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health care

Representative photos by Elena Safonova and Mikhail Nilov|Canva

Man makes hilariously realistic song about medical insurance

Navigating the American healthcare system can give you a rage induced headache. Between the monthly premiums, copays, coinsurances and deductibles, it's enough to make you feel like you're going to lose it. But then there's finding a doctor that's in network that can convince the insurance company that you actually need the procedure they want to do.

Tarek Ziad, frustrated with the process of trying to schedule with an ophthalmologist took to Instagram with an original song that he sang a cappella. The song has people howling with laughter while simultaneously commiserating with the struggle of navigating referrals for specialty visits.

According to the lyrics of the song, the man was told he needed to see an ophthalmologist so he called his insurance company to see who was in his network. Ziad sings that calling his insurance company was no help because he was then told that he needed to contact his medical group. But what's a medical group? It's like peeling back an onion.


Ziad sings, "so you go online and you look at all the ophthalmologists and you call them one by one and you go through 29 ophthalmologists and every single one either doesn't answer your call or they don't actually take your medical group. They say 'we've never heard of that medical group.'"

Commenters related to his struggle trying to get into the right kind of doctor, or any doctor at all working within the American health insurance system.

"The realest thing I've seen in a phat minute," one person says.

"God the database being out of date and/or simply inaccurate is so infuriating. 'oh, no, I don't take that insurance.' or 'I used to but I stopped years ago idk why they still loist[sic] me,'" another writes.

"You’re going places. Not the ophthalmologist, but places," someone jokes.

"Step aside star spangled banner, there’s a new national anthem," a commenter jokes.

All joking aside, there were doctors in the comments expressing their frustration and sorrow around insurance companies. One commenter says it was cheaper and faster for her to fly back to Morocco to see an ophthalmologist for eye surgery than having it done the the United States. Yikes. Hopefully, Ziad can get in to see the right doctor soon. Maybe his next viral hit will be about billing.

Health

The Dodgers continue to renew the contract of retired baseball player to keep him insured

Andrew Toles has schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He hasn't played since 2018.

Dodgers renew Andrew Toles' contract to provide health insurance.

In America, some people are consumed with medical debt, and while many people argue for universal health care, we have to live within the system that currently exists until something changes. This means many Americans live without adequate medical insurance and are saddled with astronomical medical bills. Since healthcare is tied to employment, people who are unemployed are likely disproportionately affected.

People living with severe mental illnesses are most likely to be unable to hold down employment to maintain medical insurance—the same medical insurance that provides mental health services and medication management needed to treat their mental illness. It's a medical care quagmire, and one that retired Dodgers player Andrew Toles would've found himself in, had the Major League Baseball team ended his contract.

Toles signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016 and just two years later, the team placed him on the restricted list indefinitely, essentially retiring the player while he worked on his mental health.


During his absence from the game, Toles has continued to struggle with his mental health. In 2018 he was hospitalized for two weeks and diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. After he was found living behind the Key West International Airport in 2020, the baseball player's father, Alvin Toles, former linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, gained guardianship and Toles has been with him since.

At this point, it's been multiple years since Toles has played baseball professionally, but that hasn't stopped the Dodgers from renewing his contract.

Every year, the baseball team renews Toles's contract for $0 and keeps him on the reserves list so he can keep his health insurance through the team. Mental health care can be expensive, especially when you have severe mental illnesses that may require multiple hospital stays and trials of multiple medications to find the right balance. The Dodgers continually renewing the player's contract is not only heartwarming but admirable.

According to an update in 2021 from Toles' father, the player is still in active psychosis.

"We are having challenges, but nothing that God and I can't handle. Schizophrenia, it's just so tough. I mean, he can't even watch TV. He hears voices and the TV at the same time, so it's kind of confusing. I've seen him looking at some baseball games on his laptop, but I don't think he really understands what's going on," Alvin told USA Today at the time.

The Dodgers keeping Toles on their roster proves to the family that they're not alone. Even if the embattled player doesn't remember his time as a star baseball player or understand the game anymore, his team still has his back.

“His name will pop up randomly in our clubhouse. He fit in with us so fondly and was so adored. It’s just sad to see what has transpired and knowing that a lot of it is out of his control," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told USA Today in 2021. “Man, I would love to see him. I’d love to put my arms around him. I miss him. I really miss him.’’

Toles has been living out his life in a home next door to his father in Georgia, where his dad works hauling chemicals and caring for his son. The Dodgers are hopeful that one day Toles will be well enough to attend a game when they're playing in Atlanta, according to USA Today.

Pop Culture

People share society's biggest scams and honestly, they've got a point

Hot dog buns should absolutely have 10 buns per pack. Who decided on 8?!

People share society's biggest scams.

Some things have scam written all over them and you can spot it a mile away. Like the random commenter on your social media post trying to sell you a love potion or get you to call a "love doctor." Both of those things sound made up and besides, your profile clearly says you're in a relationship. But there are some things that are so ingrained in society that we just accept them as normal, even when they're really a scam. A Reddit user asked people to call them out. Truthfully, this thread will have you questioning everything because their points are valid.


It doesn't take much thought to come up with a few things that are total scams. I have a beef with the hot dog industry, because why are there 10 hot dogs in a pack but only eight buns? It makes no sense. Is it a conspiracy with the bread companies to get us to buy more bread? It makes literally zero sense. Some people have much bigger and more interesting gripes than I, so let's get into them.

Photo by Clarissa Watson on Unsplash

One user brought up text book codes, and yeah what is that about? You spend approximately $7,000 on a text book only for it to come with a one-time code. Someone made the argument that college textbooks in general were a scam because sometimes you don't even open them. I can personally attest to this. I once spent nearly $300 on a biology book that was "required" and it was never used because the professor only created test material from his lectures and his lectures were based off of his own personal notes (insert eye roll here).

Now this next one stings a little. A commenter pointed out annual raises that are almost always lower than the annual inflation, to which someone replied "you get annual raises?" Yikes. When thinking back on the jobs I've had, none of them provided adequate annual raises, even when they were called "cost of living increase." I can't help but wonder, whose cost of living only increased 0.5%? We should all move there.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Convenience fees are another one that people have pretty strong feelings about and yeah, same. If you pay any bill online, including your rent, you're charged a convenience fee. Maybe in 1993 this fee would've made sense, but it's 2022, everything is convenient. What, do you expect people to leave their houses and go to the electric company to pay with a check? There are probably plenty of people walking around today who have no earthly clue where their utility company is located or how to properly fill out a check.

If you apply for services without having to change out of pajama pants, then you should be able to pay your bill without the added convenience fee. Why are we still pretending we are inconveniencing someone in order to pay online? Let's just stop this madness or the millennials will revolt. We already can't afford avocado toast anymore, the least you can do is let us keep that extra $3.

Health insurance. I feel like if you're reading this from America I really don't even have to explain further. But let's get into it for the grins and giggles of it all, because health insurance is probably our nation's biggest scam. The first problem with this monstrosity of a system is that it's essentially tied to your place of business, so if you lose your job, surprise, try not to get sick because you no longer have health insurance. The second issue that another commenter pointed out is that it costs an ungodly amount of money every single month, even though your employer is also paying a portion.

While you're paying your monthly premium you still have to pay co-pays, co-insurance and meet your deductible for things to be fully covered. I'm sure whoever came up with health insurance died an extremely wealthy person because according to the Reddit thread under this comment, health insurance is a joke and is bankrupting Americans.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

Last on the list is bank hours and I have to agree because there's no doctor's excuse for going to the bank, so why are their hours so inconvenient? Hmm, I wonder if we can charge banks a convenience fee as most people have to leave their jobs to get to the bank before it closes. Fair is fair, right?

If you're looking for a deep sense of being duped, go check out the thread on Reddit. There are more than 11,000 comments exposing unsuspecting people to all of the societal scams we have fallen for with absolutely no instruction on how to fix them. I guess the joke is that we eventually buy into the scam or pretend we don't know it exists.

NICU doctors and nurses can make all the difference for parents of vulnerable babies.

Few things are more heart-wrenching than seeing a baby fighting for its life. The NICU—Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—is the unit in hospitals where babies who are born prematurely or who have health conditions that need specialized treatment go for care. It's a special place, where hope and worry whirl together in a dizzying dance to the irregular rhythm of monitors beeping.

No one likes seeing a baby in the NICU, despite the fact that it gives vulnerable wee ones the best chance to survive and thrive. That's the goal of every NICU, to help babies get to the point where they're OK in the outside world, as well as the goal of every parent and healthcare worker who steps foot in the unit.

For parents, having a baby in the NICU is a harrowing experience, and having doctors and nurses who understand that fully can make all the difference. That's why a tweet about a NICU doctor's "new favorite hobby" being "hyping up" her NICU patients to their parents resonated with so many people.


Dr. Jennifer Sedler is a third-year pediatrics resident at Stanford Pediatrics Residency Program, according to TODAY Parents. She had just finished giving parents updates on their babies' progress when she felt an "overwhelming sense of positivity" that she wanted to share with others. So she sent out a tweet that said, "My new favorite hobby is hyping up my NICU babies to their parents. I list their accomplishments for the day, say how proud I am of them, or highlight how strong they were today. It’s such a joy to see/hear their parents beam with pride over their tiny fighters."

People loved her attitude and passion for her patients and their parents. Knowing that a doctor cares this much is a balm to the terrified hearts of parents who are praying their baby pulls through. When it's clear that parents and doctors are on the same team, both eagerly wanting the same outcome, it's easier for everyone to accept the outcome, whatever it is. And when you know that each day makes a difference, hearing positive, compassionate reports from caregivers can give parents some small measure of hope.

"It's not about sugarcoating it or about providing false hope, because talking about the difficult news and the hard times it's important, too," Sedler told TODAY Parents. "But there's both tangible and intangible victories in the NICU. There's the tangible things like weight gain and lab values. But then there's intangible things like, despite the procedure your baby had to have today they're being strong throughout it, or they're really fighting through this tough time."

People began sharing their stories in replies to her post, some sharing photos of their NICU babies and where they are now, with a flood of praise for the healthcare workers who worked with them.

So many people shared how much they appreciated the care they got from NICU nurses and doctors and how important reports like Dr. Sedler's were to them.

"I absolutely never imagined that would be the response," Sedler told TODAY Parents. "To be totally transparent, I teared up quite a few times reading these stories over the last few days."

Sedler isn't planning on a career in the NICU—her chosen specialty is cardiology, but she had to do a NICU rotation as part of her program to ensure that residents are trained in pediatric care. But her time in the NICU has had an impact.

"There is just such a special energy about the NICU, and about new life and supporting these families that makes it a really special place to work," she said.

Sedler said she believes "positive energy really makes a difference" for patients in the NICU. "I think that going about our lives in that same way, and calling out those little victories, is what's going to help get us through the tough times."