aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Uh oh, the medical bills!
My vertigo has worsened this weekend; not a good indicator for getting back any hearing (in the right ear). I hardly care. My only concern these days is keeping the other ear working! That and the medical bills.
Between the hernia and the hearing, I’m out of pocket thousands of dollars and looking at I don’t know how much more. I live a modest lifestyle (last night’s Saturday night recreation was laundry and having people over for pie), live in a modest home and earn a modest salary.
It’s not clear how I’ll make the payments. I’ve posted before about illness and injury as contributors to bankruptcy. I’m not here predicting mine; rather, I’m learning first-hand how real those stories are. And I’m the lucky one.
Right now a colleague is battling cancer. She faces a life-threatening illness and co-pays and the complications of loss of salary from not being able to work and child care. Recall too the husband of a colleague who got a liver transplant that meant he hit the lifetime maximum of he and his family’s insurance.
Then there’s the administrative burden. I have to call and pre-certify and keep track of the paperwork (as do all my providers) and I’m telling you it’s a very thick file. I read somewhere (I have to learn del.icio.us!) that the administrative costs for health care in America are the highest in the world at 25%. I can’t find that link, so this one will have to do:
Exhibit 6.11: Private Health Insurance Administrative Costs per Person Covered, 1986-2003
The cost per enrollee for private health insurance expenses not related to direct care services (such as administrative costs and profits) continued to rise, from $85 in 1986 to $421 in 2003. The most rapid growth occurred in the 4-year period from 1987 to 1990, when these administrative costs rose 125%. For the six-year period from 1998 to 2003, administrative costs per enrollee nearly doubled (+95%).
Talk about bureaucracy! And all this so they can tell me I’m not covered. Insurance is all about pools and spreading risk. Isn’t the largest pool the whole country? Aren’t we all in this together? All of us will get sick, all of us will face end of life health costs, it’s in our interest to share them.
I’ll end quoting Geriatrician Dr. Christine Cassel on Fresh Air. She argues for Medicare reform, but because she argues too for keeping it a government program:
I think it’s very important that we keep the Medicare program as a government program in this country. And I worry that, because people are focusing on its flaws, that they may think the answer is just to throw it all over to the private sector and private plans, which, I think, are not going to turn out to be as efficient. The things I like about it are, first of all, that it’s universal, it covers everyone, and covers everyone with similar and comparable benefits. So it makes it easy for patients to understand it and easy to administer. Leads to the second thing I like about it, it has very low administrative costs. Medicare costs--administrative costs are 3 to 5 percent compared to almost all of the private sector, which is between 15 and 25 percent. That’s a lot of wasted money that goes to administrators rather than going to deliver health care. And the last thing that I think is really important about it is that it supports innovation and training in medical care, it actually supports young physicians getting good training.
How to peel a potato
Speaking of viral video… Remember How to Fold a Shirt? That one was sent to me by Doug‘s mom. You’d be surprised at the percentage of students who tell me they’ve seen it. Today I learned how to peel a potato…
Olasky on Reed
The WaPo reports Marvin Olasky - “a close associate of President Bush who helped developed the administration’s faith-based initiative and the concept of ‘compassionate conservatism’” - is one of Ralph Reed’s harshest critics:
Olasky, a journalism professor at the University of Texas, is editor in chief of World magazine, the mission of which “is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Since Nov. 19, World has run 10 articles and essays describing the $4 million in gambling money Abramoff paid to Reed to lobby against casinos competing with Abramoff’s clients. The articles have highlighted incriminating e-mails and other disclosures that have raised doubts about Reed’s explanations of his activities.
Reed, Olasky wrote March 4, “has damaged Christian political work by confirming for some the stereotype that evangelicals are easily manipulated and that evangelical leaders use moral issues to line their own pockets.”
There is gold in that Web Junk!
The Times looks at viral video today:
[M]any of the videos on [VH1’s] “Web Junk” come from viewers - creative people using affordable digital video cameras and desktop software to shoot and edit and post their own clever shorts. “Saturday Night Live’s” rap sketch “Lazy Sunday,” perhaps the most widely seen viral video of late, has already inspired numerous parodies, including “Lazy Monday” (featuring two 11-year-old Chicago boys lip-synching to the original), “Lazy Muncie” (where the honor of the Midwest is defended) and “Lazy Saturday” (the West Coast answer to “Lazy Sunday"), which was featured on Episode 4 of “Web Junk 20.”
It’s an updated version of the long-running series “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” but with a twist: “The distinction,” said Mr. Graden, “would be that I would call ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ accidentally created, and these are often purposely created by people to express their own sense of comedy and commentary.”
We call that Remix Culture. One day they’ll get it. Is this a good sign?
Mr. Graden thinks image quality doesn’t really matter; in fact, he suggests, the worse the clips look the more effective they tend to be. “People want to believe these were completely homemade expressions,” he said, “that they were discovered out in the universe and were brought to air. If they look like slickly produced television I don’t think people would buy into the utter randomness that is that show.”
Others, for example Ziff-Davis’s David Coursey, have no vision. He said last summer [clip] that amateur content is ok as a hobby, but still “a lot of the content is going to be highly suspect...information viruses spread by podcast...low-end personality driven and I don’t think that that lasts.”
He’s not alone in his thinking. So for those of you who are interested I’ve put my riff on that in the extended entry…