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President Obama and Healthcare Tour2010 March 16, 2010

Posted by Admin in Diary, Health Quote of the Week.
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Last week in St. Louis the President finally had an answer for the Republican request to “just start over with a new health care bill”. He asserted,” Why should we-they had ten years!”

What bothers me is how the print and radio media have ignored this, and the other lies being told on the “other side of the aisle’. Or should I say hypocrisy?

Reconciliation is now the “R word”, despite it being a time-honored tool of the Grand Old Party.

“Deeming” a bill to be passed is now unconstitutional, despite use by both previous Houses controlled by Republicans and other Democrats in past years.

In whose interest is it to have health care for more people? If health insurance stock prices go up after a day in Congress, whose interest is being served?

Frequent Flyer has been depressed about the lack of forward motion on the bill so has been gone for 65 days. I hope that the rest of this week brings cooler heads, warm hearts and the realization that this bill is about moving forward to cover more people in this country.

No Out of Pocket This Week-Expenses 0 December 5, 2009

Posted by Admin in Blog Math, Diary, Money, Women.
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Another record week-no out-of-pocket health expenses. No bills paid. That is not because I don’t have them, I am just waiting until payday. I am sure that others are in this boat as well. It has been an expensive fall-health-wise for me.

  • Having a colonoscopy,
  • a suspected MRSA cellulitis-complete with an ER visit,
  • and my first ever DNA test was actually not part of the third quarter plan.

I guess I could have waited to get the colonoscopy-I have several friends of a certain age who have not had theirs yet.  December will  be a month to catch up on the bills, get some exercise and make a plan for health in 2010. I had dental work to get done this year, to maximize the insurance coverage and it will just have to wait. Is that thinking about the money too much? Or a smart use of resources?

By the end of December,  I plan to share with you a list of health priorities for next year and their financial impact.

Who Will Take Care of the Baby Boomers? November 27, 2009

Posted by Admin in Diary, Health Insurance, Health Quote of the Week, Money.
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Yesterday, I heard a great hour of radio on the nursing shortage produced by WBUR in Boston. It’s called Nursing a Shortage , part of their Inside Out series. There are two structural problems on the supply side of nursing-one is baby boomer nurses retiring at the same time as their peers. I knew that part, but what I didn’t know about was the second one-the serious shortage of nursing educators.

America ‘s nursing shortage has been compared to a perfect storm gathering in intensity. In just over a decade nearly 80 million baby boomers will be in or reaching retirement, their medical needs placing an immense strain on our health care system. Nurses themselves, whose average age now is 47, will be leaving the profession and a younger generation of nurses will not be trained in enough numbers to fill the growing needs of hospitals and patients.

Who will take care of patients? Apparently all it will take is about a billion dollars to increase the student slots in nursing schools and hire additional educators to educate the needed students. Is there a national plan for that?

A billion dollars is beginning to sound very small.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=nursing+school&iid=7039143″ src=”7/e/e/c/MEDICAL_TRAINING_b892.JPG?adImageId=7880346&imageId=7039143″ width=”380″ height=”485″ /]

Affordable Health Care for America No Longer “Optional” November 8, 2009

Posted by Admin in Health Insurance, Healthonymous, Money.
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Yesterday, HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, passed the House of Representatives with a slim 5 vote margin to make history in America. The sweeping bill includes a public option-so the public option government health care plan is no longer “optional”. If you would like to hear the bill read out loud, visit this website HearTheBill.org .

Yours truly was glued to C-SPAN for most of the day. It was fascinating to look at cspan.org last night, and check out the member speeches the choose to post on their site.  I stood amazed (well, sat on my couch actually)

  • at the breadth of stories (both true and false) told on the floor,
  • the mind numbing use of repetitive phrases,
  • the patience of Rep. Dingell and each subsequent presiding member as they politely requested that members “heed the gavel” and that visitors in the galleries ” were guests of the House” and had to adhere to House rules,
  • the utter lack of interest in Rep. Wally Herger’s floor speech (D-CA District 2) from his colleagues seated nearby-presumably from his own party
  • Speaker Pelosi’s floor speech where she reminded her colleagues that HR 3962 would not treat being female as a reason to deny coverage for a “pre-existing condition”.
  • Speeches by Rep. Waxman, Rep. McDermott (WA) , Rep. Miller (CA), Rep. Velasquez, Rep. Slaughter, Rep. Meek
  • The lifelong commitment of Rep. Dingell and his family before him to providing health care for all Americans,
  • The surprising inclusion of the Stupak amendment, the most restrictive amendment since the Hyde Amendment on abortion rights
  • The misused, recurring call of “parliamentary inquiry” to the chair
  • The various descriptions of the weight of the bill and the number of pages (Jon Stewart summarizes it well)

No matter if you approve or disapprove, this day has been a long time coming-since the time of President Roosevelt or even President Truman-no bill has gotten this far. The next few weeks will still be crucial, especially with the “poison pill” of the Stupak amendment now contained within the bill, sort of like an odd political pregnancy.

Incentives for Health Reform November 3, 2009

Posted by Admin in Health Insurance, Healthonymous.
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Just caught a TV program where Bill Gates, Jr. was answering questions from students. Being Bill, he was asked many questions, one of which was on health care. He spoke to the question of what behavior the system currently promotes. The example he used was the difference between preventing an asthma attack vs. having an expensive episode treated in the hospital. The latter is rewarded with money, i.e. the procedures are “covered” by insurance. The former is not always “incentivized”.

Another example was the original inclusion of discussing on a voluntary basis end-of-life care with your physician earlier this summer in one of the bills proposed by Congress. This conversation would have received insurance coverage, but due to misrepresentation and outright lies, the provision was dropped by Congress. Some types of conversations with one’s physician simply have no incentives in the current health care and insurance systems, so they don’t occur.

When you or I see a health care provider, there is usually coverage for an office visit, but tests and procedures are rewarded too.

What incentives should be built into our system? (more…)

Section 125 Plans-Are You Covered? September 23, 2009

Posted by Admin in Health Insurance, Money.
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As I consider my annual health expenses, what tools are available to manage them? My employer has the basic Section 125 plan, which allows us to deduct our medical and dental plans from our salaries on a pre-tax basis. Parking and transit expenses are covered too. That is handy especially as I am required to pay for parking. In other words, the funds I spend for those expenses are not taxed as wages. These plans are also commonly used for child care expenses and reimbursement.

In addition, your company can set up a Flexible Spending Account-I believe it’s part of the section 125. If I had this part, then the out-of pocket expenses I have incurred could have been paid  from a pre-tax account. A couple of things-I have to be wiling to set aside the funds throughout the year to cover planned medical and dental expenses, plus I need to make a plan ahead of time as to what expenses I will incur. For me, I would include my deductibles,  enough co-pays to cover my “regular” appointments and maybe an extra $200 to cover $20 of $1000 in “procedures” throughout the year. That would be $680 or $56 per month or $28 per pay period deducted from my pay. Not too bad. When I get reimbursed from my own money-it is for the full amount.

  • Pros: less taxable income and payments deducted throughout the year
  • Cons: reimbursement paperwork can be a hassle and if you don’t use the funds, they are lost for that year. Keeping up with paperwork is essential if you really need the cash flow.
  • Does it cost a lot for the employer to add this to an existing plan?
  • If it was on an iPhone-there’s probably an app for that.

I wish that my employer would add this one on-it would save everyone a little tax money and might increase that warm, fuzzy feeling……or not.

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