Thursday, August 27, 2009

Strong Like Bull -- And, I have the Numbers to Prove It

Around this time of year, my company conducts a health assessment. We fill out a form -- either online or hardcopy -- allow some travelling nurse to prick our finger and the company pays us $20.00. In a few weeks, we all receive a nice health assessment booklet from our insurance company. This is one of the reasons I believe that health insurance costs need to be shared by companies. My company, I'm sure, receives some sort of discount on their premimums by having their employees take the assessment. This is a good thing.

I support taking the test, even though on a yearly basis, since I turned 35 my doctor has been running the very same lap tests on me. Here's why: First, I like saving my company money -- no really. I'm serious. A company that can save money on health care costs can put more money in my pocket -- or at least in theory. Second, I know there's a lot of people in my company who probably don't visit the doctor on a regular basis and don't get regular checkups. This way, they have the numbers. The nurses explain what all of the numbers mean and, hopefully, co-workers with bad numbers can follow up with their doctors and head off serious issues. Finally, I happen to like the little booklet. I do. I keep last year's booklet and the new booklet will have the previous years' results and I can compare just how healthy I'm getting.

So, now for the numbers. If you know me, then you know I'm a big gal. And, being big doesn't bother me, except when someone assumes because I'm big, I'm somehow destroying the earth with my largeness. And, being big and beautiful -- as I am -- doesn't mean I'm not healthy.

My blood pressure was a little high today: 125/75. That's still normal, but my bp had been going down to the low 120's. I should note, that's the blood pressure I had when I was 21 and wearing a size 16.

My total cholesterol was 177 -- not as good as it has been, but still under that bad number of 200.

My HDL is 47 -- I've had it as high as 50, so it's lower than it's been, but still above 40 -- like it needs to be.

My LDL was slightly elevated at 112. I'll have to work on that.

Now, for the drum roll, my Triglycerides is 91 -- WAY BELOW the borderline high level. YES!

My glucose was 106 -- slightly high, but I had forgotten about the test and drank some apple juice before coming into work, so it wasn't a true fasting test.

So, I'm a big gal and I know I have friends and family that worry about my health. But, my heart test proved negative -- negative for issues, I do have one! My numbers are all where they are supposed to be, so it looks like -- if I keep this up -- I'll be around to see my grandchildren's children.

Hmmm, guess my step-children won't be happy. I won't die early enough to leave them any money. LOL!

God Bless

Oh, and keeping with my daily promise -- down with Van Hollen. He shouldn't be Wisconsin's Attorney General and I'm healthy enough to see him voted out of office. :-)

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

I am Blessed...

This morning in my email there was a notice that a subscriber to my blog has unsubscribed. This is always a sad thing for a blogger to lose a reader. Broke my heart a little to thing that someone in this big old world doesn't think I'm worth reading anymore. But, then I saw the reason, which was Content no longer relevant and I had to chuckle a little. The reader's email ended in au, which I think stands for Australia and considering all I've been writing about lately has been the health care debate in America, I can see his or her point.

Anyway, this set to me thinking about health care. I've seen some articles and comments on blogs where people are complaining about the protesters outside of the townhall meetings held by various members of the government and I think they're dead wrong. It's okay to protest. It's okay to disagree with our government. It's okay to disagree with each other. The very thought of making changes to our health care system scares the hell out of a lot of people. I don't blame them -- it scares the hell out of me, too. I can understand how someone doesn't want the status quo to change -- especially if they have company provided health care. There's a part of me that doesn't want change. It's a "I've got mine, the hell with you" attitude. And, I can understand it, because I feel that way, too. I have to be honest here. I don't want my health insurance benefits taxed. I don't think that's fair. I've come too far to have to pay taxes on something I've earned.
And, that has led me to thing about this...
In 1994, I earned - roughly - $16,000. I didn't have health care. I didn't see doctors for routine medical care. I was involved in a car accident that year where I hurt my back and bruised a kidney. It wasn't my fault. The other driver turned left in front of me and although I tried to avoid her, first by changing lanes when I thought she had stopped turning and then by slamming on my brakes, I slammed into the side of her Ford Escort in my Dodge Dakota Truck at 30 miles an hour. Up to that point in my life, it was the scariest thing to ever happen to me while I was behind the wheel of my truck.
I had no health care insurance. I supported myself and, despite doctor's orders to the contrary, I returned to work the following day. I didn't sue her and, since I felt I had to take care of myself and no one could help, I didn't even ride to the hospital in an ambulance -- like I should've. If my insurance agent, a man named Marty, hadn't told me I was covered, I wouldn't have gone to the hospital at all. I had so little money back then, I couldn't afford to fill the pain prescription I was given. Good thing I have a high tolerance for pain.
Now, I don't tell you all of this to have you feel sorry for me, because you shouldn't. My kidney healed and my back is strong. My truck managed to run for another seven years until the engine blew and it is fifteen years later and I make almost four times as much as I did that year. And, I have health insurance. If that same accident happened again today, I would ride to the hospital in an ambulance and, more importantly, I would listen to my doctor. I have disability insurance, both personal and via work, so I wouldn't worry about not being able to pay my bills.
And -- this is important -- I feel lucky. That's right, lucky. I've put in years of hard work and study to become the person I am today. I worked full time and went to school part time. I busted my butt to graduate and I work hard at my profession to be the best I can be. And, I'm lucky. I'm lucky because when it was too hard and I wanted to quit, Cheryl would drag me kicking and screaming to my homework. And, she did all the housework, so I could study. (Truth be told, she still does most of the housework.) And, when I would cry at night that this was just too hard and I wasn't smart enough or good enough to see it through, she would hold me and tell me I was. She was a big pain in my ass when I needed a swift kick to my ass and she was a soft shoulder on which to cry when I just needed a place to fall. And, I couldn't have gone from the living over a bar from paycheck to paycheck to owning a home and installing new kitchen and bathroom floors if I hadn't had her pushing me.
And, I know that I am blessed.
And, then I think, there's a lot of 28 year olds out there who don't have a Cheryl in their lives. For that matter, there are a lot of people who don't have anyone pushing and fighting for them. They just go to work and do the best they can do and they are who I used to be. They have just enough to get by and they can't see past next week, because they can't afford to dream. They clean our waste baskets, they ring us out at the grocery store, they wash our car and they bring us our dinner whenever we eat out. They're the 47 million Americans who can't afford health insurance. And, then I think how lucky I am that I never caught a disease I couldn't pay for. Never needed medicine where I would have to make a choice between the medicine or eating. (Once, when I was uninsured, my asthma medicine cost $75.00 for a one month supply. That was nearly a quarter of one of my paychecks and a huge chunk of take home pay. If I hadn't had Cheryl, I might've forgone the medicine.)
And, I think about those people and how lucky I am I'm not one of them - for by the Grace of God go I - and I realize, we do need to make some changes and we're all going to have to sacrifice a little for the good of everyone.
God Bess

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Healthcare Plan D

Here's the second summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn't find it.

WHO'S COVERED: The House GOP's plan, in outline form for now, says it aims to make insurance affordable and accessible to all. There aren't estimates about how many additional people would be covered.

COST: Unknown.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: No new taxes are proposed, but Republicans say they want to reduce Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: No mandates.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: No mandates; small business tax credits are offered. Employers are encouraged to move to "opt-out" rather than "opt-in" rules for offering health coverage.

SUBSIDIES: Tax credits are offered to "low- and modest-income" Americans. People who aren't covered through their employers but buy their own insurance are allowed to take a tax deduction. Low-income retirees younger than 65 (the eligibility age for Medicare) would be offered assistance.

BENEFIT PACKAGE: Insurers would have to allow children to stay on their parents' plan through age 25.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: No public plan.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: No new purchasing exchange or marketplace is proposed. Health savings accounts and flexible spending plans would be strengthened.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: People eligible for Medicaid would be allowed to use the value of their benefit to purchase a private plan.

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Healthcare Plan C

Here's the third summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn't find it.

WHO'S COVERED: Around 97 percent of Americans. Illegal immigrants would not receive coverage.

COST: Around $1 trillion over 10 years.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: Possible sources include cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; a tax as high as 35 percent on very high cost health insurance policies; a requirement for employers to pay into the Treasury for their employees who get their insurance through public programs or receive government subsidies to help pay premiums. Looking to raise $90 billion by taxing health insurance companies as much as 35 percent on policies valued at $25,000 or more.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Expected to include a requirement for individuals to get coverage.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: In lieu of requiring employers to provide coverage, lawmakers are considering a "free rider" penalty based on how much the government ends up paying for workers' coverage.

SUBSIDIES: No higher than 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four).

BENEFIT PACKAGE: The government doesn't mandate benefits but sets four benefit categories — ranging from coverage of around 65 percent of medical costs to about 90 percent — and insurers would be required to offer coverage in at least two categories. No denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: Unlike the other proposals the Finance Committee's will likely be bipartisan. With Republicans opposed to a government-run plan, the committee is looking at a compromise that would instead create nonprofit member-owned co-ops to compete with private insurers.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: State-based exchanges.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: Everyone at 100 percent of poverty would be eligible. Between 100 and 133 percent, states or individuals have the choice between coverage under Medicaid or a 100 percent subsidy in the exchange. The expansion would be delayed until 2013, a late change to save money — the start date had been 2011.

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Healthcare Plan B

Here's the second summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn't find it.

WHO'S COVERED: Aims to cover 97 percent of Americans.

COST: About $615 billion over 10 years, but it's only one piece of a larger Senate bill.

HOW IT'S PAID FOR: Another panel — the Senate Finance Committee — is responsible for figuring out how to cover costs.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals will have to have insurance, enforced through tax penalty with hardship waivers.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers who don't offer coverage will pay a penalty of $750 a year for each full-time worker. Businesses with 25 or fewer workers are exempt.

SUBSIDIES: Available up to 400 percent poverty level, or $88,000 for a family of four.

BENEFITS PACKAGE: Health plans must offer a package of essential benefits recommended by a new Medical Advisory Council. No denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A robust new public plan to compete with private insurers. The plan would be run by the government but would pay doctors and hospitals based on what private insurers now pay.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Individuals and small businesses could purchase insurance through state-based purchasing pools called American Health Benefit Gateways.

OTHER PROVISIONS: Creates a new voluntary insurance program that would provide a modest daily cash benefit to help disabled people stay in their own homes instead of going into nursing homes.

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Healthcare Plan A

Here's the first summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn't find it.

Plan A

WHO'S COVERED: Around 94 percent of non-elderly residents (those not covered by Medicare, which kicks in at age 65) would be covered — compared with 81 percent today. Nearly half the 17 million non-elderly residents who remain uninsured would be illegal immigrants.

COST: About $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

HOW IT'S PAID FOR: Revenue-raisers include $544 billion over the next decade from new income taxes on single people making more than $280,000 a year and couples making more than $350,000; $37 billion in business tax increases; about $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; sizable penalties paid by individuals and employers who don't obtain coverage.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals must have insurance, enforced through tax penalty with hardship waivers. The penalty is 2.5 percent of income.
REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers must provide insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of 8 percent of payroll. Companies with payroll under $250,000 annually are exempt. That level could rise to $500,000 under a deal between House leaders and fiscal conservatives.

Employers could apply for a two-year exemption from the mandate if they can prove the requirements would result in job losses that would negatively affect their communities.

SUBSIDIES: Individuals and families with annual income up to 400 percent of poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four) would get sliding-scale subsidies to help them buy coverage. The subsidies would begin in 2013.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Through a new Health Insurance Exchange open to individuals and, initially, small employers; it could be expanded to large employers over time. States could opt to operate their own exchanges in place of the national exchange if they follow federal rules.

BENEFIT PACKAGE: A committee would recommend an "essential benefits package" including preventive services, mental health services, oral heath and vision for children; out-of pocket costs would be capped. The new benefit package would be the basic benefit package offered in the exchange and over time would become the minimum quality standard for employer plans. Insurers wouldn't be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A new public plan available through the insurance exchanges would be set up and run by the secretary of Health and Human Services. Democrats originally designed the plan to pay Medicare rates plus 5 percent to doctors, but under Wednesday's deal with the fiscal conservatives the HHS secretary would instead negotiate rates with providers.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: The federal-state insurance program for the poor would be expanded starting in 2013 to cover all non-elderly individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,404).

DRUGS: Grants 12 years of market protection to high-tech drugs used to combat cancer, Parkinson's and other deadly diseases.

I want to hear what you think.

God Bless

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Four Healthcare Plans...

Good morning, Gentle Readers,

Here's what I'm going to be doing today...

I will use the information I found from the Associated Press to Outline the four different plans. The only change I'm going to make is to change their names to A, B, C, D. There's no reason to choose a plan because the Democrats created it or to reject a plan because it is created by Republicans. What I want is for everyone who reads the plans, to comment on the one they like or comment on the ones you don't like. And, don't just say, that sucks. Be specific. I'd like to know which healthcare plan really resonants with my readers.

God Bless

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Healthcare Email From the White House...

I received an email from David Axelrod Senior Adviser to President Obama. He included 8 facts about the President's Healthcare Plan, as well as 8 myths. I am copying these 16 points, without any comment, into this blog. I want you to come to your own conclusions.

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage
1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.


8 common myths about health insurance reform

1. Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
2. We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
3. Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
4. Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
5. Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.


Okay, come to your own conclusions. Watch this space tomorrow. I'm posting summaries of the four plans. I found them at the Associated Press. Read them all and come to your own conclusions. Before the end of the weekend, I'll post my opinions.

God Bless

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    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Healthcare - Stop Now

    I know I'm about to sound like a raving, right-wing lunatic, but we have to stop Congress from making any changes to healthcare and we have to stop them right now. They have lost their collective minds. I was just reading in this week's Business Week how happy insurance companies are. They're going to come out winners, especially if there is no public option to the plan. According to the article, there are limits as to what the insurance companies will have to cover to take on 47 million new customers. And, since health insurance is going to be manatory, that's 47 million new paying customers who will have insurance policies that aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

    So, let's not rush into a bad marriage with the insurance companies. We don't need their fly-by-night plans with low coverage. We all ready have that -- the 47 million Americans have access to healthcare, just not health insurance. Any plan before Congress that doesn't make American Businesses a partner in this is not a plan this country needs.

    While I'm speaking of businesses, think about it -- Wal-Mart is supporting a government plan. Wonder why? Because it let's them off the hook for responsibility.

    Oh and according to the article the idea of taxing white collar workers' benefits is back -- again. I really resent that, because my dad has been a blue collar worker all his life and he made a lot more money than some white collar workers I know, including me.

    We need Congress to come up with something better. We don't need 1000 pages of crap. We have enough of that all ready.

    One last thing, what makes me truly different from a real raving, right-wing lunatic is I have a plan and I've written about it.

    God Bless

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    Sunday, August 09, 2009

    Palin on Healthcare Reform...

    Now, I'm not sure on how much of the Obama Healthcare plan I actually support. I am not even sure the government is on the right track on how to fix healthcare, but at least I'm not spouting lies on my Facebook page about it.

    According to
    CNN, Sarah Palin posted the following on her facebook page: "And who will suffer the most when they ration care?" she wrote. "The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

    But, what about the system we have right now, where 47million Americans have no access or cannot afford health insurance? Many of those 47 million Americans probably couldn't afford the proper care for a Down Syndrome baby. Some, when faced with that decision, might have aborted the child rather than have him. Which leads to the same euthanasia former Governor Palin claims the Obama Healthcare plan will cause.


    Admittedly, I don't know a lot about the great state of Alaska, but if they have a great healthcare system that was supported by former Governor Sarah Palin, I'd like to hear about it. Otherwise, just shut up. Attacking a system on grounds that outrageous and unsupportive is just crazy. If you can't offer constructive critism, then shut up. But, unfortunately, the Republican Party and their loonies -- such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck -- haven't offered a constructive thought in more than twenty years.

    So, is it me or have all the intelligent Republicans just given up? I know they're out there. Those Republicans who admire Theodore Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln, where have those guys gone? Richard Nixon was a President who did a great deal for this country (yeah, but only if you exclude Watergate). The man was intelligent, but not this band of so-called Conservatives. They talk about energizing their base, but their base -- white, lower middle class or even poor, right wing, uneducated Christians -- is a shrinking group and if they continue this pandering, they're truly not going to be a great party. Someday, I'll be telling my grandsons about what a Republican was.

    At least, the history books will have pictures of Roosevelt and Lincoln.

    God Bless

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    Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    Congressman Ryan's Healthcare Idea

    Congressman Ryan sent out a flyer regarding his healthcare plan. He wants to give everyone a $5700 tax credit -- not a deduction, you receive this credit whether you paid money in or not -- to everyone in order to buy healthcare. The tax credit works out to $475.00 per month, which sounds like a lot of money for health insurance, until you realize that group plans can cost that much and trying to buy insurance as an individual is very expensive.
    There are some questions I want answered and I'm sending an email to him to get them:
    • From where are Americans supposed to buy this insurance? Are we going to be able to get the kind of coverage we currently have with our employers and at the group rate?
    • From where is the government going to get the money for the tax credit? I pay for my employer insurance pre-tax, so I am not paying taxes on my health insurance. My pre-tax premium is way less than the $5700 tax credit and $5700 will practically wipe out my tax obligation and the tax obligation for a lot of Americans, so where is the government going to get the extra money?
    • Will I have to prove that I purchased healthcare insurance or put the money into a health savings account in order to collect? How can we be certain that people use the credit for that which it was intended? If there are no guarantees in place, we could end up spending a lot of government money without covering a significant portion of Americans.
    • What will this do to company policies? Won't this encourage companies to just dump their healthcare plans and let individuals do it on their own?
    • Who is going to educate those who don't understand anything about insurance? I have a college degree and insurance policies confuse me. Who is going to make sure the American public is well informed?
    • Won't this just encourage fly by night insurance companies? How can we be sure people won't be scammed into policies that really aren't worth the paper their printed on?
    It is something to think about. Contact your Congressman to find out more information.
    God Bless

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    Sunday, July 05, 2009

    Healthcare - The numbers

    I know I've been droning on and on and on about Healthcare, but the reforms that are about to pass the House and Senate are really scaring me. First, the news always reports that there are 45 million Americans without healthcare or health insurance. Anyone know from where this number comes?
    Now, yesterday, I read a blog (and I'm sorry I don't remember which one) that disputed this by making a blanket statement that 20 million of those Americans are either college students or people making over $75,000 a year who choose not to take healthcare. Anyone know from where that number comes? Anybody? Because I remember when my daughter was in college that she was still on Cheryl's insurance. So, I think most students would remain on their parents' policies. Anyone know of a recent college student who wasn't covered on their parents' policies?
    Does anyone know of someone who makes $75,000 a year who opts not to have health insurance? I don't, but I'm sure there's someone out there who does.
    Over the next few days and, perhaps, weeks, I'm going to try to track down these numbers and pass them on. Healthcare in America is way too important to just make a rash decision on.
    God Bless

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    Addictomatic

    I was going through my stats and checking out referring pages. I like to do this every once in a while to see if I can offer a link to their site. Since I'm re-doing the site, I thought I'd add a page with links, as opposed to the ones that used to be on the left. Anyway, I found this site where you can "instantly create a custom page with the latest buzz on any topic." What a concept!
    I made this one on Healthcare -- give it a try!
    God Bless

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    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Open Letter to President Obama

    Dear President Obama;
    I've sent comments to you on healthcare, but the box only takes 500 characters and I am much more long winded than that. Also, I haven't received any response. But, I'm not writing this to complain, but to help people take notice.
    First and foremost, we shouldn't rush any of this. Theodore Roosevelt wanted national healthcare at the beginning of the last century and we've lived this long without it. Let's take our time. I know there's a feeling of urgency what with the economy trying to climb out of the toliet and the American public supporting you by 65%, but let's not make hasty decisions.
    Second, any plan that adds yet another tax onto the backs of the middle class is not a plan worthy of mention. Those of us in the middle class pay enough taxes as it is. Right now, between Federal and State taxes, Social Security and Medicare, 1/3 of my paycheck is gone and I haven't even walked out of the building. Let's find the money some other way. (I'm for stopping farm substidies to large corporations and weekend farmers. The substidies weren't supposed to be paid out for more than five years when they started. It's just ridiculous that people like Sam Donaldson gets farm substidies, but I digress.) I'm pretty sure that at some point in the next few years, our taxes are going to have to go up, but let's not tax one of the few benefits we enjoy.
    Now, having said # 2, let me mention #3: Let's give HUGE tax breaks to companies that cover at least 75% of an employee's healthcare and even bigger tax breaks to companies that cover 90%. Let's not make them pay taxes on any money spent on healthcare for employees' dependents. A lot of the uninsured are children and by giving employers the push to do the right thing, we might be able to knock more than half of the uninsured off the list.
    Four, and this is big, let's not have national healthcare, but a national standard. And, here's why; we don't want to give companies a break on taxes and then have them use some shoddy fly by night insurance company that doesn't cover the basics. A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure, after all. We need wellness visits and mammograms, etc. to be covered. And, the standards set must be followed whether the company is self-insured or not. I spoke with a company representative where I work and she insisted that they didn't have to follow the minimums set by Illinois because they were self-insured. I couldn't find an answer on whether or not she was lying, so let's just get that part out of the way. If you follow at least the minimums, you get the tax break, if not, you don't. He who pays the band gets to pick the music, so companies shouldn't expect breaks, if they don't want to have the minimums.
    Finally, whatever healthcare plan we pick or whatever minimums we set; Congress should be set at the same standard. If they had to live with our healthcare, the healthcare system wouldn't be broken.
    I hope you see this, President Obama.
    God Bless
    A Concerned Citizen

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    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Taxing Healthcare Benefits

    Okay, if you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that one of the three reasons I didn't vote for McCain was that he wanted to put a tax on my healthcare benefits. Yesterday, a co-worker of mine mentioned that he hoped I was happy now that Obama was going to start taxing healthcare benefits. I was more than a little stunned, especially since 1/3 of my reasons for voting for Obama was that he was against this idea. So, this morning, I have set out on a mission to see if I can find the justification for my co-worker's remark. I have found one article, but then my router went down and I discovered that my archives weren't working, so I haven't finished reading the article, but trust me, I will get to the bottom of this and I will be calling Feingold, Kohl and Ryan to let them know the taxing of healthcare benefits is wrong.
    One quick thought before I'm off:
    The
    article I'm reading states "The wealthy enjoy the biggest boon from the policy, with their better jobs and richer perks. Still, Obama and many lawmakers are reluctant to embrace a tax." Well, I don't think I would be considered among the wealthy of the country, so there might be hope. I wouldn't be opposed to paying taxes on the healthcare if, say, they had to earn a certain amount, like $100,000 for a single person and $200,000 for a married person -- that, my dear friends, would leave most of us out of it.
    Anyway, I would like to formulate a better thought on this, but I want to do my research -- just like I did when McCain first proposed this idea.
    Oh, I almost forgot, according to my co-worker, this taxing of healthcare is Hillary's idea and it was part of the "deal" she made with Obama last year. Where is that coming from? Anyone know?
    God Bless

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    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Corporate Taxes And Healthcare

    Have you read this week's Business Week? On page 20, the Mandel on Economics article is about slashing Corporate taxes from 35% to 25%. That's a pretty big slash and it would mean that Corporations would pay a smaller percent than the highest taxed individual. On top of that, Corporations all ready only account for 10% of the Federal Government's revenue. Slashing their taxes would only bring that figure down AND it wouldn't guarantee that they would create jobs here at home.
    In an article just a couple of pages along, Catherine Arnst writes that some CEOs are behind the "new, federally funded insurer" plan "that would expand coverage by competing with private health insurers." For once, I agree with the Republicans that this is a bad idea, but not for the same reasons.
    I realize that we have to get the healthcare costs in hand and that premiums have risen faster than anything else, but if we let our corporations pay less in taxes and not have to be responsible for the people they hire, we're not helping anyone. We're moving more costs to the government and less on the backs of the companies who helped incur them.
    Why can't we throw out the tax code all together and create a new one that gives companies incentives to create American jobs and cover benefits by paying lower taxes? Why should we just lower the taxes across the board and give them government benefits that allow them to put out even less for their employees? Won't this just tax the American worker that much more?

    God Bless

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    Tuesday, March 03, 2009

    Health Insurance

    If you've been paying attention, I just had knee surgery. (I'm doing fine, thanks for asking.) After being off work for a little more than two weeks, I went back yesterday -- much to the surprise of my boss and co-workers who all thought I'd be back today. Yesterday, I received my explanation of benefits on how much the surgery cost and how much the insurance company will pay.
    The doctor billed over $3200. The insurance company disallowed roughly $2200, leaving $1000. Since I had all ready made my deductible of $650 this year, my insurance company is going to pay 90%, leaving me a bill of $100.
    Now, a lot of people say we don't need everyone covered by health insurance because I could just save that $1000 and put it in a pre-tax account and pay it out of my own pocket. But, here's the thing, if I didn't have insurance, I would've paid the full $3200 - not the negotiated $1000.
    So, what we really need in this country is not so much health insurance, but a way that if you're not insured, you can still get this negotiated price. We need it for everything. Then, I'd sign on that we don't need health insurance.
    But, I don't think the government is that good to do the negotiating and if we use a private company to do it for us, we're just going to end up right where we are now.
    Anyone got any good suggestions?

    God Bless

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    Thursday, September 04, 2008

    McCain's Health Plan

    Right now I work for an employer that #1. Doesn't know how to get the best deal for their employees for healthcare and #2. would love it if they didn't have to provide health insurance for their 5,000 plus employees. I purchase the highest health plan and that means I pay more in premiums than some of my co-workers. I don't use the HSA, so I can have a better health plan and I do use the FSA. I don't have a lot of health issues. I do have asthma and thank goodness I haven't had to use my healthcare much because my healthcare plan sucks. Believe me, when I leave this job it will be for two reasons and one of them is the lousy insurance.

    I've heard of jobs where the pay is a little lower, but the benefits packages (tuition reimbursement, healthcare, etc.) are excellent. These positions have made me stop and think about whether I would jump ship to gain better benefits, but not gain much more in money.

    Let me say this: I don't want the government supplying me with healthcare -- I want my employer subsdizing it. Right now, one of the few tax breaks I get is the pre-tax healthcare benefit for which I pay $84.49 per month or $1013.88 per year. Remember, this is completely tax free.

    McCain wants to take that little tax break away. According to
    CNN Money, the amount my employer pays "would become taxable income. But anyone who buys insurance would receive a refundable tax credit worth $2,500 per person ($5,000 per family). That's a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill, or, if you don't have a tax bill, a dollar-for-dollar increase in the amount of money Uncle Sam would send your way."

    Except it isn't. Right now, my employer pays $276.82 per month or $3321.84 per year. Under McCain's plan, I'll be taxed on that amount. So, I won't get the out of pocket pre-tax break and now my income will look like it has gone up and I'll be paying even more in taxes. But, McCain gets to tell you that he's offering you a tax break. Let's take a look at that.

    McCain wants to give a single person a tax credit (and by the way, there's a difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit. A tax credit reduces what you owe and a tax deduction reduces the amount on which you pay) a total of $2,500. So, if I purchase the insurance I have now, it will cost me $4335.72 -- because the tax break is only for those people who buy their own insurance. The government will be giving me $2500 back, bringing my grand total to $1835.72, which is not only $821.84 more than I pay out of pocket now, but it's all taxed, which adds to the amount that I give back to the government.

    Let's just see how much more someone who makes $50,000 a year will pay our government and for health insurance.

    I'm using last year's
    tax tables and I'm going to make the assumption that I'm still allowed to put tax free money into flexiben, which'll keep some figures the same. I'm, also, assuming that I can even purchase the insurance and maintain at least the same coverage for the same price as my employer, but we know that won't be true. Also, keep in mind, your salary goes up on your Federal form, it goes up on your state form. (And, yeah, I know, some states don't have income tax. Bully for you.)

    Under the current system, taking off the $1,013.88 for current healthcare costs and $2,500 for Flexiben a single person's taxable income (with no deductions, but the
    standard) is $41,136.12. The tax amount is $6,705.00. That comes to 16.29% for Federal Tax. And, I've only paid $1,013.88 for healthcare.

    Now, the new system:
    $50,000.00 salary
    $ 2,500.00 flexiben
    $ 5,350.00 standard deduction
    $42,150.00 taxable income

    $6,955.00 taxable amount

    My tax amount is now $250.00 higher under the new system. I'm now taxed at the higher amount of 16.50%. Oh, wait, I did forget to take the tax credit off.

    Okay, now, I'm paying $4,455.00 in Federal income tax. That's a lowering of my taxes by just under 6%. Hey, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

    Except my state income tax rate is 6.5%. Under the old system, I report $41,136.12 in income and I'm taxed: $2,673.84. Under the new system, I report $42,150.00 in income and I'm taxed: $2,739.75. A difference of $65.91. So, now, I've paid more in taxes -- not much more, but still more AND I've paid more for my insurance coverage: $821.84 more.

    And, what did I get for it? $821.84 could pay for a new laptop or pay for a gifts for my grandsons. Maybe, I might give that money to charity.

    But, who benefits?

    My employer. They now get to save $3321.84 and if you think they'll pass that savings on to me in the form of a raise -- think again. It goes in their pocket. Multiply that by 5,000 employees and they've saved $16,609,200.00. It isn't going to be in the employees' pockets -- I can guarntee you that. Some companies might be willing to pass the savings along, but most won't and you know they won't.

    You know who else benefits?

    The insurance companies. They can then charge me more for insurance because I'm no longer a part of a group.

    You know who won't benefit?

    American workers. They'll have even less in their pockets than they do now. According to McCain, that'll be a good thing. But, then, the Republicans are acting like our country is chugging along just fine and we don't need to fix it. Life is good. And, if you think the economy is bad, you have a mental condition.

    Someone recently called me a single issue voter, but I'm not. I have loads of reasons for no longer backing McCain. His ideas are not good for me. Ask yourself, are they going to be good for you?

    God Bless


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    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Another column of some random thoughts -- including gas prices...

    As the gas prices continue to rise, I heard a rumor that the federal government was considering a $1.00 per gallon tax. Now, the other thing I know about this is that I overheard someone saying it. Whether it is true or not, that I can't say. But, it got me to thinking about stuff...

    #1. I don't think using corn as an additive to gasoline is such a grand idea. All it is going to do is drive up the price of corn. Which will drive up the price of pork and beef because a lot of farmers feed their livestock corn.

    #2. Has any of our government officials thought that if we are having difficulties coming up with the money to pay for the gas to get to work that this will slow the tourist trade? Every single year for as long as I can remember, Cheryl and I take a vacation to Door County. We buy some wine, some cheese and other trinkets. We always shop for a Sarah's Angel and I try to find a new dragon for my collection. We stay in a hotel and we spend quite a lot of money. No one in Door County is going to be out of business because we can't make the trip this year -- we who live fairly simply can't find extra money in the budget to put aside for vacation. But, the good folks in Door County will certainly be in trouble if even 10% of their regular tourists can't make the trip.

    #3. We keep hearing about how illegal immigration is bringing this country to its knees, but since I work with a lot of contractors -- 90% of whom are legal immigrants, I can't help but wonder if the Visas that bring the high tech foreigners to this country is helping us. While I don't believe that the illegal immigrant who works as a bus boy is taking a job an American wants, I'm pretty sure the high tech legal immigrant is. Maybe, he or she isn't taking a job right now, but as long as a company can higher an immigrant for less than an American, it will. Also, if we don't invest in the education of our young people, we're going to suffer on the global market. Now, I happen to prefer 95% of the foreign staff with whom I work over my American counterparts. Also, I want people who want to be here to come here -- I'm the descendant of immigrants, but I think it's time to reconsider just how many HB-1 (I think that's the correct number) Visas we give out every year. We need to ensure that Americans are being trained for the jobs that the foreigners are doing.

    #4. Now, having said my piece with #3, here's my next thought... When someone comes into this country on a work Visa, they are pretty much stuck at that company until they get a Visa/green card on their own. If they switch companies, they have to start the whole process over, which I think pretty much stinks. What if you accept a job, get here and discover that the company isn't doing what it promised to do? We're basically trapping these people in positions and I think we should work on this to make sure they aren't trapped in bad jobs or with bad companies.

    #5. Now, having said #4, my other thought is we really do need to secure our borders to make America a safer place, but I don't think a fence across the border in Mexico is the place to start.

    #6. Healthcare -- totally different track -- I think we need to hold companies responsible for the healthcare they provide (sell) to their employees. We need to require companies to report how many of their employees have health insurance through them, how many have health insurance via their spouse and how many are covered by the state. Companies who have employees covered by state plans or no insurance at all, should be taxed an amount equal to the cost the state spends on that specific employee -- the more employees covered, the lower the costs. Also, let's not let them get away with that crappy catastophe insurance. These people might as well not have any insurance at all.

    Those are just some thoughts off the Top of My Head. I might expand on them some other time or I might not. We'll see.

    God Bless

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    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    Health Care

    Today it was difficult to settle on a topic. Ann Coulter just made an outragerous remark against John Edwards, so I could discuss that. But, I was thinking, hasn't that hateful woman received enough attention? So, I decided to write about another subject: Health Care.

    A while back, I contacted the Human Resources department where I work and requested the opportunity to purchase additional coverage -- coverage that I was willing to pay for, but since it would be through the company, I could receive at a lower cost. On Tuesday, I received a we're sorry, but no, along with a lecture on the rising cost of health care and the flexible spending accounts.

    Okay, I'm not even going to get into the fact that I understand about flexible spending and it was obvious to me that the woman who answered my email never bothered to see that I put a lot of money into my flexible spending account all ready. What really bothered me was the condescending air that health care is some sort of privilege and I should be grateful that they let me have it.

    Excuse me, but I work hard for a living. I give my all at work and I care about the company for which I work. All of this talk lately about health care centers around the fact that somehow in employers' minds, workers don't deserve health care. They shouldn't have to put out the money for the premiums.

    Well, that's just wrong. Health care is a business expense, like the computer on my desk, the paper in the printer and the electricity that lights the building. I give them a honest days work and they give me a honest day's pay and health care. That's the deal for which I signed on.

    But, it isn't just the company from whom I work, it's all of them. Chrysler, Ford, etc. are blaming their financial woes on the high cost of health care (which was cited in the email), which if they made cars we want to buy, they'd make money.

    And, it's the same with other companies. They have these huge payouts for their CEOs, but they don't want to spend the same amount on the people who are actually making them money. I'm sorry, but you know what gets sugar on the table? It's not a CEO, it's the little people who do all the work. And, that's a fact, Jack.

    I know that health care costs have gotten out of hand, but I'm tired of these companies wanting to take away the little in benefits they offer.

    God Bless

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    Friday, June 01, 2007

    The Upcoming Election Year...

    Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that next year is a Presidential election year. It's all over the news.

    I'd like to try something different this election. Let's not pick a front runner until all the facts are in. Let's not let the media pick the two people we should like.

    Also, let's agree on some basic items with which our next President has to deal. Here is my top three list and I have more, but I'll save them for later.

    1. The War in Iraq. Anyone who thinks we'll be out of Iraq by the end of 2008 is fooling themselves. We can't leave this country until it has a stable environment. That means more troops and more money spent. (and, yes, unfortunately, more lives lost). We've started something that we just can't leave. Not winning in Iraq means more terrorists, not less. This isn't like Vietnam. The Vietnamese weren't going to get on boats and planes and attack us. Terrorists trained in Iraq eventually will. Should we have started the war? No, but now that we have, we can't just take our football home and not play anymore because it's too hard to finish the game.
    2. Health care. 45 million Americans do not have any form of health care. I'm not necessarily advocating a national health care plan, but let's find ways to reduce costs, while not reducing coverage. The company for whom I work is touting their new health care program for 2008. Smaller premiums, but they are encouraging each employee to put money into a tax free savings account -- that translates to less is going to be covered. We shouldn't have to lose coverage for lower premiums. Also, I'm tired of these rich companies complaining about health care, like it's some great sacrifice to cover their employees. These same companies pay their CEOs so much money that if they got themselves a cheaper CEO, they could put that money into health care for their employees. (You know, the ones doing the work.) We need to offer better tax breaks on the employers' portion of the premiums, maybe even credits (which is better than a deduction).
    3. Dependence on Foreign Oil. Enough is enough. We need, since our car companies can't seem to do it on their own, to mandate higher MPG on our cars. If we have to subsidize some of this, take the money back from the oil companies to do it. We need more research into other alternative fuels -- including electric cars. GM (correct me if I'm wrong about the company) had one, but they concluded that it was too expensive to mass produce and there wouldn't be a large enough buying public. Are they kidding?!? I would've purchased the car. Also, let's do real tax credits for buying electric or hybrid cars. Not this only the first so many buyers need apply and that it had to be by a certain date. Further, let's encourage companies that provide company cars to purchase hybrids/electrics -- give them a tax credit for doing so.
    There are many other items we can agree upon, but these are a fairly good start. Let's find the candidates that come up with the best solutions to these issues. Let's not care about political parties. And, above all, let's not let the extreme right wing Christians hijack our country for another four years.

    God Bless

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