Going without health insurance?

My family is at the point where we get to choose between going without health insurance for DH and the kids (I am pregnant and need to have insurance to cut costs of delivery), or slipping enough in paying our mortgage that we will get a $100 fee that we can’t afford each month - pushing us further and further back until eventually we miss a payment by more than 30 days, unless our financial situation changes before then.

I’ve looked at government programs, and the kids might qualify for cheap insurance - but possibly not until we’ve gone without insurance for them for 4 months (DH is filling out the application anyways today). Once they get on the cheap insurance program, they will probably also qualify for WIC, which will save us the cost of the reduced-cost insurance in grocery funds. The baby will probably qualify for this health insurance from birth, having never been covered by private insurance.

My DH seems to be coming around to the necessity of this, but wants to instead get another credit card and buy our groceries on that so that we can afford health insurance for the kids. He’s been putting it very emotionally: “You would rather avoid getting another credit card than get health insurance for our kids.” Well, yes, I would. Because I manage our finances, and I know how much our current credit card bills cost us for just the minimum payments. And I know we can’t afford another bill. I think I’ve won him over, but words like that cut deep.

Am I heading down the right path here? I really don’t see what else we can cut. We already are not heating our house except occasional space-heating and the fireplace (free wood being fairly easy to find) and are struggling to get a healthy diet on a low grocery budget - the health care is equal to 1/2 of our grocery budget. We do have a cell phone and internet, but they are needed for DH’s job search and for me to work from home if I or DH gets sick so I don’t lose hours. We have one frivilous bill of $10 a month for Netflix, but it’s our only “TV”, plus it’s 1/20th of the cost of our health care bill so really won’t change the basic problem here. I really don’t think another piece of debt and another credit card bill is the right answer to this problem.

If Netflix is 1/20th, do you mean you pay $200 for health insurance? That is a fantastic price. I pay almost 4Xs that!!!. We will likely have to drop ours to survive - can’t do it til Jan during open enrollment.

Health care is in shambles in this county.

I agree with you, do NOT go into debt for groceries! Can one of you get a part time job and pay that 200?

We pay $200 for DH and the kids - but with a $5K deductible for each of them and copays so high even when covered that we can’t afford to make routine doctor’s appointments. The girls haven’t seen a doctor in about a year and a half now.

We couldn’t afford insurance for them through my work, so this is an independent plan through Regence that we found using eHealthInsurance.com. Anyone in Washington State could get on it if they have a similar health profile, and as long as DH and the kids don’t develop any pre-existing conditions, they will probably be able to get on a similar plan in the future.

My own coverage is about $125 a month through my work, and I still have a 40% copay - but at least the deductible is only $1,250. I will be paying every cent of that deductible this year, as maternity care doesn’t kick in until the deductible is satisfied.

Basically, with DH and the kids, we are paying for avoiding the risk of developing a “pre-existing condition” while uncovered. We will actually be more likely to get to the doctor for regular checkups and immunizations if we drop our insurance so we can afford them. Our situation is a wonderful example of the difference between “health insurance” and “health care”.

As for finding a part-time job: Being 6 months pregnant and very obviously showing, it is unlikely that anyone would hire me. And since I have a full-time job already that provides most of our income, there is a question about if I could handle working full-time plus a part-time job while pregnant. But if something dangled itself in front of me, I would give it a try. In the meantime, we’re focusing on DH getting work.

If DH could find a part-time job, he would have taken it. He’s applying to several jobs every day and has been doing so for 9 months now, and has lately been getting interviews as well (a huge change, actually). At least one position he interviewed for was part-time, but they decided not to hire him because he had to honestly admit that he couldn’t afford to pass up full-time work if the opportunity arose, and they needed someone they could rely on.

The only thing we’ve found so far is that his parents will pay him minimum wage to work for his dad’s business two days a week. The reason we haven’t done this yet is that:

(a) the commute is so long that he would have to stay overnight for two nights, meaning I cannot work in the office at all for two days out of the workweek - something very difficult for me to do even with a rather flexible job and aggravating for my boss, although something he is willing to work with if he must

(b) the commute’s length, plus the ferry ride he’d need to get to the island where his parents live, would result in such high commute costs that DH may realistically only be keeping less than 50% of the money he would be making

© earning such a small amount of money, net, at such an unstable job (since it would be week-to-week) may put us out of the running for receiving any government aid at all without actually providing much financial stability

(d) any week that DH does this, he has no time to interview as I need to work 10 hours a day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (and Saturday, but that doesn’t affect interviews) and can’t take time off to watch the kids, and he will be gone Thursday and Friday - so he may miss valuable opportunities, with only about $50 to $100 to show for it.

What is your husband’s job?

I’m going to step in it here, and disagree with the sentence, “Health care is in shambles in this country.”

Health care in the United States is largely based on “jobs.”

My husband and I made decisions back when we were in high school that made it possible for us to go to college, earn degrees, and enter the work force in good-paying jobs with good benefits. Neither of us came from wealthy families–quite the opposite. I was the first one in my family to graduate from college, other than an uncle who went to seminary (German Reformed pastor).

My brother didn’t go to college; he chose instead to go to trade school and earn a welding certificate. He earns more money than I do (possibly more money than my husband and me together), and has excellent benefits.

Both of my husband’s siblings earned college degrees and work at good jobs with good benefits.

My dad was in the Army, and now at age 80, he gets his health care from the VA.

I realize that many people thought they were making good decisions when they were in high school, and now they realize that they didn’t really make the best decisions after all and that’s really tough on them because it’s hard to start all over with nothing. Yes, I also realize that there is really no such thing as absolute job security because even the most successful companies go bankrupt, and by this time next week, my husband or I could be out of a job… I realize that poor health or an accident can strike anyone down and prevent them from working at a job with good benefits.

But for the most part, in the United States, it is still possible for almost anyone to get an appropriate education or training that will allow them to find a job and earn benefits. That’s our health care system, and it’s not a “shambles” at all.

My suggestion to the OP about groceries is go to your church and beg for groceries. Food pantries will usually give groceries away for free–there is no reason for anyone in the U.S. to go hungry. It might not be “health” food, but it’s food that many of us have donated to help others who are having a hard time.

There are so many of us who have plenty of food, much more than we need, and we are happy to help our parishes feed the hungry. Please, ask. Let us help you with your grocery bill. It’s not a hardship for us at all. We consider it a privilege to help someone eat who’s having a tough time.

I would also suggest to the OP that she and her husband have a long, serious talk with the parish priest, and ask him to refer them to agencies in the community that can help them get on their feet permanently. It’s possible that the husband needs to go back to school or get some kind of training in a job that will pay enough of a salary for him to support his family. There are lots of jobs where there are shortages of workers, so he CAN find work if he has the proper credentials. (e.g., many health care professions, especially nursing, are experiencing critical shortages of employees).

There are government programs that pay for people to go to school and/or get job training, and there are homes that the government provides for such people. My dad owns quite a few rental properties, and one of his homes, a nice three-bedroom place in a good neighborhood, is registered with the federal government, and the people who stay there stay rent-free-- the government pays for the rent so that the tenants (usually single moms) can go to college or trade school. And my dad collects the money, several thousand a month.

The OP needs to learn about the options available to help their family pull themselves up and get financially secure in job(s) that provide good benefits including health care. Hopefully the parish priest can refer them to the right people who can help them become totally self-sufficient and comfortable here in the U.S.

Cat -

Some people have college degrees, some people have decades of experience that have raised them to upper levels of mgmt in fortune 500 companies only to be let go when the economy began to tank.

Savings only last so long.

In case you have not noticed, unemployment is really, really HIGH right now.

Your post was insulting to those of us who have been hit by this economy.

Health care should not be tied to jobs, health care should not be so expensive that those of us who are unemployed have to choose between heat and food or health care.

I was a snob two years ago. God took me down a notch or three and taught me some huge lessons.

Yes, the system of health care is horrid. Most Americans cannot imagine what it is like for the working poor and the unemployed in this country.

As I said to someone else, thank God that you have your high paying job. It could be gone in an instant.

I have a BS degree in Computer Science and Engineering from one of the top 5 undergrad programs in the country, and my husband has several certifications in the IT field, including one he earned last June to show he was current in his field. We are having these issues because:

(a) DH quit his IT job two and a half years ago to be a SAHD. We couldn’t afford to live off of his income, and childcare for twin infants is really expensive - so expensive that between childcare, taxes, and transportation, we were paying $2 to $3 dollars an hour for DH to work. Since I earned almost triple what he did and we couldn’t avoid childcare by shifting our schedules at the time, and since we both value having our children raised by their parents, it was a no-brainer at the time

(b) Health issues affecting both of us, and family issues arising from those health issues, resulted in a situation where I couldn’t do my work for my high-paying job and I got fired last January - right before Microsoft (the local big employer) laid off a ton of tech-support / IT professionals. I found a job at 75% of my old pay after just a couple of months even during the absolute worst of the economy, but because MS had laid off people in DH’s specific area, the market was saturated for him. I didn’t try to pursue legal action because the health problems hadn’t left a good paper trail, plus it was actually a fair case for them to fire me as I really couldn’t do the job and my manager really did try to work with me for months before firing me. I was simply too sick and the other issues were too difficult to resolve.

© While I was at my high-paid, very stable job at a company known for never getting rid of employees, we bought a house. We could afford the house and all of our necessary expenses plus 401K for just 75% of our total income, leaving 25% free for fun and savings. Now we’ve lost that 25% of income and eaten through the savings and then some due to months without any income at all while I was too sick to work or unemployed, unexpected expenses, and higher medical costs (including benefits).

DH has gone 9 months without a single interview while sending out several applications a day every day that he could find enough jobs to apply to (although a sudden thaw in the market has allowed him to get 5 interviews in 6 business days after going 9 months without any). Having to go out and find minimum wage work when he should be making 2 to 3 times that based off of his training and experience is very, very difficult for him, but we are at the point where he is going to be doing exactly that - even though the market seems to be thawing.

My point is, not everyone in every place can find good work even if they are trained, in this economy. DH really has been doing the right things. There just aren’t any jobs. And since our mortgage is upside-down after a 30% value drop, we can’t afford to try to move and find work elsewhere, and can’t sell and downgrade our home to fit our lower income. I really wish we could just “get training” and “earn money”, but it’s not that easy - especially with 2 young children at home and local childcare expenses running $10 an hour if you don’t mind your kids being neglected (or can find really, really wonderful family members willing to be greatly underpaid to watch your kids . . . or aren’t ethically bothered by hiring illegal immigrants . . you get the idea). Because I do earn so much and because our issues are caused by a high mortgage, we don’t qualify for most of those government programs. For those that we do qualify for - like the “Making Homes Affordable” program - we’ve already applied, but are in the “wait and see” stage.

I’m not really willing to get groceries from the church, as I know people who have given up health insurance to stay home with their kids and still give to those programs. I wouldn’t feel right taking from that when we haven’t sacrificed as much as some of those who are giving. I’m also starting to realize how silly it is to buy insurance when we can’t afford to use it . . .

BUT! Some good news. I realized that I apparently had some money I accidentally left in my stock account when I sold my company stock from my high-paid job, and just withdrew it. *** It’s $500! *** Enough to keep us afloat, and it’ll show up tomorrow.

We still might give up health insurance for DH and the kids though, after realizing that we were paying for insurance rather than medical care, and that insurance for our kids was keeping us from insuring them with a program we could afford to use (the state medical program, which has NO copay or deductible and costs 1/5th as much at our income level). This seems like the fastest way for my kids to get their next round of immunizations, plus WIC would be a big help. We’re still not sure about DH’s insurance, since he won’t qualify for state medical no matter what but we also can’t afford to use his insurance for actual care either. We’re thinking about putting $100 a month into a bank account instead, and actually getting him in for a long-overdue check-up in a couple of months instead of just insuring him without getting him any care.

So much truth here. I know so many people with degrees and past great jobs with benefits who face such dilemmas now due to being unemployed or working very, very hard at a job with low pay and no benefits. More and more I am hearing of families where BOTH spouses have lost their jobs. This is happening all over and none of us should consider ourselves immune.

So what should health care be tied to? The government? You want those of us who work to pay for everyone?

How exactly will this work if, as you say, “unemployment is really, really high right now?” WHO will pay for this government program?

People like me and my husband, who make a good income and have benefits through our jobs, but we are a far, far cry from wealthy or even well-off? (We live in an old house that is desperately in need of many repairs.)

The truly “rich?” Aren’t the truly rich already helping pay for health care by investing in new companies that offer more jobs to people? Now you want to take more of their income away?

The fat cat insurance companies? Don’t you realize that it is the insurance companies that are funding your retirement? Where do you think the money comes from? It comes from investments.

The Church? That’s MY personal opinion of where health care should come from. But how likely is THAT to happen when Christians, especially in the Catholic Church, barely give enough money to keep the lights on in their church building?

Linking health care insurance to jobs is a good method. After all, pretty much everything else in the U.S. is linked to our JOBS. Our ability to buy anything is linked to jobs. People who do not have jobs cannot buy things. What’s wrong with that? Do you think people who don’t work should be able to walk into a grocery story and help themselves? Or buy a home? Or drive a car? Or buy any clothing that they want?

The idea of the United States economy is this–if you cannot buy things, it will motivate you to find a job.

BTW, sorry OP, I don’t buy it. What you’re saying makes no sense to me.

My husband has worked for IBM for 30 years. He has had many, many friends who were “let go” by IBM or other computer companies. (I have “let go” in quotes because IBM doesn’t lay off, it finds creative ways to “let people go.”)

They all found jobs. Many of them were in their 40s when they were laid off, and they still found jobs. We live near the Chicago area, so perhaps that’s the reason they found jobs–there are lots of jobs in the big cities. Most of those jobs were in the computer field, but some of his friends ended up in teaching or health care or some other field, all computer-related. (There are plenty of health care companies who need computer people.)

MANY of those computer people are in private consulting, and doing very well. A lot of companies hire private contractors.

Others started a business, and made it work.

I’m a little suspicious because of something you said in your first post–“your husband can work for minimum wage in his parents’ company.”

If his parents own a company (even a small company with only him as an employee), why don’t his parents hire him at full wage, or why don’t they offer him health care benefits through their small company? I don’t get that.

I don’t know what you and your husband want. I get the feeling you want a bail-out, but it’s not going to happen. You have to get even busier and more determined and do whatever it takes to get self-sufficient.

In the Little House books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, when Pa Ingalls couldn’t find a job at home, he MOVED AWAY from his family! Four daughters, including a baby, and he moved away and left Ma at home alone with the kids. He found work “out East” and sent the money home.

If men of a hundred years ago could do it, so can we…

So you’re not willing to move. Well, then don’t expect to find a job. There ARE jobs out there. Maybe not where you are, but there ARE jobs.

I’m going to repeat my suggestions–get some help from experts. Perhaps your husband needs to polish up his interview skills. Perhaps his resume is badly written. Perhaps you need to bite it and just sell the house at a big loss so that you can start over with something very small. Perhaps you need to move in with parents or other relatives for a while. Perhaps you need a total switch into a career field that is hopping. But get someone who KNOWS to help you get things moving in your life.

These are very true words. Two years ago, I never thought for a second we would have to apply for any type of gov’t assistance just to get by.

And I totally agree that a credit card to pay for groceries is not a good idea.

I would look into medicaid. Children and pregnant women have a different set of rules than the rest of us. I make too much for us to qualify for WIC, but not too much for our children to be on a state plan. No deductibles, low co-pays, run by a HMO with great dr choices. Both you and your children could maybe be covered.

And it may be humbling to take food from the food pantry, you need to do what you have to do.

Cat, you are being very uncharitable, you have not met the OP, and you are making a lot of assumptions. Unemployment is double digits in my state. It took me 6 months to find the job I have (I have three college degrees in advanced science), and my field hasn’t been quite as hard hit as others. I make about 40% less than the same type jobs were paying a year ago. Also I’m a “contractor” no benefits at all. Many companies are either going to hiring contractors, or all part time to avoid health insurance costs. My mother, who has worked her whole life and never gotten any assistance is on the verge of having to give her job sponsored health care up, because they keep raising the contribution, copay and deductible every year until she can’t pay for the health care she needs. She has worked at this job for 30 years.

Sorry it bothers you so bad to provide the basic needs of life for others. I will pray that you can stay in such a good position.

Cat, I am astounded by the lack of charity in your post as well as the lack of understanding about the reality of the current economy.

Yes, people who do not have jobs should have a way to feed their family and provide medical care for them when they are sick. People who work at jobs that do not provide enough money or that lack benefits should have a means to this as well. Food and health care are minimum basic human rights.

Why don’t you give Catholic Charities a call and find out about the resources they have available to help out those who are poor or sick. The Church is not in a position to be the safety net for the jobless or the working poor. It would be nice if they were, and I am sure that they would do a great job if they did have the resources, but in the immediate future, the Church is not able to fulfill this role.

The problem is that corporations have been rather myopic in their business plans. They stopped investing in their workers, which has killed our market-driven economy. Only the top 1 - 2 % in this country benefit from moving jobs overseas, and the rest of us seem to be left with the consequences, including you. Your tax burden, through federal and state income tax, SSI, medicare, property and sales taxes is considerably higher (as a percentage of your overall income) than that of the top 1 - 2%. Quite frankly, it’s a joke any more to let corporations off the hook from shouldering their fair share. They are NOT investing in business plans that will bring jobs or any form of prosperity to this country. (A little googling can confirm this for you. Check out what % of the overall tax burden was paid by corporations vs. individuals 50 years ago compared to now. 50 to 60 years ago corporations were responsible for about half of the tax revenue collected, now that has fallen into the teens, with individuals making up the difference.) How long do you think you are going to stay in a comfortable position at the rate things are going, with corporations leaving the government to pick up their slack and the government running out of revenue? * I hope that you can see how nonsensical it is to blame the unemployed and working poor for this mess.*

To the OP, things are in a mess and your options are limited. If you didn’t have your house and mortgage to contend with and were renting, either there or somewhere else, would your family be able to afford both food and medical insurance? I would also look at options that keep your family together rather than tear it apart as was suggested above.

Wow, Cat, Yellow Card.

I normally agree with you. But, come on. You don’t have a philosophical policy discussion with someone when it amounts to kicking them while they’re down.

I think that we are all one step, two steps or ten steps away from a really bad situation.

I’m going to disagree with any suggestion that people who are finding them selves in a tough time with medical insurance in anyway “did it to them selves” by making poor choices or not rolling up their sleeves and working hard enough. That’s juts so much… well so much non-sense let me leave it at that.

When I was younger my dad was VP of international business at a GIGANTIC corperate insurance firm. We were very well off, not super rich grant it but very well to do. We had excellent insurance, a very nice house in a very nice (well established) suburb of Detroit (actually Henry Ford Sr had his house in the same suburb oh so many years ago).

Then when my dad was in his mid 50’s a new hot shot (machiavellian) manager came in. This guy fired all of the management in that office and replaced them with people who would then “owe him favors”. My dad had one heck of a time finding a equvilient (paying) job at his age. In fact he never really did. He found a job good enough to struggle holding on to that house (to this very day) which is a very big deal for him. But today my parents are paying $700/mo for insurance coverage and I don’t think they’re getting as good as coverage as I’m getting from Fuji Medical nearly for free.

My parents are blessed though, it might be hard, they might have to stretch every dime but they can pay their insurance and mortgage. I thank God for that every day and it’s just one more reminder to me that God will provide you with what you need. Insurance in this country is an unjust wreck of a situation. I could go back to my birth nation (Lima Peru) and get better medical coverage (as a US Citizen now) than I can here in this country if I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a terrific employer. I’m not happy with that situation. I have many friends who are giong with out insurance or are paying out a fair percentage of their income every month in ordre to hold on to it. That is wrong.

To the OP, I would check around and see what basic (cheap) coverages you can get. Even something like a bare bones percription coverage plan can make a big difference in monthly expesnes (esp if you have a lot of perscriptions). Above all don’t lose faith that God will provide all that your family needs. I hope things will work out for you!

Cat -

I challenge you to spend one month working with the people in need in your community - your local SSVDP should have a team that does home visits for emergency assistance. Talk to them, hold their kids, look at the fear in their eyes when they do not have any money to pay a $1000 gas bill, and none of the charities around have any funds left.

Dropping off food at a food pantry and going home to watch FNC does not give you a real picture of life. (That is what I used to do 2 years ago.) You sound soooo much like the old me that it is almost funny!

When I was laid off, I did not panic because I have NEVER been let go, headhunters call me. I thought I’d get a nice 3 month vacation then be back to work. I now work 2 part time jobs just to have insurance and bring home a whopping $600 per month. I used to spend that on a weekend of entertaining guests.

DH has been a SAHD because I had a great job and we did not want our son raising himself. Now, he has an 8 year gap in his resume - the tons of volunteer work he did over those years do not mean diddly squat - he has had potential employers laugh in his face because he “tried to be a mommy”.

We were almost homeless for 3 months this summer, someone at our Parish had an old trailer they rented to us. Cashing in the last bit of savings - what we were saving to still try to send our so to community college - let us rent a little house. We have one car with almost 200K miles on it. The other two vehicles broke down and we have no money to get them repaired.

You know what, I am not as bad off as many in my community. I work every day now to help those who are less fortunate.

I have friends who were laid off in big cities, some in Chicago - maybe I can send them to you since you have so many leads on jobs?

What is the FNC, please?

Fox News Channel

There are many governments that do pay for health care, quite successfully too. They work on the same principle as insurance companies: you get many people paying into the pot, on the assumption that not everyone is going to need money from that pot at the same time. So there will always be enough money there.

The U.S. government has spent billions on non-health issues already, notably the bailing out of big financial institutions that were involved in corrupt practices that has brought the U.S to it’s knees. This could be considered corporate welfare, especially since the super rich are still getting bonuses related to this. Why is the average U.S. taxpayer on the hook for this? Yet that same average U.S. taxpayer is scrambling to find health care he/she can afford.

There is something wrong with this picture.

Thanks. I was thinking that you meant one of the Food Channels, but I don’t have cable, so I didn’t know.

I watch our local news. Sometimes I watch NBS National News when there is a story of great national interest, e.g, the Jaycee Dugan story or the Olympic city selection.

As for the OP, here’s my answer to her question. Go without health insurance.

The way I see it, you have three major expenses: house, groceries, health care.

It’s hard to get a free house, especially since you have an income. Hopefully the gov. program you applied for will come through for you. At any rate, you have to have a place to live, and if living with relatives and friends is not an option, well, then you’d better keep your house. Hopefully the market will improve and then you’ll be able to sell it quick and not take a terrible loss.

You’re not willing to accept free groceries. I would personally re-think that if I were you, but I’m not you. At any rate, do not use credit to buy groceries, especially since groceries can be had for free.

But health care is free in the U.S. Not “elective” surgeries, and of course, many RXs, but basic health care is free. I work in a hospital, and many many people who come here never pay a dime and are not insured. We did a heart transplant on an illegal alien–totally free.

In the U.S., there are many “free” clinics; there’s one in our city that uses a sliding scale of payment or is free for those who have no funds. Fifty Board-certified physicians work there, the same doctors that do private practices. It’s a great place. It’s funded primarily through private donations. I would go there if I needed health care and didn’t have insurance.

I don’t know if this is true across the U.S., but the E.R. in our hospital is not allowed by law to turn anyone away. Many people use the E.R for a free clinic, and that’s an option for your family, especially for your children. Use the E.R.

There’s also the County Health Dept, which will do free exams on your kids and give your kids any inoculations that they need, along with meds.

So my conclusion: drop your health care insurance and use the U.S. system to get your health care for free like so many other people do.

I would say to avoid the credit card trap. You’re just postponing the inevitable “ante-up” day.

Emergency treatment is not “free”.

Hospitals cannot refuse to treat people if they are in a life threatening emergency. The hospital will still bill the person and ruin their credit for the next 7 years if they do not pay (BTDT, back in the old days when there was not Medicaid for low income children, my baby had pneumonia we went to the ER and thus ruined our credit for years and years).

When hospitals treat the uninsured, they provide minimal care and release as soon as they are permitted.

You get your leg crushed when something falls on it? They will get you to the place where you are not going to bleed to death or die of infection and send you home to live in a wheelchair. You will not get the rehab to be able to walk again.

They do heart surgery? They will turn you out on the street days later with an RX you cannot afford to fill and a fresh incision.

If it is not life and death, you are going to be refused treatment. I have dwarfism. My hip will continue to deteriorate and I will have a choice - hip replacement or crippled. With no insurance, I will not get a replacement, I will be crippled.

I work with these people every single day.

Free clinics? Some towns do not have them and those that do have waiting lists for treatment.

My brother is a director at a major Catholic hospital and I asked him about the info in this thread and he says pretty much that same thing as you (as far as free medical care). I read kage’s last post to him and he disagreed with almost every point. I would elaborate, but we are dangerously close to turning this into a political thread and hijacking the op’s thread.

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