Financial irresponsibility

I have lots of unkind things to say about cagers. Like it or not, in general they are the enemy, seeking to kill and maim me at every opportunity. They hate me and want me destroyed; even the ones who stick their hand out of the window and wave are probably just drying their nails prior to reaching for the Glock.

And in general I have nothing but good things to say about the noble bicyclist, even when he’s veering, cursing, scofflawing, spitting, and getting off his bike to urinate in plain view of granny and the littl’uns. The worst spitting, public urinating, middle finger waving, ass scratching, profanity spewing wanker on a rusted out beach cruiser with two loaded beer coozies is, in my mind, infinitely preferable to the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful and considerate cager.


There is this one thing about some bicyclists that gets under my skin, kind of like the heads of a thousand deer ticks. Now I’m probably going to offend someone you know and love, and for that I am really happy. If I don’t offend you, I’m sorry. Send me a private note and I will try again. As Abe Lincoln said, you can piss off some of the people all of the time, but it’s damned hard to piss off all of the people some of the time.

Here’s the deal: You’re sitting at work getting paid more than you’re worth, fiddling on the computer wondering if you can knock off at 3:47 and still look vaguely occupied until 4:30-ish, when you can begin the pre-exit rumblings and fumblings that show you’re bringing a most productive day of Facebag-checking and Google news reviewing to an end. Suddenly, you get a message. It goes like this:

Hi, Bill — you know our mutual friend, Wanker McGee? He rode his bike off the edge of a cliff while doing front-end  downhill wheelies with Manslaughter, and he misjudged the log he was trying to jump backwards and flipped off the cliff and onto the cactus 200 feet below and got LifeFlighted out and it looks like it’s going to be a while before he’s racing again or able to eat without a straw.

Anyway, his medical bills are in the six figures and you know he’s been living in that cardboard box down on 3rd and Main as he’s in his third season of trying to get his first pro contract, so I’ve begun a GoFundMe campaing for him and would really appreciate it if you could spread the word and maybe kick in a few bucks.

If you’re like me, you click on the link and kick in a few bucks. Then, feeling sorry for the poor bastard, you share the link with your friends and hope that the next time an appeal goes out it’s not you with the squashed melon. After a couple of weeks ol’ Wanker has piled up a whopping $5,000 to help defray his medical bills of $354,000. Which kind of raises the question of …

What the fuck is anyone doing riding a bike without health insurance? While I realize that there are a lot of destitute people who use a bike to get to work, the communist-socialist-atheist-Islamist Obamacare program makes it possible for the poorest of the poor, yes, even bike racers, to get health insurance.

In other words, if you can afford the $5k rig, two extra full-carbon wheelsets made of 100% carbon, the wardrobe, the entry fees, the podium cap (still unused) and transportation to the race, then you can afford the $90 communist-socialist-Islamist health insurance offered by our foreigner President who is trying to destroy democracy and our great nation by getting health care to sick people.

In other-other words, if you’re too much of a cheapfuck to get Obamacare but insist on racing the local crit/riding offroad with Manslaughter, I’m not sure you deserve anything from me. To make it even worse, there are bike racers who refuse to get the free (that’s “free” as in “your mom doesn’t even have to pay for it”) insurance because if you make less than $15k (and what bike racer makes more?) you get put on Medicaid, which, in addition to being free, is the Antichrist for many a Republican, welfare-hating, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps bike bum.

In short, the shame of being on socialist welfare free healthcare is worse than getting smashed to bits, asking others to pay for the damage, and then discharging the debts in bankruptcy.

My attitude towards this isn’t because I’m a heartless, unpleasant, penny-pinching Scrooge, although that’s part of it. A famous case here in LA a few years back involved a well-known rider with two kids who tore his face off descending Las Flores, and had to rely on crowd-funded donations to retire his medical bills. I helped promote the fund and donated to it, even though several people pointed out that a grown man (he was in his late 40’s) with two kids giving descending clinics on white-knuckle descents without health insurance was exactly the kind of guy who deserved the old “you made your bed, now lie in it” treatment.

Of course no matter how irresponsible someone is, when little kids are involved even the mostly heartless will reach for their wallets, and I still don’t regret doing so.

The main problem I have with shifting affordable health insurance premiums or even free Medicare coverage onto the greater biking community is that no matter how much your friends kick in, it won’t be enough. First of all, even if you raise $50k, it’s going straight to the hospital or other healthcare providers. Do I want to donate my somewhat-hard-earned money to Kaiser Permanente? Um, nope.

Second, raising money before you’re finished treating — assuming you’re a completely broke bike racer; redundant, I know — is a terrible decision because ultimately you’ll have to file bankruptcy and the money that’s rolled in may not be exempt, especially if it’s over $25k. In other words, Kaiser will still get a bite.

Third, there’s something really wrong with raising a stink about cagers who are uninsured or underinsured, which means they can’t make you whole when they run you over, then turning around and displaying the same financial irresponsibility when you crash out in a bike race and thrust the bill onto friends, family, and sympathetic strangers.

Century rides, race promoters, and other entities that put on bike events should require entrants to show proof of health insurance. USA Cycling (the great useless entity in the sky) should require you to submit proof of health insurance before it will issue a racing license, because unlike many activities, bicycle falling off incidents in bike racing are guaranteed if you do it long enough. 100%, no exceptions.

In addition to health insurance, if you so much as pedal down the block you should also obtain maxed out uninsured/uninsured motorist coverage on your auto liability policy. This will cover you for the collisions when the cager who mows you down doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your brain transplant, acting in effect as a third-party health insurance policy for you. And if you can afford a car and a $780 set of bike racks, you can afford the few extra bucks a year it costs to max out UM coverage.

So, I wish I could help out all the people who need it, and I don’t regret having done so in the past. But even more, I wish they would take that tiny ounce of prevention so we wouldn’t have to donate the massive pound of completely ineffective cure.



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53 thoughts on “Financial irresponsibility”

  1. Three car related smash ups in 40 years….ALL of them where the driver had no insurance….all of the other (training and race) crashes combined
    didn’t add up to the costs of those three. I would be dreadfully broke without health insurance…and although my lifestyle is tame now, compared to ‘then’, I still keep the insurance …one never knows…

    1. Health insurance is key. Maxing out your UM/UIM coverage on your auto liability is just as important. Call your agent and find out what your UM/UIM limits are. They are usually minimal, i.e. $15k, even when you have a $100k or $300k policy. You can raise the UM/UIM to the same limits as your liability for $40 bucks a year or so. Do it. With Billy Gibbons hot sauce if necessary.

      1. sorta_TX_racer

        Was able to do it online in minutes. Thanks for the heads-up.

        1. Hope you never need it, but if you do, you and your lawyer will be very, very glad you did!

      2. After I was struck my lawyer instructed me to do just what are you saying make my UM UIM equal my liability Now they are both 250k/500k I got really lucky and dodged a bullet the person that struck me had insurance. My lawyer worked with the healthcare providers to settle the debts. And you are right it is damn cheap to get that extra bit of UM UIM I also for a small amount more upgraded from partial tort to full tort.

  2. I have a friend who ran through the woods all night, because she wanted out of East Germany so badly, she had to do it twice as as the dogs caught her the first time and she spent time in prison, she was a teenager at the time.
    I didn’t know the story, though I had known my friend for a couple of years, we were both at a beach BBQ and someone was going on about how Obamacare was socialist, I was doing my usual thing and arguing that free medical care is a source of national pride in many parts of the free world. Anyway Mr I’ve applied for my copy of the Presidents birth certificate would not shut up, my friend got tired of the conversation and stated simply that he didn’t know what socialism was, he in a less polite way asked how she would know, at that point my friend retold her story, he shut up.
    Unfortunately we live in the land of the free and can choose to live how we want, and if we choose to race bicycles or just to live her part of that burden is paying for our own health insurance. Nice post.

    1. Here’s the difference: We’ve socialistically mandated auto liability insurance because the rich bastards are still more or less taking their lives and the lives of their precious Benzes in their hands when they drive on the same decrepit highways we drive on because they refuse to pay taxes to build newer and safer ones. We’ve done that in part because the more people who are insured, the less we all pay, in theory, including the rich bastards. Obamacare is the healthcare equivalent of mandated auto liability insurance, or the nearest thing the rich bastards, political right, and insurance lobby will let us get to it. But because enough fools think they’re indestructible or have ‘better’ things to do with their money — like pay it to the government in lieu of rich people paying their fair share of taxes, we can’t drive down costs. Rather, we try to throw the baby out with the bathwater, which is rapidly replacing adultery as the nation’s pastime.

      1. And I’m all for helping a brother out, but if we shell out futile dollars to offset medical bills for enough short-sighted bike-riding idiots, well, we’ll reap the gene pool, baby . . .

    2. Yep. When people say “socialism” they mean “federal dollars spent on people instead of corporations/military/etc.”. People who have experienced socialism mean something very different.

      And if people want to choose to remain uninsured, that is their right, but I no longer feel obligated to get the word out about their predicament.

  3. You make a great point. But healthcare costs are nuts. Here is Alaska we pay $2,037 a month in premiums, have a $10,500 deductible and still have to pay dental and most prescriptions on top of that for our family of 5. Great coverage for disasters, but between premiums and out of pocket costs it ads up to $35,000 or more a year. That is insane. A fellow could buy and full carbon, 100% carbon, bike for each day of the week, each year, for those costs. Yah, Obamacare is working out really well for me . . . .

    1. Drives me bananas that someone would ride a bike, not to mention race a bike in a crit, without medical insurance. And, Alaska-dude, the Affordable Care Act should have been a single payer government subsidized insurance. It’s because of the private insurers getting to dictate the terms that you pay so much. Then again, you’re in Alaska, where everything costs more. I assume you’re making more, as well.If you were living of your professional bike racer earnings, you’d qualify for a subsidy….

    2. channel_zero

      But healthcare costs are nuts.

      What do you suggest? Go back to fewer individuals in the insurance pool? Make the healthcare system more profitable?

      Any chance you’d like to discuss the fact mode (mean, median, mode) salaries for workers have been declining for over a decade?

      C’mon. Enough whining already. Do something.

      Great post wanky.

      1. Actually, I agree with Wanky and do carry insurance. Just pointing out that insurance costs are not trivial. While Obamacare makes sense in principle, but the players have managed to subvert it. When healthcare costs exceed mortgage payments for the average family something is pretty screwed up.

      2. I’m gonna do something. Start living in a car and get me some of that there Medicaid!

    3. Whether Obamacare’s plan to turn us into socialist atheist African Islamists, or whether it is a good deal for the middle class, or whether healthcare costs are insane are all topics worthy of debate.

      But when you have no health insurance and insist on riding/racing a bike, then expecting friends-families-the greater cycling community to pick up the tab, there’s not much fertile ground for discussion.

  4. I was already offended at “knock of at 3:47.” I try to knock off an hour earlier. Surprisingly, I found nothing else offensive in the post.

    1. You lying, criminal, hater of democracy! Lazy knocker-offer of work at 2:47!

  5. I’ve been thinking the same thing, but was too worried about offending half my friends. Maybe I’m just old and grumpy, but I wouldn’t be caught dead racing, especially as an amateur, without insurance. The potential for catastrophic financial consequences to my family are too great. No matter how many friends you have, or how much they are willing to help, someone is left holding the bag.

  6. whack-a-molè

    I agree with you Wanky, but this seems completely ass backwards from your stance on helmet use by adults. Have insurance to descend down Las Flores, but the helmet, well, that’s up to you?

    1. channel_zero

      Sure, why not.

      We can’t live perfectly logical, congruent lives.

  7. For some guys, it isn’t the medical bills that are the issue, it’s the stuff afterwards that crush them. Like you, I have contributed to various causes for local racers who had their own bouts of misfortune, hoping that if the roles were reversed that they would do the same.

    Tying this into your previous post, riding is better than not riding. You have to take reasonable steps to ensure you are protected, but sometimes life throws unforeseen obstacles in your way that you might need a little help with, or even worse, your family may need in your absence.

    A local racer was killed by a 17 year old girl driving drunk in a residential neighborhood, who then drove away. She was just sentenced as part of a plea deal to 3 years with 2 years suspended. That’s a whole ‘nother issue. What’s at issue is that some people are financially better suited than others to deal with the after-effects. That’s when I start caring a whole lot, because while my flabby carcass may be worth 2 cents, I have a few others around that might not want to spend their lives feeding me through a straw or dealing with the financial aftermath after they toss my ashes. Sometimes the medical bills are the least of your worries.

  8. And even if you do have health insurance, a crash is not cheap. I crashed in a criterium earlier this year, and between the deductible and out of pocket max and the damage to the bike, that stupid little crash cost me $10,000. A second surgery is scheduled for later this year,so without knowing exactly how much that one will cost, I’d estimate that without health insurance, I would be looking at $60-70K instead of “just” $10K.

    Now while $10K is certainly not immaterial (at least to me and my family), I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford to pay. So no GoFundMe needed.

    If I had a friend in a similar circumstance who couldn’t afford the $10K, I would be more than happy to kick in. But if that same friend didn’t have health insurance, maybe not. Because in that case, the bills could run into the six figures (depending on the severity of injury) and unless GoFundMe raises ALL of that amount, we’re just paying some of the medical bills, the rider is going to have to file BK to discharge the rest, and so we really haven’t accomplished a whole lot. Better to let him file BK and assist him financially after the discharge.

    But we really shouldn’t have to grapple with that decision. Ride with health insurance or don’t ride. As for racing without health insurance? That’s just playing Russian Roulette. And then asking your buddies (and strangers) to clean up your mess when you pull the trigger for the nth time and… surprise! there is a bullet in the chamber.

    1. channel_zero

      Did USAC’s insurance policy, the one you paid for in your entry fee, kick in? It’s supposed to. Except when it doesn’t…

      I’d hit that policy up for the out of pocket medical. Good luck getting it!

      USAC’s “insurance” is a great hustle. One of the best really.

      1. I must admit, I was not aware that USAC insurance existed. Just took a quick look and it appears that you need to file your claim within 30 days. My crash occurred on February 15, so I’m too late. I would say “wish someone had told me this at the time!” but that would just be passing my financial responsibility (for knowing about USAC insurance) on to someone else, wouldn’t it?

        I will be sure to pass this along to fellow USAC crashers, however.

        1. I think there’s a malpractice lawsuit lurking. Did you mention your crash to any, ahem, attorneys, whom you were relying on for professional advice, whether or not you explicitly advised them of such and said attorney(s), ahem, failed to advise you of the filing deadline?

          “Currently accepting legal malpractice claims especially those related to failure to advise issues related to USAC insurance compensation schemes.” Reasonable rates, excellent heckling.

      2. I’ve heard of many people making claims, never ever ever ever ever ever heard of USAC paying. But I’m sure they do.

      3. USAC’s “insurance” is a great hustle. One of the best really.

        Reposted for emphasis.

    2. Dear Mr. Sausage…without Health Insurance, your cost would have been the same….doesn’t make sense? Any ER, Group, Hospital or Dr. will take cash (or “self insured”) as payment. You just have to negotiate up front. I recently lopped off half of one of my fingers doing a home project, and actually paid about 10% LESS by going the cash route. It cost me about $5k, but if I had gone with my health insurance, it would have been $5500 out of pocket, all in…with a bill of over $35k total. Hospitals and Doctors and their affiliated groups charge a TON when working for payment via Health insurance. They charge a lot less when you are buying it direct….kinda like making your own wine instead of buying it at the store.

    3. The only part I might quibble with, and then only after the sprunt, would be whether or not it’s like playing Russian Roulette. In that game there is at least a 4/5 chance of not getting a new air vent in your temple. But in bike racing, the chance of escaping injury is zero if you do it long enough, which generally means your first 20 races.

      I suppose if you played RR 20 times [statistical assistance for the math-challenged, please], your chances of that cool air vent would rise spectacularly.

      Of course the $10k out of pocket did earn you Manly Hardware, which itself has high street cred, c.f. Junkyard Joe, so after deducting the street cred value of the hardwre, you are actually only out $9,998.

  9. Agree totally, much cheaper to have insurance, sooooo, I’m starting an indiegogo campgain for my monthly premiums……

  10. channel_zero

    Wanky, maybe commit a page to your site on what a responsible insurance looks like for an adult riding competitively?

    I have plenty of insurance, but always, always, always fear the dreaded implied exceptions because, the policy is written for an Insurance techie can understand, not me.

    1. I hit a double-parked car on a descent and broke my wrist. As a result, I was out of pocket a whopping $65 and that included an ambulance ride, ER, surgery, and an overnight hospital stay. (Kaiser lien was $35k, but that went away for $15k in the settlement.)

      Moral: send your spouse to work for California State University system and get on her health plan.

      1. Yeah, but the ‘settlement’ was the key…someone else was liable.

      2. If our socialist atheist foreign-born Islamist Subverter of the Constitution-in-Chief hadn’t destroyed democracy you wouldn’t have had to pay that $65.

    2. Simple, and this is for auto insurance.

      1. $500,000 liability coverage if you run someone over.
      2. $500,000 UM/UIM coverage if you get run over by someone whose insurance is insufficient to cover your medical bills/personal injury/lost work, etc.

      1. And an umbrella policy to cover your net worth.
        They are pretty reasonable actually.

        1. Especially when your net worth is a racing bike and a cardboard box.

  11. United Health, Humana, Anthem stocks are all up over 50% in the past year, 5 times the S&P’s return. Their future outlooks are all rosy because their medical costs to premium income ratios are falling. UNH’s is down to 81%. Meaning the majority of citizens, cyclists and the US taxpayer are huge net payers of insurance.

    If competitive cyclists are net takers of critical care and the anecdotal horror stories we all share are inevitable if we race/ride long enough, going without insurance is crazy. If racers/urban riders are net takers of insurance, then full face helmets and body armor should be mandated by USAC and soon will be by the ACA.

    1. I’d be for the full body armor, but only if I got to wear the cool chain mail, steel helmet and visor, and carry the 8-foot lance.

  12. This fully applies to riders in Caly. But many states have wisely limited the availability for their citizens to the Isalmic/atheist/child molester/wife beater ACA by opting out of Medicaid expansion.

    1. And you know what they have a result? More freedom. They are free, whereas the rest of us are enslaved to getting fixed when we’re hurt.

      And, guns.

  13. Trevor Gonzalez

    Ruptured my spleen riding and needed emergency surgery. Spent a week in the hospital. Total cost would have 87000 dollars but with my insurance it only cost 3200. Met my deductible that night. So the joke was on them when all my doctor appointments were free for the entire year 😎. Completely worth it for racing that year . I was able to drop about 6 ounces and noticed the difference immediately 😆

    1. When Prez smashed his head in the CBR crit and they had to drain the fluid and rocks out of his head in the ICU, he lost 12 pounds.

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