How to Get Free Drugs

PRESCRIPTION drugs, douchebag.

Prescription drugs, jackball.

 

If you haven’t done your national duty and signed up for government-mandated health care, a) get back in line, prole but 2) read this first. You can game the system for hundreds of dollars.

We’re not going to discuss the inherent instability of ObamaCare, nor how it was designed to fail so it could be the first step to the inevitability of pure socialized medicine. Hell, you people are the ones who voted for it, not us. Nor are we going to explain how cumbersome, inconsistent, sclerotic and self-contradictory the process of submitting to your bettors and purchasing government-approved insurance is. We already did that, and it hasn’t gotten any better. Click on the link, but we’ll repeat the most ominous line from the ObamaCare user agreement here:

This system and equipment are subject to monitoring to ensure proper performance of applicable security features or procedures. Such monitoring may result in the acquisition, recording and analysis of all data being communicated, transmitted, processed or stored in this system by a user. If monitoring reveals possible evidence of criminal activity, such evidence may be provided to Law Enforcement Personnel.

ANYONE USING THIS SYSTEM EXPRESSLY CONSENTS TO SUCH MONITORING.

Caps in the original.

Our state, Nevada, has given most-favored-insurer status to Culinary Workers Union Local 226, the local Marxists and the creators of the state health exchange. Unions still wield considerable power in the Sagebrush State, due to it having high demand for workers who shut up and do what they’re told without any actual skills getting in the way (coffee servers, roulette dealers, etc.)

So, a young and fit Control Your Cash principal with a grand total of zero major and one minor health problems (easily controlled hypertension) avoided the fine and bought hisself a policy. On the surface, the math doesn’t seem to work out:

The policy is $311 a month, with an obscene $6250 annual deductible. A free market being the last thing you’d want in the purchase and sale of health insurance, that was the least bad policy among the 11 offered. Every last one of those policies includes maternity coverage, despite its sole insured being a) male, 2) pedophobic and iii) permanently sterile. Still, you never know when a guy might wake up one morning and find himself with functioning and fertile ovaries.

(Aside: The user-unfriendliness of the state exchange sites is a given, but what we found especially vexing was what the creators assume about the users’ knowledge. Our own state’s site includes the Frequently Asked Question “What is insurance?”, implying that they’re writing this for the lowest common passably literate denominator. Okay, fine. But the very same site then offers “gold”, “silver” and “bronze” plans, introducing new terms without explaining what the differences among them are. Your only hope is to open a few dozen browser windows and compare one plan to another line-by-line. Our state also offers “catastrophic” beside the precious metal descriptors; we incorrectly assumed that such a policy would cover only, you know, catastrophes. Like broken legs and ruptured spleens. But no, it’s as comprehensive as the platinum plans.)

It’d seem to make more sense to suck it up and pay the $95 fine to the IRS, rather than commit to between $3732 and $6250 in medical spending over the next year. (Because it’s the Affordable Care Act, remember?) One problem, however. The drugs.

The hypertension is controlled with a gift from the greatest corporation on Earth, Novartis. They make a pharmaceutical that completely eradicates the insufferable, debilitating headaches that used to show up regularly and portended a stroke. As far as we’re concerned, the $9 billion Novartis made last year wasn’t nearly as much as they deserved. But such a wonder drug ain’t cheap. Ten bucks a day.

You can either whine about governmental incompetence, or you can use it to your advantage. Drug retailer Walgreens issued a press release on December 30 (a/k/a “United States citizens’ penultimate day of health care freedom) that preempted or at least postponed the deluge:

Walgreens to Provide Up to 30-Day Prescription Supply at No Upfront Cost for Public Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollees Who Have Not Been Assigned an Identification Number

The release was written by a public relations hack, which means it’s 20 times longer than it needs to be, so here’s its only relevant sentence:

Through the end of January, patients can bring confirmation of their enrollment in the public health insurance marketplace to a Walgreens pharmacy, or the pharmacy staff can check to verify eligibility, and Walgreens will assist them by providing up to a month of a traditional, brand and generic medication (sic) at no upfront cost.

We tried this, and it freaking worked. Did we mention that the public health insurance marketplace in question might not even demand your first payment for a month or two? Buy a policy now, in any state, and chances are good that it won’t even activate until March 1 or April 1. And again, you don’t have to pay then and there. But getting fronted $311 worth of drugs (or more, your prescriptions may vary) from either an awfully trusting or awfully connected drugstore chain happened just like that.

What’s to stop us from cancelling our policy, especially given that we haven’t even filed any claims yet, and pocketing the hypertension drugs? Unclear. Don’t think we haven’t thought about doing this again by the January 31 deadline. And it’s not as if Walgreens can somehow get its (S)-3-methyl-2-(N-{[2'-(2H-1,2,3,4-tetrazol-5-yl)biphenyl-4-yl]methyl}pentanamido)butanoic acid back once it’s been consumed with coffee and a bagel.

Is this unethical? Sorry, counselor, we reject the premise of the question. The rules have changed. Buying too much house and having it fall into foreclosure is now “being preyed upon by unscrupulous lenders.” Violating immigration law is now “Ningún ser humano es ilegal.” Gaming the healthcare system? Sorry, that’s the American way. As we once heard from a septuagenarian man who crossed into traffic and destroyed our vehicle, trying to appease us before the tow truck arrived and/or he became our garroting victim, “Let’s just let the insurance companies sort it out, huh?”

The CYC New Year’s Resolution Review

24 million more leap-kicks, and she'll be a hardbody in no time

24 million more leap-kicks, and she’ll be a hardbody in no time

 

We didn’t make any resolutions for January 1, 2013 (or any prior year), because new year’s resolutions are stupid. If you want to change/improve on/reverse something, why would you deliberately postpone doing so until an arbitrary date months down the road? What good would it do to hold off on implementing whatever behavior it is you want to adopt?

Aside: Thanks to all the fat tubs of goo who resolved to get in shape in 2014 by joining a gym. Today’s January 3, which means it’s another week or so before you “sprain an ankle” or “have a fibromyalgia flareup” and have to “take some time off” before “getting back into it.” It’s because of you that gym memberships for the rest of us are sold at a de facto 85% discount.

So, back to our non-existent resolutions and how we fared at accomplishing them.

Pay off $0 in credit card balances. 

Admittedly, this one was the easiest. Here’s the 3-part strategy we used to get our balances on every card from $0 all the way down to $0:

  1. Incur charges for everyday purchases, groceries, gas etc.
  2. Refrain from buying useless stuff, with or without the understanding that said purchase will reappear in statement form at the end of the month.
  3. Authorize AmEx to debit our bank account by the exact amount of the balance incurred each month, each month.

Wait, that’s all there is to it? Come on, there’s got to be more. Isn’t there a debt snowball strategy involved? Something about paying off the lowest balance first and then riding that intangible wave, which provides the impetus to pay off the next-highest balance, and so on, until 7 years later when we can finally begin attacking the $45,394.12 VISA balance that has since grown by a greater amount than the smaller balances we paid off in the interim?

No, that’s it. We wish there were more complexity to our method, because then we could come across as more ingenious than we are, but there isn’t any more to it. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Keep the student loan balance at 0, too.

We take it back: this one was even easier than the previous one. All we did was not incur any financing for further education. Again, there are no other steps involved.

Sure, you say, you folks are old enough that formal education is years behind you. Which is true. However, if we were of college age, we’d have run the numbers and concluded that taking out loans that we’d have no capacity to ever pay off given what useless field we planned to major in might not be the brightest way to start one’s adult relationship with money.

You know what’s odd? As far as we know, there are no blogs written by people who say “Damn, the money I spent learning how to become a diesel technician at UTI or a commercial driver at C.R. England was a total waste. I would have been better off paying twice as much to earn a humanities degree. Oh well, live and learn.”

Make money from something other than salary. 

Another win for us! After close to 500 posts, a lot of people still don’t seem to comprehend how this works, so let us spell it out for you again, as simply as possible. If this doesn’t work, we’ll incorporate puppet theater and line drawings instead and see if that leads to a breakthrough.

Reducing expenses and earning more is the easy part, or at least the easily understood part. Once you’ve done that, you’re left with a balance. So what do you do with the balance? Invest it, obviously. That being said, “invest” means more than “defer spending until you’re withered and gray.” The idea is to see returns while you’re still young enough to enjoy them. There are countless ways to do this. Yes, your company-matched 401(k) is a good start. But there’s so much more. As our fellow genius Paula Pant at Afford Anything points out, there are trillions of dollars and dollar equivalents on the planet, awaiting your claim. Buying a 2nd house and renting it out might not seem glamorous, but a) it’s a start and 2) how enchanting is your accounts payable/data entry job at the equipment rental shop, anyway?

So yeah, we did that. We also bought some undervalued stocks. Which brings us to our next resolution:

Don’t get caught up in the hype. 

Heck, this might have been the easiest one of all. We didn’t buy Facebook stock when it went on sale in 2012, and we didn’t buy Twitter stock when it went on sale 2 months ago. Was the latter a bad idea? Of course it was, the stock has risen 50% since its initial public offering. Did we have any reason to believe that that would happen? The company’s profit margins have been less than outstanding for the last couple of years. Does that justify a market capitalization that’s almost 60 times the size of shareholders’ equity? Not at all. To everyone riding the Twitter train right now, congratulations, you’re smarter than us. We’d bet that Twitter will sink below its IPO value before the year is up. That’s in bold so you can hold us to it.

On balance, not only was it a good year but the resolutions were easy to follow through on. Or would have been, had we chosen to come up with them a year ago. One more time: why isn’t everyone rich, or at least liquid and building? Must be because they haven’t read our book yet. Seven measly dollars.

 

 

Stay In Bed, You Fools

iPads were a luxury item even in the 1930s

iPads were a luxury item even in the 1930s

 

This year we’re giving you a week’s notice before you camp out like a masochist. Today’s rhetorical discussion question: Is your time worth anything? Anything at all? If Black Friday represents something other than an unmarked holiday for you and yours, an opportunity to do nothing that’s normally required of you, a day on a par with Veterans Day and Christmas, only without an official designation of its own, shake yourself. Here at CYC we don’t underestimate the pull of the mob and the temptation to embrace and be a part of overarching cultural fads (hell, it’s gotten at least one President elected), but thinking with the crowd often makes no sense. Sometimes it can get you trampled to death for your troubles.

Maybe you like retail shopping as recreation, which we can’t quite understand but to each her own. Still, shouldn’t the shopping itself be pleasurable? Leisurely? Not only is Black Friday inherently frenetic, it’s senseless. Literally senseless. It makes no sense. There is no reason why you should be going out of your way to be at a mall on by far its busiest day of the year.

We have this thing called Amazon now. It’s been around for a while. You can buy our book there, but that’s not the point. You can buy millions of other items there too. There’s also eBay, and for those of you less concerned with fraud protection, Craig’s List.* What, are we explaining this to our great-grandparents? How do you not know this? (More rhetorical questions, although not for discussion.)

How much time does it take to purchase anything on any of the above sites? Negligible. You don’t have to lose a night’s sleep, or freeze, or engage in the continuous hell that is associating with other people. And good luck finding another personal finance site that modifies Jean-Paul Sartre quotes. Maybe DQYDJ.net, but that’s it.

Not only do people never learn, it only gets worse from one year to the next. If you work in local news, congratulations: on the last Friday of every November you have a ready-made feature for your highlight reel, until you finally escape to a bigger market and get out of your current hick town forever. Hey, who’s going down to the post office on April 15 to film the last-minute tax filers?

Here’s a quote from one of 2012′s Black Friday imbeciles, courtesy of South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel:

Orlene Thomas of Palm Beach said she came to Town Center when the mall opened at 6 a.m. because she wanted to soak up the spirit of the holiday season. She bought a few things at Macy’s, but said she wouldn’t think of missing Thanksgiving dinner to wait in line, as many people did.

“I would never do anything that crazy,” she said. “Thanksgiving Day is for family and friends.”

It’s good that she has a sense of perspective, then. Think about your own Thanksgivings past, and honestly assess whether spending the day fumbling for conversation topics with your in-laws and drunk cousins is more or less crazy than waking up early enough on a holiday to wait in line at a mall at 6 a.m. In Palm Beach, no less. Why was this woman doing anything other than spending the day frolicking in the sand and surf? It was 78° that afternoon, with no precipitation. Ms. Thomas might not even be the dumbest person quoted in the article:

Michelle Esteves, 28, of Boca Raton arrived at Town Center at 6 a.m., hoping to beat the crowd at clothing retailer Hollister. It didn’t help. She and her friend waited in the checkout line for an hour and 40 minutes.

“It was horrible, but last year we waited in line for two hours,” Esteves said.

That’s 3 hours and 40 minutes of this woman’s life that she’s never going to get back, assuming she never did this in previous years and won’t do it in subsequent ones. She could have knitted her own chiffon skater skirt in less time than she waited in line.

Things you should wait in line from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. for:

  • North Korean exit visas
  • Emergency surgery
  • Space Shuttle flights
  • Eternal salvation

That’s our entire list, and yours shouldn’t be much longer.

You’re familiar with the following mental exercise, right? (We probably featured it on the site once, can’t remember where and are too lazy to look.) The store next door is selling dress shirts for the regular retail price of $50. It’s an ordinary weekday, not Black Friday or anything. However, another store across town is holding an 80% off sale! Mildred, load up Junior and the girl, we’re taking the Oldsmobile to Marshall Field’s!

Meanwhile, the Bass Pro Shop down the street is selling Nitro Z-7 sport boats for $39,795. But the boat dealership 30 miles away is selling them for $39,755. Are you going to attach the hitch to your Delta 88 and drive to the other side of the county so you can save .1% off the price of a boat? Of course not, you’re not insane. (No one should own a boat, not when you can make friends with someone who already has one.)

Of course, the point is that a $40 saving is a $40 saving, and if you’re going to inconvenience yourself for that amount of money once then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it twice.

And this is just depressing. Same article:

Saul Gelin of Plantation got in line about 6 p.m. Thursday looking to score a 32-inch HDTV for $97.

(By the way, it appears that Mr. Gelin is black, not [likely] Jewish, so don’t accuse us of reinforcing stereotypes about frugality.) There was a publicized limit of 6 TVs available at that price, and incredibly enough, Mr. Gelin later discovered that he was no better than 7th on the list.

(Dammit, now we inadvertently reinforced a stereotype about black people being late. There’s no winning with you, is there?)

Saving money is great. We highly encourage it, so you can purchase assets with your savings. Which will position you to free up more of your time in the future. But spending time, ridiculously long amounts of it, to garner piddling savings? This is no different than the Goldbergian process for making Trent Hamm’s laundry detergent. Wake up late next Friday, fix some breakfast, visit Amazon and start shopping. And be grateful that you live in a society where the kind of nonsensical hyper-commerce your mouth-breathing inferiors are engaging in is not merely tolerated, but encouraged. They’re keeping the internet tubes clear for the rest of us.

 

*It’s a possessive followed by a noun. Spelling it “Craigslist” is for illiterates.