A monthly payment for health-insurance should not cost more than your mortgage.
Yet, it does. I stare at all of the hieroglyphics that Donna has in front of her. She’s a ‘scribbler’. Somehow, the gibberish that fills up several sheets of notebook-paper coalesce into something coherent, giving her the artillery to do battle against insurance-salespeople. And there are lots of them.
All you have to do is jot one quick note down inside an empty box on an internet-site and the phone starts ringing.
Extreme downsizing. It resembled the marathon session of all-night painting that we did in Pittsburgh, where we told ourselves that ‘we’re just going to get it done’. Same thing. First ‘room’ this time? Medical.
As I stare outside at more falling snow, listening to her bat numerical-figures back and forth, I feel ‘extreme naivete’ creep in. Being a part of the medical community seems like a legal way to print as much money as possible. ”Ok, putting a stent in, should I need it, costs $8000.00,” I mumble, between nibbles of pistachios. ”I get it, that they’re trained surgeons, but who decided on that price? Why not nine-thousand? Ten?”
If only I could have somehow manipulated my skill-level to include inserting stents into people with high-cholesterol instead of putting canned-music underneath a voiceover for people who can’t make up their minds. With my ‘training’, they still moan about paying $125.00 instead of $100.00. ”Tell them I’m eating pistachios!” I yell into her office, while she sits on hold. ”They’re supposed to be good for you!”
‘Extreme downsizing’ is code for ‘we’re not doing so hot’. It’s been coming. The last 18 months have been mediocre at best. Little by little, what remained of any ‘trappings’ we have had are dissolving. Motorcycle magazines. Gym memberships. And our semi-regular ‘Thursday Night Date-Night’ hasn’t happened in some time. At least at a restaurant. They seem like small things on the surface, but, like tiny bills, they add up.
So, similar to getting a diagnosis of impending doom, you start to make deals. Except we make them with ourselves. Re-working the numbers. Proposing alternate monthly ‘scenarios’. Not exactly pleading with insurance-agents, but challenging them to keep us as a customer. In a strange way, it feels good to at least try to convince yourself that you actually have a modicum of power or control amidst the whole sad situation.
They say that most people are several paychecks away from demise. But I think it’s something that could happen sooner than that. Some of the entrepreneurs of the world, like us, get no warning, much less a severance. “We are releasing you from our website for lack of orders…”it read. It’s a termination, but, in my estimation, with even less soul, less tact. Delivered in an email because it can be. It’s the name of the game these days.
So, too, is ‘extreme downsizing’. Making your bargains. Trimming the fat. Making do. And in doing this exercise, it feels infinitely easy to blame yourself, to assign a false sense of ‘worth’ to these acts of capitulation. And you try not to. But in the end, the numbers don’t lie. And neither do you. To yourself.
The ‘wise sage of Barberton’, Dave Senn, has a saying: “Pick yourself up by your boot-straps, dust off, and move on.” Oh, and I’ll add ‘be prepared to be on hold for a good amount of time”, too. These insurance-salespeople are trying to make a living, as well.