Archive for work-life

“patient advocate”

karen

On my way out the door after my first appointment with my new doctor up in Vancouver – this would be in 1996 – a clerk at the front desk noticed that I seemed puzzled. “Mr. Basil, in Canada, doctors offices don’t have cashiers.” I heaved a brief sob, I was so relieved and surprised. 

When I lived in the United States, my insurance was sporadic and when I had it often shitty. That fact touched every one of my days with real and awful anxiety.

Vice.com says my dear friend Karen Vogel is at the vanguard of a new profession in the United States – the “patient advocate”:

Karen Vogel, an insurance and administrative advocate, spent 29 years working in the insurance industry and became frustrated at the missed opportunities to really make a difference in patients’ lives.

“It was hard to come to terms with what was I doing and was I creating any good in the world, and who was I really serving?” Vogel told VICE News. “Because our healthcare system is so fragmented it’s so broken and there are so many opportunities to get into it to make it work for people. And I just wasn’t satisfied with the path that I was on.”

Over the past two and a half years of working as a patient advocate, Vogel has helped her 45 clients wade into the specifics of the insurance claim and reimbursement process.

About a quarter of what she finds are simple errors; the rest of her work is advocating on behalf of patients for out-of-network coverage or special considerations. Her biggest save was $109,000 by appealing out of state care to count toward in-state benefits.

I am very proud of my friend, who’s on the side of the angels.

“Individuals” – a critique

An ongoing one from our friend Clarissa.

More on Solidarity

From the wonderfully amazing Clarissa:

Look at the teacher strike in West Virginia. Isn’t it a wonderful, inspiring thing? The teachers refused to be further mistreated and abused. They organized, stuck together, and achieved a victory.

If you have ever done any organizing, you know that it’s not about making a logical argument, showing the numbers, and proving points. What’s a lot more important are human relationships, emotions, trust, feeling comfortable with people in your unit.

It’s a lot harder to organize in an environment of mistrust, suspicion, and mutual dislike between workers. Any collective action requires an enormous amount of trust between participants because getting atomized, alienated consumers to do any collective action at all is ridiculously hard.

The vision of self as an island that is better off outside of any collective process is formed slowly and by means we don’t even notice. Those people who tell me, “I don’t need a union. I can negotiate on my own behalf” or “and how do I know you won’t tell the dean what we’ve been talking about here?” are guided towards this vision of self and others. There’s a million strategies to make workers fear and avoid each other.

All of these microaggressions seminars, ethics trainings, gender parity tutorials – their whole point is to make workers detest each other. We tell ourselves they have no effect on us but that’s delusional and well in line with thinking that an exceptional individual can bootstrap themselves out of ideological and intellectual processes that everybody is subject to.

It does have an effect. All of these exhortations to suspect and fear our fellow worker have an effect. Nobody is an exceptional cookie that can rise above this. This is poisoning the workplace for all of us. This is what we need to resist.

Unless we have a clear vision of all the anti-labor strategies employed against us, we won’t win.

My enlightened neighborhood

WestEndSexworkersMemorial

A good idea in any case

Psychoanalysts recommend that very brainy people pick up cooking as a hobby to awaken the beaten-down intuitive, sensuous part of their psyche.

Lorraine Marshall

lorraine

My old friend Lorraine passed away in her sleep yesterday. We worked together closely in the late ’80s and early ’90s, at Prometheus Books, where she was the Marketing Director. She was very funny (and very thoughtful); she was lovely.

Her Facebook page had this Lou Reed quote on it: “There’s a bit of magic in everything, and then some loss to even things out.”

Sociability

From Clarissa’s blog:

Sociability is difficult not because it’s hard to socialize but because I never know if my sociability switch will turn on at any given time. When I approach people or people approach me, there are two possible scenarios:

  1. Sociability switch flips, and I become the most charming, gregarious, exciting person ever.
  2. Sociability switch decides to remain inactive and I feel intolerable boredom. I can try to conceal it but the boredom is overwhelming.

The bad part is that I can’t predict when each scenario will unfold. I don’t suffer from not knowing how to engage with people or how to make small talk. I’m actually great at it because I don’t understand the concept of worrying what people think about me. What I do suffer from is frequent and uncontrollable attacks of not wanting to engage.

It feels very weird when in the middle of a conversation I lose all interest and become extremely bored but not because of anything the other person said or did.

It’s equally disturbing when I open my mouth and all of a sudden this very charming, talkative persona appears.