ROCK WOLF 

Why the U.S. Health Insurance System Sucks Monkey Balls (and is a Form of Genocide)

And I mean no offense to monkeys.

Yeah, some people might find this tack offensive.

But someone’s got to say something.

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Monkey balls: primate, dirty, probably haven’t been bathed in a while.

Not something you’d like to have your lips on for too long, if at all.

In the realm of basic sexuality, not necessarily the most gratifying place to suck, if you know what I mean.

The seat of maleness. Testes, dominance, aggression, competition.

Monkey balls: the U.S. health care system.

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Since both my parents both worked in the medical field, I was encouraged to pay into the fucked-as-monkey-balls U.S. system health insurance system right out of college.    

I’ve been self-employed ever since, humbly shelling out $80 a month for shitty health insurance – in 1996 – and continuing to this day’s rate of $350 plus a month.  

Just to secure the privilege of paying health insurance companies not to cover my medical bills.      

That's around 20 years or so of sucking monkey balls.  Big ones, too.  But on a positive note, it's given me plenty of time to see how what we mistakenly refer to as a health "care" system – is actually a health "insurance business."

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Economics 101: the U.S. health insurance system is for-profit.  

Translation: no matter how much you like (or don't like) President Obama, Obamacare sucks.

Why?

Because in order to be for-profit, U.S. companies must by law post profit growth each quarter to their stockholders.

That means it's against the law for for-profit companies to lose money.  

In other words, Blue Cross, Humana, your basic "Health Insurance, Inc." – like all other publicly traded U.S. capitalist businesses (cars, wheat, fashion, makeup, hair cuts, grocery stores, etc.) – must continually GROW.  

There's just one teeny fucking problem to this equation (not to mention the growth-only nature of capitalism itself): Humans wax and wane like the moon.  We're young for a time, middle age for the rest, we grow old – if we're lucky –  we get sick, we die.  Biology 101.

Not ever, not at all, not once does a human ever "just keep growing."

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These irreconcilable differences between U.S. monopoly capitalism and human frailty expose the essential scam of the U.S. health insurance system.  Health "insurance companies" – as for-profit businesses – are required by law to treat human beings (who don't grow forever) in for-profit (growth only) ways.

And there's only one way to do this:         

Deny care.  

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What other way could companies continually post profits in a no-growth “industry” (the sickness and aging of human beings)?

Health insurance companies deny care because it's not profitable to give you the "care" you "purchased."

It's only profitable to pocket your money, deny your claim, and make you foot the bill.

Beginning to see why giving $350 a month to Blue Cross is like sucking on monkey balls?  

Noting a familiar business plan here? 

Smelling Ponzi?

Or just plain monkey balls? 

Yum. 

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Known as "denying claims," the refusal to pay for customers’ medical care even when those customers have paid into the insurance system for the purpose of getting care is the only way health "insurance business" companies can post profits.

So Health Insurance, Inc. denies people medical care in several major ways:

1.  Most people can’t afford monthly premiums.

If you can’t afford your premium, and your premium covers nothing (as we've shown), you’re legally bound to pay into a system that gets you nothing.

2.  Even if you can afford your premium, you still pay out of pocket for your medical needs.

The only way for-profit health insurance companies continue to post profits is to pocket your money (monthly premiums), deny your claims (needed health care), and make you foot the bill (for what they said they'd cover). 

3.  Because customers end up paying out of pocket for medical costs, they don't even use the health services they’ve "supposedly" purchased – by buying insurance – because of the bills they’ll get afterward.

Let’s face it, if you’re 49, have a few kids and a wife, can barely afford the premiums as it is, and you're having chest pains, why the fuck would you go to the doctor?

How could you pay the bills that came in?  

Do you know how ridiculously expensive EKGs are?  MRIs?  Blood tests?

Do you know how much it costs to see a specialist?    

No.  Think I’ll deny this chest pain and have a beer, take some aspirin, sweat in bed.

And what about those bad headaches and strange moods?  Hmmm...must just be me.  I mean, I can't afford to go to the doctor anyway, so it better be.  

Short of breath?  Let's see, the power of positive thinking.  Okay, well, if I die my kids' college tuitions will be covered by my life insurance, which is more than I’m worth right now, anyway.          

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We all know it, Europeans think we’re insane, and most of the informed members of this country admit it’s criminal.

The “richest country in the world's" citizens aren’t going to the doctor.  

So they wind up in the hospitals for weeks at a time due to preventable illnesses. 

They suffer massive strokes that could have been prevented with simple daily meds.

They weaken heart muscles by ignoring warning signs of mini-heart attacks and end up out of work and, worse, residing in institutional health care facilities that bill the government tons of cash because there’s no regulation, and they can.   

In other words: human beings in America are, through brash institutional subterfuge, being denied basic health care – something which is considered a right in other countries.  

And this is happening for a profit.

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Smell monkey balls?

Don't see them dangling there?

Let's start by noticing that U.S. health insurance system propaganda is extraordinarily embedded.  Many brainwashed – and harebrained – citizens in this country even defend the scrotum system, justifying their right not to have adequate health care.  

"Seeing doctors is for pussies," you might overhear an American idiot say as he sips his PBR.

Compare this with Japan, where an average citizen visits his/her doctor 17 times a year.  That country has provided universal health care for its citizens since 1961.  

Contrary to the lies forwarded by the well-oiled health insurance propaganda machine – and repeated by dumbfucks – Japanese citizens aren't seeing doctors because “they're pussies."  Like most citizens of industrialized nations (including the nations of Europe, and Canada, etc.) they've grown up in a human-friendly culture.  They learned that good health comes from taking advantage of preventative medicine and having an intimate relationship with your doctor.  

To these citizens, doctors aren’t just the mechanic you call (at the emergency room) when you’ve totaled your car (body) on the highway (middle age).  

Our motto in America? “If you’d have come in for new tires (heart scan) when you were due for a checkup (40 years old), your car (body) wouldn’t be beyond repair (fucked).  Sorry, dude.” 

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I know this sounds like “just how it is,” because we were raised on it, and being patriotic, want to defend the right of our country to be “different.”  But like all Earthen systems, the U.S. health “insurance system" is actually very basic, very tenuous, and created and run by humans themselves. 

Only a few humans, though.  That's the key here.  A handful, really, who’re making exorbitant sums, gaining enormous perks, and securing grand entitlements and advantages for doing things in this materialistic, monkey-balled, misanthropic way.

You see, letting us die of preventable illnesses while CEOs collect our money and give it to their children in the form of trust funds goes beyond “uncool.”

It’s criminal.

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Allow me to wax poetic for a moment.  

It seems that if the timeworn Way of the Human ever returns, if we aren't subsumed by Robotic Fascism – which appears is happening at a rate faster than anyone thought possible – humankind will eventually view the late 20th century/early 21st century U.S. health insurance system as a form of genocide.

Why? First off, because the CEOs of Health Insurance, Inc. like Blue Cross and Humana are so rich, your money doesn’t even go to them.

It goes to their children’s trust funds. 

Yes, Timothy and Tammy's Trust Fund.  Ever met them?

Probably not.  They’re members of the Super Class.  They’re well-rounded, attractive, white, entitled, travel a lot, drive expensive cars, get facials, and have never had to work – ever.  They also marry equally rich trust fund children of equally rich CEO fathers.

And their children, and children’s children, will be equally rich from inheriting trust funds.

So when you write your monthly check, you’re paying into someone’s kid’s trust fund.                     

Picture it: Tammy Trust Fund's college tuition, grandiose and ridiculously expensive wedding, fancy cars, and third home? And that of her children? 

On you.           

Timmy Trust Fund’s love of sports cars, expensive watches, and obscure art?  And that of his children?

Yep, you’re popping.

When what you really wanted – or probably more accurately urgently needed – is a colonoscopy.

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That’s why the image of me holding a pair of dirty monkey balls in my mouth comes to mind every month when I watch $350 siphoned out of my account going to Humana, or whichever interchangeable scam/Super Class dynasty I’ve randomly selected to give money to.

It’s not going to my heath care.    

It’s not going to doctors who actually provide care.

It’s not going to finance health care for poor people, the disabled, the elderly, or children.

It’s going to the stockholders of Humana, to post gains.           

It’s going toward Tammy Trust Fund Kid’s month in Boca this year.           

It's going to outfit expensive wooden boardrooms around which entitled CEOs discuss the “art projects” their multi-millionaire children are “into” and how to cut costs – meaning deny you and I medical care – so they can “post earnings.”      

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Still, I'm not writing this is not to attack the injustices of the system.

We’re locked in pretty good right now.  And that’s really not my problem.  That’s the problem of the Trust Fund Fathers and Mothers who are running our government at the moment.  Though it does make it easy to see why "Obamacare" went through – meaning now we’re all required by law to pay into this criminal system – and why they simply don't give a shit that we can’t afford heart scans (they’re profiting on us not getting them).

No, I’m writing this because when it was just me paying into the system to get my parents off my case after college, at least I was comforted by the notion that most Americans weren't sucking monkey balls like I was.

That others were, in some ways, smarter.  

Risk-takers, maybe.  Rolling the dice.  But not...chumps.

Not bestial suckers.

Now, thanks to the "Affordable" “Care” Act, everyone has to pay into this corrupt system.

State-enforced lining of Tammy Trust Fund Kid’s pockets.

Not a good idea.

Not a free society.

Fascism.

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So we’re coming upon the point of my essay: the U.S. health care system is barbaric.           

The jungle.

Every man for himself.

Inhumane.           

Monkeys are brutal, savage, cannot be reasoned with.        

They're animals.  They're selfish, they follow their instincts.  Pretty much, yeah.  That’s what they do.  

Entrusting two homes to your great-grandchild because a human wound up in a nursing home for the rest of his life because you wouldn’t pay for his heart check-up at age 52 is barbaric. 

Forcing people to mortgage their homes to pay for basic cancer treatment in middle age – because you want to turn a profit – is barbaric. 

Not caring that the entire mid-section of the populace (people between the ages of 40 and 65) are the ones who need preventable medicine the most, and denying them this, is barbaric.

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How can we sit around defecating, I mean defending, it?

Last week I was lectured that I should feel "grateful" that people with “preexisting conditions” can now “get health insurance.”        

Grateful?

The term “preexisting condition” doesn’t even exist in Europe or Canada.   

Every other industrialized country in the world offers its citizens basic health care as a right of existence.

And it’s not because they’re altruists.

They’re not somehow more “loving” and “kind” than we are, nor are they more stupid or, gasp, "communistic."

They simply followed what their economic models told them after World War II when so many of their cities had been destroyed. 

Which was: providing all citizens with basic health care is more economically efficient for nations than not doing so.

All of Europe, Canada and Japan are not dumbasses.  

They simply accept that for-profit health care is an inefficient economic system.

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So.  Question.  What will we do when the mid-section, the middle aged start dying off?                  

Who the fuck is going to take care of the children and the elderly when 50-year-olds start dropping in droves from preventable diseases because they can't afford to manage the illnesses of aging – even though they have "insurance"?     

How is this system still in place?           

How can we all be required to pay into it?

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It seems we need to seriously reconsider how much catastrophic health insurance is worth. 

And not for what health insurance companies promise, but for what it actually is: infinitely recurring revenue to a bunch of super rich people.

How much are Tammy and Tommy Trust Fund Kids’ second homes in Aspen, third homes in Tampa, worth to you? 

How much is it worth to send Tam and Tom to the Superbowl, wherever it is, every year, for the rest of their lives?   

Enough for you and I to open wide and have a good suck?         

So how...does it taste?

I Didn't Say "Tip" Musicains, I said PAY Them

The amazing part about my last essay is not that anyone read it, it’s that some people got angry about “tipping musicians.”

“Tipping musicians”?

Who said anything about that? 

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Musicians spend most of their lives honing their craft.

But no one wants to pay them for it.

This differs from accountants, who go to school for four to six years and then...oh yeah, get paid daily to practice their professions.

It differs from baristas who learn how to make espresso then...oh yeah, get paid to make espresso.

It differs from auto mechanics who study car bodies and engines and then...oh yeah, get paid to fix them.

These people are not “getting tipped,” mind you.

They’re not standing there like Oliver Twist with hat in hand begging. “Please sir, I’d like some more, sir.” 

They’re getting paid.

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You “tip” Susie Barista because Starbucks doesn’t pay her enough in wages, so the transnational company “allows” you to supplement Susie Barista’s income.

Isn’t that nice of them?  Starbucks still pays her a wage and provides her health insurance.

Your “tip” is extra.

You “tip” Bob Bartender because the owner of the club doesn’t pay him enough in wages to make his rent. 

Your “tip” is extra.

And you “tip” Wendy Waitress because the restaurant she works at – and at which you pay heartily to eat –doesn’t pay her enough in wages to support her son.

In all these cases, “tips” are supplemental.

Not for musicians, though. 

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I live in the third largest city in the country.  I know some of the region’s most talented musicians. 

These are men, usually in their thirties, forties, and fifties, who’ve been going at it their whole lives. 

And they’re dying.

They can’t afford health insurance.

They can’t afford food.

They can’t pay their rents.           

They’re dying, people. 

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Of course you want them to play your weddings.  Isn’t it cute to be able to dance with daddy to a live version of “Isn’t She Lovely”?             

But after they set up, do the gig, and walk away, you pretty much don’t give a fuck about them.

Of course you want them to move you at your funerals.  “Oh Danny Boy” sung with emotion by a few acoustic guitar players trumps some cheesy recorded version, every time.

Of course you want them to be there in that hip dive bar on Division Street when you bring your friends in from Ohio.  “See how cool my city is, man?  Great live music here, badass.  Beat that, Cinci!”

Now I don’t know what’s going on down in Austin.  I’m too poor to get there.

I don’t know what’s happening in Nashville, though I’ve heard musicians work 8 to 10 hours day – and make a somewhat livable wage.

I can only speak for Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S.A.

And in this city, at this time, musicians are playing, largely, for free.

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Why is this?

1. Venues get away with it.  Never bereft of the next hopeful group of troubadours, owners simply sit back and wait.  Musicians need to play, that’s how they ply their trade.  That’s how they get better.  Venues know this.

Ever see a performer look uncomfortable on stage?  It’s because he hasn’t practiced on tons.  Professionals seek stages like dancers seek out rehearsal rooms.  Like football players seek out fields.  Like athletes seek out gyms.  Like artists seek out charcoal.  Like models seek out mirrors.  Just making sure you’re paying attention on that last one. 

Players seek out stages.  Every time.  Like, every time.  Like, every time.  Like, to get good.  Bar managers know this, and offer musicians “use of” their stages occasionally – usually when the DJ they’re paying $300 a night to serve up crap is unavailable.           

It doesn’t matter that musicians attract patrons who guzzle beers, so they make venues money.

It doesn’t matter that the longer musicians play, the more patrons guzzle Jack Daniels, so the more venues makes on them.

Kinda reminds me of how the U.S. feels about health care “You can’t afford it?  You’re garbage.  You’re too poor to hire a dentist?  You’re not good enough for one then.”  It’s a barbaric jungle-oriented every-man-for-himself attitude America’s gotten away with for years now.  And it’s taking us down, both economically and culturally.                                            

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2.  People don’t give a shit.  Individuals have been downloading music for free for fifteen years now.  At this point, humans feel entitled to not paying songwriters and musicians and producers and recording engineers to do their jobs.            

Only trouble is: if musicians and songwriters and producers and recording engineers don’t get paid, you have the kind of crap that’s coming out of Hollywood taking over the airwaves.  And you have a lot of sick and dead musicians in their middle years.  And you have a lot of really great musicians who give up because they (god forbid) have a family.  And you have a lot of musicians depressed and contemplating suicide.

What if someone told you marketing, teaching, advertisement, doctoring, taxi driving weren’t jobs anymore, they were volunteer positions?  Would you still go to work?  Do you enjoy your job enough to do it for free?      

I bet you would.           

Because our jobs, in many ways, define us. 

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3.  Genuinely talented and gifted people make us nervous.  This is one no one wants to talk about.  And there are plenty of talented, gifted people walking around your neighborhood right now.  Look, there’s one now!  Holy crap, there goes another! 

Talented and gifted people spend their lives practicing, playing, crafting their talents and gifts.

And at the end of the day, they’re just not the same as you. 

They have a certain “edge.” 

They’ve done something “different.” 

They’ve taken a “risk.” 

They have a certain “sparkle.”

They made a choice long ago that they’re not going to follow the herd.

And you can smell it on them.

You can hear it in their voices.

You can taste it on their necks, because god, how you want these people.

They are the sexiest of them all.           

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At the same time, though, meh, you’re jealous of them.

“What does she get to stand on a stage?  I have a good voice too!” you might overhear someone whining to her friend at a table in the corner.

“Why do they get to be out all night on a Wednesday when I have to work tomorrow morning?” 

“Wait that guy’s pretty good, my girlfriend’s giving him googly eyes.  Better snub him with the tips.”

And ah, yes, here we have the rub.

Back in the day, when there was a healthy diversity of songwriters and musicians in the top-40, and artists didn’t employ the same stylists and plastic surgeons, and didn’t make waaaay more than us, and actually were REAL PEOPLE not corporate stooges, they…had soul.

Their talent was authentic and seemed to “be” them, to “come from” them.

Now, at the Grammys, actors sing empty lines.

Corporate puppets do work for corporate sponsors.

And bars up and down Division Street in Chicago copy this model, playing the same hackneyed music, serving the same fru-fru drinks.           

Catering to the same people who’re afraid to strike out and just...be themselves.

Be yourself.

Another rub.

It’s really fucking scary to just be yourself.

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So when someone simply is themselves, simply does what they’re good at, it’s like a roaring fire.

When someone simply does what they’re good at, without apologies, without much ado, as though it’s simply a part of breathing, it confuses the rest of us.

“But, like, he’s not famous.  Why’s he doing this?”

“But, like, no one’s at this club?  Doesn’t that mean they suck?”

“But like I never heard of them before” which translates to: “So that means they suck.”

I’m getting off topic here.

My point is it takes more than a little balls to get on stage and sing anything, let alone your own music.

And for Christ’s sakes it takes more than courage to produce records, pay recording engineers, rent studios, pay musicians, hire publicists, pay printers, pay graphic artists,

It takes money, and it takes time.                                       

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So the fury arisen by the notion that you should TIP musicians ultimately proves my point.  

Why, why, why don’t we pay musicians?    

You tell me.

I am one.                          

Tip Your Bartender, Screw Your Musician

The Grammys are tonight, and it goes without saying I won't be watching.

We herald Katy Perry as a "primo performer" because she lip synchs the Superbowl halftime show.  Betty Boop does Phoenix.

We prop up strippers and pole dancers as "serious female artists," when they're at best misguided females with good voices (and even that's debatable).

Our top-40 songs are written by con artist clusters – wizards of digital thievery who cut and paste formulaic patterns that end up hissing out of car radios, giving us high blood pressure.

Enough is enough.

There are great songwriters in America.  I hear them when I bartend at one of the last independent musical dive bars in the third largest city in the country, Chicago's Phyllis' Musical Inn in Wicker Park.  

People with heart and soul, with passion, playing to America.

I am one.

Why aren't we on the radio?

American culture, matey.

It's nasty.

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My publishing gig pays pennies on the dollars now that it’s headquartered in a developing nation.  So I bartend at Phyllis', the same place I play every first, third, fourth and sometimes fifth Wednesday a month. While bartending's not the most noble pursuit (toxifying humans), it helps pay the rent.

Every shift, I’m tipped $1, $2, sometimes $5 – or more – to pop open a bottletop.  

To pour Jack Daniels into a glass with ice and add Coke.

To pour vodka over ice, then add club soda and a lime.

$5 a drink sometimes.  

As a tip.

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Meanwhile, last night, after playing for over three hours, two solo acts and one band of four totaling six musicians made $22 in tips.  

Jonathan, the door guy, shook his head.  He’d been stunned at the snubs and condescension as he walked around the tip jar.

"Why are people so cheap?" he asked. 

Like I said, American culture, matey.

It's nasty.

We value artifice, pseudo-deities dancing on parade floats wearing cupcake tits.  We love our homecoming queens.

We keep Bieber around because he's non-threatening, anoint Taylor Swift because she's in bed with multinationals.

We prop up the ignorant, the easily manipulable, the young, because they're easy to control.

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But the real songwriters, the leaders, are out there.  Gathering steam.

We're working dull jobs, we're burning midnight oil.  Writing because we have to, not because we're trust fund kids.

We're in Chicago.  We're in the Heartland.  And we're pissed.

We're at your coffee houses, your dive bars, your ailing music venues shabby and rough, risking it all on the notion that music – live music – is still one of the most important things around: a shared experience, a connective tissue, a swaying, moody, lovely, purple thing.

We're antidotes to stock faces smiling on TV, to logo-filled "music videos," to the mockery known as the Grammys.   

And when the shit goes down, when humanity's looking for leaders, we'll be there.

And when we unite, we'll be a tsunami.

We’ll crush Tay Tay.  

Like talented high schoolers kept down by the popular-but-dumb, we'll take culture back.

We'll rip off our band uniforms and our poets' berets.  

We’ll step out of painter smocks and throw off glasses.  

We’ll assume that sick look of the 70s – ripped, frizzed, wicked, wild – harkening back to a time when the coolest kids in school weren't the thugs (rap), the business nerds (music execs), the "conceited" (reality TV, Paris Hilton), or the guys with the best record collections (DJs)...but the ones onstage, playing. 

The ones with gifts.  The magicians.  The talented ones. 

Like I said. 

American culture, matey.

It's about to get nasty.

And fun.

  © Rebecca F. 2016