Healthcare stupidity

Only in America!

I’m an employed executive, I do OK. I have company provided healthcare insurance. I find the annual waste of time crawling through the policy details and trying to work out which one will pay out for real healthcare and which ones are just superficially attractive frustrating, annoying and the height of absurdity. If you make the wrong selection, you are screwed for the whole year. If you forget to make a selection you are possibly even more screwed as you’ll default into a plan which is totally inappropriate for your needs.

Then there is the whole debacle of co-pays, deductibles, out of network and a whole raft of other ways you can be screwed and charged even more. So, I’m guessing I’m not alone with this and in one of those only in America moments, there apparently is a business model for this.

My company has been promoting and I’ve been getting flyers in the mail, and emails at work in the HR Newsletter for a company called Castlight. The latest email from Corporate HR Said:

Castlight is your one-stop shop for healthcare. With Castlight, you can find a high-quality doctor at an affordable price before making an appointment. Already registered? Start searching today for the best healthcare options for your family. Castlight is provided to [—] team members, spouses or domestic partners enrolled in [—-] PPO 600 and Health Fund medical plans. Register for the Castlight Rewards Sweepstakes for a chance to win 10,000 WOWPoints redeemable at e-Deals@[—-]—a $100 value! For rules and more details please visit Castlight Rewards Sweepstakes

So, lets summarize.

  1. Healthcare providers are charging employees too much, otherwise why does the service exist?
  2. Healthcare Insurance companies are failing to negotiate the best deals.
  3. My employer is paying the company, or is getting a kick-back when employees use the service
  4. Company provided health insurance still isn’t affordable.
  5. None of this is important because you can get rewards and points for being sick and needing a doctor.
  6. If you pay by a cash back credit card, you too can make money, oops I meant save more money.

Yep, only in America would any of this be acceptable because hey, people are making good money out of it.

Abbotts Texas Miracle

This week Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott continued to demonstrate that the Texas Miracle is based only on smoke and mirrors.

Zap, Pow, Sock it to 'em Abbott
Zap, Pow, Sock it to ’em Abbott

First up, Abbott claimed victory over the evil empire, the Federal Governments’ Environmental Protection Agency. Abbott has time and time again sued the EPA to try to get relief for Texas based businesses, claiming almost everything except the dog ate their homework. The only thing Abbott hasn’t denied is that Texas is the worst state when it comes to air pollution, and given it’s size and position, that pollution is a major contributor to US pollution and to pollution in other states. But, hey, apparently that’s too bad as the regulations would be too costly for Texas businesses to implement.

The truth is that Abbott won a battle to save small businesses from implementing these regulations, but lost the war, the coal plants and other major facilities will have to implement them. The EDF has a different perspective but comes to the same conclusion.

Meanwhile, Abbott(“What I really do for fun is I go into the office, [and] I sue the Obama administration.”) has been explaining the unexplainable, back-peddling on his order to restrict access to the hazardous Chemicals list. As posted last week “The Texas Freedom Illusion“, Abbott confirmed the ban of releasing information to the public as Tier II reports in the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

Well it turns out, he’s explained his position. You, yes, you the people, have not lost your right to know under the EPCRA. If you want to know, apparently all you have to do is visit the plants or write them, and ask. Instead of letting concerned citizens check the state database, where businesses are required to register, the State is pushing handling costs on the business. The Daily KOS has a great piece on this, describing Abbotts remarks as “jaw dropping”. < Zap pow!

It can’t be because it’s more secure that way.because it sure isn’t anymore secure. I’m sure the terrorists would never think of that, after all, they didn’t think of taking private flying lessons pre-9/11… when they couldn’t get trained by the Government.

Meanwhile, Abbott has also been re-confirming that the Texas Miracle doesn’t come with workers compensation insurance, the only state in America to do so. The Texas Tribune this week published a damning report into the cost and effect of this on workers. For as little as $1.38, businesses could provide workers comp. but like that EPA cost, thats too much of a burden. The downside of this, i workers getting hurt, seriously hurt often have no medical coverage, that means you are and I are picking up the tab.

So, lets summarize. Abbott is running for Governor. He is

  • Not prepared to require businesses meet the same emissions standards they are elsewhere in the USA
  • Not prepared to require Workers Comp. insurance
  • Not prepared to provide citizens access to data the State has on dangerous chemical storage
  • Continues to sue the Presidents Administration, costing hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars, for no real purpose and little result

I’ll be protesting in the morning, Taxation with no representation, I can’t even vote for someone else, let alone against him. Zap Pow – Robin’ the people to pay for business.

Dead Reckoning: The TDI rules don’t quite blind the navigators

1619139_10152188985535915_241142027_nMichael King sums up how I feel about what’s been going on in Texas in relation to Womens Health, the Affordable Care act. I don’t always agree with King, but when I do it’s always the same problem.

For entirely political reasons, Gov. Rick Perry has not only opposed and obstructed the federal health care law at every available opportunity, he has done nothing to offer a usable alternative or even to maintain the entirely inadequate existing state health care programs. It has been more important for Perry and his GOP allies to fight a holy war against Planned Parenthood than to sustain the Women’s Health Program; it has been a higher priority to cut property taxes than to provide local health care districts with state assistance; it has been politically more expedient to deny millions of Texans health care coverage through Medicaid than to accept federal funding for a program that would not only save lives but expand the state economy.

via Point Austin: Dead Reckoning: The TDI rules don’t quite blind the navigators – News – The Austin Chronicle.

The Great American Ripoff: The High Cost of Low Taxes

Americans pay almost four times as much as the citizens of other wealthy countries for things such as retirement security and health care on the private market – 10.6 percent of our economic output versus an average of just 2.7 percent among OECD member states.

via The Great American Ripoff: The High Cost of Low Taxes | Connecting the Dots, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com.

Bill Moyers website has a great perspective on the whole state vs private industry, tax vs pay debate. It shows that Americans for the most part want what the government provides, well-maintained infrastructure, safe food and clean water, efficient firefighting and policing, Medicare and Social Security and virtually every other government-provided service you can name. Most Americans though think that a lower tax bill – especially for federal taxes — The article shows, with figures, that those low taxes actually work against the economic interests of most Americans.

That’s because we pay ridiculously high out-of-pocket costs for things that are provided by the public sector in other developed countries. The difference is quite dramatic.

Cancer, the Radiolab edition.

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Henrietta Lacks famous cells

This podcast is possibly the most informative, scary, disgusting, weird and inspiring podcasts I’ve ever heard. Like most people cancer has had a growing impact on my family. My Mum is a survivor; I’ve lost Aunts, my ex-wife, and just last week, a good friends husband.  I’m heading for my 3rd surgery for nonmalignant skin carcinoma removal. Yet I know nothing about cancer.

I didn’t set out to learn, “Famous Tumors” was just next up on my drive time podcast list. Well worth the listen. The main story is about Her name was Henrietta Lacks, scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the land. Her cells, taken without her knowledge, became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. She remains virtually unknown, hear her story, and that of the march of her cells.

Will America invade?

Texas Tribune has a great article and a good piece of research that shows that the Summers efforts by the Grand Old Party(GOP) aka the old white guys, shows that the only logical reason for the extremely controversial, and retrograde “abortion regulation” bought in, in Texas, was had nothing to do with protecting women. You can read it here.

This is no surprise. In the same way that the abortion regulations were not really to protect women, the voter ID laws here in Texas, are not really to protect against voter ID fraud. It’s shameful.

If Texas were a middle eastern country, America would be trying to find a reason to Invade. They’d do it to bring us true democracy; free women from male oppression and frac the hell out of the place polluting all the water, and trying to get out before the locals work out what’s going down.

One out of three isn’t bad, I guess. I assume the Americans were scared off invading invading Texas by our well armed militias?

Be careful what you “Like”

I’ve noticed recently that Facebook has been heavily promoting “Like Walmart” in my timeline. Facebook helpfully not only shows me which of my friends “Like” Walmart, but it also provides a link to their timeline, I guess so I can hop on over and ask them useful questions about Walmart?

Well Facebook, you are not going to socially shame me into liking Walmart. Sure I shop there when I have no alternative. I bought my current Netgear router there, it was the only place in town that had one when I needed it; many people in small outlying areas use Walmart as they no longer have an alternative and 90% of Americans live within 15-minutes of a Walmart. Except, many of them have forgotten or didn’t know that when Walmart came to out of town, it killed main street and many if not all the small, often local businesses, run by local families. But still, Walmart “always [has] low prices” so thats OK.

Rather than “Like” Walmart, I’m left wondering why my friends like them? Really, a company that has a GDP bigger than 169 countries, many of which provide healthcare; Walmart is one of the most profitable businesses in the world, est. profits $34,800 profit EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY, and won’t provide healthcare for its’ employees. How can you like that?

Of course the Facebook promotion of Walmart isn’t just an act of kindness, its almost certainly driven by payments from Walmart itself, or an agency acting for Walmart. It’s also likely that you are seeing other “Like” promotions, and if you are not seeing Walmart, maybe either none of your friends “Like” Walmart or you already do. Anyway, Statistics Brain has some great numbers on Walmart, here.