Sunday, October 9, 2011

Who is ripping off who?

We all know that the health care system in the United States need some work. I am of the opinion that things aren't all as terrible as the media would make it out to be, but clearly there are problems that must be addressed. The Obama administration is trying something new with their changes and I guess we will all have to see if they help things. So far the only impact it has had on me is that my insurance policy is changed.

Every year my small company assesses the costs of their insurance. Every year the price goes up from 12-60% so they often have to jump to a new insurance carrier or new package under the same carrier. Every year this means less benefits. Recently this has meant I have to pitch in since my employer simply can not afford these cost changes. And this year, now that some of the Obama health care changes have taken affect my company has opted to stay with the current "grandfathered" policy. It will cost and additional 16% and offers some extra benefits guaranteed by law, and some loss of benefits so the insurance company does not have to change their profit margins. I use my insurance policy so I am not complaining, because without it I would not be able to afford my needed health care at all.

My issue is with the costs. Are they all necessary? Who is to blame for ridiculous costs? Is it the insurance companies, doctors, or drug companies that are gouging the prices? Or is it simply that costs to keep people healthy are prohibitively high due to the earth's population boom? I don't know the answer, as it may be all of the above and some other factors I have not discussed. What I can say is that I am surprised at some of the things I see.

Recently I purchased an Animas Ping, and they set me up on an automatic renewal service so my supplies are shipped to me every month. Since the purchase reached my insurance deductible of $2500 the supplies are now 80% covered. I get charged $118 a month which is something I can afford. With my insurance change this year I will have to pay out of pocket so in my research to find out what I am going to pay I see this:
$13.00 I.V. Prep wipes
$146.00 Cartridges (10 pack) x3
$ 540.00 Infusion sites (10 pack) x3

WOW! that totals $699 a month.

I was literally stunned and started sweating bullets. You see, my new insurance has a $10,000 deductible to meet, so I will be responsible for this amount every month. My heart starts racing, and I can't get to sleep. I decide I will have to go back to Lantus/Humalog injections as that cost is prohibitively high. After a couple of restless hours I get up and check online for store costs. What I saw on the Animas eStore?
$13.00 I.V. Prep wipes
$109.50 Cartridges (10 pack)
$405.00 Infusion sites (10 pack)
$527.50 Total

What? The NORMAL price for these items on Animas' own web site is $171.50 less than what they are charging the insurance company? On the one hand I am happy that I can afford this cost. On the other hand I am amazed that they can get away with this!

The insurance may have some kind of deal going that lowers their cost, but the fact that this is the price on paper is purely unethical.

Do you see similar things going on in your insurance bills? Hopefully this is a mistake, but I can see it clearly here in print.

10/10/11 - Note: I edited numbers to reflect prices for 3 moonths as shipped by Animas instead of 1 as I had done in error yesterday. The prices are now closer, but still deceptive.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ever wonder where companies get their marketing claims? After a recent visit to Mojo Froyo - a frozen yogurt establishment in town, I did notice this patently false claim. "Proven good for diabetics"

Now, what exactly about this yogurt is proven to be good for me? They don't cite any scientific research so all I can do is analyze the nutrition information. A 1/2 cup serving (which incidentally is about 1/6 of what I ate when I stopped in) has 18g of carbs (or 108g for my serving). Looking at 1/2 cup of Breyer's strawberry ice cream there are only 15g of Carbs. Mojo wins the fat content competition with 0g, while Breyer's came in with 6g. Armed with this information I must conclude fat control is the key for diabetics - not sugar!

Ok, back to earth. Be wary about what you read. The statement Mojo claims is completely false. Don't fall victim to ridiculous marketing claims, as I am sure you have all seen even more blatant lies in advertising. If you have more examples of this type of crap please comment!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's time we part ways

You have been there for me as long as I remember. Every step I have taken you have given your support with almost no complaints. How is it that I have always been so unfeeling, uncaring, and taken you for granted.

I remember when I was just a child we used to play for hours in the grass. Sometimes my mom would complain about your smell, but I wasn't as concerned about that kind of thing though I did hide you away most of the time.

AS I grew older you were always right with me at my high point and the lows. You helped me shoot my first (and only) basket in my youth basketball league. You took the abuse of my first dance steps right with me. You were even there when I had my first kiss!

How hard it is after all this time that it looks like we are at the end of the road and must soon part ways. For you most valliantly helped me attain a PR at the Carlsbad Marathon last weekend. You ran with me every step of the way, and when I was struggling you just kept pushing me along. I can't imagine doing the race without you but I fear the next one I might have to do so. After 3 hours and 40 minutes of grueling pounding your sould blackened and you decided to threaten to leave me.

Farewell dear toenail. It looks like the Carsbad Marathon was too much of a burden to bear!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Preparing to start anew

As much as I love competing in Triathlons, the last one I did was Ironman AZ, 2009. For a number of reasons I had to scale back. My employer suffered a great deal in the current economic climate, and their troubles trickled down to me as well. But after cutting back fr a year thinks are looking up again and I am contemplating competing in 2 triathlons this year. One small, and one large one - of which I may like to travel to.

The small triathlon will be a good way to get my brain back into the mindset required to compete again. Also, it will be a good gage as to what my fitness looks like. I have been doing a lot more run training, but my swim and bike have taken a back seat of late. So I am looking at doing one of the two following races:

The 6th Annual Bartlett Lake Triathlon. I raced this once before and won my age group. It was a relatively small field, but the scenery was an unbelievably awesome mix of golden desert mountains and water. There is a massive hill on the first half of both the bike and the run, but since they are short distances the pain of the 20% grade (I am likely exaggerating) is relatively short.

The marQuee Triathlon. This is the inaugural race, but it is put on by my favorite race direction company. The guys at Red Rock Co. always put on a well organized event, and share ownership with Ironman legend Tim DeBoom. Not only this, but they have actually put their support behind Triabetes financially and with offers of help in promotion. Not to mention the race is at the Ironman AZ venue, which is right in my back yard.

I would also like to take on a larger race, in the half iron scale so some of my options are:

SOMA. Again put on by Red Rock Co. in my back yard.

Ironman 70.3 Austin. I love this town, and I have a friend who I can stay with while there.

Or maybe another large event later on in the year instead of these options. There are of course many other options out there. Maybe you know of a great after summer race I should consider. If so, let me know and maybe I will travel to that one!

Other News

As you know I love to review tech nerd stuff. So look for a review of the Samsung Vibrant coming soon. A smart phone which I see has a great deal of potential. I have some thoughts on the future of these devices in regards to Diabetes management, if we can get the manufacturers to work alongside the medical device manufacturers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lazy Bones

As I watched the live feeds for Ironman Canada and tracked fellow Triabetes members Casy Boren and Sebastien Sasseville I realized that I have not competed (officially) in any event's since the Ironman last November! I have kept regular workouts, although not on the level of Ironman training all this time, and my fitness level is still reasonably good. I have my excuses for not competing, financial mostly, but none that make me very happy about the situation. This may sound odd, but I want to pay off my credit cards before I sign up for another race. The exception being the Carlsbad Marathon which I plan to run with the Glucomotive crew again next year.

In the mean time maybe I can help others attain their athletic goals. With this in mind I am volunteering for a Special Olympics triathlon taking place near here on Sept. 11th. As a self professed triathlete I am part of a group well known for wielding a fair bit of conceit and self importance. So it's only fair that I let someone else give me some of my own medicine, and who better than a Special Olympics athlete? This should be interesting for sure, and I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday. Gone are the days of going on a week long bender for my birthday it appears.

A new Pump!

I have got some incredible friends out there, and with their help (Thanks Jim, Jerry, and Denise) I now have an affordable option for using a pump. I received a Medtronic 712, sadly due to the untimely death of another diabetic. I used it for a good month and in that time was able to lower my A1c from 7.4 to 7.1. This has sold me on the benefit of an insulin pump.

With this I was motivated to see what other options are out there. So for the first time since being diagnosed with diabetes I visited an Endocrinologist. His knowledge was enlightening and suggested that a newer pump would benefit me. Financial constraints and limited insurance make this an unlikely scenario for the time being.


I don't know how many diabetics are prescribed this drug. From my reading this drug is primarily a blood pressure medication, but is often prescribed as a preventative medicine to protect your kindey function from fluctuating blood sugars. As with any ydrug there are many potential side effects, and I must be one of the 5 percent. Here is my story:

I started taking Lisinopril at a 5mg dosage last Monday night. Friday afternooon I began to have cooncern because my chest was feeling oddly tight, and my breathing was a bit restricted. Not making any connection at this point I took my pill after dinner and things got difficult. My chest tightened up more and breathing become more restricted, so much I slept very little that night and was wiped out in the morning. I had to skip my Saturday long run as I felt I had no wind in me.

My concern was very high. These symptoms are often attributable to heart problems and since Lisinopril was the only difference in my routine I stopped taking it and called the doc to let them know. Within 2 days I was completely fine. I have another appointment with the doctor in 2 weeks so I plan to go over this thoroughly and get his comments on my experience.

My belief is that I was suffering a side effect of the drug, and if I had continued it would be dangerous to my health. I guess my kidneys will have to take a beating.

Well, I know I have been lax in my blog posts as of late, but I do hope all of you blog readers out there are doing great.

Don't forget to test!

Friday, July 16, 2010

World Cup Mayhem

I haven't been up to a lot lately, but the recent run by the USA in the World Cup was definitely something I got into. In fact a buddy of mine made this movie with some clips of yours truly in memory of the games.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fresh New Ride

A slow race year
This year has been a bit of a slow one - at least in terms of racing. I do feel as though I may be in the best shape I have been to compete at a higher level, life sometimes gets in the way of selfish endeavors like whooping butts on the course. Thus I haven't entered any triathlons in 2010. I may yet enter the PBR Off-Road triathlon on Oct 10, 2010 using my beater mountain bike from 1998. Also I have bandited a few run events this year (shhh! don't tell) just to keep my fitness. When someone tells this stinking economy to get moving again I will be in a better position to toss some cash in the ring for more races.

A changing of the guards (or bikes)

The Kestrel supplied to me for Ironman has long since made it's departure, but in it's place I have recovered a beater road bike in, of all places, a dumpster! Restoration of this 1985 Bridgestone 500 has been my hobby as late, and it is looking pretty good. Next on the agenda is a fresh paint job to restore it's old luster. Turns out this is an example of an early tri-bike based on their marketing materials. The photo shows the bike in it's original condition. I will post a new one when it has been repainted.
The bike has been tested for it's roadworthiness on the mean streets of San Diego and performed well so look out for it!