Why Parking Sucks in San Francisco

My wife and I took a trip to the local produce market and realized something about San Francisco when you go shopping. Parking sucks. After a trip to Costco the other day where they expect you to make large purchases, ergo vans, trucks and SUV’s I understand why now. San Francisco doesn’t understand that cars have gotten bigger.

My Nissan Altima which I love doesn’t have fold in rear view mirrors. I wish it did though because I’d have almost a foot walk between cars. I literally have to suck in my gut which isn’t that big and I still have my butt shoved up against the other persons car.

When we had a Dodge Intrepid [which my wife used to refer to as the U.S.S. Intrepid because it was so huge] we bought it used and I asked the dealer selling the car why some of the inside rubber for waterproofing was a bit worn and he showed me by getting out of the car in a tight space. It’s basically because people are rubbing their butts against the rubber siding trying to get out in a tight space.

While I won’t call myself skinny I’m only a few pounds overweight, but I can’t imagine how some very overweight people can get out of their cars to shop. The obvious thing to do would be to widen the spaces, but unfortunately we have a lot more people in the city which means a lot more cars. Maybe they could angle the non-parallel spots to a full 90°. That would at least allow for extra space, but might make things difficult for people to learn how to do.  For me, that wouldn’t be a big deal because I have to do that every time I pull into my driveway.

Two SUV’s parked next to each other is a real comedy of errors to watch because the people are trying to be very careful getting out of the car without slamming their door into the car next to them and it’s even more fun to watch when there are people in both cars because they end up in a stare down waiting to see who hits the other car first. I’d love to say I have a good answer for this, but that’s not my job. That’s the job of the Board of Supervisors to handle and last time I checked I wasn’t one of them.

Healthy San Francisco

Gavin Newson was loved and then hated after he left, but I have to admit that I approve of one thing he did — Healthy San Francisco. I was wary at first because it started by only serving the residents of Chinatown and then moved out into the Mission, but now it includes Brown and Toland which is an excellent health care facility that has several locations around the city and has saved my life a couple of times.

Because of that I have what is called a pre-existing condition. Most people in the 40’s do and because of that when you need to buy health insurance for yourself you usually get turned down or you are offered a plan at a grossly inflated rate. Because of this I applied and was given the San Francisco Health Plan which is a part of Healthy San Francisco. While it turns out that I can’t keep the same doctor I had with Brown and Toland I did get a very well respected doctor who’s right around the corner from him and I have zero co-pay on my visits.

I had a job once where the owner of the company called health insurance a crap shoot. Maybe you’ll need it, maybe you won’t. Nowadays from my experience when you are approaching your 40’s something starts to go wrong with you and you’ll need some kind of medication. Your blood pressure goes up, your cholesterol goes hay-wire. It’s not a crap shoot, but a necessity. You’ll need it and as you get older you’ll need it more. It kind of sucks to get old even though you can be more active as you’re older.

Healthy San Francisco is a good thing. Our insurance prior to being accepted would be costing us around $1500/month and even my doctor’s jaw dropped at that. That doesn’t include co-pays and medications, etc. Incidentally if you are on any forms of generic medications I highly recommend you look into Walgreen’s plan that for $35/year will give your family access to more than 400 generic meds for $12 for three months. It’s a great deal during these times.

Speaking of which, with the economy slowly coming back I’m seeing more part-time work than full time because it’s cheaper to pay two people to do one person’s job than it is to pay one person with benefits and it gives you them a run around the city’s law that employer’s have to provide health benefits. I am at least seeing more jobs offering benefits in San Francisco now and that’s a good thing. I do miss my old doctor, but once I get a job that offers real benefits I’ll transition back to him. The funny thing is that most of the benefits I’ve had in the past have had deductibles on the medications before you started getting them cheaper. One of the medications I take that is widely prescribed costs $120 until you’ve reached the deductible and then it drops down to $30. With the San Francisco Health Plan it’s free. Now if my doctor could add himself to the San Francisco Health Plan I’d be in a perfect world for my health.


Healthcare Reform

Today I’m going to step away from San Francisco a little bit. What I’m going to talk about concerns San Franciscans, as well as everyone else in America. Whether you think you do or not, we all need health care. It doesn’t matter how old you are health coverage is a must. My old employer referred to health insurance as a “crap shoot” you have it so that if you might need it you’ll have coverage.

Then I had a stroke a few months later at 37 years of age. Luckily, I had coverage. I was now given a host of pills to make sure everything was going to be fine with me and it turns out it is. Now most of the drugs are generic so I can get them cheaply without insurance, but there’s still one drug that’s not generic that will be costing me $200/month without insurance. If I go to my doctor I pay $30 for the visit with insurance, without it would cost me $75. What happens if I don’t have insurance and happen to have another stroke or I’m hit by a car [which happened to me when I was 16]. Where do we get the money to pay for it?

Yes, I agree Doctors and Hospitals and Big Pharma need to bring their costs down to the consumer who needs their services, but insurance also needs to come down and be available for everyone. I was paying $428/month for insurance for my family of 3 due to a COBRA subsidy by the government that ended December 31st, 2010. Now I am being told that in order to keep this insurance I would have to pay $1695/month. So I’ve had to look elsewhere for insurance coverage. Luckily I’ve found some and I’m hoping we’ll get accepted.

Now our good friends on Capitol Hill have drafted a Healthcare Reform Bill that went into effect as of March 31st of 2010. Since everyone likes numbers I’ll offer up a few from the analysis of the bill:

Cost: $940 billion over ten years.

Deficit: Would reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the first ten years. That is an updated CBO estimate. Their first preliminary estimate said it would reduce the deficit by $130 billion over ten years. Would reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion dollars in the second ten years.

So while a lot of you will look at the cost first and see $940 billion dollars which is a scary amount, you have to look at the $143 billion we’ll also save over the first 10 years with another $1.2 trillion dollars saved over the next 10 years. OK, 20 years is a long time for the pay off and interest to come back, but it will also give healthcare to everyone in America. If you are on a low income you will be given subsidies and the “doughnut hole” for the fixed income Medicare patients would be removed.

Sounds pretty good right? Well apparently not according to John Boehner our new Speaker of the House who faster than a speeding bullet, announced that the House will vote on January 12th to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill. Apparently our new speaker doesn’t want us all to have access to health care. I would like to urge all of you to read up on this at healthcare.gov where you can find the truth about what’s going on with this bill.

IF you believe that John Boehner is incorrect in trying to get this repealed there is something you can do. There is a group called Mom’s Rising who have put together a petition via the web to send emails from people to government officials telling them you do not support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. All you need to do is give them you name and email address.

Some of you may disagree with me on this, but if you or a family member have an “pre-existing condition” which has a lot of things included you wouldn’t believe [got migraines or are on any medication?], you could be denied insurance or forced to pay a higher rate even if the treatment is inexpensive. If you just want to get your child covered? Most insurance companies won’t take on a child alone. I have a friend who has had to leave the US to live in Costa Rica because he has diabetes and was having to pay $200/month for his medicine which costs him about $20 there. Just think about this for a little while and do some reading at the links I supplied.