What Went Wrong with Our Health Insurance

Last year, we learned that we were going to be financially responsible for virtually every dollar of my son’s delivery and open heart surgery. This is a quick post-mortem of how we fell through the cracks in the system.

My son’s condition was diagnosed in-utero, when we were still living in Virginia. I immediately began thinking ahead, trying to figure out what insurance to buy before we arrived in South Carolina. We checked with the hospital, and asked if ▩▩▩▩▩▩ would be good insurance to carry. They said yes. I immediately bought the best and most expensive plan available.

Fast forward several weeks. We had arrived in South Carolina, and the time had come to make our first prenatal appointment with the hospital. Shortly after making that appointment, we got a call informing us that our insurance would not be accepted. It wouldn’t even be processed at out-of-network rates. I was shocked.

How could this be? Since I am a self-employed software developer, I bought health insurance out-of-pocket, not through an employer sponsored plan. What I did not realize was that, for this particular insurance company, the hospital accepts only employer sponsored insurance plans. Apparently the individual plans that are sold to self-employed individuals are a completely different product.

So, months earlier when we contacted the hospital to ask if ▩▩▩▩▩▩ would be accepted, whoever answered ‘yes’ was apparently unaware of this caveat. Likewise, I was unaware that I should have probed further.


If something catastrophic happens, your local hospital may not be equipped to handle it. You may be forced to go to the nearest major medical center for care.

So if you’re self-employed and are preparing to buy health insurance, ask if the nearest major medical center is covered by the plan. Are they sure? Call back and ask again. Get it in writing. Okay now call the medical center and see if they agree.

Google Photos: Free Up Space→

Google is right to attack Apple on this front. My mother has a 16G iPhone, no desktop computer, and no broadband at her home. This is our procedure for getting pictures off her iPhone.

  1. She brings an iPhone cable to work whenever she can.
  2. Her photos & video are uploaded to iCloud Photo Library over her work’s WiFi.
  3. I manually download them and put them in her Dropbox.
  4. I delete them from her iCloud Photo Library, and they disappear from her phone.

Talk about jumping through hoops.

NHS Overspend Autocorrector→

I collaborated with Dr. Hugh Harvey to build this Chrome extension. It changes words and phrases on news articles about the UK’s NHS budget crisis to highlight the issue of drastic underfunding.

Some backstory from the description,

The NHS is undergoing the largest chronic underfunding period in its 70 year history. The Department of Health (and thus the media) tend to blame this on hospitals and staff, as if it were their fault. In reality there simply isn’t enough money provided by the Treasury to provide the services that are needed, with staff overstretched, waiting lists increasing and patient care suffering in quality.

As a US citizen, I don’t really have any skin in this game. But from my experience doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers on the “front lines” do their level best, with the resources available, to provide the best care to as many patients as possible.

Nest Cam Outdoor→

We got an indoor Nest Cam last year as a baby monitor. It worked great until it completely stopped working.

Anyway, the problem I see with Nest cam Outdoor is that power is delivered via an outdoor electrical socket. It seems like someone could easily disable it by walking along the wall, face turned opposite the camera, and simply unplugging it.

Mirroring This Website

A few months ago, I was lamenting the impermanence of our work. As software developers, will anything remain long after we’re gone?

I’m taking a cue from Manton and have setup a complete mirror of this website at mmorris.github.com. I’ve decided to not enable a CNAME record to enable a custom domain for it, because when the domain registration lapses a year after my death, it would stop working. The repository would remain, but it wouldn’t be browsable.

I wrote a quick and dirty script to automate the process. This script is run by a cron job every night, keeping the mirror up to date.

I’d guess that over 90% of the work I’ve done is private, either for employers or contract work for clients, so I can’t archive it all here. But I’m going to try to update and add more of my personal projects. This even includes non-software projects like the cherry bookshelf I built for my wife after we got married, and the picnic table I’m currently building in our backyard.

The greater Memphis area is peppered with houses and other buildings that my grandfather built throughout his life. I can still go and see and touch things that he built. Given the nature of the career I chose, this is the best I can do.

On Recording Phone Calls

the breezy @verizon guy then asks me whether I’m ok with being recorded. I tell him I am, because I am also recording the call.

There’s a pause. Then breezy @verizon guy tells me Verizon DOES NOT ALLOW THEIR REPS TO BE RECORDED so he has to hang up.

So I ask breezy @verizon guy “how can that possibly be true? You JUST told me the call was being recorded?!?” And he says…

“Well, yes, but @verizon does not allow its representatives to be recorded by customers.” So @poniewozik and @consumerist over to you


Interesting. I’ve never tried informing a customer service rep that I’m recording the call.

In most states, if you want to record your own phone call, it’s not required to inform the other parties.1 On the other hand, the Verizon rep is within their right to end the call for whatever reason. But I think it’s bad corporate policy, and will get them some bad press.

I record every single call that I have with any business, without exception. If my phone rings and I am not in a position to record, I do not answer. I will call back.

The rules for recording phone calls are very simple. Most states have a 1-party consent law, which means that one end of the phone call has to be informed of the recording. If you’re initiating the recording yourself, then one party is already informed. Federal law is also “1-party”.

Now, eleven states require the consent of all parties. These states are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. But if you are in a one-party consent state, you should not have to worry about calls with persons these states, because federal law should take president in those situations.2

Read this guide from the Digital Media Law Project for more info.


1,2. Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. Under no circumstance should anything I say be construed as legal advice.

Archiving My App.net Posts

Back in 2012, I more or less left Twitter for App.net. Twitter had enacted several distasteful policies, and App.net looked like a fun experiment.

Two years later, it seemed like things were going great. But then we suddenly learned that App.net would be laying off its full-time employees and would receive no new features.

Most people jumped ship at that point, and I haven’t really used it since. But I have nearly two years of posts there. It’d be a shame if the App.net servers go dark one day and I haven’t archived my posts.

So that’s what I did. Since I now host my microblog on this site, I decided to just import them here. All post text, date, and images are preserved. Eg.

Screenshot 2016-05-20 06.09.08

Is now a snippet here:


All 1200+ of my app.net posts are now available here as snippets. There are still some broken images from apps like Favd, and hopefully I’ll fix those before App.net breathes its last.

Update: I fixed all the Favd images.

Update: I downloaded my Twitter archive and imported all of my tweets to this site.