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.

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Rowen
Rowen
13 years ago

Ah Health Care… one big draw back from moving from Canada to the US :P

warcrygirl
13 years ago

JB is a freakin’ genius! Let me know when he invents the self-cleaning toilet, the self cleaning litterbox, etc.

Ashley
13 years ago

I sure hope you get reimbursed for that prescription, fucking hell. The healthcare system in this country is downright embarrassing.

And fucking HIGH FIVE JB! Love the site, such a great invention.

Katy B.
13 years ago

Sigh…I feel your pain. I had to pay $600 a month for COBRA when I was single and between jobs. My MS meds cost about $23,000 a year out-of-pocket. Were I still single, and without good insurance coverage, I would not be taking this medication. I don’t understand how, in any logical system, the same medicine costs me $35 for a three-month mail-order supply with the coverage I have now.

Kudos to you guys for taking a tenuous (and exciting) step! I made some big decisions based on having health insurance in my 20s, and while I don’t regret it, I resent it just a tad.

Best of luck to your family!

Marie Green
13 years ago

Ohhhh, HEALTHCARE. My husband is self-employed AND a type 1 diabetic. So this means a) we have no company health insurance because if he were to offer it to his employees, being that he’s a diabetic, THEIR premiums would be sky high and b) he can’t get private health insurance because no one will insure a diabetic. THANKFULLY, we live in a state that has a plan called MN Comprehensive, where anyone who can’t get private insurance can get coverage through them. However, his premiums are more per month than the private plan that our three girls and I are on. We all have high deductables- $2000 a piece, AND we have to pay for all of our prescriptions until we meet our deductable.

Soooo…. we literally pay more every month for healthcare than for our house.

Also? A couple of years ago, I had a baby, then went on to have 5 related surgeries (man, that delivery was a bitch), my husband had profound hearing loss, my daughter needed ear tubes, my other daughter broke her arm. During that time we spent over $12,000 meeting deductibles ALONE because a couple of us met our deductible 2 years in a row, even though all of the said events happened in under 12 months.

SO.
FUCKING.
WRONG.

Man, you probably didn’t need me to dump my own sob story here. I’m off to let my husband drool over JB’s website.

Kisses for your non sleeping baby!

Laura
Laura
13 years ago

I hear ya about the health insurance. We just made a similar move to you, but backwards. We WERE self-employed, but hubby recently started working for a big company. Part of the reason for this move was unease about the economy, but a major factor in our decision to make this move was health insurance. Like you, we have 2 little ones, so insurance is a must-have. Every year that we had our own insurance (through our company) the monthly cost of the insurance increased 18%. Yup. 18%. And we’re healthy. And not on any expensive medications. So, the “affordable” insurance that we started with for our family around $700 per month became $1,100 over 3 years, with less coverage offered every year. Grrr! I am extremely thankful for the job my husband has now… so much less to worry about!

Trina
Trina
13 years ago

I am not even going there with the health care in this country. I have considered starting a blog because of it.

Tell JB and his company thank you from a person who had a mother-in-law (a very awesome one) die because of MRSA (not the flesh eating type) in the hospital. I hope that every hospital in the country has his product by the end of the year. It will save lives.

jonniker
13 years ago

Health insurance is miserable. Miserable. I have real-live health insurance from an actual, brand-name company you’d recognize (albeit through the state-slash-employer, long story), and for the birth of my kid, I will pay at least $4K out of pocket, fulfilling my deductible, but leaving an outstanding $5K+ for Adam and the wee sprout to soak up over the course of the year.

And even after meeting our hilariously high deductibles, we’re still only reimbursed 80/20 for procedures. So 20% is left outstanding, ergo the $4K for me & Sproutypants. Yay, healthcare!

Everyone should have an HSA, by the way, if you have a high-deductible account. At the very least you get some cash back at tax time, and at least half the people who have eligible plans don’t have them.

Liz
Liz
13 years ago

It seems like I spend half my life swapping around my patients’ medications to accommodate various insurance plans’ formularies and the other half calling for authorization on medications they need but aren’t covered. I just had a patient who had to stay in the hospital an extra 5 days because he we couldn’t figure out how to get him the life-preserving injectable blood thinner he needs. It was going to cost him $1200 a month–and he has insurance! We finally cobbled together a plan involving the hospital sucking it up and paying for his meds until he becomes eligible for a state plan that will help him cover it. And he’s one out of many. For someone who works with a lot of working poor and variably insured folks like I do, it’s painfully obvious that our current system is not viable in the long term.

I love the idea of a self-disinfecting keyboard, how awesome. I really like the way it works, too. Hopefully it’s fast though–there is a constant stream of people circling the workstations at our hospital waiting for them to open up, like mall shoppers in a parking lot at Christmas. I think the down time is approximately 1.6 seconds, or just enough time to pretend that you thought the last user was leaving rather than just getting up to get another chart.

Tessa
Tessa
13 years ago

Everyone should move to North Dakota. I didn’t realize it when I lived there, (I was young and stupid and wrapped up in many other things) but I had the best health insurance ever. The deductible was $100, the out of pocket max was $650, and it paid for nearly every penny of my husband’s $4 million (yes, million) in cancer treatments over 8 years. Now that I’ve moved away, and I work for a doctor’s office, I hear every day about patients having to choose between their medications and pretty much everything else in their lives. So sad.

Pam
Pam
13 years ago

Same thing happened to me. Change of insurance, medication no longer covered, suddenly I was presented with a bill for more than triple what it had cost before. I switched to a generic that doesn’t work as well, but at least it’s down to something we can [barely] afford.

And the self-cleaning keyboard? Needs to be marketed to colleges with public computer labs. I say this as I sit here sniffling from yet another cold, no doubt picked up from school.

Karen
Karen
13 years ago

OMG I never realised you had to pay so much per month for healthcare in the US!
I live in the UK, and we have the NHS – and despite it’s shortcomings with waiting lists for operations, having problems finding NHS dentists and always being in the press for having poor cleaniliness (though I’ve never seen anywhere bad) – I thank the government for still having it!
We, obviously, pay through our taxes for it – but I don’t pay anywhere near $1200 per month in taxes – in fact me and partner don’t between us! Yoiks!

Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

I don’t know what we would do without my health insurance!

Also, self-sanitizing keyboard, genius. I worked in an office where we all shared computers and it was awful, if one person got sick everybody got sick.

Haley
Haley
13 years ago

Well done JB! I’ll be emailing his website to my contact in Infection control at a group of local hospitals.
I live in Canada, I have watched sicko and have heard the horror stories, but $1800? that’s insane.

Ash
Ash
13 years ago

Before they get self sanitizing keyboards, maybe he could design some fancy doctor appealing chart that might actually get those ***’s to wash their hands and change their gloves.

I have a thousand terrible, criminal examples of cross contamination that I have witnessed first hand just with my own care (or lack thereof). I’ll give you two anecdotes:
(1) Cut off my finger. Wound bleeding profusely. Nurse telling me to be EXTRA CAREFUL DEAR that I don’t get it infected, while she (with my blood covered gloves on) goes out into the hall, opens a cabinet, rifles through the cupboard, picks up a bandage packet and comes back. Yeah, no. You can’t touch me, you HAVE GOT to change your gloves.

(2) Husband had terrible vasectomy complication. Went in for check up. Doctor gloved up. Then opened the door, left, came back and went to pick up the tools. The look on his face when we asked him to change his gloves. (Yeah no wonder my hub left the hospital WITH an infection you filthy…)

Oh and one story that doesn’t involve me personally — while accessing our short term disability coverage with our agent, he tells us to consider ourselves somewhat lucky because he just had to file for a guy who got C.Difficle. FROM HIS DENTIST.

The tremendous lack of handwashing and glove changing in the medical industry pisses me off so thoroughly…. it’s no wonder MRSA and CDIFF are running wild, these guys can’t even wash their hands after they take a shit.

Shawna
Shawna
13 years ago

I live in Canada too but our healthcare system doesn’t cover drugs. Having said that though, I don’t know if the prices are lower here for the same drugs that are so expensive in the U.S.

My job actually has a drug plan – handy for a person such as myself whose migraine medication can run $100 a pill (which leads me to believe that our drugs aren’t that much cheaper, except that that’s in Canadian money.) At least I don’t have to pay for doctor’s visits, and having a c-section in the hospital with a 3-night stay costs $660 dollars if you want a private room and nothing if you don’t mind being in the ward. Even then, my job’s private insurance covered the private room for me. I think such a situation can cost tens of thousands of dollars in the U.S., correct?

Kristi
Kristi
13 years ago

Health care is my number one concern right now. My husband and I are self-employed with a baby, and my husband has colitis, so we have to have health insurance.

Just found out that our rates are going up $40 a month this year, so $450. Plus our $6000 family deductible. Oh, and I can’t get pregnant for 18 months from when I started with this insurance company, or they won’t cover it. What kind of BS is that?

Last time I checked, pregnancy lasts 9 months, not 18, so it is hardly a pre-existing condition. This policy should be illegal.

Belle
Belle
13 years ago

Adult son is going without health insurance because he cannot afford it after being laid off. Scares me to death. I hate to think how many people are in his shoes but you know there are millions.

I wish there was a way to sanitize piano keys! An overhead light? Something? The only bad cold I got last year was due, I am sure, to playing the same piano a zillion other people had played that week at the college where I take lessons. And I doubt they are wiping them down – and the piano teacher has been sick on and off all winter. Hmm, wonder why?

Our healthcare programs at the college teach handwashing but the students are always amazed at how many germs they did NOT get after checking their hands with a black light after the scrubbing. I don’t think they take it seriously…..and evidently they don’t once they are out in the field working, either!

Tony
13 years ago

If Stargate and Stargate Atlantis are any indication, they probably won’t end Battlestar Gallactica well. Their new thing is cancelling the show and doing straight to DVD movies.

Stargate was around for 10 years, so I could understand that, but Stargate Atlantis was only 4 seasons and all indications were it was getting pretty decent ratings, probably very high for Sci-Fi channel. I didn’t see that one coming.

eliz
13 years ago

We’re among the uninsured entrepreneurs, and not having health insurance causes me more stress than not having a paycheck. I have eight pills left from a prescription back when we were still eligible for COBRA and just today I was thinking about WTF I’m going to do to get another RX. And how the hell my husband is going to live through spring in the blossoming, pollen-choked Southeast without allergy shots. Then I listen to all the rhetoric about this economic situation we’re in and how it’s a great time to get back to basics and appreciating the little things and all I can think is, Yeah, we were really living a high-flying lifestyle, what with our ultra-luxurious HMO. I sure am glad the economy smacked us upside the head or we never would have stopped to count our blessings or whatever the hell it is all these pro-recession commercials would have us believe.

Lindy
13 years ago

makes me thank god every single day that I moved to England. It’s not the state of the art, top of the line, grade A health care we have in the US but at least I get my meds cheapy, don’t have to pay to see my Doc and had my daughter in the hospital and didn’t receive a medical bill in the mail. Socialized medicine isn’t the answer to all problems (I’m thinking waiting lists) but it has got to be better than what we currently have. What good is all the state of the art, top of the line, grade A health care if no one can afford to actually use it!!

Swistle
13 years ago

I’m reading through the comments, and I hadn’t realized our insurance was so expensive but now I DO realize and I am CHEESED OFF. We pay over $1000 per month (it’s not because we have so many kids: the “family” plan is the same for one kid or five) and Paul works for a good company.

patois
13 years ago

$26,000 in medical bills last year, including the amount I paid each month to have our family covered via COBRA. I wish I could afford to have us all drink baby formula, but we’ve cut back to cat food only.

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com

What a cool product idea! I hope it sells well! Go forth, JB, and market =)

Hillary
13 years ago

Amen, Lindy.

I’m a health reporter and just wrote a story about this. Most of the people getting laid off down here are ending up going without health insurance because affording COBRA is impossible. The stories are heartbreaking. Meanwhile, I have insurance, but the damn deductibles. Jonniker is right about the HSAs.

Also, super exciting stuff from JB. Good luck.

Sarah
13 years ago

I’m in Canada, and I had a daughter who was hospitalized for 5 months. We paid nothing for her care, and for the brief time she was home, we paid $2 per prescription for her meds (that’s some government program only for kids). I have a friend in the US whose preemie has been in the hospital for months (who they just found out has MRSA), and she’s got friends doing bake sales and all sort of other things to raise money because her husband just lost his job and his insurance. I think it’s criminal that she has to stress about money while she’s stressing about her baby’s life.

Jenny
Jenny
13 years ago

Health care is a crazy mess. And I have no idea on your politics and this is sure to probably get me banned or to start some sort of comment war, but I was thrilled that Obama plans to go through with trying to get some sort of healthcare plan through even with the recession. I think healthcare costs are a huge reason why the automakers are in trouble and a huge reason why so many companies are having trouble right now. I don’t think universal healthcare will be perfect and everyone will probably need to realize that it will likely be a high deductible type of plan, but I think it will save us all money in the long run and will also help our economny.

And congrats to JB on his new business! How awesome :)

ikate
13 years ago

I am on the opposite end of the healthcare spectrum in that after YEARS of paying through the nose for crappy coverage (cost over $4k out of pocket for my newborn to spend 16 hours-not days, HOURS- at the hospital under bili-lights for jaundice when our premium was over $600/month) I now have wonderful, magical coverage. And last year when I found myself unexpectedly hospitalized for 9 days I didn’t pay a single penny out of pocket. Premium cost for this wonderful, magical coverage is less then $300 a month for our family. With every statement of coverage I receive from my new provider I am flabbergasted at the fact that I don’t owe anything and thinking about what that hospital stay would have cost under our old insurance. Not to mention thinking about how other people cope with those kinds of bills without the wonderful, magical coverage.

And congrats to JB on the new product and company! I will need to do some digging around at work to see if I can find a contact or two at the giant mid-west hospital I work at to send his way (we seem to be in the news WAAAYYY too often over staph infections).

NancyJak
13 years ago

Welcome to the wonderful world of the self-employed and the horrors of finding affordable health insurance!
My husband and his employee are on a group plan while my son and I are on a $1500 deductible individual plan. Of course my son and I both met our deductibles in the middle of December! I won’t go on my husband’s plan because we’d pay the same amount for FAMILY with 3 people as someone with 8 people. That’s not very fair but it’s just the way the insurance carrier structures their rates.
I worked in the health insurance business in Connecticut for quite a few years so when I decided to quit my job and my husband decided to go out on his own, we got an individual plan. But then an old illness of his which was ridered on the ind. plan came back so knowing what I knew, we enrolled him a one person group plan (check with a knowledgeable health insurance agent for options everyone!), and because group plans have/or had automatic acceptance, his illness and subsequent surgery was covered.
Did you know you can possible taylor your health insurance plan into “groups” so that your owners have a different type of plan than the employees.
Also, in small groups – usually under 20 – claims experience for each individual group are not used for your renewals. You’re all in a pool and the claims for that whole pool are used. I’ve only seen that done for very large groups.

aimee
13 years ago

That sounds like a great product! GOOD LUCK!

Steve
13 years ago

Linda – As a former MS employee, JB should join the Microsoft Alumni network ( http://www.msanet.org/ ) .. They have discounted medical plans thru eHealth and Aetna that are WAY cheaper than Cobra.

Emily
Emily
13 years ago

Sorry if someone has already said this, but you should look into other options besides Cobra, you may be able to get descent coverage for much less than $1200/month.

Melissa H
13 years ago

You are so right about (lack of) healthcare being a barrier to entrepreneurism. I don’t know if we could get private coverage (after cobra) so we’ll be keeping the government jobs as long as they last. It’s a sucky reason to be tied to a workplace. I’m glad you and JB have made it work but wow does that sound pricey :(

Kathryn
Kathryn
13 years ago

Ugh, medical costs. I’m paying off $2800 for TWO rabies shots. That the hospital made me get, even though in Oregon, there has never been a case of a cat with rabies. Didn’t even finish out the series of five, and I’ve been paying the bills for the past year and a half (I am finally free next year). While it gives me a hell of a story to tell (I mean, who else do you know who has gotten rabies shots?), I really don’t think that the enjoyment I get from telling the story is equal to $2800.

ritchiewoman
13 years ago

Frackin’ healthcare.

Well, we’ve been self-employed for 8 years and it took us 5 years to figure out if we incorporate we can get health insurance without being rejected for that pesky jaw surgery I had in 1988. It’s not the cheapest – and it was just increased $100 a month because frack it, they can. But we’re all covered for under $1000 a month. It’s high co-pays, but it’s better that what we had before, which was basically nothing. If you want the details, email me. And way to go JB! I remember when I was telling you about Handi Habitats, you said you and JB were talking about how awesome it would be not to work for the man. There are obvious drawbacks, i.e. insurance, but for the most part, it’s been really a lifesaver. It’s hard, especially at the beginning, but when it starts paying off it’s so much more than just money – it’s the feeling of satisfaction that we actually pulled it off. It looks like a great idea!

G.
G.
13 years ago

We were in a similar situation with the overpriced COBRA payments and found that while with a pre-existing condition it didn’t make sense to take me off the policy, we were able to insure our daughter for about $200 less a month through an individual pay policy. Definitely worth a call to a broker to find out about options.

Amber S
Amber S
13 years ago

The last time I had a lapse in insurance coverage I was diagnosed with cancer. Six years later, I’m still paying for it.

Oh, and your nannerpus/suctopus video
has inspired me to order this:

http://www.cafepress.com/dropkicked.361392463

You could make a pretty penny selling sucto-nannerpus
t-shirts.

Naomi in Oz
Naomi in Oz
13 years ago

Just another reason that I get pissed off when Australians complain about paying a max of $34 dollars for a prescription. Most are only around the $20 mark. The government picks up the rest of the tab.
Medicare and the Australian health system has it’s drawbacks, but it’s still pretty good. Last year I spent a year in hospital with asthma for 4 days. Xrays, blood tests, medications, single room. Cost? NOTHING!! Yep, the Aussie government picked up the whole bill.

Lesley
Lesley
13 years ago

All I can say is I am so glad I live in Canada where we still have universal health care. I pay $70 a month and that covers me for all my medical care and 80% of all prescription meds. Our government is itching to privatize care and expand the private insurance (read: for profit insurance) but smarter Canucks will fight this tooth and nail because we’re aware of how appalling the health system is in the US and do not want to find ourselves in the same insane trap. Health care should be looked after by gov’t, period.

Lesley
Lesley
13 years ago

Forgot to mention, the pharmaceutical industry is a huge rip off. The same drugs you US citizens pay through the eyeballs for cost less in Canada and even less in third world countries. Pharmaceutical companies will charge whatever the market will bear.

Lesley
Lesley
13 years ago

Btw, kudos to JB. I would love a self-sanitizing keyboard. Also, self-santizing eyeglasses. Hello, nanotechnonology…I am sick of cleaning smudges off my friggin’ glasses every five minutes! Mebbe he can branch out!

babelbabe
13 years ago

Maybe look into mail-order drugs? I switched my prescription filling from the neighborhood pharmacy to a mail order one, where I got three months for the price of one because of the way the doc has to write the scrip. It’s worth looking into…I use Medco but I am sure there are others. Good luck!
In the meantime, I know – healthcare costs suck. We have what most people – and I – consider great insurance these days and I still pay out the nose for co-pays. I hope JB’s company takes off and it isn’t an issue…

Jennifer
13 years ago

Ugh. Healthcare. I’m thankful every day for our amazing insurance even though I’m sodomized every January if I don’t time my refills out right. Suck it, deductible!

Good on JB! That’s an amazing product and I’m sure it will be a smashing success. God knows we could use it where I work – we had an office wide bout of pink eye and the stomach flu within a period of a couple of weeks because we’re sentenced to one common (filthy, diseased) workspace.

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

Ouch. I just finished a big mixed-bag birthday whine including the cost of a miscarriage, even having ‘good’ insurance: http://hardtobehuman.blogspot.com/2009/03/in-my-next-29-years.html.

I hope the Vioguard takes off – that’s very cool!

Jacqueline
13 years ago

I moved from Australia to Canada – so I’ve always had universal healthcare.

That is one stupid system you have down there. What’s worse? Not enough people in the US want to fix it!

Heather
13 years ago

Oh the healthcare horrors! I’m Canadian, and when I moved to the U.S. 4 years ago, it took my husband a long time to explain to me A) why we have to pay for healthcare every month even when we haven’t been to a doctor or hospital that month, B) Why, if we DO go to a doctor or hospital that month, we have to pay even MORE, and C) it’s how f#*&ing much????
I was prescribed injectible blood thinners when pregnant, for the low, low price of only $1100/month. Eventually, my insurance picked that up, but $1800??? I cannot imagine.

anna
anna
13 years ago

Wow! Cool! That is so Hi-techy man! Go JB!

potty
potty
13 years ago

I agree with those who say look into a HSA coupled with a competitive insurance policy. While on COBRA so you never have a lapse in coverage, find an agent who will look into your reasonable options. My nanny, age 60, having a pre-existing condition and lapse in coverage, made an arrangement that cost $600 per month total (including all drugs, copays, laser eye surgery, etc.), is tax deductible, and will go down once she’s been on the plan for a full year. Not sure what a family plan would cost but it’s worth giving it a serious look.

I wish more Americans were aware of this option, which is open to everyone. Even an unexpectedly unemployed person (who can’t afford COBRA) should try to get on a high-deductible individual plan, so as to avoid a lapse in coverage. Too bad this often isn’t understood until it’s too late.

parodie
parodie
13 years ago

From outside the US, I have to say that the even more astounding thing (beyond the price of meds) is that even if you’re willing to pay not everyone is eligible for health insurance. Unbelievable. One blogger I follow had a horrible time trying to find a company that would cover his young daughter: http://www.reallivepreacher.com/node/1315 .

Caleal
13 years ago

I’ve never, ever had health insurance. Every time I get sick I hope and pray that it doesn’t turn into anything I can’t handle.

I fell down the stairs once. I never went to a hospital even though I was pretty sure I broke my thumb. I couldn’t afford it. So now I just have… uhm… a limited range of motion in my thumb. I can’t even move it half as much as the other.

It’s infuriating to not be allowed to be as healthy, as on top of it as everyone else.

Something definitely needs to be done, but I find it hard to believe it will ever happen. I’m pessimistic that way.