by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


14 July 2014

Does Obamacare Pay for Medical Marijuana?

Posted in Health & Wellness

Does Obamacare Pay for Medical Marijuana?

As approval ratings get high on legalizing medicinal pot, Americans wonder, "Does Obamacare pay for medical marijuana or will it soon?".

Having an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act is like having the Munchies. In every bag are 4 essential snacks: Rold Gold pretzels, Doritos, Cheetos, and Sun Chips just like in every Obamacare insurance plan there are 10 Essential Benefits: birth control (despite some exceptions due to Hobby Lobby), prescription drugs, preventive care, etc.

So if anyone with insurance has access to pain medicine, why is a drug that eases pain like medical marijuana not covered by insurance companies?

Until marijuana is declassified from a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, insurance companies can't even flirt with the idea of pot prescriptions, even if President Obama flirted with the chance to smoke a joint in Colorado.

According to the US Justice Department, marijuana and other drugs in its class have no health benefits. Contrary to the federal stance, 23 states and Washington DC have legalized medical marijuana.

Even if declassified, marijuana would still be considered experimental medicine, which is expensive for providers to pay for. But like any experimental drug, you can find out how to get into marijuana research studies by the government. No they won't nark on you.

If enough people find marijuana clinical trials (snacks included!), marijuana legalization could be on the ballot as soon as 2016. Ever wanted to serve your country? There are dozens of free open studies in most states, including California of course. 

The final test is whether insurance providers find pot is easier and cheaper to manufacture than even generic drugs, which could save them and you on prescriptions - the whole point of the Affordable Care Act. Considering an old lady can grow this pot plant she found at a flea market without even realizing what it was, I imagine marijuana can be made for less than pills.

54% of Americans support marijuana legalization and even Hillary Clinton herself approves the availability of medical marijuana if research justifies it.

In other words, your participation in clinical trials could help define Hillary's stance on marijuana. You read it here first: Hillary Clinton wants you to try pot so she can run for president. 

Did I forget to answer your question? I must've had the Munchies. No Obamacare doesn't pay for medical marijuana. For now.

11 July 2014

Your Old Cell Phone Can Now Detect Illegal Logging in Rainforests

Posted in Health & Wellness

Your Old Cell Phone Can Now Detect Illegal Logging in Rainforests

I've never known what to do with my old cell phone so I still have all 4. Anyone want a pink Razr? Americans throw away 150 million cell phones each year, but now they serve a purpose under Rainforest Connection, a Kickstarter campaign that turns old phones into rainforest surveillance equipment to catch illegal loggers.

What Captain Planet never told you was deforestation emits more carbon pollutants than the world's plane, train, and automobile transportation combined.

In Los Angeles, where cell phones cause train accidents and plane and automobiles cause air pollution-related illnesses that cost California $200 million annually, donating phones to fight pollution is a no brainer and could save lives; human and monkey-kind alike.

If Obamacare subsidies helped you save some money on health insurance, you might want to contribute to the Rainforest Connection's kickstarter campaign goal of $100,000. The funds will be spent on collecting, building, and installing mobile devices for rainforest surveillance.

Rainforest Connection (RFCx) devices are amalgamated cell phones placed on trees that utilize the microphone to detect chainsaws sounds nearby. The devices are solar powered and even work under tree canopies. They send distress signals to local enforcement agents who can quickly appear on the scene and investigate, saving the trees and the residing kookaburras.

An international organization funded by 1% of Norway's GDP, Project Leaf (Law Enforcement Assistance of Forests), combats illegal logging by aerial and satellite surveillance equipment, but not in real time. When investigators finally arrive on the scene, the illegal loggers are long gone by days, sometimes weeks.

Camera traps are the closest in similarity to RFCx devices but pale in comparison. Outdated devices cost $500-800 each and only detect illegal loggers within 100 sq feet. For the same price or less, RFCx devices would cover 1 square mile.

One square mile of rainforest deals with 50 tons of carbon pollutants per year - the same amount of pollution made by 3000 cars annually otherwise known as Los Angeles's rush hour. One RFCx device would prevent that amount of carbon from escaping in the first place.

Before it's too late (Kickstarter goal ends in 18 days), donate to Rainforest Connection to curb carbon pollution, which will help reduce air pollution-related illnesses worldwide not to mention assist the Planeteers, which is every child's dream besides owning the latest iPhone.

Go, Planet!

09 July 2014

Come See the Obamacare Freakshow... Literally

Posted in Latest News

A new anti-Obamacare ad starring "Creepy Uncle Sam" at the "Creepy Carenival" may not show any facts, but there is a midget serving mayonnaise ice cream cones.

Clear, compelling, succinct: Generation Opportunity, the Koch-backed political group and creator of the video, looks for these qualities in writers to share their arguments according to their website. But the latest convoluted message against the Affordable Care Act makes only one thing clear: they're still hiring. 

The ad begins in Everywhere, USA, where like all over America, people stand outside waiting for an inciting incident. And then the Obamacare ambulance comes disguised as a circus wagon. Or is a circus wagon disguised at an Obamcare ambulance? The confusion is just beginning. 

Emblazoned on the ambiguous vehicle are circus pictures with insurance puns like "Premium Fun" and "Take a Dip...In the High Risk Pool". These are the only "arguments" the ad makes against Obamacare. Unfortunately, they lack data to support them. I watched over and over for statistics on a mudflap or evidence hidden in the exhaust fumes, but my search, like GenOpp's message, was futile. 

The commercial continues as carnies rejected from American Horror Story: Freakshow's casting call erupt from the "Propogambulance" and subject onlookers to fair games with an insurance twist. A Creepy "Carenival" they call it. The ad makes Obamacare seem like a welcome wagon instead of a torture device. 

At one point a maniacal doctor throws knives at one guy tied to a wheel labeled with surgeries like "Appendectomy" but narrowly misses, hitting "Vasectomy" instead. Maybe the video's slamming doctors and Obamacare, maybe it's supporting them. The visuals are left up to interpretation. For me it looks like a guy walked up to a mobile clinic and saw a doctor right away: the opposite point an anti-Obamacare ad should be making. 

The anti-Obamacare mascot, "Creepy Uncle Sam" appears at the climax, but his unveiling is as anticlimactic to the audience as it is to the actors, who sigh, roll their eyes, and disperse as Sam tries impressing them with one last "tada!". Are the actors annoyed by the recycled mascot or recycled effort to repeal Obamacare? It's not clear, but an anti-Obamacare ad reaction video would probably show just as many eye rolls. 

The Creepy Carenival promoted in the video is really happening on July 23 at the National Mall in Washinton DC. And if the ad is any indication of how confusing the messaging will be, I'd rather try interpreting Cirque du Soleil.

No matter how many times you watch GenOpp's propaganda, you'll never find evidence of Obamacare's malfeasances, only the suggestion they exist through sight gags. While GenOpp's latest marketing ploy was confusing, others have been downright distasteful. 

Last year, GenOpp hosted a tail gating party complete with beer pong and pizza at the University of Miami-Virginia Tech. Not only did they fatten up students at a healthcare rally, but volunteers gave away "OptOut" (of Obamacare) beer cozies to college kids and suggested they should "opt out" of getting health insurance and pay the fine instead. 

But young invincibles (age 18-34) didn't get the message in California, where in the first year of open enrollment since Obamacare, young adults represented one-third of enrollees on private insurance plans and 40% of Medi-Cal sign-ups. 

Stay healthy, my friends. 

01 July 2014

How Hobby Lobby vs Obamacare is like a Pokemon Battle

Posted in Latest News

How Hobby Lobby vs Obamacare is like a Pokemon Battle

The Supreme Court decoupaged over reproductive rights, ruling Hobby Lobby Stores and other corporations can opt out of Obamacare's no-cost contraceptive benefits, forcing employees to pay out-of-pocket for services which are free to everyone else. 

It's not that Hobby Lobby is cheap. Birth control is paid for by the insurance company. It's not that Hobby Lobby is strategic, using more unwanted pregnancies to sell baby shower paraphernalia. 

Hobby Lobby is human. Using corporate personhood, the legal reasoning that corporations are people, Hobby Lobby can have a religious status on Facebook. Using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which says the government cannot burden someone's exercise of religion, Hobby Lobby can argue against laws, like the Affordable Care Act, that challenge its beliefs.

Since Hobby Lobby's owners believe some birth control ends life and because Obamacare includes contraceptives in every health insurance plan as an essential benefit, Hobby Lobby can take those provisions away from employees, according to the Supreme Court's ruling.

But are corporations limited to being people? What if Hobby Lobby wanted to be Pokemon instead? It already behaves like one. 

Essentially, Hobby Lobby's usage of religion as a sword and a shield is equivalent to the sword and shield pokemon, Aegislash. Its signature ability, "Stance Change" allows Aegislash to change forms in battle. When it becomes a sword Aegislash can impale opponents, like Hobby Lobby can wield religion as a sword to excise contraceptive benefits from employees' health insurance. When used as a shield, Aegislash protects itself like Hobby Lobby uses religion to protect its interests.

Those interests include Hobby Lobby's $73 million held in mutual funds with investments in contraceptive manufacturers. Even more ironically, Hobby Lobby's group insurance covered 16 contraceptives prior to 2012 - 2 years after Obamacare passed. Maybe it took a few years to notice the hypocrisy. Actually, it did. Should Hobby Lobby be compared to Slowpoke? 

If your job doesn't impose its religion- I mean provide group insurance, you can buy individual or family health insurance that covers preventive care, like preventable childbirth. 

Birth control is free, unless you work for Hobby Lobby, in which case your out-of-pocket payment can be kept in a craft tote with 49 other pockets. 

27 June 2014

Next Obamacare Open Enrollment is November 15 - February 15

Posted in Latest News

Next Obamacare Open Enrollment is November 15 - February 15

November 15 - February 15 isn't just the season of giving anymore, at least by Santa Claus's calculations and whoever made Black Friday before Thanksgiving. It's also the 2014 - 2015 open enrollment period for health insurance.

That means families who would buy a Wii U might consider a Kaiser Permanente Silver plan instead. Well, Billy has been asking for a new kidney all year. But Dad wanted to be Greninja in the next Super Smash Bros. What's a good parent to do? Blame Obama, of course. 

Originally, the open enrollment period for 2014 was October 15 through December 7. However, the President's administration pushed back the date to give insurers more time to price insurance plans.

Critics believe the President is just doing his party a favor, since Democrats have a chance to win a majority in the Senate if they do well in 2014's mid-term elections. Democrats who supported Obamacare want to avoid Obamacare technical problems like last year's or health insurance "sticker shock" from turning off voters. Instead, they'd rather turn voters off by placing a Covered California booth where the North Pole goes in the Topanga Canyon Mall. 

Open enrollment during the holidays just doesn't work for some people, especially the researchers at Health Affairs. A study suggested more Americans may buy health insurance during tax season, when the average refund is $3000 for income between $50,000 and $75,000, instead of the holiday season, when heating bills and Christmas gifts eat up expendable cash. 

Obamacare's first open enrollment season was twice as long, giving consumers more time to choose a plan from October 1 to March 31. And just when it wasn't long enough, technical problems and customer confusion over deadlines led to deadline extensions to April 15. 

Since the deadline cut into tax season, more people who just received their tax refund could afford health insurance. 52% of young invincibles (age 18-34), who typically earn less than older adults, picked a plan and 47% of people who signed up for subsidized health insurance did so in the last month of open enrollment. 

So the solution to extending open enrollment to tax season is to act confused? Perfect, considering you're probably still wondering why Pokemon are mentioned in a Covered California blog.