“Watch Out… The Cadillac Tax is Coming”

Healthcare costs have been a continuing issue felt by Americans from all walks of life throughout the nation. With the Affordable Care Act, this has only gotten worse, especially for the middle class. Now, the Cadillac Tax is planned to begin in 2018 and I fear it will only hit my family, friends, and peers harder. I know I have firsthand experienced the burden of the ACA as of recently when my employer had to change my healthcare plan and I do not have the same safety net I previously did. I am fortunate that my spouse and I have been in good health currently, but my neighbor Kevin has not been so lucky.

My neighbor’s recent life has been one calamitous event after another. The worst of these events was his wife’s diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. We were catching up, with sweating glasses of iced tea in hand, sitting on my porch while we watched workers remove a tree that had recently fallen onto his property after a recent storm. This was just another accident in his series of unfortunate events, but he did express great gratitude for the reasonably priced professional company, www.cdstumptreeremoval.com, that agreed to work with him on his “tree care issue”.  Why can’t “healthcare” be just that, professional and reasonably priced? Continue reading “Watch Out… The Cadillac Tax is Coming”

THE “AMBULANCE RIDE” MEDICARE PAID FOR

I am going to apologize in advance for yet another post dealing with health care costs.  When I started writing this blog I thought I would be leaning more towards a “helpful hints” website.  So far I have been on my soap box and I am afraid this post will deal once again with costs.  You do have my promise that my very next post will include resources to help you.

This being said, I wanted to share something with you.  Now, I live in the state of New York and I would like to know if this is a New York thing or if this happens everywhere.  My Grandmother passed away.  She was 92 so she lived a good long life and she died in her sleep.  My mother got a call from Grandma’s cleaning lady that she had found her in bed and that she was deceased.

Mom has medical experience so she checked for vitals, the body was cool to the touch, Grandma was obviously gone.  Mom called the funeral home to have them send transport and then she finally got through to the doctor to report the death.  The doctor’s office told Mom that in New York since it was an unattended death, she still needed to call emergency services.   And for that, we received a bill for a $600 ambulance ride a couple of months later.  According to a guy I know that is in the limousine business, we could have taken Grandma for a rather luxurious ride for most of the day for that amount of money! Continue reading THE “AMBULANCE RIDE” MEDICARE PAID FOR

That Dirty Word – HEALTHCARE

It is an issue that can clear a room faster than talking about death, religion, or technology. What topic am I referring to? Healthcare. To some, just the thought of the managed healthcare industry sends shivers up people’s spines.

To be honest I don’t blame them. You never hear any definitive plan to really

credit to Steven Brill from his free downloadable book
credit to Steven Brill from his free downloadable book

make a difference. Obamacare has become more of the name of a syndrome, than a health care philosophy. If you ask a lot of people about it, I doubt they could tell you more than a few simple facts about it.

Healthcare’s Hidden Strategy

Healthcare management is accepted as a nebulous area of faceless executives, mountains of ever changing legal jargon and the cruel acceptance that misery and chaos are all it will ever be. I have a technical term for this acceptance. My term:    “Nonsense”

They have a strategy. It may appear like just industry structure, but it is no different than any large mega billion dollar industry with controversy. I liken it to the oil industry and the banking industry, each with their own set of lobbyists, and endless coincidences that seem to benefit them when under legislative or judicial scrutiny. An example of this is the way gas prices drop mysteriously and precipitously around election time. Just coincidence I am sure.

The Healthcare industry uses the nebulous nature of mindless faceless managed care goliaths to disguise something that really should be illegal. Basically, they are monopolies.

Medical Monopolies

The majority of hospitals, doctors, and healthcare services are linked to a handful of managed care organizations. And this trend continues as more and more consolidation takes place. And what is shocking is you hear the same garbage based arguments from these managed care organizations as you used to hear from other monopolies. Here are some of the arguments I hear:

  • consolidation reduces premiums
  • consolidation helps the economy

Oh and by the way 2 +2 = 5. Consolidation did not help bring fair pricing to big oil. Consolidation did not bring innovation or low prices to the telecommunications industry before the break up of Ma Bell. But we are supposed to believe that this medical oligarchy is benefiting your economy. I have a strong intuition that competition might work wonders for the skyrocketing cost of healthcare.

It still remains to be seen as to whether the Republicans and the Trump Administration can devise a healthcare plan for America that will take some of the profits out of the pockets of the insurance industry in order to keep health care affordable for the common man.  So far, Congress cannot even come together to label Obamacare as the failure that it is and put party differences aside in order to serve the American people that elected them.  This is truly a sad commentary on the dysfunction or our federal government.

 

Zika Virus Scare

The Zika Virus. It’s a term that’s been buzzing around the news for the past few months. The question many are asking is: Should I be concerned? Or maybe this is like the Ebola hype, a lot of fear over a few isolated cases. Since mosquitos carry the virus, and the early warm weather could mean mosquito season is coming sooner rather than later, it is best to prepare for the worst and prepare now.

Maybe I haven’t convinced you. Maybe you think I am being irrational. If you have kept up with the news, you would also know that pregnant women need to take extra care to avoid the virus. My wife is currently three months pregnant. The majority of the pregnancy will be in the height of mosquito season, and I have learned that I have good reason to be scared. In contracted, the Zika Virus could cause brain damage to our child as he or she develops in the womb. If the Zika Virus hits our town, there’s a good chance it will quickly become an outbreak. The children of pregnant women are more at risk than anyone.

Parents know that getting ready for a new child is all about preparation. My wife is currently working on registering gifts for her baby shower, which means asking every mother she knows what they wish they had with their first born and what they thought they needed that ended up being useless.  We have gotten names of every doctor in a 20-mile radius of my home and work, just in case. Our doctor is on speed dial, of course.  We’ve even gotten a recommendation for a great, local courier service for all my quick delivery service needs when my wife too pregnant to comfortably move and I am out of town on business. That is how far we have gone with my obsession of being prepared for anything and everything.

One of the first preparation steps we took, however, was calling our health insurance company to see what kind of coverage we have. Luckily, we do not plan on traveling far, we are being extra cautious with this first pregnancy. I don’t have to worry about getting travelers insurance. I am also incredibly lucky because I have fantastic health insurance through my employer. If an outbreak occurs, we are completely covered. While this may seem like a minor relief, it seems like all of my money is going to the nursery, and knowing that if the worse case scenario were to occur, at least we would have some financial support. A fraction of my worry has been relieved, and as a first-time parent and a self-proclaimed worrywart, I’ll take just about any relief that I can get.

The Invisible Fees Hitting Our Community’s Cancer Patients

The good Samaritan syndrome, strangers helping strangers
The good Samaritan syndrome, strangers helping strangers

I just cannot shake the high cost of health care from my list of worries.  And that being said, it has come to my attention that patients and families of patients battling cancer have turned to “crowdfunding” (Click here)as a source of funding for medical bills,  Modern technology has brought a great opportunity to people having difficulties paying for their medical expenses while battling cancer. Some of these expenses include, but are not limited to, travel costs for treatment, chemotherapy, radiation, vitamins, wigs, various medications, the cost of missing an expanded period of work, childcare, doctors appointments, family/living expenses, caregiving expenses, potential legal issues, etc. In theory, Obamacare makes it so insurance companies cannot opt of covering preexisting conditions, but it’s the hidden fees and invisible costs that get to the pockets of patients and their families.

My family, in particular, learned this when my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and breast cancer within three months of each other. My mother, in her mid 50’s is our primary source of family income. My younger sister and I are her only two children. As a teacher, we were very lucky that she had enough sick days to cover her year out of work. She also had great health insurance that covered a majority of her treatment. Yet, having some of the best treatment coverage one could possibly have still was not enough for us. The co-payments for her daily and weekly treatments added up quickly. The 40 minutes to an hour of driving per visit to her oncologist, surgeon, and various other doctors she had to see, took up a lot of gas.

The care that she received at New York Oncology Hematology in Rexford and Ellis Hospital in Schenectady was top notch. I saw this with my own eyes the one day I could get off of work to take her to a chemotherapy session. This particular day she experienced an unexpected allergic reaction. As I ran to get the nurse, watching my mother’s face turn a deep shade of red under her scarfed head, the nurses had her taken care of as soon as the words “My mother needs help” slipped from my mouth. I am not denying in my argument that healthcare workers deserve anything less than what they are being paid.  In order to save the patients money. I am, however, arguing that there should be more done for the invisible expenses cancer patients face. Continue reading The Invisible Fees Hitting Our Community’s Cancer Patients

OBAMACARE DOOMED TO LIFE SUPPORT

An apple a day cannot save Obama CareObama care will go down in History as the President’s biggest folly. No doubt the that the President had good intentions, but in his arrogance, he implemented a system that was supposed to encourage States to implement their own exchanges. 34 states failed to set up exchanges. And those states that did set up exchanges have not all been successful. Hawaii is an example. $205 million dollars of federal taxpayer dollar were spent on Hawaii’s state healthcare exchange. Now Hawaii is asking for $30 million dollars to switch over to the Federal Obamacare Exchange instead. Note the Hawaii that the New York Post referred to Hawaii “a trailblazer of socialized medicine for nearly four decades”. Continue reading OBAMACARE DOOMED TO LIFE SUPPORT

HEALTHCARE: Dollars, cents, and responsibility.

The healthcare issues affecting our country in 2015 stem from the desire to see that everyone has an opportunity to receive medical treatment and trying to determine a fair and equitable way to pay for services.

The cost of healthcare is rising. Who is responsible?
Healthcare Dollars and cents

The cost of healthcare has skyrocketed over the last several decades.  Partially, this is a result of the increased number of treatments available.  Some of it is a result of the imposition of overlapping oversight imposed by regulating agencies.  There is also the effect of insurance companies trying to satisfy shareholders.  As a result, we just keep chasing our tails in the attempt to fix the problem. Continue reading HEALTHCARE: Dollars, cents, and responsibility.