40 years later, that injury is returning to haunt me in a big way.

For this, I could do with some pain management services, either injections into my back or narcotics to help with the pain, but that’s not an option as I have Aetna insurance, which is barely worth the ink that is printed on my insurance card. Most services are subject to a $6,500 deductible and a $7,900 max out-of-pocket. The deductible is meaningless, as you need to reach the max out-of-pocket for full coverage.

And I cannot switch to another insurance, via the ACA or Obamacare, as it seems more well-known. The ACA rules state that if you have ‘affordable’ insurance available to you via your employer, you are ineligible to get a Healthcare Marketplace plan with a subsidy. A marketplace plan is not affordable without a subsidy or advanced premium tax credit. The Aetna insurance is affordable at just $10.22 per month, but it does not seem to cover much before meeting the deductible/max out-of-pocket.

One of the challenges I am having is with my vision, requiring me to get injections in my eyes every six weeks or so, and each session costs me $2,680.21, which I do not have, putting me into major medical debt. Remember that I need to get to $7,900 before Aetna starts to pay for these shots, so each year, I am obtaining nearly $8,000 of medical debt with no hope of being able to pay that debt.

The latest issue I am having is with my legs; I am developing sores on my legs, which can be very painful, making it much harder to walk. I recently visited with my doctor, and she thinks that part of it is dermatitis. She has prescribed me Cephalexin, which, guess what, I have to pay 100% out of pocket for. The dermatitis is kinda itchy but not painful, like the sores. I’m concerned about these sores because they are popping up on both legs below the knee, and with my mother suffering from ulcerated legs, ultimately leading to her having both legs amputated below the knee, which I obviously want to avoid.

I’m wondering if I suffer from poor circulation in my legs in addition to diabetic neuropathy. My mother suffered from this affliction, which caused her ulcerated legs, leading to the aforementioned amputation. The numbness of the neuropathy I can handle; these sores and the pain they cause me are not something I can live with, and I really do not want to go through what my mother did, especially in the US, without the benefit of the NHS, or  National Health Service of my home nation of the United Kingdom.

This leaves me with two options: hope it gets better by itself to save money, or see a specialist and get the required tests to check on my blood circulation, which no doubt will be subject to the max out-of-pocket.

US’ tipping culture has officially gone nuts!

US’ tipping culture has officially gone nuts!

I have previously written about America’s toxic tipping culture, but in the nine months, self-checkout machines have started asking for a tip, meaning I do all the work, and the machine wants a tip. WTAF?

I have never personally seen a self-checkout machine ask for a tip, but I certainly will not tip a damn machine; I’m already paying 12-15% more for groceries than I did pre-pandemic, and I am not going to give a company a f**king tip on top of the purchase cost, especially when I have no way of knowing where that tip goes. Many companies who employ a tipping system on their self-checkout are claiming that it goes to the employees working at the time of the transaction, but excuse me if I don’t believe that!

I generally avoid situations where a tip is ‘recommended’; let’s call it blackmail; we know how little the servers make, so we feel guilty if we do not tip. I do not order from food delivery services, if I want the food that badly, I will get in my car and drive to my preferred restaurant. We always hear about servers/delivery drivers posting to social media, including photos of receipts, when a person does not tip, or more likely, does not tip 18-20%, only tipping 5-10%. As a Briton, we believe a tip is for exceptional service, not simply doing your job. An 18% tip on a meal for a family of four could easily be $15-20.

It really is time for our government, you know, the ones we elect to represent us, allegedly, to overhaul the whole pay and tipping system; they could start by abolishing the mandate that allows employers who are in the service industry to pay employees as little as $2.13 per hour, creating the tipping culture we have today, bringing their wage to the state minimum wage. They could also vote to increase the federal minimum wage to at least $15 per hour; which was set at $7.25 per hour in July 2009.

I don’t expect anything to change any time soon. Congress is bought and paid for by monied interests representing many business sectors who want to maintain the status quo as it increases their bottom line. The “campaign contributions“, or legal bribes received by members of Congress is a drop in the ocean compared to the money they save by paying lawmakers to maintain the current regulations and laws.

Should I ask for a tip from residents when they move into a home they found through one of my adverts? Of course, I shouldn’t; my employer compensates me fairly. This is the problem: we should not have laws on the books that allow employers to pay basically slave base wages, pushing the burden onto the general public through tipping. Only in America, where it’s legal to bribe politicians, could this happen!

Medical bullshittery, New Insurance, who dis?

Medical bullshittery, new insurance, who dis?

In my last blog in 2023, I talked about Kancare, the Kansas version of Medicaid, and how useless it is with many doctors not accepting the state medical insurance, and this rant, to call it what it is, is an extension of that blog, so you might want to read that blog first for the context of what I am about to rant about.

The TL;DR is that switching from Blue Cross, Blue Shield, to Kancare, administered by United Healthcare, meant the loss of all but one of my wife, Erin’s doctors, as they did not take Kancare, leaving us with the task of finding doctors that take Medicaid insurance, which is no easy task, I can assure you!

After a fight to get a referral to a pain management clinic in Hutchinson, we finally got an appointment set, after many referrals being sent over 15 days. But now we have the issue of Erin not having any pain medication remaining, leaving her with little option but to visit the ER for a pain shot as needed when her pain becomes intolerable, as her primary care doctor refuses to help get her to January 30th.

When Erin had an appointment at the end of December at Wesley Family Medicine, the resident doctor, Dr. Walston, said to Erin, I can confirm this, as I also attended the appointment with her, stated that although they do not prescribe narcotics, such as Hydrocodone, but they could offer her Methadone, which is also a narcotic, but, I digress. At that time, we turned down the offer, as we had tried Methadone previously, as it had a limited effect on her pain, and he said, if you need it in the future, contact us.

Roll forward to this past Friday, January 5, 2024, and Erin called Wesley Family Medicine, leaving a message because no one simply answers a phone at doctors’ offices. To get a callback, saying that Dr. Walston declined to prescribe the Methadone and was spoken to, in what Erin considered a condescending manner, with comments such as you’ll have to go to a Methadone clinic.

We, like, I’m sure many others thought, a Methadone clinic is a place to help drug addicts get clean, not somewhere to get help with pain. Moving forward to Saturday, 1/6/2024 morning, we found ourselves in the ER as it was clear that Wesley Family Medicine would not help us. The ER doctor informed us that many Methadone clinics offer limited pain management services and could prescribe a month of Methadone. Dr. Walston’s nurse could have explained this instead of using language such as “you’ll have to go to a Methadone clinic.” It seems that some of these people need more customer service training!

Erin is not a drug addict; she is suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis, which causes excruciating pain if left untreated, which is where we are right now, through a combination of doctors not wanting to take Kancare insurance, and doctors, from my perspective, straight up not wanting to help Erin get through to her first pain management appointment with Hutchinson Clinic on the 30th of January.

And, for good measure, here’s more bullshittery. Today, we received two letters from United Healthcare informing us that they have declined to cover Erin’s Hydrocodone and Myrbetriq, stating, “After careful review, this request has not been approved.” because she had not tried a non-narcotic, or other medications; that you can read as we don’t want to pay for that, so we are making it as hard as possible to get the medications she has been using for many years, it’s a case of “new insurance, who dis?

A goddamn insurance company should not be able to get between a doctor and their patient in regards to their care. But, this will not change soon, as our politicians are bought and paid for by the medical, insurance, and other industries. The US is the only major country to not offer socialized healthcare!

It seems my misgivings about switching to Kancare from Blue Cross, Blue Shield were very much founded. It’s been a nonstop fight to get any treatment at all, not only from providers but also from getting the maintenance medications Erin requires. All this was handled by BCBS of Kansas, as we had already done the pre-approval bullshit for them years ago. There should be a way to pass all that information from one insurance company to the next to avoid this new insurance; who dis? bullshittery.

Kancare fact: the Kansas state insurance, Kancare/Medicaid, is administered by Aetna, United Healthcare, and Sunflower Health Plan; all three are companies with a profit motive. In my opinion, government programs should not be administered by for-profit companies, it creates a conflict of interest!

Medicaid, what’s the point when most doctors don’t take it?

Medicaid, what’s the point when most doctors don’t take it?

In October 2023, my wife, Erin managed to get onto Medicaid, or KanCare as it’s called in Kansas, administered by a private insurance company, United Healthcare via the Working Healthy program.

Knowing how poorly administered the majority of government programs are in the United States, I was expecting issues with a switch from private insurance to the state-based KanCare government medical insurance program. But, I was not expecting the ridiculousness that has subsequently ensued.

Erin was awarded disability benefits about a year ago, which opened up the option of Medicaid. We were paying $657 per month for private medical insurance, and despite this premium, we have still amassed over $7,500 in medical debt because of deductibles and max out-of-pocket expenses in 2023 alone; that’s on top of $18,000+ of co-pay and drug debt paid on credit cards in previous years. And because we “earned” $18,000 extra from SSDI, plus my salary increased by 4% over the previous year, our premium would have been prohibitively expensive in 2024, losing most of our advanced tax credit.

Erin has a lot of medical issues, and because of this, she had a dozen doctors, many of whom she had had for years, but because of the switch to KanCare, she lost those doctors, bar one. Finding replacements for these doctors is incredibly hard; we have called 50+ doctors’ offices, and most of these offices do not take the state KanCare insurance. Some doctors even claim that it’s a nightmare having to work with Medicaid/KanCare; having trouble getting paid, and this is why they do not accept it.

We found a primary care office that takes Medicaid. But, it’s a residency clinic, i.e. newly qualified doctors doing their residency, a requirement to get a license to practice medicine as an independent physician in the United States. I am not criticizing this clinic; the resident doctor we have been assigned has been great in the first two visits with him, but when the only option is a teaching clinic, I see that as a problem. I suspect a lot of these doctors, once they complete their residency at the clinic, will not serve the people in most need, i.e. the people reliant on government-assisted medical insurance programs.

The next step is finding a pain medicine doctor. We have found a doctor in Hutchinson, a 104-mile round trip from Wichita, where we reside, willing to take KanCare. Not a single pain management doctor in the city of Wichita takes Medicaid. Not that the pain medicine doctors in Wichita are very good; most are pee in a cup, here’s your Hydrocodone. Not listening to their patients and ignoring patients’ pleas to try something else as the current regiment of drugs is not working, except for the last pain medicine doctor Erin had, who did try different drugs, but alas, we have lost him because of the switch to KanCare.

The pain medicine clinic in Hutchinson requires a referral; so we asked Erin’s one remaining doctor’s office, her rheumatologist, to send that referral; after a week of not hearing anything back, we called the Hutchinson Clinic, to find they had not received it. So, this past Thursday, we asked Erin’s primary care resident doctor to send a referral, which he did while we were in his office, and now we wait until after the new year to see if that referral was received and get an appointment to start pain management.

I come from the United Kingdom, where we have a national healthcare system; that is not free, as many Americans I have spoken to seem to believe; we simply pay 12% of our income. This percentage of our income covers all our healthcare needs: no co-pays, no co-insurance, no deductibles, no max out-of-pocket costs, and all doctors take the NHS insurance, barring a tiny percentage of private doctors.

This knowledge makes this situation even more intolerable; healthcare is not a right; healthcare is for the privileged, which is why so many people use the ER for their healthcare needs, either because they have no insurance or have insurance that is not worth the plastic card it’s printed on. The ER can treat the symptoms, but we need a system that encourages people to see a doctor for preventative medicine instead of reactive medicine. The ER is not a free solution, but unlike regular doctor’s offices, the ER has to treat anyone who walks in, with patients, incurring thousands of dollars in medical debt with each visit.

This is why the US has a type of bankruptcy specifically aimed at medical debt. The US is the only major country not offering a standard government-backed medical insurance program for all.

I would rather pay more tax for guaranteed healthcare; I already pay 1.4% of my income to Medicare tax. I’d happily pay another 10.6% in Medicare tax for guaranteed Medicare for all. And despite the bought and paid for (by interests in the medical field) American politicians’ assertions that Medicare for all could never work in the US, it would work, but doctors and drug companies would have to make less profit. If doctors’ only incentive is to make a fortune from medicine, I feel they have chosen the wrong career path; medicine should be about helping everyone, not just the privileged who can afford to pay.