Wednesday, September 26, 2018

HIPAA Critical, Part III

Son Number Two turned twelve a few months ago, and you know what that means – yes, that’s right, Medical Independence!

Yes sir, nothing points out the fact that the collective IQ of our governing officials is below room temperature better than HIPAA, which stands for Hypocritical Idiots Pounding Abundant Alcoholic Beverages and Possibly Smoking Crack While Passing Insane Health Insurance Bills They Will Never Be Affected By Because They Don’t Live Under The Same Rules As The Commoners. (They cut out some of the letters because the acronym was getting too cumbersome. By the way, “Cumbersome Acronym” is obviously the name of my next rock band.)

The fully-lobotomized bureaucrats who authored the HIPAA bill, presumable with Crayons and drool, included the fun new law that anyone who has reached the ripe old age of twelve should now be in complete control of their medical decisions.

This was not news to our family, since we’d been through this once already with Son Number One. (He’s now thirteen years old, so under the HIPAA regulations he now has his own apartment and a Volkswagen Jetta.)

One easy way to know if your child has HIPAA’d up at twelve, is that their name will disappear from your list of family members on your medical provider’s website. That’s because, due to their newfound medical independence, you no longer have access to their medical records, even though you will be their legal guardian until they are eighteen, or if you are the parent of a hipster, thirty-five.

Now, sure, my twelve-year-old is probably better prepared to make his own medical decisions than Deklan, the thirty-two-year-old bearded chai-sucking blogger living in his parent’s basement, but that’s not really saying much, is it? Son Number Two is still twelve, after all, so his idea of a good medical decision after, let’s say, experiencing a blow to the head, would be to see if he could eat a whole ten-pound bag of granulated sugar with a spoon.

Captain Independence had gone into the doctor for something right before his magic HIPAA birthday, and a few weeks later when I logged on to attempt to pay the bill for the office visit, he had disappeared.

Under the HIPAA regulations, the doctor’s office is prohibited by law to set up his personal medically-independent online account over the phone. It must be done in person with the medically-independent twelve-year-old. In the meantime, I couldn’t pay his bill online because it simply didn’t exist on the website.

I must be honest. I didn’t lose any sleep over that.

When it came time for his regular checkup a few days ago, we went through the ridiculous charade of having him set up his “own” online medical account with the help of the nurse.

Now, I don’t ever expect anything logical to come out of a bureaucrat’s mouth, and neither should you. These are people who have never held down any real job more complicated than running the sour cream gun at a Taco Bell. Their entire existence revolves around clinging to their government job like a rabid squirrel on a caramel popcorn ball, so none of their decisions make any outward logical sense.

I do, however, expect people with real jobs, such as, let’s say, doctors and nurses, to make logical and reasonable decisions, and say logical and reasonable things. I expect these folks to do so during standard, everyday situations, and also in the face of complete government absurdity.

That being said, there we were in the examination room, with the nurse walking Son Number Two through how to set up his username and password on the in-room computer. “Type your username in here,” she said.

I told him what it should be so I would remember it.

She glanced at me with what appeared to be frustration on her face. Then she turned back to him and said, “OK, now your password.”

Again, I told him what it should be.

As a parent of a twelve-year-old, you can imagine how taken aback I was when the nurse turned to me and actually uttered the words, with a sigh, “Just so you know, this is supposed to be his own private account.”

*sound of a small blood vessel exploding in my brain*

I was so shocked I simply couldn’t help myself. I responded, “Just so YOU know, that’s just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” (Which is a true statement, and keep in mind, I have a teenager who talks.)

She then began sputtering about regulations and how they technically have to follow them, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah, but I cut her off.

“Never mind the fact that he is incapable of making good homework or personal hygiene decisions, let alone good medical decisions. Forget that part of this nonsense. Did you know that I can’t pay his bill without being able to access his ‘private account’? Do you have any idea what his username and password would be right now if I didn’t tell him what to write?”


“Me neither. And do you know who else wouldn’t know? Him, in about fifteen seconds from now. And even if he had ‘remembered’ that he made his password ‘thisPasswordissuperlitty2,’ he would have spelled ‘Password’ wrong in the middle, so it wouldn’t have mattered. So, if you really want it to be his ‘private account,’ I'm actually all for that. Keep sending him the bill, and we’ll keep not paying it, and then you can send his medically-independent ass to collections and see how much money a judge will let you try to squeeze out of a twelve-year-old.”

Thankfully, they were basically done and we were able to leave before any more blood vessels popped in my head. I didn’t want to have to be admitted for treatment of a HIPAA-induced stroke.

I know the nurse was just trying to do her job in the face of governmental idiocracy, and I appreciate that, but c’mon, people! No matter what they tell you to do next, let’s make sure that common sense doesn’t get too uncommon out there!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Old School Dance

I’m not one hundred percent sure what has changed, but things are definitely different now, and somehow, I blame cell phones.

When I was in junior high we all couldn’t wait to go to the school dances. Nowadays, inexplicably, we have to tell our boys that they are going. “But it’ll be lame. I don’t wanna go!”

Shut up and get in the car.

Kids just don’t seem to want to hang out at school together after hours as much as we did. I think they are simply too connected now. It’s too easy for them to communicate via texting and Facetime, so they don’t see the value in going to the dance.

Do you know what you can’t do with a text? Slow dance with a girl, that’s what! (I don’t even want to think about or discuss what kids can and can’t do with Facetime, so let’s all just not go there.)

Our boys don’t even have phones, so you would think they would crave the socialization, and yet Son Number One’s biggest highlight at the last dance was buying a Snickers bar and two sodas at the snack table. We didn’t have a snack table when I was his age. We danced with girls! At least we talked a lot about dancing with the girls, and sometimes we actually did.

One problem with the current state of affairs at the middle school/junior high dances might be the music. It’s entirely possible that the songs just aren’t as awesome now, and by “entirely possible,” I mean “definitely true.”

Music today just isn’t as good as it was in the mid-eighties, and many of the songs are so digitally enhanced and auto-tuned that even if the dance was cool enough to have a live band, they wouldn’t be able to perform them anyway.

Many of our dances had live music. Rock bands made up of local high school kids that we actually knew or knew of, who could actually play instruments really well, would come to our junior high dances and cover all the cool Top 40 songs by Bryan Adams, Duran Duran, Night Ranger, etc.

If we had actual video tape of the events, which would have been recorded on actual video tape in a camera the size of a Ford Fiesta, I think we would discover that the bands actually sounded pretty bad. But I remember the events as being on par with a real rock concert, only with parent chaperones and no forty-five-dollar T-shirts for sale.   

As long as I live, I will always remember the night when Tim Spangler, one of the mega-cool older high school kids, showed up at our seventh-grade dance to be the guest singer for one song – What I Like About You, by The Romantics.

I had never seen a guest singer show up to sing anything. I didn’t even know “guest singer” was a thing. At the time, however, I thought it was quite simply the coolest possible thing anyone had ever done on earth, ever.

And has there ever been a song in the history of music that makes you want to dance more than What I Like About You, by The Romantics?

Yes, is the obvious answer. It Takes Two, by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock makes you want to dance more, but that wasn’t released until 1988, so at the time in the mid-eighties, What I Like About You was the top dance song.

When that opening guitar hits and the whole band shouts, “Hey!” into their microphones, even the chaperones and the principal get up and dance.

It’s sad that kids don’t have those kind of experiences today. I think there’s only one real solution that makes any sense. I’m obviously going to have to DJ the next dance.

Better bust out my mixed tapes.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Release of Sanity

My grandfather left home to go out on his own at fourteen years old. Those were obviously different times, but now that I’m a father, I think that was very considerate of him. Son Number One will turn fourteen in a couple months, and he shows absolutely no signs of wanting to move out. Rude!

And it doesn’t end there. I just know that if he hangs around, his two younger brothers will follow his lead, continuing to live here and eat our food throughout high school.

Do you know what that means? Do you even realize the implications?

It means I have at least eight more years of filling out liability and medical release forms!

Over the past thirteen-plus years, I have filled out approximately two bazillion forms related to our three boys, and almost six-fifths of them were liability and medical release forms.

Can we just talk about liability release forms for a minute? I’m really hoping that after this discussion we can just be done with them, OK America? Great!

Liability release forms are useless. When I bring my kids to your trampoline fun park, you insist that I sign a document saying that anything that happens to my child under your roof, in your parking lot, or in greater North America is not your fault. I scoff at that idea, but I sign that document anyway, because if I don’t, I can’t leave my kids at your trampoline fun park and sneak away to have twenty stinkin’ minutes with no one yelling to me about how much of a giant butthole their brother is.

You and I both know that document means absolutely nothing if my child gets hurt because of, let’s say, your lack of trampoline maintenance and poor decision making with regard to reptile enclosure placement.

“Your honor, it’s simply not our fault that this man’s son was mauled when our obviously well-past-the-end-of-its-useful-life trampoline ripped and he fell through into our pet alligator’s tank that we placed underneath the trampoline so it would be out of everyone’s way. I mean, they signed the liability release, for crying out loud!”

If I brought my own form stating that you would hold us harmless if my son intentionally burned down your trampoline fun park because he loves barbecued alligator, would you sign it? Of course not. The only reason we parents sign these things is because we all know they won’t hold up in court if your business does something stupid, and we can’t get away from our children unless you take them.

And don’t even get me started on medical release forms. I mean, at least they serve an actual purpose – to communicate any medical concerns to the folks who will be watching our children – but they are still annoying, and here’s why: We are constantly filling out medical release forms for every single activity that our children do, but every organization’s form is “unique,” and they all ask the same exact set of idiotic questions.

We should be able to provide any child caregiver with our own pre-printed medical release form. Ours would be a business card that read:
This is Son Number Three. He is allergic to nothing. You already have my name and phone number or I wouldn’t have given you my kid.

Instead, roughly half my existence on this planet has consisted of filling out the same information on each special medical release form that I am given:

Doctor’s Name:
Doctor’s Address:
Doctor’s Phone Number:
Health Insurance Provider:
Health Insurance Plan Number:

Literally no one within a ten-mile radius of this field trip will ever use any of that information. I have never once been able to actually speak to my sons’ doctor on the phone, yet you want his number? And what on earth are you planning to do with his insurance information?

“Oh, no! That boy has fallen and seems to have broken his arm and he’s bleeding from his ears. Get me his medical release form so we can schedule his next six-month wellness check and hopefully get a flu shot in the same visit.”

It’s time to stop the madness, America. If we all band together and stay strong, we can do it. From now on, when we fill out the medical release forms, over the entire doctor and insurance information section, we’ll just write three numbers with a big black Sharpie marker – 911.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Turning 40

I went to another Human Powertrain Warranty Expiration gathering this weekend. You might know them by the more common term – 40th birthday party.

I’m not sure when the trend began, but the 40th birthday seems to be the really big celebration these days. The spouse of the warranty expiree usually throws a huge party. My wife took me on a surprise three-day weekend getaway with friends. I threw my wife a surprise party at our house with about a million people. We had friends who rented out an entire restaurant. It’s crazy!

The parties are fun, but they are a conflicted celebration at best. What are we really celebrating? No one wanted to turn 40. There has never been a 20- or 30-something on earth who has thought, “Can’t wait to turn 40! That will be amazing!”

Every human approaches “The Big 4-0” with the same thought: “Holy %&*#! I’m about to turn 40! How the hell did that happen!?” Every person under 40 at the party is thinking, “better them than me,” and every guest over 40 is thinking, “that poor bastard has no idea what they’re in for.”

That’s because 40 is the year that your entire body stops working like it used to. Your vision blurs. Your hearing degrades. Your feet and knees hurt. Your tendons and ligaments become brittle and weak, as if your muscles are now attached to your bones with those wooden coffee stir sticks. Your hips ache if you sit for too long. You can cripple your lower back for weeks by stepping off the bottom stair a little weird. You can actually hurt yourself by sleeping.

The 40th birthday is the turning point from “Hey, I’m another year older!” to “Hey, I survived another year!”

Our recent 40-year-old club inductee was treated by her husband to a Mexican cruise to celebrate with friends. We couldn’t make the boat ride, but we were able to attend the follow-up celebration back here, where we all went out bar-hopping. A common theme of 40th birthday parties is to pretend to be able to drink and dance like you’re still 25. This is called the denial phase.

(Although, no matter how deep you are into the denial phase, or how much you want to be young again, if you’re over 40, you’re still thinking, “Why is it so loud in here? I don’t understand why we need all these flashing strobe lights and that fog machine, and I would really appreciate it if we could turn on a few more overhead lights so I don’t kill myself on those steps.”)

The denial phase is fun, but invariably, the reality phase sets in the next day. Case in point: our bar-hopping adventure ended up at a country dance joint called the Crazy Horse, and they had a mechanical bull.

Do you know why there are no mechanical bulls in places like Starbucks, or McDonald’s, where they don’t sell alcohol?

I do.

Do you know why there are no professional rodeo bull riders over the age of 22?

I do.  

Do you know how sore you are the next day after attempting to ride a mechanical bull at one o’clock in the morning?

I have no idea.

You thought I rode it? Ha! Are you crazy? I’m 46. I know better by now!

The birthday girl woke up complaining that her arm was awfully sore, though. And her butt. And legs. And back… Happy birthday! Welcome to the Over-40 club. It was a fun party.

I’d say I can’t wait for your 41st birthday party next year, but let’s be serious… nobody celebrates turning 41.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!