Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I changed my mind on Health Care...

... or at least, one of the reasons.

What brought this on was one common blood draw and test, and one extremity x-ray.

My insurance normally pays $19 for the draw and $19 for the read (which isn't a read at all, since they just forward a print-out to my Doc).

The pay for the x-ray is normally $24 + $67 for "hospital services".

So, once I reach my deductible the total for this bill would normally be $129 to my insurance company and nothing to me. (Not bad, huh?)

Because I have not reached my deductible, Fairfield Medical Center bills my insurance company $465, of which the allowable is $363.

Here is the breakdown:

x-Ray = $268
Basic Metabolic panel = $68
Ast/Sgot = $19
Ast/Sgpt = $19
Lipid Profile = $63
Cbc with Diff = $20
Venipuncture fee = $8
Total = $465
Allowable = $363

The 15% discount for paying early (the outrageous overbilling is not why I am bitching - yet) is $54.

Someone without insurance is going to be billed at least $465 -- if they pay it early, they pay $398. I have heard that the bills to persons with no insurance can reach the quadrupled total of the amount billed insurance companies. I am told that this is to "fluff" certain statistics, and to make a higher profit off of the discounted percentage from the sale of bad debt to outside collectors (Incredibly evil, if true). I have heard of hospitals even operating their own debt collection agencies as separate entities, in effect selling debt to themselves. (Now that would make even Dr. Evil squirm.)

Someone who cannot afford to pay in full is going to be paying at least $468 for a service that will cost my insurance company $129 and me nothing once I reach my deductible.

For those of you who say that the deduct of 15% is just to cover costs, I have this:

The "interest" or AR cost is covered in this notice: "If you choose to send a partial payment your account will be subject to a onetime 12% late payment fee or $100, which ever is less, with the obligation that all accounts will be paid in one year."

Lessee, that's 27% on any bill under $835, if you have to make payments, if my math is correct?

Amazing they didn't go out of business when we did in payday lenders.

An automatic 15% discount for paying a bill is not a good thing. It means the initial charge is too high... It also puts an undue burden on those who are less fortunate but still determined to pay their bill.

The full price should be a fair price, with no special deals that only apply for the more fortunate of us, especially if they are a "not-for-profit", as FMC is structured to be (they are technically a 501c 3, but they outsource most work to money-making corporations, doctors, labs, and the like).

This is patently unfair. And I'm the guy taking advantage of the "discount", which in reality isn't -- a discount.

Them that's got, get... Which is usually fine, but not when there is no alternative except drawn out sickness and/or eventual death.

There it is.

And here's another tidbit:

It takes some wading through, but this sheds some light on the scam that is most "not-for-profit" hospitals.

It's basically a way for them to expand; making the debt they accrue less risky by selling bonds, even while exempt from tax, profiting from their tax exempt status, while in reality remaining for-profit corporations.

Check it out:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Palin as a Presidential candidate? Come on...

Ok, the scam has gone on long enough. Collect all the money you can, but don't make like you are any kind of viable candidate for anything outside of PTA president.

Go back on a book tour or something. You are sucking up air that the eventual opposition candidate needs.

It's sad that we have reached the point in our Republic where partisan sound bite mentality and the resulting dumbing down of the electorate has made a "viable" candidate for the most powerful elected office in the world out of a woman who can't make a speech without bullitt points markered onto her palm. Oh, and and current holder of that most-high office has a teleprompter for a wing-man.

Sarah Palin is no more a Presidential candidate than I am, and the only hope that she gets elected is that our already stupendously stupid populace loses another averaged 20+ IQ points.

Sarah Palin will not be able to hold her own in any debate with any serious candidate from her own party (Neo-con 'pubs), unless the whole shindig is fixed.

The "Tea Party" movement and message has been totally co-opted and re-aimed by Neo-Con Republicans, and as such is unsalvagable. I truly do not know how real libertarians can affect this corrupt two-party system.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Recession" = Sanity...

Good article from Old Hop.

The way I understand it: "Recession" is when the economy corrects itself back toward sanity, and everybody who was buying crap they don't need stops buying crap they don't need and starts spending their "discretionary" income -- if any, considering the fact that if you make stuff people don't need you will shortly be out of a job or out of a business -- on sensible stuff they, if not now, will need in the future. Their focus is on saving, and their consumerism is limited to purchasing "stuff" with long-term use and true resalable or tradable value.

It is frightening how much of our economy depends/depended on creating buzz or false need for useless items.

If you are in business to make crap that people don't need, you need to get into a business that makes "stuff" people need.

Otherwise, see the first paragraph, because you are SOL.

And another thing: If you are someone who gets their economic information and outlook from TV "stock advice" shows, a la Cramer, or reads the WSJ Stock pages, then you may be in for a shock when the promised "recovery' doesn't happen and when the economy gets worse.

The reason we seem to be in what we are being told is "recovery", is because companies are showing profits with more production per person, but less production overall. They are cutting salaries and employees, and showing more profit per person, but there is a smaller market, fewer people employed and purchasing product. This will eventually catch up as more jobs vanish, and the government "safety nets" fail.

The effective unemployment stands at 15-17% right now. Don't expect that to improve.

We chose to "rescue" useless banks instead of instituting some sort of National work program improving our crumbling infrastructure.

Payin' the piper. I can hear him winding down the glen right now.