Why health insurance is so expensive in America.

Today I had to call my health insurance carrier to get an explanation on a statement I received from one of my providers.  I had already talked to the provider and was told the problem was with my insurer.  Between the two, I finally discovered why health insurance is so expensive in America.

It all began with a charge of $114.00 for what I was told was a deductible. I really can’t tell you exactly why I have to pay that amount because, after spending nearly 30 minutes on the phone with customer service, I still don’t understand why I am being billed for this amount.

health insuranceAnd therein lies the answer to why health insurance in America is so expensive. Between a billing system that is more confusing than a Rubik’s Cube, a system of what’s covered and what isn’t covered that isn’t understood by any customer service rep I’ve ever spoken to, and providers to include doctors and facilities with no sense of what is meant by fair and just compensation, the entire healthcare system, including health insurance, is quite simply a conspiracy to bilk each and everyone of us out of billions and billions of dollars each year. Confound and confuse is obviously their modus operendi. Why else can you never receive a straight answer. Even worse, are the conflicting answers often proffered.

A health insurance policy should be able to be understood by the lowest common denominator.  By confusing and confounding us, our health insurance system collects more than their fair share from all of us with impunity. We ask no questions because we don’t know what to ask. And when we do ask — well, we might as well be listening to a politician orate. They say a lot but tell us nothing.

It’s no wander that we have become apathetic over health care and health insurance. But this is also the reason the entire system has burgeoned out of control. We have allowed it to happen, and that’s exactly what the system is counting on in the future. Their financial well being depends on it.

Nothing So Rare As A Day In May

When temperatures in Portland soar into the mid-eighties, and in some places in even 90; when we have a record number of 80-degree days (which we no doubt will have); when the snow pack starts melting before it’s due; when there is no rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, are we still in Oregon, folks?

Only 7 days into the month of May and already things are becoming problematic. Hot, dry weather so early in the year melts the snow pack long before it’s due to melt making way for potential drought conditions later in the summer.  It plays havoc with utility bills when lawns and gardens need to be watered through a meter and people rush to turn on their air conditioners which we don’t usually have to do until after the 4th of July. Yes, we are having rare days in May.

I’ve lived here nearly  40 years and I don’t remember a spring quite like this. Is it the mega-El Nino causing this strange affect? Certainly, it doesn’t help. Is it climate change? More likely than not it is.  Will Portland become the weather equivalent of San Francisco or Los Angeles? Who knows. What I do know is that I may have to move to Alaska someday to get relief from the incessant heat. How do you Arizonans do it?

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. We haven’t been ravaged by floods, buried in 6 feet of snow or been ripped apart by tornadoes.  Spring came to us almost one month early and every bloomin’ thing took on gigantic proportions.  But I hear the Devil calling from afar inviting us to another summer in Hell with all those 90-degree days just around the corner. I hope I’m wrong.

 

And the winner is…………

trumpWho would have guessed almost one year ago that, above all odds, Donald Trump would come out on top of the heap of Republican presidential hopefuls.  I can’t say I was surprised. If you stayed on top of the news (and I don’t mean campaign news, but news in general), it wasn’t difficult to correlate Trump’s rhetoric with many of the national headlines. As bombastic as he was, he spoke to a largely disenfranchised middle and lower middle class –  those that have lost jobs to technology, failed to save for retirement, failed to see that the world was changing faster than they were, and blamed their demise on anybody but themselves.

Illegal immigrants got much of the blame. It’s unfortunate that it’s the same 20% of illegals that spoil it for the rest, because it’s just about that many that are criminals and drug dealers. The other 80% are simply trying to achieve a better life fleeing abject poverty, war and persecution.  They do not live off of government handouts. They work harder than most Americans can even imagine. Without them, there are many things that would quickly become unaffordable like housing. If builders had to pay union carpenters to frame homes at roughly $36/hr. instead of the $15-17/hr. they pay an illegal immigrant worker,  only the well-off could buy a home.

Why do you think so many things are made in foreign countries, not just China? It’s so Americans can afford to buy them. Many things that take manual labor to construct – shoes, clothing, electronics, and much of which you have in your home – is just too expensive to be “made in America.” And it won’t be until technology figures out how to automate those kinds of jobs that apparel manufacturing and the like will return to our shores.

And let’s not overlook retirement savings. For years, people have been told they should save for retirement. For those that worked for an organization that offered a good pension plan, you probably fared much better than those that didn’t. Of course, if you weren’t blessed with a company pension plan, you may have had a 401K plan available to you, and IRA’s have been around for many years now. And, of course, there’s the old bank savings account. But somehow a larger and larger TV set was more important, or that SUV with its $400/mo. payment was a necessity. Self-gratification was always more important than saving for a rainy day.

Trump speaks to his minions from perhaps the lowest level we have ever seen in a presidential candidate. He has captured the minds of those that have a very hard time thinking for themselves.  If he told them what to eat for dinner tonight, no doubt they would oblige him.

Not I. Eight years ago, I wanted Hillary to win the nomination. This year I will get my with, and I can’t wait to have the first woman president, something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. But then I never thought I’d see a black president either. Glory be!!

 

Shop JCP For Quality and Value

Why Jacque Pennay is having such a hard time getting shoppers into its stores is beyond me. Perhaps it’s because the Millenials think of it as an old and old-fashioned brand. Perhaps Boomers are much more accustomed to spending a whole lot more on clothing.  And perhaps everyone in between just doesn’t see the brand as relevant anymore. Whatever the reason, I simply just don’t get it because JCP is my go-to store when it comes to clothing.

Why?? Very simple. They offer a wide range of good quality clothing for the whole family that won’t break the budget. Their clothes are stylish without being faddish – a must for anyone on a budget.  Their major house brand – St. Johns Bay – is as good or better than  you’ll find at high end Nordstrom’s.  I have some SBJ clothes that I’ve had for over 10 years and I still wear them.  I can buy Clark or Aerosol shoes at a discount. And they have a very large selection of athletic shoes.

If you’re looking for household items, their bath selection is as good or better than Bed, Bath & Beyond — and a whole lot less expensive.  The store isn’t big on kitchen/dining items. You’ll have to shop elsewhere for these.

JCP also has an online presence

Toothpaste Hack

One of the most frustrating things about plastic toothpaste tubes in the inability to roll them up from the bottom so that you can squeeze all the toothpaste out of the tube that is humanly possible. Never had that problem with the old metal tubes.  But where there’s a will there’s a way. Here’s a simple little hack that does the trick — maybe not as conveniently, but it works nonetheless.

As the tube empties, fold it upwards and secure with a large metal clip.
Toothpaste Hack

Keep squeezing and folding until all the toothpaste is gone.

I don’t remember exactly where I saw this idea. I wish I could say it was my own, but it isn’t, but my thanks to whomever came up with idea.

Triple Treat

Saturday was a marathon movie day for me starting off with Zootopia, an animated film that delivers a rather adult message. Personally, I feel this film is lost on kids although the animation is stunning.

Up next, The Jungle Book, the Kipling classic made into a film that even Walt Disney would have a hard time believing it was animated. The boy that plays Mowgli is the only real thing in the movie, everything else was computer generated in a warehouse in L.A. Even so, the movie is truly magical, a feast for both the eyes and the ears.

Finally, to end the day, I enjoyed an hilarious Italian film, a part of the Italian Film Festival in Portland last weekend. There are two film genres that the Italians do well — drama and comedy. Ma Che Bella Sorpresa is the latter and funny it is. I laughed ’til I cried. There currently is no way to view this movie, but Netflix may end up streaming it someday. They have a pretty good foreign film library.

Until the next movie – Ciao!!