Friday, October 25, 2013

Life and the various issues we face over that lifetime.


 
Another week closer to the end of unemployment (5 more checks...  with unemployment ending on 12/28.... so we are running out of time with no jobs or other benefits on the horizon). The Corvette raffle has stalled at 14 tickets (from 11 contributors), so I will be spending the weekend taking the time to spread the information regarding the raffle site.  If we sell all of the tickets, we'll make it until at least June of 2014. If it fails, bankruptcy will have to be considered in January (there will be no way around it). I remain an optimist, but the storm clouds on the horizon are ominous.


http://corvetteraffle.com

We are still at 14 out of 100 tickets having been sold so far in the first 23 days of the raffle (so the amount is still presently at $1,794.94 of the $12,500.00 goal).

For those who have purchased tickets... we thank you so very much. Please spread the news (the only way the raffle works is that all 100 tickets get sold). 86 more tickets to go. The new deadline is November 20th as http://crowdtitlt.com  extended the deadline for us to ensure the raffle is successful at meeting its goal.


We contacted and then wrote to The Standard insurance company regarding our "Res Judicata" effort at reopening Penny's Disability claim at Social Security Disability. We actually got somewhere with them, and they are now trying to be proactive by working with us to get SSA to reopen the case (by engaging Allsup and Associates). We'll see how that goes. In the interim, we filled out some papers for Social Security that emphasizes her present medical issues and dropped them off today.

I went to the VA and did my MST consult with North Chicago via TeleHealth (their polycom system). That went well, and then I engaged in the weight control program and nutritionist (which continues next week). Then this afternoon, occupational therapy stopped by to assess me. We'll see if they can help when they get back with me next week.  



=(      We received the news that our Pastor's father suddenly passed away yesterday (it was unexpected) and I am sitting here contemplating how he is doing right now (I wish I knew what to say to him or console him). The Pastor started a new "branch" of our Fox Valley Church (and has a lot of responsibility), but he is surrounded by a very supportive Church Body and Church Staff (I am sure that others will be filling in for him during his time with his family). That is incredible to me (besides my wife and son and the Church, I haven't any idea what that feels like regarding a supportive family... since my grandmother and mother passed away... (our family has slowly drifted and that was cemented as of the middle of 2010) as my extended family is now irrevocably broken... and that is sad.

I am trying to look back on my experience as a guide..... and it doesn't get any easier to contemplate.

My mother passed away 4 years ago (my point of reference), but it wasn't sudden. Penny and I got to spend the last 4 years with her living with us much of the time due to her medical condition (and we grew much closer to her during that time). We were as prepared for the end as one could get (as her Pancreatic Cancer diagnosis essentially allowed us to try to do a lot with the time left because we knew what that horrible disease could do to her) and yet it still hit us like a brick wall when it happened. The only way I handled it was the support of my wife and my Aunt (at the time). All of my other relatives passed away far from me (including my maternal grandparents) either in Norway or in Chicago (when I was in the Marine Corps in California), so seeing my mother pass was especially difficult. as it was the first time I saw it up close (and dealt with it having to help make many decisions during and after her passing which helped distract the hole I felt in my heart). I am sure the Pastor is feeling as such.

Regarding my own family (my father in particular), our relationship is essentially irrevocably broken (too much damage has taken place and once he does pass, my brother will be the one to handle that situation as he is more his father than mine......  as he is more of a rolling stone than a father... so I doubt I will even be informed either way as he feels nothing regarding me anyways). And that is so very sad to say, but it is our reality.

I am quite sure that the Pastor's relationship with his father was much closer (much like many father / son relationships that I read about). I know that my step-son Travis would be devastated (as he and I do have a close relationship), so I am trying to make sure that he is surrounded with positive people who will be there to help him through such a time period when it does happen.  My relationship with my own children is probably as bad as my relationship is with my father (my children will have nothing to do with me thanks to the interference of life /distance / and a never-ending interfering ex wife who has done everything she can to destroy that relationship). I am also wondering how my own children would take the news of my passing (and I suspect that it would be a blip in their lives and wouldn't affect them in the least). My brother and sister also lead their own lives (my brother has essentially stopped interacting with most of our extended family for a while and now, he and I no longer talk (long story, but he is now essentially only a member of his wife's family as his wife doesn't share him, she just judges us with a different perspective than she does her own).... and my sister kicked the family to the curb a long time ago when she chose drugs / alcohol and a drug addict as a partner so we won't interact with her anymore - the result of "tough love" / boundaries) so I suspect that they won't be affected by my passing either.

 
It is what it is, but in the end..... I take solace in knowing I've done what I can (I am not perfect by any means as I've made plenty of mistakes / screw ups, but I have no regrets).

I am hoping that over time, I will have had the impact on others as the Pastor's father has had with him and his extended family & friends. It is a dream I have.........
 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The "Affordable Care Act" - The website is broken and is NOT improving (3 weeks of governmental ineptness). They now have "lost" my application.

Because Penny is on Cobra and Travis' Humana Individual Health Plan was cancelled as of 12/31 due to the ACA (he was recommended to get coverage under the ACA), we've been trying to access the ACA marketplace since it opened on October 1st at 12:01 am. Folks, this website and it's backoffice is truly a complete utter disaster. Below, I will post what I've been dealing with so one can get an idea of just how bad this rollout of governmental services is.

From October 1st, 2013 through today, this is what I have posted on Facebook about my ACA / Obamacare experience:

 
==========================================================================
 
October 1 12:30 am

Created a user account /pw on the ACA marketplace site. So of course, as soon as I verified the email account, the login does not work. I sent the forgot user ID / pw and went through the process. It is now supposed to send me an email with instructions to change the pw. Nothing received yet. Of course, the site's backoffice IT is not up to the task.
--
"The information you entered isn't valid. Review this information. If you're having trouble, call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325."

 
Nope, now the site has crashed............. UGH!!!!!

 
Just got the pw email: You’re getting this message because you forgot your password. Please click the link below to reset your password. If you didn’t request this change, please call 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.
 


I clicked on the link, and I got the following: "We weren't able to process your request because we couldn't find a Marketplace profile that matched the information that you provided."

 
Our government at work folks.........
 
Live chat function:
 
waiting.....
 
[12:38:45 am]: Thanks for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Please wait while we connect you to someone who can help.
[12:38:50 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:39:30 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:40:07 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:40:40 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:41:19 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:41:55 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:42:34 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:43:13 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:43:53 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:44:32 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:45:10 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:45:55 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:46:32 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:47:05 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:47:40 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:48:19 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:48:52 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:49:28 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:50:04 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:50:36 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:51:14 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:51:45 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:52:20 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:52:56 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:53:31 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:54:14 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:54:56 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:55:45 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:56:36 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:57:28 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:58:21 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:59:06 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:00:02 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:00:56 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:01:45 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:02:30 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:03:16 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:03:51 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:04:35 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:05:21 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[01:06:07 am]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
 
The message waiting to be sent? "This marketplace website does not work correctly (it was launched with problems in the back office). My id was correctly created as was the pw. After verifying my address by clicking on the link, the login doesn't work. The reset PW function doesn't work (as it doesn't see my "profile"). Authentication as a process is not functioning correctly and I need to sign up my wife immediately."
 
I went to the login page this morning and this is my message: "We have a lot of visitors on our site right now and we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the login page. Thanks for your patience!"
 
Really? REALLY?????? So far ( 8 1/2 hours in ), the site gets a large "Fail".


 

"The System is down at the moment. We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Please try again later."
"Please include the reference ID below if you wish to contact us at 1-800-318-2596 for support.

Error from: https%3A//www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/global/en_US/registration
Reference ID: 0.cd27c517.1380636133.ec90fec"
 
Health Insurance Marketplace: "Please wait
We have a lot of visitors on our site right now and we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the login page. Thanks for your patience!"


 
Walking away from the site. The latest: "Gateway Timeout
The proxy server did not receive a timely response from the upstream server.
Reference #1.c6ef3e17.1380641098.1131266b "



 

October 4 11:32 pm

Healthcare.gov is still NOT working for me. The website is horribly coded and needs to be fixed...... NOW:  

 
October 14 8:52 pm

I finally got signed up on the healthcare.gov site (it only took 14 days). What a LOUSY experience. Now I have to wait while my credentials/background/income is processed before seeing my choices. I have no doubt I'll have to wait another 14 days for that:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/10/14/obamacares-website-is-crashing-because-it-doesnt-want-you-to-know-health-plans-true-costs/?partner=yahootix

 

October 17 10:35 pm

The Obamacare Sage continues (my status has been "In Progress" for over 2 days). So essentially, I can't check out my "choices" in the marketplace:

View my current applications

2014 Illinois application for Individual & Family Coverage

Status: In progress ID#: xxxxxxxxx

 
October 22 12:17 pm

So.... the "online chat" at Healthcare.gov is completely useless <<bangs head>>:

[12:06:06 pm]: Thanks for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Please wait while we connect you to someone who can help.
[12:06:10 pm]: Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:06:21 pm]: Welcome! You're now connected to Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Thanks for contacting ...us. My name is Alma. To protect your privacy, please don't provide any personal information, like Social Security Number, or any other sensitive medical or personal information.
[12:06:41 pm]: Alma   - Hello, in order to provide you with accurate information, are you looking for information about health insurance in the state you live in or a different state? If so can I please have your state
[12:06:46 pm]: Steinar - I am trying to find out what the status is regarding my application.
[12:06:56 pm]: Steinar - Illinois
[12:07:45 pm]: Steinar - I clicked on my Applications and Coverage. Yesterday, it said "In progress". Today, I see nothing.
[12:10:40 pm]: Alma - We have a lot of visitors trying to use our website right now. That is causing some glitches for some people trying to create accounts or consumers logging in and accessing their information. Just keep trying at a later time or day, or you can contact our call center and a CSR will be more to glad to view the status of your application. We'll continue working to improve the site so you can get covered! I do apologize for any inconvenience.
[12:11:24 pm]: Steinar - So, nothing can be done but to call the 800 #. Understood
 

--
 

I just got off the phone with healthcare.gov's call center.

They have ZERO ability to see where an application is regarding the process. Apparently, my healthare.gov application has disappeared. The Customer Service Rep recommended that I start another Application (and for those of us who know back office IT electronic/EDI process', putting another application through only makes things worse for ...the different departmental IT tie in's as it results in duplication and usually gets lost in the noise of thousands of xml or asci files between different companies and different governmental departments).

Truly, this is an EPIC "Fail" on a grand scale. The rep recommended that I see a local community resource for help (that won't work by the way, as they use the same online / phone resources.... which I just confirmed by phone), or applying via the paper process (which like any other governmental entity, can take up to 2 months). Just so I can see what options we have regarding Marketplace plans so we can plan our budget).

The Government is officially "broken" as far as I am concerned. It takes over a year for the VA to process anything for me, over 9 months for Social Security to make any decisions (and over 80% of initial applications are usually denied), Medicaid is useless as I cannot find any specialists (Urologists, Rheumatologists, etc. who will actually take new patients or who accept Medicaid), and the State of Illinois is in debt up to their ears and is constantly up to a year behind in reimbursing providers (hence the reason why docs are not accepting Medicaid).

And yet, the talking heads and pundits (along with the Democratic Party) keep on saying how wonderful government is. The media and voters should be ashamed of themselves for not holding the lot of them accountable.
October 22 at 12:55 pm
 
Here is a screenshot of what I am dealing with regarding the ACA (Obamacare) website:
 

I just called the 800 number again, and I was told that their access to the website to check on the application (I had the Application ID #) has been "down" for 2 days so they can't help until that access returns. I was asked to call tomorrow afternoon to check again.  =(
==========================================================================
 
So, our Obamacare experience is broken 3 weeks into the process, and no government entity can essentially fix things for those who are actually TRYING to use every aspect of it (online, phone, and 3rd party resources). To say this is frustrating is an understatement. I am hoping that our State's Senators AND Representatives will see this blog entry and use it as Exhibit A in trying to address the many problems there is in the entire process. 

 




Monday, October 21, 2013

http://corvetteraffle.com ~ 14 tickets sold. The effort towards normalcy continues.....

http://corvetteraffle.com

We are up to 14 out of 100 tickets having been sold so far in the first 15 days of the raffle (so the amount is presently at $1,794.94 of the $12,500.00 goal).

For those who have purchased tickets... we thank you so very much. Please spread the news (the only way the raffle works is that all 100 tickets get sold). 86 more tickets to go. I am waiting to hear from http://crowdtitlt.com  if the raffle can be extended to ensure the raffle is successful.


 

Regarding our home.

Today, we applied to "Habitat For Humanities - Repair Corps." for the repair of our front and rear porch. As they are both needing repair, this is the only option available to us considering our financial situation. I am volunteering my sweat equity to help this organization also, so hopefully we can help the other. As this help is for Veterans, I am trying to do what I can to access that help while the help is there.

Our over the stove GE Microwave stopped working 4 days ago. Luckily, our friends Deb and Walter Wolf donated their White Maytag Microwave to us when they did their kitchen remodel a few months ago. Amazingly, it fit the open spot almost spot on (I just had to drill 2 holes to account for the cabinet bolts). It was also a lot lighter than our previous one, so Travis was able to help me with minimal fuss (it took us 25 minutes) as I was having a minimal pain day. We now have a working Microwave again (at no cost which is a good thing... as these cost at least $150 and up new). Thanks so much to the Wolf's for their giving hearts..........


Our health

Penny's "burning" post-op has almost stopped completely, unfortunately... she is now having problems falling asleep at night (and is still having frequent trips to the rest room). 2 more months to go until the next Cystoscopy... so we remain hopeful things are getting better.

I am still fighting the side effects of the multiple medications I am on (six different medications at last count). I am still dealing with obsessing over certain things and still deal with the lack of sleep at night (plus it is taking me a lot to do things on a daily basis as I am still spending a lot of time staying in the home staying away from people.... the anxiety never totally subsides). I went to my counseling session last Friday and the counselor was on vacation (even though she scheduled me to see her), so I spent the time catching up with my shots (and received my flu shot).

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In the interim, it is getting colder and we are running out of decent days before winter. We still have to get the garage organized (I've been trying to get it done for almost 6 months, but my joint pain / gout flare-ups have prevented most of my efforts so far.... that plus all of the weather we've been having.... medical treatments/visits haven't helped).
 
So, we'll keep at it while we still can before it gets too cold.



"Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ~ Isaiah 41:10