My Bank Hates Me, Benny Card Hell and Obamacare


I admit it.

Much of my reluctance to trust Obamacare is built in. President Obama’s previous “reforms” are the beasties that built this mistrust.

You see, my bank hates me.

What were once simple transactions have become lengthy sojourns in red-tapesville. It literally takes me about 15 minutes to cash a check. I’m not talking time spent in lines, I’m talking about 15 minutes from the moment I hand them the check to the minute I get my money.

All this is complicated by my mother’s dementia, which means it takes about 30 minutes to cash one of her checks. She has to sign. I have to sign. My goldfish has to weigh in.

It is a red-tape mess to go to the bank these days.

Are we safer because the normal American now finds that their itty-bitty, almost-empty-by-the-end-of-the-month checking accounts are decorated with regulations like a bureaucratic Christmas tree?

I doubt it.

I learned at my book club this week that one of the member’s sons had his checking account hacked and emptied by someone that the the FBI tells him sent the money to Egypt. All this for the convenience of using a debit card at a gas station. Where were the endless regulations and red tape to block this little bit of larceny? Is that money going to end up in the hands of terrorists?

You got me.

Another area of my life that makes me doubt how well Obamacare is going to work is my Benny card. My job gives me the option to take a set amount of money out of my paycheck each month (before taxes) and set it aside in an account that is dedicated to medical expenses. My employer (the state of Oklahoma) issues me a “Benny Card.”

Benny Cards are supposed to work like a credit cards, only I use them to draw money out of my medical savings account rather than to run up charges. For instance, when I go to the dentist, I hand them the Benny Card to pay for my deductible.

In theory, this is a wonderful way to those of us who don’t itemize on our tax returns to get some of the benefits of itemizing. Instead of taking it off the back end at income tax time, we take if off the front end by paying in advance for our yearly medical expenses.

It sounds wonderful.

And it should be.

But in actual practice, it is a little slice of hell.

I had the misfortune to break a few bones in my foot a year ago. I thought at the time that the Benny Card was going to be a fantastic aid and simplification in paying all the deductibles and such that went with this incredibly expensive experience.

But no. It’s not.

You see, my Benny Card has been frozen for going on a year now. When I go to the dentist and hand them my Benny Card, they try to use it and then hand it back.

“It’s been denied,” they tell me.

I can’t use my own money to pay my own medical expenses, because the government has it, and they won’t give it back to me. Why? You got me.

According to the government functionaries (who appear to have a power over my Benny Card that is absolutely absolute) they can’t “verify” that the surgeries I had on my foot were, in fact, medical in nature.

I had surgery. Hear that word? Surgery — with scalpels and anesthesia and stuff.

I had surgery in a hospital where injured football players travel great distances to have their surgeries. It’s well-known and widely accepted and has been for generations as a medical institution where they do medical stuff. The guy who worked on my foot is a board certified orthopedic surgeon who only does surgeries on people’s bones. That’s what he does.

Where is the question?

But somehow the red-tape mavens don’t see it that way. They can’t accept that this is a legitimate medical expense. No matter what amount and type of documentation they get, it turns out that there is one more piece of documentation with some number nobody on this earth but them ever heard of that they need. Otherwise, the pins and such that were put into my bones were not part of a medical procedure. They were some sort of joyride I took through a masochist’s fun park masquerading as a hospital.

In the meantime, my Benny card for 2013 (I broke my foot in 2012) is frozen.

What that means is that the money I put into it out of my own paycheck now belongs to the government and I can’t use it. It’s not a savings account. It’s a gift to the gov.

My doctor wanted me to have a colonoscopy. In June.

I haven’t done it because my Benny Card — and the money to pay for the colonoscopy — is locked up in red tape hell.

I was supposed to have a mammogram. In June.

I haven’t done that either.

Benny Card, again.

To make things worse, if I don’t use the money locked up in that account, I lose it. The government just … takes it.

Red tape

How does this affect Obamacare?

To answer that question, consider this:  The administration that passed these fool banking regulations that make it a little dose of aggravation to cash a check at my own bank where I have banked for over 20 years also created Obamacare.

Or, consider this: The administration that  enacted regulations that make sure I can’t get my own money to pay for “questionable” medical expenses such as surgery, colonoscopies and mammograms, also enacted Obamacare.

Same folks. Same mindset. Same love of red tape.

We are all going to die — literally — of the delays and yammering demands for sign this, sign that, fill this out while you’re bleeding to death over the clip board.

One thing I have learned from my mother’s many close calls is that medical care from the patient’s perspective always and everlastingly involves answering the exact same questions on the exact same questionnaire over and over and over again. I’ve gotten so I can barely be polite when the receptionist hands me another form to fill out detailing when my 88-year-old mother had her first menstrual period and all about her appendectomy at age 18. And I haven’t even gotten into the repetitive, abusive, yackety-yack about “advance directives.” They drive you totally nuts with that stuff.

Obamacare is the brain storm of the same guy who gave us My-Bank-Hates-Me banking and Benny Card Hell.

Will it work?

In my humble, totally inexpert opinion, only when pigs fly in tight formation and they’re eating snow cones in the infernal regions, it will work. Otherwise, to even ask the question, you gotta be kidding me.

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