Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Obama Care...Hillary's big campaign push?

I've been thinking a lot about healthcare lately. When we lived in CA, we had Kaiser Insurance, and I loved it. It was convenient; all the services were in one building. It was simple; there was no red tape to navigate. It was affordable; the monthly premiums were reasonable, and since it was an HMO, the co-pays were small. I had two of our kids with Kaiser, and Will had his appendix out. The cost of these events probably was more than the premiums we paid, but somehow their system works. It was a blessing for us!

When we moved to Texas, we had the option to get insurance through Will's school district. The problem was that the only plans available were PPO's, with high deductibles. So, the first year, we paid $600 per month for a high deductible plan, and we had to pay to see the doctor with food money, which was already tight after that big monthly insurance premium. There was no chance we were going to get anywhere near the deductible, and we couldn't actually pay to see a doctor!

The next year, we cancelled the health insurance, except for Will, who was mostly paid for by his employer. Suddenly, the kids and I could afford to go see a doctor again. That was nice. A couple of years later, we signed up for a flexible spending account, which takes pre-tax dollars off our paycheck, and makes them available to use for dental, vision, and medical expenses. Since our girls were getting braces, we had the maximum deducted, which was close to $5000. This was great because it lowered our monthly taxable income, and, unlike a Health Savings Account, it was all available right up front, so we could go get glasses and dental work and all that right away.

Side note-we did sign up for Dental Insurance for the whole family because it was inexpensive, and drastically reduced the costs of the dentist. Definitely worth the money. And it reduced the price of braces.

This year, because of the Affordable Care Act, we were only allowed to deduct $2500 for our flexible spending account. We decided to bite the bullet, and sign up the kids for insurance this time around. That cost about $350 per month. I didn't sign up, because that would have brought the cost up to $900, and the just wasn't going to happen. All this for a plan with a $4800 family deductible.

So, here is the story that has gotten my wheels rolling. I needed to take Abby to the doctor because she felt like she had a lump in her throat, and was having trouble swallowing. We went to our usual practice, where I normally pay $70 per visit as a cash/self-pay patient. I gave them my new insurance info to see how it was going to help us. When I got ready to pay, they said, "Because you have insurance, the office visit cost is $108. What??? And, that didn't include the three lab tests we decided to do, to rule out a few random things. Remember, I'm paying all this with my reduced flexible spending account. So I said, "OK, never mind the insurance. Can we pretend I'm just a cash payment like before, and not worry about reporting this to the insurance company? I doubt we'll ever reach the deductible anyway." They were very kind, and shredded the insurance information. With the three lab tests, and the office visit, I ended up paying $120 total.

A couple of days later, I got a bill for $206 from the company who did the lab tests. I took the bill over to my doctor's office, and asked to double check what I had paid for the other day. They were very nice, apologetic, said, "Oh, we forget to tell them you were self-pay. We'll take care of this. Sorry about that!" I left the bill with them and went on my way. How many people would have paid that without a fight? And if I had used my insurance, you can bet that would have been my cost!

Here is what drives me crazy. If I had used my insurance, this doctor's visit would have cost me $315. All of which I would have had to pay from my inadequate flexible spending account. That is an eighth of my entire budget for the year! And I haven't bought glasses for all of us yet! If I had the $300 monthly premium we are spending for this useless insurance, I could save it for medical expenses and be rolling in money to spend on any whimsical health issue that I can imagine wanting to check out.

Its true that if something catastrophic happened, we'd be glad we have health insurance. Coming up with $4800 for the deductible would be nothing compared to $100,000. But, is it right for me to be bled dry today, just in case something big happens tomorrow? Health Insurance doesn't keep me healthy. It doesn't prevent catastrophe.

I don't think people who support Obama Care realize the implications of what it means to have this kind of health insurance. Do they realize that it costs more to function with it than with out it? How is this going to affect our economy when people's extra money gets sucked into the costs that happen below the deductible, along with the premiums? I'd rather pay the penalty, I mean, tax, because it will cost me 1/12 of the price of premiums. And then I can actually afford to go see the doctor with the other 11/12's.

With the ridiculous roll-out of the new Obama Care website, I can't help but wonder if this fiasco of ineptitude was planned. Its so bad! How could it not be? Let Obama, the puppet, take the fall for the clumsiest rendering of nationwide healthcare possible, and pave the way for Hillary to come in and save the day in 2016. After all, she was trying to get nationwide health care coverage going years ago. Surely she's learned something new since then!

If the Republicans don't figure out that the Democrats and the media are making them look like the Party Who Doesn't Care About Helping People See A Doctor, and start making some good arguments for how they can fix things, Hillary is a shoe-in for the next president. I think it would be safe to say that most Americans think there is a problem with the outrageous costs of healthcare in this country. I personally think that there is a huge racket going on in the background, and some people are making a whole lot of money on inflated test costs, unnecessary procedures, and deceptive practices by unscrupulous players in the health insurance and medical industries. If Kaiser can run a lean, efficient system in California, why can't it happen elsewhere? Notice, there is no insurance company involved in Kaiser's system.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What's going on these days

Firstly, Happy Birthday Madeline!

School has started up again, so we are all back in a schedule. The first few weeks were a big adjustment, but now we are more used to it. Last year my goal was to make healthier lunches, and I did a good job on using fresh fruit, non packaged stuff, protein snacks, and water instead of juice. This year my goal is to avoid using baggies whenever possible. So I bought containers with compartments and lids. So far, so good!

Madeline is a junior this year, Abigail is a freshman, and Sam is in 6th, enjoying middle school. They have classes they like, and the switch to middle and high school has been good for Sam and Abby. They were both ready to stretch their wings a bit. So far this year has been a little easier for Madeline, and she has good teachers. They all do. I'm so happy to be living here in TX with the benefits of this school system. Sam is learning clarinet in beginning band, and Abby is in dance class for PE. She wants to try out for the school dance team next year.

I thought I'd put up some photos and a video of Madeline and John Dickson from church playing "At Last." They are going to play it for a wedding on Saturday. Madeline and two of her friends from orchestra are also doing all the rest of the wedding music. Its a big responsibility, and they've been practicing a lot.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Madeline's Cello Duet Project

I thought the family would enjoy seeing Madeline do a duet with her cello and violin. She decided to teach herself some basic cello for a school research project. As the final display, she learned one of the songs in the practice book for both violin and cello. Then, the church media team helped us out by filming her twice, and putting them together to create a duet. I like it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Madeline's Fall Choir Concert

You probably can't see Madeline, but she is in the far left corner in the front. It is really fun to see her in choir this year growing in her vocal skills. I hope you enjoy hearing her. To enjoy a really phenominal choir go to Will's post here.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Phantom of the Opera

I got the girls Phantom of the Opera from Redbox for fun recently. Ever since, Sam has been suffering. Madeline is going to be in choir next year, so she is working hard to expand her range. Phantom provides the perfect medium to do this. Observe this common event in our household.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Cupcakes for money

Last week, I offered on impulse to make cupcakes for a baby shower that took place Sunday. I've never done it in that official capacity before. After offering I began to have performance anxiety....this isn't just some kids class birthday party. I'm getting paid for these things to look cute on the food table.
My carrot cake cupcakes were successful-except that I filled them too full and they spread out all over the baking pan. But the tops looked good. So I turned the cupcakes upside down and cut around the edge. This brough them back into the right proportion, but then I had a new problem...raw edges above the cupcake paper. To deal with this I made wrappers. I got cute scrapbook paper and made little cups for the cakes to sit in. They extended up beyond the edge of the cake, so all you really saw was the top. I frosted them with lemon cream cheese icing. Yum. I had leftover icing, so I gave some to a friend, and made orange scones and slathered them with the icing. Those went to work with me on Tuesday and were a hit.

The chocolate cupcakes were the biggest challenge. Usually I just use a mix. But there was no way I was going to do that for this event. What is the point of having someone make cupcakes if they use a mix? My problem was that I was using new recipes, and then filling the cups too full. I also managed to destroy the baking soda in the first batch by letting it sit for 30 minutes in the oven that was off. Oops. My successful batch ended up being a Pioneer Woman recipe. They were perfect, and cute. I was wishing I had the Pioneer Woman Cookbook.

The whole thing took way longer, and used up more ingredients than I expected. But I also learned a lot of valuable things about making successful cupcakes. It was fun to pipe on the icing and they turned out cute and tasty. What I'll earn will cover the cost on supplies, with a little left over for labor. :-)

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Friday, May 04, 2012

38 Today

I have been so blessed today by all the love and gifts. Mom and Heather both sent me beautiful quilts.....I was blown away by their thoughtfulness. Thank you again! And I couldn't help wondering what the Lord is saying through the non-coincidence. Whenever Jesus said something twice it was important. Verily, verily.

Its amazing how Facebook changes a birthday! Since I get all my comments texted to me my phone was buzzing all day long. I felt special.

In between buzzes I also got some phone calls, and I worked for a few hours, and drove with Sam down to Fort Worth to help Will with his school carnival. It was hot and sticky. We had to shut down half hour early because of a thunderstorm that rolled it. I didn't mind because I was drenched with sweat and tired of standing up. Tomorrow will be more relaxing with a chance for a fun dinner out with the fam.

In between all the other distractions I had a few moments to ponder the meaning of life as a 38 year old, and wonder if perhaps I should do something about the fact that I don't really like the look of my kind of flabby upper arms, and my squashy midsection. The seeds for these thoughts began when Will and I went to get him a gym membership and the girl asked me what my fitness goals were. My mind actually went blank, and I realized that I had none. Combine this experience with a new friendship with a mom from Sam's baseball team who is 7 years older than me and looks great....and probably actually has a budget for things that help with that, and you have a recipe for some introspection on outward appearance.

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