20200221F Day 52: Insurance for All Plan with Social Security Savings

Today I cancelled my dental coverage because they denied a claim for a $125 tooth filling because it occurred during the 6-month waiting period. When I called to find out about the denial, I also learned that there is a 12-month waiting period for any major work, such as root canals. The only thing the insurance pays for immediately is preventative stuff like clean-and-check.

I also decided to check on the medical insurance I purchased in a rush after finding out my COBRA coverage renewal was declined. It has a $5K in-network and $10K out-network deductible and then pays 80% (in) and 60% (out) of medical costs. My max out-of-pocket, including deductible is $7K (in) and $26K (out). The price for father and son is around $850/month, or about $10K/yr. So, my in-network annual cost for medical is $10K-$17K and if I need to go out-of-network, then the max cost is $36K.  I believe if anything major happens and I get too expensive, they can decline to renew my policy at some point.

With this same insurance, my antiviral generic drug was full price at $101 (because I haven’t met my drug deductible yet and for some reason I get to pay full list price until I do meet it). I didn’t use my insurance and instead downloaded free GoodRX app to instantly get over 50% off and pay “only” $46.  Why do I need to go through GoodRX and how does GoodRX make money here?

I no longer have vision “insurance” since COBRA ended. I’m surprised that vision “insurance” isn’t included with Amazon Prime by now.

I may give Sidecar another look. It has a model where patients shop around for the best “cash” price for medical coverage and then get reimbursed at a rate of approximately 80% of the “cash” price in the neighborhood.  It’s possible to even get reimbursed for more than the “cash” price if you find a cash price cheaper than 80% of the going rate for your neighborhood.  For places like hospitals and ER, Sidecar has a negotiator to help you negotiate down any bills that come in above the regular cash price for the area.

Bernie is pushing a Medicare-for-All plan:

  • Create a Medicare for All, single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the point of service.
  • No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills.
  • Medicare coverage will be expanded and improved to include: include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more.
  • Stop the pharmaceutical industry from ripping off the American people by making sure that no one in America pays over $200 a year for the medicine they need by capping what Americans pay for prescription drugs under Medicare for All.

I have often wondered about combining Life and Health insurance with a combined product that would provide a variable amount of life insurance (more when you need it more, such as when you have a family). I also now see the problems with IRAs – it’s too easy for people to get their money out and so it’s not there during retirement. With this in mind, I see a universe where in addition to a plan like Bernie’s, we have:

  1. Increased funding available to universities and private companies to create new drugs. Funding would include filing patents and individual inventors and universities would get recognition. The government funding organization would be the owner of the patent and receive any royalties, although these would likely be waived for domestic drug maker partners. Patent royalties would be paid by foreign companies and used to reduce costs of otherwise developed drugs.
  2. Social Security is upgraded to Social Security Savings, which gives everyone a cash balance of everything they have contributed plus earnings from a combination of U.S. Treasury Bond interest and gains from investments in an index fund of public companies weighted by how much total salary they pay to American workers.
  3. Healthy people who don’t use a lot of medical care will have additional money added to their Social Security Savings account. The amount will be determined like a co-op, where extra funds not paid out for medical expenses are paid out to everyone – more to those with less health care expenses.
  4. Unhealthy food is taxed at a rate to pay for twice the expected medical costs associated with that food being eaten. Check prices for soda and chocolate in Norway to see an example.
  5. Liability insurance, such as home and auto, no longer covers medical since these are covered by universal medical coverage. One can still be liable for pain, suffering, and lost wages.
  6. Included with Social Security Savings, is a variable payment life insurance policy that pays out variable multiples of your SSS cash balance based upon your age, family, dependents.

 

20200220h Day 51: Aliens are Among Us and Within Us

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Image: Artist’s concept of our Milky Way galaxy, as seen from far galactic north (the direction of the constellation Coma Berenices) via NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ R. Hurt/ Wikimedia Commons.

Laniakea, Virgo, Via Lactea, Orion Spur, Sol Terrae:  Aliens are among us and within us – we call them viruses. As evolved multicellular life forms, we don’t even recognize viruses as being “alive”. I imagine that viruses consider us as aliens, or perhaps even as non-alive, in the same way as we see rocks, computers, and robots as non-alive. To a virus, our body is just a place to live like the Earth is for us. Luckily for viruses, they have billions of “virus earths” on which to live and they can migrate quite rapidly to new “virus earths” whenever they destroy the virus earth on which they feed and reproduce.

Where did these alien viruses come from? Recently, the first detection of sugars in meteorites was reported (PNAS paper: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1907169116). In 2008, extraterrestrial nucleobases were found in a meteorite (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2008.03.026). Thus far, full DNA/RNA strands or viruses have not been found on meteorites, although in 2014 an experiment showed that both are possible to survive entry into Earth’s atmosphere (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0112979).

Given the infinite time that the multiverse has existed (with some support for this idea here: https://phys.org/news/2015-02-big-quantum-equation-universe.html), there is certainly an abundance of time for viruses to arise. The fact that all life on earth share a common ancient genetic code, and that evidence of life on Earth existing shortly after the formation of Earth, points to either a single, rare arrival on Earth or a single, rare creation event on Earth. If via arrival, then there still needs to be a single, rare creation event somewhere else. So the only difference is on the rarity of the creation event and where it occurred. Given infinite time and space, it is all but certain that viruses and life as we know it exists elsewhere.

 

20200219W Day 50: Quantum Analysis of Debate Shows Bernie Likely to Win Most Pledged Delegates

One of the final questions to each candidate was:

If a candidate does not win a majority of the delegates, will you support the selection of the candidate with the most delegates?

All but Bernie said that they wanted to abide by the rules of the Democratic Party. That’s an interesting response that, if made from a self-interest standpoint, would mean that ALL of the candidates on stage believed that Bernie would receive the most delegates of all the candidates – at least most of the pledged delegates anyway.

If all of the candidates are accurately feeling the possible futures and their likelihood, then all of them are consistent in believing that Bernie will likely win the most pledged delegates.

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20200218T Day 49: Kentaro Iwata leads Infectious Disease Control on Diamond Princess in Another Universe

After watching Kentaro Iwata’s video about his evaluation of infectious disease control (or lack thereof) on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, I can safely say there are quite a number of universes in which he was chosen to lead the ID control effort and the spread of COVID-19 was much less. His comments summarizing his findings are revealing:

Diamond Princess has completely inadequate infection control, and there is no professional ID person in charge. Passengers, crews, health care professionals working inside are at risk of infection, and the practice is even worse than what I saw in Africa. Immediate action is needed to save people inside.

I was curious about how the experience of the Diamond Princess compares with past infections of Influenza and found this 2010 paper: Outbreaks of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 and Seasonal Influenca A (H3N2) on Cruise Ship. A summary of the paper’s findings:

To determine the extent and pattern of influenza transmission and effectiveness of containment measures, we investigated dual outbreaks of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 and influenza A (H3N2) that had occurred on a cruise ship in May 2009. Of 1,970 passengers and 734 crew members, 82 (3.0%) were infected with pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus, 98 (3.6%) with influenza A (H3N2) virus, and 2 (0.1%) with both.

Does the increased infection rate of COVID-19 on the Princess Diamond mean that COVID-19 is that much more infectious? Or does it mean that, as Kentaro Iwata noticed, there was no real infectious disease control occurring on the Princess Diamond.

Update 2020-0219: Adding graph of Princess Diamond infections-to-date. I wonder how this graph looks in the universes where Kentaro Iwata, or someone equally qualified, was in charge. I hate feeling the universe where someone knew that the ship infectious disease control was substandard and decided against saying anything out of a desire to get “real data” on how COVID-19 spreads in a “more realistic” environment.

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20200217M Day 48: 3rd and 4th days of Influenza A in Austin

On the 3rd day of my partner’s flu-like symptoms, she started feeling better and we took a walk along Town Lake. Since she had tested negative for the flu three days ago, we both  were engaged in a bit of wishful thinking that her flu symptoms were only symptoms of a bad cold.

On the 4th day of my partner’s flu-like symptoms (I’m writing this blog a day late on Tues – not surfing to the future), she started feeling much worse and I also noticed a knot in the back of my throat similar to the symptom she felt the day before she got sick. We went to a different urgent care and they tested us both for Strep and Flu. I tested negative for both and my partner tested positive for Influenza A.

At this second urgent care, I noticed different behavior by the check-in nurse. Once my partner began describing her symptoms, the check-in nurse causally opened a drawer to get a mask to put on. My partner was already wearing a mask. Three days ago, the sign seemed to imply masks were only for possible coronavirus patients.

The doc said that Influenza A could have been contagious a day before symptoms showed up until now and likely not so contagious anymore. He said the incubation period was 1-2 days and so I may have dodged the Influenza A bullet when I was in close contact her before she showed symptoms.

Her symptoms now include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  According to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html, these are the same symptoms for COVID-19 and may also appear as soon as two days after exposure.  Currently, recent travel to China seems to be the only additional screening question to determine if someone has a COVID-19 infection or not. As universes where COVID-19 is a pandemic continue to surround our universe, this “recent travel to China” question will become less and less useful. Her other symptoms are weakness, tiredness, headache, and extreme bone/muscle aches. I believe these are also present with many cases of COVID-19.

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I just took dose 1 of Oseltamivir Phosphate 75mg (Tamiflu) as a preventative to help me attract universes where I don’t have Influenza A replicating in my body. The toast (and banana not shown) will hopefully make the medicine go down easier and avoid the nausea side effect that is most often mentioned in reviews of this drug. Within five minutes of taking it, I felt a bit anxious with my head feeling kinda tingly.

I was uncertain about taking Tamiflu (generic). This paper, and encouragement from my partner to avoid Influenza A at all costs, gave me the feeling that it was the decision I felt most comfortable taking.

 

20200216u Day 47: Diamond Princess Experiment will End Soon

The quarantine of the 3500 people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship is supposed to end in a few days. The U.S. has now offered to evacuate American citizens off the ship and quarantine them for an additional 14 days. Since the daily number of new cases shows no sign of slowing down, the universe where all of the passengers are released in a few days seems far away.

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20200215S Day 46: Traditions in the Multiverse

I just got back from my cousin’s wedding. While not in a church, it was otherwise a traditional Christian marriage, with many of the rituals often included. I hypothesize that traditions and rituals serve as strong attractors of universes in which those same traditions and rituals are practiced. Therefore by having a marriage ceremony filled with rituals that have been followed for centuries, it’s likely that in nearby universes a very similar marriage ceremony is taking place. Contrast this with the couple who doesn’t have a ceremony and instead spontaneously decides one day to get married at the court house without any ritual. I hypothesize that this non-ritualistic marriage will be surrounded by much fewer nearby universes in which the couple is married, and therefore it is more likely that the couple will find themselves in a universe where they are not married.