Hey, if you’re sick of talking about formula marketing, you want to talk about health care costs instead? I just paid over $1800 for a one-month supply of medication yesterday, so the topic is sort of on my mind at the moment, along with other important issues such as how in the GODS’ names are they going to wrap up Battlestar Galactica with just three more episodes and dude when is Dylan going to start sleeping better WHEN?

So yeah, $1800. When JB left Microsoft, we knew there would be a brief gap between when our insurance was dropped and COBRA picked up, but I didn’t manage to time my prescription refill so that it wouldn’t fall directly into that gap and what what, this costs how much? We should in theory be getting reimbursed for that expense but my god, I keep thinking about people who don’t have coverage or their coverage doesn’t pay for insanely expensive drugs that don’t have generic equivalents and seriously, sixty dollars per pill? No wonder I have family members who routinely buy prescription meds overseas during their vacations and essentially become cruisewear-sporting drug mules, because what the hell else can you do when you can’t afford the insurance that would pay for the medication you need?

Health care was our biggest concern about JB starting his new business, because Microsoft basically has the best medical benefits in the known universe. We’ll be on COBRA for 18 months, but after that we’ll need to get private insurance or JB’s company will need to buy a policy for its employees. In the meantime, the COBRA plan which provides us with the same level of free healthcare that we’ve had for the last several years now costs us $1200 per month.

What a massive barrier for anyone considering an entrepreneurial path — especially someone with a family to support — and yet another reason the economy’s going to keep circling the goddamned drain until some changes are made, what a profoundly fucked-up situation it is that everyone in our country doesn’t have access to good healthcare, and what a crime against humanity that one pill should cost sixty dollars and DOESN’T EVEN GET YOU HIGH.

Anyway. Blah, blah, blah, Sicko etc blah.

On a more positive healthcare-related topic, JB’s new company is called Vioguard, and their first product is a self-sanitizing keyboard that uses UV light to destroy bacteria on its surfaces. The idea is to help cut down on infections that can be spread via shared workstations in healthcare facilities, so patients will be less likely to have their flesh be eaten by MRSA and other diseases when they go to the hospital. Also, I’m pretty sure it works on zombies, so obviously I’m quite proud of his new endeavor.


86 Responses to “More grousing from the peanut gallery”

  1. michelle on March 1st, 2009 5:30 pm

    OMG. Desperately want self-sanitizing keyboard. Unfortunately, employed by govt. agency that will probably not spring for that anytime soon. Will continue to be disgusted by male co-workers using same keyboard. (Not being sexist; particular male co-workers very gross).

  2. Sarah0 on March 1st, 2009 7:37 pm

    OMG. A self-sanitizing keyboard! You know where else that would be awesome? A school. Particularly in my classroom of germy 10-year-olds who constantly sneeze and cough into their hands and then proceed to touch every single surface of the room…on their way to the hand sanitizer.

  3. willikat on March 1st, 2009 7:51 pm

    i am still haunted by two pharmacy sightings: one, an old man barely able to stand, with a prominent tremor, who could barely write the check out for his drugs…which he told the pharmacist he couldn’t afford. my blood is boiling just thinking about it. i felt so sad for him, and i wished i wouldn’t have been in college and ic ould have helped him out. that was a few years ago.
    a few weeks ago, another man who looked like he’d worked hard for a living his whole life, who thought he should be covered but yet his prescription cost him $450. the way he wrote out HIS check . . . it was like he couldn’t believe he was doing it. and he stopped and looked at the register display: $450. yep, that’s really what it said.
    it makes me crazy that ANYONE should suffer or spend that kind of money on medication. we’re supposed to be the richest nation in the world.
    health insurance also keeps a lot of freelancers from freelancing full time. . . not that i’d know about that. ;-/
    on a happier note–good luck to JB! That is an awesome idea.

  4. Lori on March 1st, 2009 8:29 pm

    WOW! $1800 for one month? I am probably in the minority here but I don’t see health insurance as the problem. Why in $%^% is the COST of the care, the medicine… so expensive? Health insurance should be like car insurance. Really only necessary in extreme car-totalling type situations. Everyday broken arm, sinus infection type maintenance issues should be affordable.

  5. it remains to be seen on March 1st, 2009 9:09 pm

    It remains to be seen, of course, whether those expensive drugs would be available at all if we nationalized health care. Particularly for the elderly, who, according to a the architects of the proposed health system of the Obama administration, should just admit to themselves that they are old, dying, and have no business taking drugs or getting treatments.

    Think HSA.

  6. Heather C on March 1st, 2009 9:20 pm

    My father has been in the hospital for almost three weeks now, and I am grateful every day that we’re in Canada and don’t have to pay for it. It’s not a perfect system by a long shot, but when a loved one is going through a health scare, the last thing you want to think about is whether or not you can afford their hospitalization. I think it’s criminal that people in the US have to worry about that.

    And just to reply to Shawna upthread, Quebec has prescription drug insurance. It’s also mandatory– either you subscribe to the government plan or you have to have coverage through your employer. My birth control pills cost me less than $4 a month. It’s a lifesaver (literally) for people like my dad, who is on something like six different meds.

  7. GB on March 1st, 2009 9:54 pm


    Lots of Canadians have mentioned having cheaper drug prices in Canada…that’s because the government controls the price that drug manufacturers are allowed to sell their drugs at.

  8. Frank on March 1st, 2009 9:54 pm

    Do you know yet how much the keyboards will be selling for?

  9. Lindsay on March 2nd, 2009 6:43 am

    Hmmm, I don’t know that the Canada USA comparisons are fair. I think we pay for our health care in other ways too…hello EI that I will never collect on ever! And fucking dollar a litre gas, and $1,800 a year car insurance for a Chev Colorado and and and…and I think a one sentence “my system is perfect and yours is facked,” is a bit over simplifying no? If it were that easy, this shit wouldn’t be a problem.

    I hope they get both systems figured out though, it’s sad to hear all these stories.

    Go JB! And Dylan for the love of God go to sleep!

  10. Christina on March 2nd, 2009 8:51 am

    I do not have time to read all of the comments but our company is very small (about 20 full time employees) and we just went to a cafeteria style health plan. It works well for both the young people in the office as well as the older ones. I think they are usually called Health Saving Accounts. Anyway, that is something to consider for JB to cut back on costs (it saved our management AND us (the employee) a lot of money to do this BTW!)

  11. Lisa on March 2nd, 2009 8:59 am

    De-lurking to give you a lead on healthcare options: Many people I know who own their own business or are independent contractors have gotten affordable, decent-coverage healthcare through their local Chamber of Commerce. You and JB should check it out.

    Good luck with the transition – it takes a lot of guts! The only reason I have the nerve to make a change next year is because my job is moving out of state and I’m not. I also have the safety net of a husband with a state job.

  12. Misty on March 2nd, 2009 9:32 am

    Well, that is a timely product and so needed. MRSA has affect THREE of my colleagues in the past 6 months, causing one of them to lose three limbs when she went into the hospital to deliver her baby.

    It is *such* a tragedy and a problem.

  13. MRW on March 2nd, 2009 9:54 am

    My husband and I have been saying the same thing to each other about BG since watching Sunday’s episode. It’s all going to hell in a handbasket!

    Health insurance just sucks. My mother, father and sister in law are all self-employed and their health insurance is just outrageous. One of the reasons I returned to working for the federal government is that the insurance was decent – not as great as people might think, but it’s better than the insurance my husband has been offered in any of his private sector jobs. The state of health insurance in this country is so disappointing because I know we can do better.

  14. Lauren on March 2nd, 2009 10:39 am

    Holy shit, don’t even get me started on the frickin’ health care costs. I am SO SORRY! That is just insane.

    But, just a message for JB – BRILLIANT idea! Don’t get boxed into just the medical specialty, though. I work in law enforcement and I am thinking these would be awesome in jails, evidence lockers, forensic labs, etc. Contamination is a huge issue for us and these would be perfect!

    Good luck on the new endeavor!

  15. Andrea on March 2nd, 2009 10:41 am

    We have antibacterial keyboards and mice (I work for a healthcare company…) They seem to work, I think.

    Good luck to JB and his new venture!

  16. Rachel on March 2nd, 2009 10:50 am

    Have you checked what your prescription would cost if you got it from Costco? They sell drugs at only slightly over wholesale cost. My great-uncle needs a wheelbarrow to carry around all his drugs, which would cost him about $18,000 per month (with insurance) at Walgreens but only (hah, only) costs $1900 per month at Costco.

    I very much recommend talking to an insurance broker, good ones are worth their weight in gold and for personal insurance costs nothing. I use these guys http://www.heffgroup.com. Their company motto is answer the phone and have fun, so they tend to attract the best.

  17. Michele on March 2nd, 2009 11:09 am

    For that price I am guessing it is a Specialty drug and not one that can be found as a generic. In general, docs need to try lower cost drugs before going to the latest and greatest, not saying this didn’t happen. If you had to pay for COBRA then you had to pay for it back to the first day of COBRA, so it will be reimbursed according to the Plan you guys had. If anyone was laid off after 9/1/08 new Fed law just passed that states you will get COBRA at 35% of the price for the next 9 months. Your former employer has until 4/18/09 to tell you about this.

  18. bad penguin on March 2nd, 2009 11:15 am

    I have diabetes and infertility. There’s pretty much no way any company will ever sell me a policy outside of group coverage, which means I’m pretty much going to have to have a full time job with benefits for the rest of my life. It’s not that I don’t like my job, but it would be nice to have other options.

    You’re right, it is a HUGE barrier to entrepreneurship, and frankly, healthcare costs are part of what is dragging down big companies like the automakers. I hope that the Obama administration gets somewhere with healthcare reform.

    Also, good luck JB! That product sounds like a great idea.

  19. Katherine on March 2nd, 2009 11:41 am

    I’ll probably be roasted on a spit for what I’m about to say, but here it is. You can’t look at any of this in isolation. We want the best drugs available for our own conditions, but we don’t want to have to help pay for our neighbor’s drugs. We want to see our doctors and specialists any time we want, and we want to sue the hell out of them if they make a (human) mistake. We want them to save our preemie babies, replace our organs, cure our cancers, and keep our old folks going until the end of time. And there are those who work in various roles within the healthcare industry to feel they deserve to make bucketloads of money for their bright ideas and (sometimes) hard work. All of that has to be paid for. And it’s not going to get any cheaper unless every level of interaction is scrutinized. There are a whole lot of people taking drugs and having medical proceedures to compensate for unhealthy lifestyles (not saying you’re one of them, Linda). There are a whole lot of doctors pushing prescriptions to people who don’t need them because the drug companies incent them to do so. There are a whole lot of people who use emergency rooms because they let conditions go too long and don’t see the doctor when they should. And I think insurance of any kind should be a non-profit business, but I bet there are MBAs out there who will argue against that for some very compelling (to some) reasons.

    I’m glad we have a president who is making healthcare reform one of his top three priorities. But it’s not going to get fixed until each and every one of us gets a lot more realistic about what we need and why we’re paying so much for it.

  20. sdg on March 2nd, 2009 11:44 am

    BSG wont be wrapped up. It will don on hiatus for three years, and they will make 2 more movies and another spinoff which also wont come to TV, but go straight to DVD. Then they will cobble together yet another new ending with 8 more episodes added. Adama will be played from a wheelcahir held together by Cylon glue, and the President will be a genetically enhanced version of Apollo and Starbuck carried to term by the boxed-line.

  21. Stephanie Parnell on March 2nd, 2009 11:49 am

    I have worked at a hospital for the last 7 years and definately just forwarded his website on to 2 people that would hopefully get his product on the radar at our company (We have 4 large facilities and a few smaller ones, approx. 8 facilities all together). The only problem is that I was unable to find pricing on the product and with all the vendors that they get contacting the hospital each day it may be difficult to provoke real interest without knowing the financial aspect. But what an awesome product he has there, I hope he is able to succeed!

  22. bj on March 2nd, 2009 12:05 pm

    You should definitely forward yoru story to our Reps in Washington (Patty & Murray for sure), and yeah, Reichert — right, for you?

    I think this tying of health insurance to a job is weighing very heavily on the economy, limiting people’s mobility, limiting company’s flexibility, and grandfathering the old way of doing things. It’s like the old style pension funds, which have now mostly disappeared; the scheme just doesn’t make sense in a world where jobs move around so much.

  23. kim on March 2nd, 2009 12:09 pm

    I had to watch this PBS Frontline program for a class I was taking – and I wish everyone in the US would watch it:

    I think healthcare/coverage is like most things – until it impacts you it isn’t a big deal. When it does finally impact you – the big deal is so much bigger than you ever dreamed it might be. I worked for doctors for a couple of years – and the ones I worked for were only mad that they didn’t make as much money as they used to (by screwing over insurance companies). Not that they didn’t still – just wasn’t as easy as it used to be.

    Anyway – I think it is easy for people who don’t know too much about it to get sucked into extreme points of view – that if we have universal healthcare we’ll have terrible doctors, outdated technology and ridiculous waits to get medical care.

    The PBS program visits 5 counties and explores their national healthcare – compares it to what the US currently has. Choosing national healthcare isn’t just one pat answer – there are many permutations in that – many that I think even the most squemish-about-it-Americans would be comfortable with.

    One of the methods cut out the paperwork/bureaucratic part out – and to me that is one of the most expensive aspects of current US care – cut that part out and allocate that expense elsewhere alone would save billions.

    I still find it incredible that we live in a country that believes in public education for all – but healthcare only to the insured…so if you manage to stay alive, the US will educate you…

  24. Amy on March 2nd, 2009 12:32 pm

    Self-sanitizing keyboard? To a germa-phobe, such as myself, that sounds AWESOME!!

  25. Jacqueline on March 2nd, 2009 9:26 pm

    Lindsay – I know of no one declaring bankruptcy over car insurance or the price of gas. We pay higher taxes, sure.

    However, in the US you can go broke paying your medical bills. That does not happen in Canada (nor other countries with universal healthcare).

  26. Lindsay on March 2nd, 2009 10:02 pm

    Totally true Jacqueline!

    My point was just that I think birth control costs more than $4 a month and we Cdns do pay more than $70 a month for coverage when you look at the big picture (those were 2 comments I saw). I think it’s misleading to pretend our system is that financially efficient.

  27. Leah on March 2nd, 2009 11:04 pm

    A few weeks ago I got my bills for birthing my child. $40,000 for my completely routine, uncomplicated delivery and $6,000 for my completely healthy baby, who never even went to the nursery during my hospital stay. My (fracking expensive-as-shit) insurance is supposed to pay for all (or most?) of that, but I’m still holding my breath because what if it doesn’t? WHAT THEN?

  28. jenB on March 3rd, 2009 11:54 pm

    What do you need lovely, let the Canadians help you out. I have all sorts of things in my drug drawer. Honest.

  29. jenB on March 3rd, 2009 11:55 pm

    That was me(above, being flip, but sincerely sympathetic. xo

  30. Stacey on March 7th, 2009 1:42 pm

    I am a physical therapist and I work in a variety of settings, and I am SO EXCITED about that keyboard! Wow. That is awesome. I would do a little dance of joy if we had those where I worked. People think I’m nuts cause I carry around the germ-killing wipes and alcohol pads to try to keep keyboards and phones clean. Ugh. Disgusting. Love love love the idea. He’s a genius.

  31. Emme on March 9th, 2009 10:57 am

    When JB’s company goes public I will be the first in line to buy some stock options – this invention sounds like money!!

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