The spring of our content

By Chuck Sigars | May 08, 2013

There are, as I write, 40-odd days until the summer solstice. Then, being the Pacific Northwest, we have another three weeks (at least) past that until it starts to feel anything remotely like summer.

So what these past 10 days or so (depending on when you finally come inside and read this) have been, obviously, is a sneak preview, like one of those behind-the-scenes documentaries about some big movie that’s coming out a long, long time from now. There has been some giddiness.

I personally have spent most of this time in preemptive mowing, a quixotic but noble quest that happens to make me feel good.

No stray blade of grass shall survive a 70-degree day if I can help it, so my neighbors lean on their fences and wonder about me, maybe wonder if I’m about to dig a bomb shelter and start putting Ron Paul signs on my lawn. It’s fun to be neighbors.

I could write all the way down this page about the sun, then, and how 75 degrees is different, somehow, in May than in August, how people get goofy and maybe don’t have any clean summer clothes except those that were given as a prank gift, about how lonely beaches suddenly look like Black Friday at Alderwood Mall, about how certain people mow their lawns four times in a single week, just in case they missed a spot.

There’s plenty of material here.

Or I could write about a headline I noticed the other day, about how a majority of Americans are essentially clueless about the law of the land, by which I mean the Affordable Care Act, by which I also mean Obamacare.

I have strong feelings on the subject, and I paid a lot of attention as legislation was proposed and debated and amended and amended about a million more times.

I was disappointed and encouraged at the same time, and besides having spent a fair amount of time working in the health care system in my adult life, along with many members of my family, I had a personal interest.

Back in the fall of 2008, as our economy was crumbling into tiny acronyms that nobody really understood, my family had a medical crisis. Actually, two crises: One a medical condition, and the other a loss of health insurance.

It happens, or at least it happened, in our system of employer-based health insurance. Nobody lost a job; a description just changed, and a benefit was dropped.

As I say, it’s not a new story, and it wasn’t for us, a family that has been self-employed a lot. We were used to buying solo in the health insurance market, and usually it was a minor inconvenience.

We continued our coverage through COBRA and began looking around, and that’s when things got messy.

And the messiest part, one that the ACA took seriously, was that my wife had developed a pre-existing condition. In other words, we were in the market for a product, and the manufacturers of that product were saying, essentially, “Your money’s no good here.”

Even lots and lots of money, which we were desperate to spend because we were desperate in general.

But that’s a long, messy story, particularly because the medical crises never seemed to stop while we wandered through health insurance limbo. A story for another time.

The person not affected by this was me, who had no pre-existing condition, but I still had no health insurance.

I could have found a provider, but at the moment we were using our money to pay for MRIs and other trivial things, and I just tried to stay calm and hoped I died quickly, were that necessary.

The good news is that it eventually worked out, although I’m pretty sure I’ll be paying medical bills for the rest of my life and possibly a little bit longer.

That said, the crises have passed and are being managed. I have insurance now and appear to be healthy.

The corollary to this is dental insurance, which I also went without, although these days I’m not sure I missed much other than some cleanings. Dental insurance seems currently to be affordable and pretty much worthless; it seemed better, in my case, to just pay as I went.

But I would need to go, and I have a long history of not going. I don’t actually have a dentist phobia, as common as that is, just a procrastination issue.

I had a dental exam when I was 22, which was so good that apparently I thought it was OK to wait for the next one until I was 44, when the issue was not so much maintenance as excruciating pain.

I actually picked a dentist out of my insurance book at random, one with an address in my general neighborhood, close enough that I could crawl there.

This was Gail Kautzmann, DDS, in South Everett, in case you’re looking for someone comfortable with patients who wait decades to get their teeth cleaned.

And when I showed up the other day, after another long absence, she seemed nonchalant, scraping and rinsing and catching me up on her kids.

The lesson here, obviously, is that I should floss and brush at least as often as I mow, perhaps more often.

And do laundry, too, as summer is obviously coming and I’m pretty sure those shorts were a gag gift.

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