​​People are commiserating about the absurd unaffordability of COBRA health insurance

It's no secret that the way healthcare is handled in the United States is a mess. We are the only developed nation without guaranteed universal healthcare coverage. We tie health insurance to employment, which is silly, and we pay far more than citizens of any other nation for medical care that doesn't even result in great outcomes. Even the Affordable Care Act, which helped people who previously couldn't be insured get insurance, comes with a high cost in certain states.

When I talk to people in countries with universal healthcare, they're often baffled by the inane way our system works. But my favorite part is when I tell them, "Wait til you hear about COBRA."


If you've always had a job with insurance, you may have never needed COBRA—which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, and is every bit as "Huh?" as the name suggests. Basically, if you lose your job, you lose your employer-provided health insurance. But lucky you, you can keep it for a buttload of money through COBRA. And that's supposed to be a good thing, somehow. Like, people say, "Well, at least you can get COBRA," when you lose your job—as if it's a gift to pay out the nose to keep your insurance when you just lost your income.

A thread on Twitter highlights the absurdity of the whole concept.

People rightly pointed out how unsustainable our system is, and how ridiculous it is to think that people who have lost a job can afford to pay even MORE for health insurance than they did when they were employed.

Others shared their personal stories.


Others pointed out how it came about and why it feels like it's almost designed to be a punishment.


Seriously, how can someone who has just lost their income afford this?

But the whole thing can basically be summed up by this tweet:

Come on, America. Universal healthcare. Everybody's doing it. And the vast majority of Americans want it. It's an idea whose time has come. And gone. And come back around again. Ad nauseum.

No one should go into debt or die because they can't afford health insurance or health care. It's a travesty that we have not figured this out long before now.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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Mozilla
True
Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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"It was just sitting there bleeding, sort of unable to walk properly and it looked like it had been abandoned by its mum so I just picked it up and decided to take it home," Owens told Newshub. The timing of finding Swoop couldn't have been better. Owens' dad had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the bond he formed taking care of Swoop gave Owens an extra dose of love and comfort.

Mowgli wasn't sure about the new family member at first, but soon took to Swoop and the two became fur-feather friends. The Dodo recently shared a video on Facebook highlighting Owens, Swoop, and Mowgli's story, and it's unbelievably adorable.

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