Mar 31, 2010

Part 2: The dollars and sense of health care reform

Now that we've played with numbers as far as people, let's go play on the fiscal playground, shall we? Our administration says that this health care reform bill will represent a savings to us over our current system because it will eliminate uninsured ER costs since everyone is going to be required to buy health insurance.

Here are the initial problems with this idea:

1) Poor people aren't going to be able to buy this or any insurance, nor can they pay the fines.  So then what?
2) It  means the taxpayers are going to still be picking up the cost of these people using ERs, just as they've always done.  That, or we're going to be paying their premiums for the new health insurance.  How much are premiums going to be per person?  Gosh, we don't know, do we?  We're being told they'll be affordable by a government who finds it affordable to give $100,000,000+ to Haiti alone while having borrowed $363,000,000,000 from China and $1,492,000,000,000 from Japan just to keep ourselves afloat. That $3.15 trillion deficit Obama projects? Please tell me how this all works?  How is it smart, responsible, *feasible, to have when you look at the numbers?  Let's relate it to something more easily...well, able to relate to.  Let's say you have a neighbor who is $50,000 in credit card debit,  home in peril since monthly payments are difficult, borrowing money from friends to pay those bills every month and then they decide a good move would be to trade in their '03 Blazer that they still owe on and that is expensive to drive on a '10 Prius because it'll be cheaper to run and better for the environment, even though the payments will be higher and will, in the end, still cost more.  Forget HR 3200 and other bills...are you okay with *this?  Answer honestly, at least in your head.  You don't have to own it here.   If you answered yes, you're too stupid to read my blog or contribute to this conversation.  Go away.  The rest of you, please tell me the difference in this scenario and what we're looking at as a nation. Is it all about feel-good? Or am I missing something huge?

Let's look at some facts.  I love facts as much as I hate "facts".

Here's a fact for you...we *must be prepared to cover all 305,000,000 people in the US  under this plan.  Not the numbers Obama has stated and that I'm too lazy to go look up since they make no sense.  We must be prepared to cover every single person here under this plan.  Why?  Because they *are.  They exist.  But many have health insurance, you argue.  Sure we do...I do.  But this bill stipulates regulations such as no caps, no forbidding pre-existing conditions, etc. Here's another fact for you - we can only regulate insurance companies to the point they wish to be regulated.  They, ultimately, have the final say in what happens to them, as they should.  They will accept regulation until they don't feel like it anymore, and then they'll close up shop as we know it.  Let's address a common misconception about insurance companies right now.  They are not health care providers.  They never have been and never will be.  They are financial institutions, investment companies.  Period.  Our government, under many administrations and parties, has tried to lead us to believe otherwise but it simply isn't true.  They do not give a shit about you personally, nor should they.   They are out to provide you with an investment that benefits both parties, period and end of subject.  Think bank. Think mortgage company. Insurance, of all types, is the same.  Do they give a rat's ass if you have cancer?  Of course not.  That's not their business and bravo to them for it.  That's the business of your health care *providers, your doctors, nurses and such.  Health insurance is an investment, nothing more or less.  It's a bull market if you're sick and a bear market if you aren't.  Insurance, all of it, is a financial institution and that's something people have lost sight of due to big, bad cases of the feel-goods.  Take enough of their profit away and they *will leave. Florida and the Gulf Coast states found this out after our hurricanes...the states began saying what could and could not be done and the major, most solvent companies?  Are gone or in the process of leaving. Add to that that every employer in this country is going to examine their bottom line and determine what benefits them most - paying partial premiums for their employees on the company plan or paying the fines.  Believe me, the fines will benefit their bottom dollar most.  Add into the mix the economy, growing unemployment and people like me who pay out of pocket for private plans and will absolutely stop if the government plan is cheaper and we've got a situation where we *must plan on insuring every single person in this country.

That little rant over, let's look at numbers.   For many years I've looked for a figure of what typical, as we know it know, health care would cost per capita if health insurance did not exist.  Basically, if we all had unlimited money and saw doctors as we all wished, what would each person, child or adult, pay out of pocket at current rates for this care?  For years I've low-balled and used the figure of $20,000 per person, knowing full well it's way too low.  Lately, I've been  I've been coming up with numbers that, averaged out, lead me to  believe $80,000 is a closer (and still low) approximation.  In my effort to low-ball and give the benefit of the doubt to the "other" side, I'm going to choose an average of the two, so $50,000 per person.  If you find better numbers, please let me know in the comments. I will also gratefully recalculate if they turn out to be more accurate.

All that said and getting down to numbers, what it appears we need to be looking at is an annual figure of  $15,250,000,000,000.  Yes, over $15 TRILLION dollars and that's just for health care. That doesn't include the cost of building all of the additional, necessary hospitals and clinics.  It doesn't include additional administrative costs.   Now, yes, I know that all of those will create jobs (some temporary, such as construction) and will alleviate some of the strain the high numbers of unemployment have caused but those were temporary numbers  to begin with.  Unemployment has a limited  lifespan and public assistance programs will either still be used by the newly employed or their salaries will be high enough to not need PA, so either way, it's a tax-suck.  Again, I'm going to low-ball numbers and leave the figure of $15 trillion as is.  I'm going to simply ignore the cost of all the construction, education, staffing, liability insurance, etc.  Gone.  Poof.   How's that for fair beyond belief for the other side?  So, it will fall upon the taxpayers to pick up this tab every.  single. year.  Think it can be done? Well, how many of our citizens are actually taxpayers?  Oh, I know many think they are, even though they get back far more than they pay in.  Newsflash, you're not a taxpayer if you qualify for  EITC, WIC, Medicaid, CHIP, etc.  Actual taxpayers make up less than 100 million people, or less than 1/3 of our citizens and that number grows smaller by the day with our economy still failing.  So, how much extra will those 100 million people have to pay *each, to make sure others have health insurance under the health care reform bill? Well, we don't know their figures yet since they aren't telling us but I can tell you that using my figures, and remember how much I didn't even count, every actual taxpayer in this country will have to fork over an additional $150,000+ *annually* to fund this little adventure.  Now, I don't know about you, but that's just not going to work for me.

Thoughts?  Prayers?  Want to tell me how and where I'm wrong?  Because trust me, I hope I am.

PS:  Please ignore's late and I'm just going to hit send.

Mar 28, 2010

Part 1: Let's talk health care reform.

Leave your guns at the door - thanks!

So, let's talk about this whole health care reform mess, shall we?  I'm going to wind up doing a series of posts on this, I'm realizing, and I just know that excites people to no end.  Me, rambling on about health care?  I know, I know.  It makes my butt twist, too.  But please jump in; I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on it all and if we're lucky, maybe we have have a heated deba...uh, pleasant discussion about the topic.  All I ask, for God's sake, is to be logical about it, please.  I'd really love to hear everyone's opinions and thoughts but spare me the violins because they don't pay the bills.  Saying "everyone should have the right to good health care" doesn't make it doable, nor is it logical and what we all need to remember is that our government is a business.  There's no place for feelings and emotions and blue-birdy good wishes unless there's money to back those up.  I mean, everyone should have the right to world peace too, but just wanting it doesn't make it a *right, nor does it make it possible.  Access to health care is all well and fine but health *coverage is no right.  That said, I really have no problem with Socialism, if that's roughly how a country was founded or what it grew into as it became modernized and civilized.  However, Socialism, which is what *any national health care plan is based in, cannot be instituted successfully in place of another preexisting system that works.  And make no mistake, our health care system *does work.  Does it need some work?  Absolutely.  Reform, even?  Yep.  But you have to start in the right place and work in the right direction to achieve that and this plan?  Doesn't.

So, let's get down to the nitty-gritty here.  Numbers.  Money.  Figures the government is feeding us and the reality of those, all of which I can and will prove to the best of my ability.  If you can show reliable sources proving any of them wrong or giving me more information than I could find, please do so! I'll happily revise the numbers and we'll see what we come up with then.  Also, I am going to round up or down for ease in my own mental mathematical process, but for the sake of being fair I will never round in favor of my own argument and when making estimates, I will lowball in favor of the "other side" to the point of pain.  That said, since I am going to run with this sans calculator, I may fuck it up.  Please point out any errors.

Basic, indisputable facts we are going to work with:
The US population is around 305,000,000 and that includes illegal immigrants and legal non-citizens.

12,000,000 of those are illegal immigrants.

75,000,000 are children.

To briefly address illegal aliens and the healthcare reform bill, President Obama (and Nancy Pelosi) have clearly stated it would not cover illegal aliens.  However, there is nothing in place in this bill to require people to show proof of legal status prior to obtaining services.  So, take that as you will...I think we all know what the reality will be but I'll go with our President's words and, using the figures above, state that this means we have 298,000,000 prospective insurees we need to be concerned about under HR 3200.

More "facts" and facts:

A "fact": There are 46,000,000 uninsured people in the US, roughly 14% of our population, per government stats.

The real facts?  12,000,000 are illegal immigrants and they are included in that figure.  We need to remove them...they are not entitled to health care in our country and even President Obama seems to agree with that.  See above.

Another fact? Over 15,000,000 of those *individuals (not couples, mind you) have an income of over $50,000 per year.  Know what that means?  It means that many of them *could be paying for health insurance, at least a good major medical policy,  for themselves and are choosing not to. Now, granted, I know that a single $50K income won't even allow one person to live decently in a few parts of the country but in the vast majority, it will.  Here's the trouble...people have different ideas of "living decently".  I learned way too much about this in the years I sold insurance and I never did get used to approaching someone about their health insurance, only to be told they "can't afford it".  As they would tell me this,  I'd have a policy on their home in a somewhat upscale neighborhood on one screen and the policies on their 2 newish cars on the other.  These people made a lifestyle choice the precluding them affording health insurance; it's not that they couldn't afford it. It was not a priority for them and while I fully admit I cannot show stats on that fact, I think the numbers of people in this category would shock most everyone.  The funny thing is, in their minds they're telling the God's honest truth when they say that can't afford it.  We live in such an entitled society that our citizens have come to accept what once were considered benefits of many years of hard work and saving to be normal and simply "decent". Anyway, I'll stop that mini-rant and let's put some numbers on this.  So, what percentage of people in the over $50K per year income range could afford health insurance and are choosing not to? Frankly, I believe firmly that 75% of the fall into this category since not all of them are single or married with this being their only family income.  But, I said I'd lowball numbers when it doubt and I will.  Let's go with 33% or 5,000,000.

Our last fact? Another 13,000,000 were eligible for Medicaid or Medicare and, for whatever reason, chose to not enroll in them.  Again, they have chose to be uninsured and we *cannot rightfully include them in these figures if they made that choice.  At least I do not believe so.

So, what is our revised, more accurate body count, pardon my pun, of US citizens who are uninsured and not out of choice?  16,000,0000.  Now, 7,000,000 of those uninsured are children.  Why?  Between Medicaid and CHIP , there's no reason for any child to be without insurance in this country and if they are, it's out of choice.  Their parents have chosen for it to not be a priority.  We cannot count them in the number of uninsured, either.  At least I don't think so.  I mean, we can't rightfully say we need to cover people who have chosen to not cover themselves and their families...can we?  Yeah, I didn't think so.  Nonetheless, I'll give you 2,000,000 kids who may have unusual situations in their family lives that really can't be helped. 

So, what's our final count of US citizens who are uninsured *not* by choice?  You know, the ones that really do need help?  11,000,000 people.  Not 46,000,000.  And this means the percentage of Americans uninsured not out of choice is actually just under 4%, not even close to 14% of our population, as our government likes to state. I'll leave you to digest this while I go have a nap and tend the chickens.  If I had chickens.  So, is our system broken?  Or are our citizens and their values broken?  You tell me and we'll take it from there. 

Mar 27, 2010

My life. My blog. My nerves.

Once again, I've been missing in action.  I have all these thoughts, ideas and pictures yet every tome I've opened my blog I just click it off.  Why?  I hate how it looks.  I mean, I *really hate it.  I know it sounds stupid but I'm a very sensory-driven person.  I'm not terribly driven or affected by raw emotion - it annoys me, actually - but I respond emotionally to visual things, scents, the feel of items. And I *hate* how my blog looks.  That said, it's going to be changing.  If nothing else, I'll put it back as it was but I know exactly what I want in my head and since I can't find it, I'll have to learn to make it.  *dusts off the old HTML skills*

Moving along to other topics, I've got a new cooking post in the works, as well as a detailed post on why the new health care reform bill can't work.  That's a topic I've decided to try to keep off Daisy, since I think I tend to offend people and, sadly, many people won't defend their opinions.  They just get very quiet and pissy, which makes for dreadful silence and I feel like a bull in a china shop. I don't get you believe in something, stand up for it and do it logically.  If you can't logically defend or explain it, maybe you need to wonder why that is.  Anyway, I have all this stuff in my head and no place I like to put it so some work around here is in order this weekend.

Also in the works are some pictures of the outside of my house.  Overall, it's okay-looking for what it is and we're in the midst of repainting it the same color I had it painted 7 years ago - khaki with white trim.  I still like it, especially since I have red brick accents, but it takes a beating in our weather so it's faded and tired now.  it will look fresh with the repainting but since it's pushing 50 now, it's got a few weird issues with prominent wires and such I could use some ideas on disguising. I also have the backyard from hell coupled with the neighbor from hell who shares a common back fence with me and I need ideas on that, too.  See, I told you...I have all this stuff in my head. I'm gonna burst.  ;-)

Let's see...what else?  Well, for the first time in my adult life, I'm sick of cats.  Seriously.  All four are having issues and I've cleaned up more cat shit, vomit, gunk and piss in the last 48 hours than I have in all of my cat-owning years combined.  At least it surely does feel like it.  I feel like I've done nothing but clean up nastiness and still have it feel nasty and I'm so over it, I can't tell you. I'm tired to death of scooping, spraying, scrubbing, rubbing, laundering and mopping up after fucking cats.  I don't know how people cope when they have multiple children who are sick because I know I could cheerfully bash a couple of cats over the head with my remote and that's kind of frowned upon with children.

My son just shaved his eyebrows off for a photo shoot.  He now looks like a freaking meth-head.  I'm so proud...only not. I'm just sarcastic and aggravated.  My God, I'm having flashbacks to my mom and her "what will the neighbors think?" days.

Anyway, that's my life.  Fun times. 
Don't give up on me, though...I'll get this mess of a place sorted out and be back!

Mar 7, 2010

"Hello, is this God?"

Some of you know but for those who don't, Jake's laptop was stolen night before last.  Now, it was his fault in that he was careless - he took it to a friend's (parental) home to record some little garage band they had playing and when he left, he forgot his laptop there.  He realized as soon as he walked in our door and I offered to take him back but he didn't want to disturb them.  Seems their folks had shooed everyone off so they could go to bed and he said it would be fine there in their home until morning.  I had a bad feeling, but okay, his choice.  The next morning he texts his friend that we're going to swing by and pick up the laptop and sure's gone.  I was sick about it and Jake even more so.  For one, this was a very nice, specially modded laptop but worse, it had most of Jake's music and photos on it.  He texts that we're going to come over anyway so he can look for it himself.  We get there.  They are all gone...that or not answering the door.  Jake calls the cops, who take it far more seriously than I'd expected.  The homeowners do finally show up and once our part was done, we leave.  It's obvious the cop who remains is not finished with them and we leave feeling fairly certain someone in that house knows *exactly where that laptop is.  For the record, I don't think it was Jake's friend.  So, we come home and we're both pretty sick over all this, plus I'm trying to figure out what to do since I really don't think his carelessness should be rewarded with a brand new laptop and, at the same time, I'm thinking you really ought to be able to leave something in a friend's home, especially with parents there, and expect it to be okay.  Anyway, we tell my mom, who is *very upset both for the material loss but for the loss of all of Jake's hard work.  I mean, Miss Arse is  in tears upset.  She's old, they get emotional.

So, this morning Miss Arse calls around 11 and asks if we've heard any news.  I tell her no.  The rest of the conversation went like this, with her in italics:

"I'm disappointed.  Now, don't you dare make fun of me, but last night I literally got down on my knees and prayed to God to consider what a good son and grandson Jake is and asked him to please consider getting that laptop back to Jake if he felt Jake was worthy of it and had learned a lesson."

*trying to not giggle because she was so darn serious*
"That was sweet, Mom, thank you.  But you probably ought to be praying for world peace or food for starving children, don't you think?"

"Ohhh, probably, but in the end I really don't give a shit about those things over my grandson being happy."

"Well, while I appreciate that, I'm not so sure God will."

"I'm not so sure He won't!"

"Apparently He doesn't since we don't have the laptop back."

At this point Jake walks out into the room and says (loud enough she can hear him), "Mom!!!  (Friend) just texted me and he's got my laptop!  He said his dad went searching out in the woods this morning and found it!"

"See.  *smug tone* I told you I thought God would think that laptop was important."

At that point, why argue?  She is one happy old lady today with a renewed sense of God and Jesus in her life, and pretty damn confident God listened to her.  That's all that matters.  Jake and I?  Have a renewed faith that we've got at least one bad-ass deputy in this county who put some pressure on that family and that the dad knew *exactly where that laptop was the whole time.  But hey, maybe God sent us that particular deputy...

Either way, we've got the laptop back, a bit scratched up but fine and Miss Arse is convinced she's now got a personal pipeline to God.  It's a good day for us all.  :-)

Mar 5, 2010

A sweet surprise from a sweet friend!

Awhile back, my friend Kristin, knowing how I love smell-good things, asked for my address.  Her sister sells Scentsy and she said she had some odds and ends she didn't care for that she would send me so I could try Scentsy products out.  Now, I'm none too proud when it comes to these things and was thrilled to get her oddsy-endsy stuff so I happily forked over my address.  Imagine my surprise when I get *this box in the mail today....not from Kristin but from Scentsy itself.

I ripped open the box with a pathetic amount of excitement and found something that really did touch me very much.  Kristin had actually taken the time, it now turns out, to ask a mutual friend, Robin what scents I'd like and ordered me some she knew I'd really enjoy!  To beat all, she also got me a plug-in tart warmer, something I've wanted so badly and just never justified getting for myself.   Here's my haul -  the cute as hell warmer still in the box, 3 *wonderful smelling tart packs and a scented tin that is already in my car!

She even managed to get me the one scent I've been most intrigued by!  It did not disappoint; I want to roll my naked body in this scent.  Oh, it's that good.

It took me all of about 3 minutes to get a chunk of it in my cute as hell plug-in warmer and I?  Am a very happy woman.  I've long wanted a warmer for my kitchen but counter space is limited and this is beyond perfect.  Plus, despite my bad photography skills, you can see how it also acts as a darn pretty!

Kristin, I know I've already thanked you by email but I wanted to do so here, again.  This was one of the nicest, sweetest things anyone has done for me "just because" in a very long time and it's appreciated more than you know.  I'm very lucky.  Thanks for being such a dear friend and caring enough to do this for me - it means more than I can say and Robin, thank you, too, for knowing what I like well enough to help her out with her big plan.   :-)

Lastly, since I can now vouch for Scentsy products, Kristin's sister is having free shipping on her Scentsy site.  Seriously, free shipping?  Now's the time to try this stuff if you've been wondering about it.  I think you have to send her an email with your order but the link to her email is on her site.  Just email her and she'll lead you through it.  And these plug-in warmers for small spaces?  Oh, yeah.  Trust me.  You need them!