… is because we refuse to standardize prices for treatment. I think I have told this story before but here it is again. My French lab partner’s husband had a hernia operation. It was outpatient and he spent about 4 hours in the hospital, not even enough time to get his gourmet meal. When she got the bill, it was for something like $70,000. She’d never seen anything like it in her country so she called the insurance company, who told her there had indeed been a mistake. The actual cost was something like $40,000.
For four hours, no overnight stay and an uncomplicated hernia operation on a healthy 30 something year old male.
Now, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has compiled a database that you can peruse to find out what treatment costs at various hospitals in your area. In my state, you can pay up to $99,000 for treatment of COPD in Bayonne or cross the river into New York and pay a mere $7,044 for the same treatment. The higher prices are sometimes due to the hospital making capital investments in new technology but it could very well be going to higher salaries for hospital executives and not staff. Wouldn’t you like to know in advance where all that money is going? I think it’s about time hospitals are forced to disclose this information up front.
And it’s more than time for hospitals, pharmacies and other third parties to stop taking advantage of asymmetric information about what they are paying and what they are charging. Consumers don’t have time to continually check to make sure they’re not being swindled and governments have a responsibility to make sure we’re not being cheated.
That’s what we elect our representatives to do- to protect us from systemic exploitation.
Filed under: General Tagged: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, costs for treatment, hospitals
Categories: Our Friends
That’s how Judge Korman describes the Obama administrations dogged resistance to selling Plan B over the counter without age restrictions. By the way, did I mention that Korman is a Reagan appointee? HHS secretary Sebelius and the justice department has requested a stay to Korman’s previous ruling on Plan B.
“If a stay is granted, it will allow the bad-faith, politically motivated decision of Secretary Sebelius, who lacks any medical or scientific expertise, to prevail — thus justifiably undermining the public’s confidence in the drug approval process,”
At one point in his ruling, Judge Korman notes that lawyers for the administration insist that allowing over-the-counter access to the drug for everyone while the government appeals the case would mean “uncertainty” for girls and women about whether they could get the drug.
The judge rejected that argument out of hand, saying that “this silly argument ignores the fact it is the government’s appeal from the order that sustained the judgment of the commissioner of the F.D.A. that is the cause of any uncertainty, and that that appeal is taken solely to vindicate the improper conduct of the secretary and possibly for the purpose of further delaying greater access to emergency contraceptives for purely political reasons.”
He also rejected the government’s argument that women might be confused about the drug’s availability if it was made available to everyone without a prescription and then later restricted because the government won its appeal.
Yep, that’s pretty insulting.
Want to know what else is insulting?
Pimping Lily Ledbetter as if real women in the real working world don’t already know that the Ledbetter law doesn’t give them paycheck fairness nor keeps the target off their backs if they ask Human Resources for salary comparison information.
Bowing to anti-abortion congressmen in order to pass an ill-conceived, labyrinthine, insurance industry friendly healthcare law.
Bending over backwards to kiss the asses of a 2000 year old boys club where all the members wear red beanies in order to enforce anachronistic traditions about the nature of women and forced motherhood.
Concentrating all of the administration’s skimpy job creation policies on manly construction projects because otherwise, American mens’ masculinity and egos might be threatened. (See Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men)
Making the White House a hostile working environment for female advisors. (same book)
Two campaigns’ worth of consultants, surrogates and paid bloggers flogging fear, uncertainty and dread over the Republicans taking away our reproductive freedom while the real actors in that scheme were the old boys club of the Democratic party arranging things to their satisfaction in smoke filled rooms.
In a way, I’m not surprised the Obama administration thinks it can get away with insulting the intelligence of women. It’s worked so well for them this far. Young women flocked to them in droves after the crazy shit Republicans did in the past several years. But you’d have to be really stupid to not notice that the Democrats did nothing for women since Obama took office except continue to capitulate to the neanderthals in this country who have largely succeeded in turning back the clock on women’s freedom.
So, while I am encouraged to find that there are judges out there who still think women have brains and that they should be encouraged to exercise them in their own interest, I’m disappointed that so few women have actually bothered to do it. Even now, some left wing bloggers insist that there was no difference between the Democratic candidates in 2008 when it came to advocating for women. That kind of denial of reality and history simply strains credulity.
That just encourages the Obama administration to continue to treat us like children, and they to continue to behave like Duggaresque patriarchs of daughters they have sworn to “cover” until they hand us off to our husbands.
Filed under: General Tagged: insulting the intelligence of women, Judge Korman, Kathleen Sebelius, obama administration, Plan B
Categories: Our Friends
I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train. My house is under contract and I’m making a decent profit on it. I’ll be able to pay off all my outstanding debts, put away a good chunk for the kid’s college fund and have enough to live on for the next year if I manage my money well. Next week, I’m moving my furniture to the new house in Pittsburgh.
Here are some of my tips for surviving a layoff in the Little Depression. Please note that if everyone took this advice, we’d be plunged into another recession because when you’re in survival mode, spending money to keep the economy going is not your first priority.
1.) Prepare for a layoff well in advance of one. Have at least 6 months salary saved up. If you can, set aside a year’s mortgage and tax payments. My savings combined with NJ’s unemployment pay helped me immeasurably. Kudos to the NJ Department of Labor. They were kind, respectful and helpful.
2.) Pay off as much debt as you possibly can. Don’t buy a new car unless you can pay cash or the monthly payments are low enough that you can still eat on your unemployment check. Maintain your car. Payoff your credit cards. Don’t go on vacation.
3.) Make sure you are healthy. Get a yearly physical, address health issues when they crop up and you still have insurance. Don’t put anything off.
During the Layoff
4.) Try not to panic. I panicked and almost made some major, major mistakes. Thank goodness I had Katiebird.
5.) Get a Katiebird. It’s probably best if the person lives in another state and can’t see you everyday. Just chit-chatting with another person over stuff can calm the nerves.
6.) Don’t take the first job you see. Take your time and develop a Plan B. Consider what kind of work you like to do, where you want to live and whether you can afford to stay where you are.
7.) Don’t rule out working for free. If you’ve saved money and you’re covering your bills, use the time you have to stay current with your skills or learn something new. I was fortunate enough to hook up with some people I used to work with who let me participate in some projects. As a result, I’m looking forward to a publication that was recently submitted and have been invited to stay on an ongoing project. I’m now getting paid a small amount but the whole experience kept me sane and I appreciated every minute of it.
8.) If you can’t afford to stay where you are, move. I used the last year to fix up my house, learned how to install faucets, wire lighting fixtures and garbage disposals and experienced the joys of ripping out 25 years of creeping juniper in order to create “curb appeal”. In the meantime, I looked for a bargain house in my target city and found one. I paid cash for the house I bought (more on how I did this later). Now, when I move there, my biggest expense will be my health insurance. I will have no mortgage and the house is about 1/4 mile from the bus line.
9.) Do whatever you can to keep your health insurance. COBRA is ridiculously expensive. In fact, it cost me about half of my unemployment checks. There really should be a law preventing that. But you never know when you will need medical care so don’t drop your insurance under any circumstances. Also, keeping continuous coverage will help you transition to an individual policy. Don’t skip this step. I’ve known people who thought they could get away with not covering themselves or their children and they are now regretting it because after 63 days of no coverage, it’s really difficult to get affordable insurance on the individual market.
10.) Cancel any monthly bills you can live without. I cut the cord on cable but kept internet. It turns out that Brook and I didn’t really miss much. I reduced my car insurance because I was no longer commuting to work. Don’t buy a lot of clothes and other material goods but don’t forget to treat yourself once in awhile to a Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte or a Gelati from Ritas.
11.) Use your IRA carefully. I rolled my 401K into an IRA and purchased my new house with part of it. You can do this without tax penalties if you return the money to your account within 60 days. That 60 day thing seems rather arbitrary and rules out using the money for things like starting your own business but that’s the deal. This is what Congress legislated. It’s a shame that my generation has been snookered by fast talking financial planners in expensive suits to socking our nest eggs and rainy day funds in “instruments” and retirement plans that are not liquid without huge, and I do mean HUGE tax penalties, but there you are. You *can* use this money but you need to be very clever about it and ask a lot of questions over and over again to make sure you’re doing it right.
I recently met a woman who created her own IRA real estate investment fund. She now invests her IRA money in this fund and uses it to purchase houses all across the country. She fixes them up and rents them and plans to earn enough money to retire from this fund. In her case, since she’s not taking the money out, there’s no tax penalty. Something to think about.
So, now, I’m just waiting for the final pieces of my move to fall into place. I don’t have a regular full time job yet but for now, I’m Ok. I have some money left over, my kid’s future is not dismal and my health insurance is covered. I didn’t lose my house and my credit is still pretty good. When I move, my standard of living will be about the same as it was in NJ. My house is about the same size and I’ve got more land. It’s in a nice neighborhood and my neighbors are about the same socio-economic status as before. It’s just in a different city.
I can work from home but I’ll probably be looking for a job when I get there. At this point, I can bartend and still be fine.
That’s not to say that there weren’t bumps along the way. There were plenty, including one major one that I will tell you about someday. But in any case, it *did* get better. Whether all this frugality is good for the country is another story and there’s no doubt that the idea that researchers can afford to do research on their own without the economy of scale of a bigger lab or company is just utter nonsense. I don’t believe in “creative destruction”. As Gandalf said, “He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom”. Breaking the economy, breaking up R&D facilities, breaking up families and lives, just to see what happens and assuming that everyone will land on their feet all ticketyboo is not a good economic strategy.
But I survived.
What are your layoff tips? Add them in the comments.
Filed under: General Tagged: Health Insurance, IRA, relocation, surviving a layoff, taxes, unemployment
Categories: Our Friends
I have to be examined for holes before I leave the house. I REALLY need to go shopping but, I’m stumped:
Where can we find fair trade clothes? And can we assume that clothes made in the US include living wages for the makers? What about the cloth? How can we find where the cloth is made and if it’s made with living wage labor?
So with all those questions in mind, where is a not-rich person of conscience supposed to buy clothes.
Filed under: General
Categories: Our Friends
Black Comedy: A type of humor/satire poking fun at something usually seen as serious or taboo. It often utilizes shock value to get laughs and common themes include death, violence, insanity, racism and other things that are usually not seen as funny. It is commonly mistaken with African-American comedy because of the name, but not necessarily related.
Filed under: General Tagged: Amanda Berry, black comedy, Charles Ramsay
Categories: Our Friends