Monthly Archives: June 2012

What I Don’t Get About the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Like most Americans, a lot has been running through my mind since the Supreme Court ruling was released yesterday. Wherever you stand on the issue, yesterday was no doubt a historical day. That fact is not lost on Americans. As with so many other monumental days in our history, people are divided. What feels different to me in my short lifetime of experiences, is the level of dissention and the inability to be civil. The horrible language, name calling, and hatred that appears in the comment section of any blog post or news story (and sometimes it’s quite hard to tell the difference) is astounding. It seems when people get online they lose every ounce of composure. It’s really rather frightening to see how out of control people can get.

As I watched and listened to the coverage unfold I wondered what would happen if each person tried to say something in support of the opposing side. What if everyone against the PPACA could say one thing they like about it and those for it could say one thing they don’t like about it? What would happen? I think we would find some common ground. I don’t think half the country wants us to be socialists and the other half wants people who can’t afford health care to die. If you believe an eighth of the rhetoric out there, you would have to think this is true. It is never that simple. I think the reality is, there have been no civil conversations in the public arena about the pros and cons of the law. Only rhetoric and party lines tossed about with no willingness to discuss the meat.

I have questions about it. Things that concern me; things I don’t think will work. I have tried to seek out the answers and there don’t seem to be any. At least not any from sources I trust. Maybe that’s the key, no one has earned my trust by being willing to discuss the good and the bad. I thought today I would put my questions out here and see if there is anyone who can dialogue with me about them. Anyone who understands the ramifications of the law and how things will play out, who is willing to have an honest, respectful conversation. So here goes.

Personal responsibility

I believe there are two kinds of people who don’t have health insurance. Those who can’t qualify or afford it and those who, for whatever reason, choose not to have it. My question is around the second half. There are plenty of Americans who think they won’t get sick. “That won’t happen to me.” They are healthy and don’t choose to spend their money transferring that risk to an insurance company. Or they are lazy and simply don’t want to be bothered. I refer to that as personal responsibility and people have the choice whether to take it or not. Those who don’t are fine with letting someone else fix their mess. It is not unlike those who buy a house they cannot afford and then want to be bailed out rather than lose the house. Some people choose not to be responsible for themselves and allow others to carry that burden when it does “happen to” them. But how do we legislate them in to taking personal responsibility? Because if we can, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Will we pass legislation to mandate all forms of personal responsibility? And who will be the judge of what is responsible? Will there be a limit on the size of house I can buy? Will I be mandated to drive a certain car to avoid over extending my self? I get that this sounds foolish, but I believe you have to carry this kind of concept through to the extreme to see where it could go “in the wrong hands”, where could it lead, what precedent have we set? I feel like this becomes a slippery slope. I fully understand there is a cost associated with others not taking responsibility and one of the goals of the PPACA was to alleviate that burden on others. But can we really do that? And how else will we legislate responsiblity?

Insurance is a way to transfer risk

The entire premise of insurance is that I will give you money (premiums) in exchange for you agreeing to pay if/when I need medical care. It is a business. Thousands, probably millions of people are employed in some way by the insurance industry. It is not an evil entity; it is an industry full of Moms, Dads, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles working to support their family. It is businesses that are invested in by millions more Americans. My retirement portfolio is probably invested in insurance to one degree or another. That means if insurance companies don’t make a profit, my retirement savings doesn’t grow. I am counting on the money I invest in my retirement growing and compounding over the next 30 years until I retire. {It goes back to that personal responsibility thing – I don’t choose to rely on Social Security to take care of me in my retirement years, I’m planning ahead to take care of my self.} Thank goodness there are companies who are willing to take on the risk of my health so I don’t have to. Thank goodness for the insurance industry that employs millions. Sorry there isn’t a question there, I just needed to make that point.

Pre-existing conditions

Hallelujah that someone with a pre-existing condition can change jobs or choose to stay home to raise their children without the fear of losing insurance driving all their decisions. I think this gives people freedom. And I love that! There shouldn’t be a life sentence because you, or someone you love,  happened to draw the short straw in the health department. What I don’t understand is how people believe this will not raise the cost of health insurance for all. The idea behind insurance is the gamble of estimating what an insurer will have to pay out for any individual over the course of the policy. The premiums are based on those best guesses. If I know ahead of time that your illness will cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, over your lifetime, would I not have to charge more? What kind of business model would not cover that?

Level premiums for all

It’s a nice idea to think that no one should be charged more for their insurance. But this goes back to the idea that insurance is a business and as such must have a model that makes a profit. If not they won’t be a business for long. Why is it not ok to charge different premiums for different levels of risk? As a woman, there are some health issues I have the potential to face that men do not. That’s reality. So why would it be wrong to charge more for my coverage; the person with a higher risk. If that is the precedent, I’d like to have a reduction in my car insurance premiums since I pay more having teen boy drivers. I call not fair! When did the “right” thing become synonymous with “everyone is equal”? I think this is the part that makes people cry socialist. When the standard is set that the expectation is all are equal. Then all jobs should pay equal, then socialism. Do you see why people would be concerned by that? Can we acknowledge and talk about that?

Elimination of lifetime caps

This is another piece that is incredibly important for those with chronic disease. Often the annual or lifetime limits can leave them capped out in their 40s with no options. That is a scary place to be and offering the security of no caps is incredible! What I don’t trust is the sustainability of the plan. I think of it like Social Security that seemed like a great solution, until the numbers drawing out surpassed the numbers paying in. It isn’t a sustainable model. With people living longer is this sustainable? I would love to know that it is.

Spreading the burden

There has been much talk about the penalty (now redefined by the Supreme Court as a tax) that anyone without health insurance will have to pay. I understand that all Americans who don’t purchase insurance on their own will pay this fee of 1% -2.5% of their income. I believe the idea here is to help cover the costs which we currently all absorb in the form of higher health care costs when someone goes into the emergency room without insurance. So will the individuals without insurance, who have paid their penalty/tax be treated? How will this begin to cover the costs. {For example a young 20 something making $40,000 a year doing factory work doesn’t think he needs insurance. He chooses to pay the fine of 2.5% of his income. That’s $1000. He has an appendicitis attack, goes to the emergency room and ends up having surgery. I don’t know what that would cost, but I do know it would be more than the $1000 penalty/tax he paid.} Those who don’t want to pay this penalty/tax will get out of it just like the deadbeat parents who get by without paying child support, by hiding assets, working for cash, etc. How will this be different? How will this ultimately bring down the cost of healthcare? And will it disincentivise businesses to provide health care to their employees? If the penalty is less than the cost of insurance premiums will employers simply decide not to mess with offering insurance coverage to their employees?

There is good in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There are things in this legislation that will be positive, especially for people with chronic illness. There is also a great deal of ambiguity in this legislation. There are lots of things that set a precedent for a direction that I’m not sure the American public has determined should be our future direction. There are so many questions unanswered. Could we just have a dialogue about the law? A civil, respectful, honest conversation?

Readers,
This blog is my little corner of the world-wide web. The ideas and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone. I don’t purport to speak for anyone else or promote anyone’s agenda. The comments section is a place for me to dialogue with my readers and I hope we will have some good conversation. As my little corner of the web, I get to choose the rules – kind of like being the Mom. I choose to have this be a positive, respectful, thoughtful place. Comments that do not fit that criteria will be removed. {Please note, the first time you comment on my blog I have to approve your comment. Subsequent comments will appear immediately.} I would challenge you to do as I said at the beginning of this post and say something that reflects an understanding of the other side of the debate. Show that we can disagree, but we can also find points of agreement. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back again – my posts are rarely this heavy:)!
Judy

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Filed under Health, The State of Affairs

Pop on Over

I’m posting on my photo blog today – From My Perspective. I do a weekly feature called What is it? Wednesday where I post a photo of an everyday thing in a new way. You can try to figure out what it is and I will post the reveal on Thursday.

Pop on over and see if you can figure it out!

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Summer Envy

I’ve got a bad case of Summer Envy. It has happened every year for…oh… about the last 5 years. Which just so happens to coincide with when I went back to work full-time. I spent 9 years working part-time gigs while my boys were young. It was our compromise to the working/not working thing. We couldn’t afford to have me lounging in luxury, but if we tightened our belts we could get by with me working part-time. It may have only covered diapers and formula – but if you’ve been there you know that’s significant!

Turns out, we liked having my income – who’d a thunk?! We thought of lots of new ways to spend the money I earned and eventually I was working multiple part-time gigs. That’s when a great opportunity fell into my lap {or something like that} and I went to work full-time at my current job- which a really love. It has been a blessing. I’ve grown, been stretched and learned so much! I’m thankful for that.

But there is totally something missing.

Summer!

I really want to have summers off. I’m so jealous of my kids, teachers and anyone else who gets a two or three-month reprieve in the middle of the year. I want to plan fun outings, go to the pool everyday, lay in the sun reading a book. Sleeping in would be great too. Summer is supposed to be a carefree time. The season when all the schedules and most of the rules go out the window. When every day brings a new adventure like picnics and campfires.

I wonder how I could frame that proposal to my organization?

  • Give me the summers off and I’ll work 18 hour days the rest of the year?
  • Staff productivity will rise if you allow us all to work poolside?
  • My health and well-being depend on having a carefree summer?

Ya, I’m guessing those aren’t going to be convincing arguments.

I will have to infuse bits of “carefree” into my scheduled, routine days at work. Find ways to make it feel a little more whimsical.

  • Go thrifting on my lunch hour.
  • Lunch in the park.
  • Where flip-flops to work every day {ok, I pretty much do that already}
  • Take a little beach to work with me – sand and shells in a jar on my desk with pics of my family.
  • Make my kids do all the housework and cooking while I’m at work so we can play when I get home. {This one might be a tough sell!}

Speaking of work. I hear it calling my name. Better grab my sand and flip-flops and hit the road!

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Filed under Family, Lifestyle

Parenting Is Hard

I know, quite the revelation isn’t it? Those of you who are parents are saying, “Tell me something I didn’t already know.”

Not sure I have something you don’t know. I’m hoping that is, it gets easier. I’ll let you know in 20 years or so.

I think my biggest challenge as a mother of three is parenting each of them in the best way. They are all so different. I’ve said it before, but it bares repeating; how can three kids from the same parents be so completely different? I find it challenging to remember that each of them will respond to different approaches and they will  all respond differently. I can say to one, “You want to take the dog out?” and he will either say “not really” or “sure”, but either way he will do it. Another child will respond to that question with, “no” and the poor dog will have to cross her legs. He’s not doing it. Had I said, “You have to take the dog out before bed.” He would have done it. Maybe not happily, but he would have done it. Another child will debate the subject with me, questioning why it’s his job, making the argument it should be so-and-so’s turn, to the point where I wish I had just done it myself.

Each of them will do what needs to be done. But only if I approach them the right way. I know they are all individuals with unique personalities, interests, and pet-peeves. I get that they have different styles. I appreciate their uniqueness. Most of the time. But at 11:30 at night. I really don’t have the energy to evaluate which approach will result in the favorable response from the particular teen in question. I just need the dog to go outside.

This is part of what makes parenting so hard. You are never off duty. You always have to be on your game, thinking strategically, providing leadership and direction to your team. There is no training program to make you a better parent. It would be futile since every relationship is so different. I can fill my bag with tools, but knowing which one to use in which situation is pretty much trial and error. It’s easy to get a little overconfident when you think you have it down. You think you’ve figured out this teenager thing. Then whammo! You get a wake up call. You still have a lot to learn.

These are the things that keep me awake at night. Playing through in my head, why it is so much harder with one son than another. Why we don’t seem to connect in the same way. I lay awake thinking about what I could have done differently and where our relationship is heading. I think about how I can make it better.

Parenting is hard work.

That’s all I’ve got.

That and it’s going to be a really long day – always is when I don’t get much sleep.

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Filed under Family, Parenting

Thankful and Creeped Out

I got an email from my mom. It had two pictures attached. And a very short note: “Let me know if you get these.”

That was it.

The subject was: our stone.

Of course I immediately thought of kidney stones. See, my dad frequently has medical things going on. And he loves to share pictures with us. I will say, many of them are quite interesting and educational, but still a little strange. So I assumed someone had kidney stones and Dad took pictures.

I was wrong.

I opened the first picture and had a physical reaction. I gasped. Then I got goose bumps. Then I closed the picture.

I clicked on the second one. Even worse! Chills up and down my spine.

The pictures were of their headstone. You know, like for a grave. Big and granite. With my parents’ names on it! I really don’t want to see this. I refuse. It is a lovely stone. And the pictures they have on it are perfect. But I don’t want to think about this. It has however, led to a few things running through my mind.

  1. I don’t want to think about my parents’ mortality. I want to always be able to pick up the phone and call my mom to tell her about my terrible, no good, horrible day. I want to always be able to call my dad and ask him how to fix the leaky shower. And I should be able to do that for a very long time! My parents are young and so am I {stop laughing!}. We have lots of years left to spend together.
  2. I’m glad they have taken care of this so that in another 50+ years when I’m faced with their death, this is one thing I don’t have to think about. I appreciate that they are planning ahead and making these arrangement so that my brothers and I can focus on fighting over their stuff {kidding, really!} I think it is a gift to eachother and to their children to do this now. Thanks Mom and Dad!
  3. It occured to me that I have no idea what I would put on my headstone. I don’t know what would define who I am. What would capture my whole life. Gravestones are around for a very long time – there’s no changing your mind later. I hope I have some time to figure this out. If not, whatever you come up with will be perfect, Honey.

Our stone.

Not what I expected.

But I am thankful…and a little creeped out.

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Filed under Family, Legacy

Finally Friday

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted and that’s just not ok with me! I love writing and hate it when life gets too busy. It has definitely been crazy, of course. Here’s a recap of what I’ve been up to over the last two weeks.

I discovered we had a Saturday afternoon where the whole family was FREE! As in, had nothing scheduled! We snatched the opportunity and headed to a local lake. We haven’t been to any of the local lakes. {Let me just say, I don’t think there are any natural lakes in Kansas. And maybe not even in Missouri. All of them are man-made, dammed up rivers. I think its weird.} We had a great time. So relaxing. Can’t wait to do it again!

The next day we sent Middle Son off on a mission trip to Memphis, Tennessee. They worked for a group rehabing houses. He shingled a roof all week. And no one fell off! I call that a total success. And he had fun!

I’ve been swamped at work. We have an open position in our department and that means there is lots of slack to be picked up! There is alway more to do than you can accomplish in a non-profit, but when you are short staff…uffda. It makes for long days. I have great morning light in my office, but some days it just highlights all the work I have to do:).

I found this at Goodwill. It totally took me back! Back to our first place together. It was a duplex and I had two of these awesome giant fans on the wall. I loved them. Seeing it reminded me of the early days in our marriage. When things were simpler and I thought they were so hard. HA! If I could sit down with my newlywed self I think I would have a lot to share.

We also sent Youngest Son off on a mission trip. He went to Minneapolis, Minnesota. They volunteered at different service agencies. This was his first trip without family along. And he loved it!

We went to our first auction! And we are hooked! It was so much fun! I was pretty scared to bid at first, but I got over it soon enough. Bought some awesome old jars, all by myself. Spent a whopping $2.50 on them. That’s not all we bought. We also got a great pot for cooking corn on the cob, and a shovel. Four hours, $16.50 and great entertainment!

I did some traveling for work. A quick trip to Dallas, Texas. Good thing there was lots of art in the hotel! My days were jam-packed with meetings and networking. It was an awesome trip, but much like the last work trip. I never left the hotel.

When I got back Hubby and I spent a great afternoon visiting a couple wineries in a quaint little town nearby. It was a perfect afternoon. And the best part, Hubby planned it all on his own!

The boys came home the same day. Oldest Son was home the whole time and frankly a bit stir crazy. When they got home he had plans with friends who were back in town. When he left we got a call. Begging us to come out and get his brothers off his hood! I guess they missed their brother.

Somewhere in there we snuck in a fire in our new fire pit. Good times. There is something about a fire that just makes us all reflective.

We finished this week out with a FREEZE MOB! How cool is that?! Cross that off my bucket list!

It’s been a good couple weeks. And now I’m looking forward to a weekend of relaxing. And maybe an auction:)!

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Filed under Family, Instagram, Lifestyle, Randomness

Instagram – ’cause I needed another social media outlet!

They FINALLY came out with an app for Android. So, ya, I joined Instagram. And I’m slowly getting hooked. I like the filters for playing with pics on my camera. The part I didn’t anticipate is the community aspect; likes and comments on your photos, followers and following. And then there’s the hashtags. A lot to learn but, hey why not! So I’m linking up for my first INSTAfriday. Hope you enjoy!

Last weekend started with a cold drink and a good read – outside! Love this weather!

Found a project to work on at the thrift store. I think it may be the new light for our entry way…we shall see!

I played a little tennis with Middle Son. We went after dark and found this sweet little bunny on the courts. I’ve never seen that tiny of a bunny! Mama was watching closely; I think she couldn’t wait for us to leave:). I’m pleased to say none of our stray balls hit the poor thing.

Hubby and I got to attend a scholarship reception for Oldest Son. He’s so stinkin’ smart! Proud of that boy.

We are now entertained with the music of the marimba in our family room. I actually love the sound!

We got a new fire pit and Youngest Son assembled it for us! Now we just need to make time to light a fire in it:).

Saturday we went to the Old Shawnee Days Parade. It was a good time, but I learned parades are a lot different when you don’t have little kids with you!

Hubby and I went to the Eddie Money Concert. It was a gorgeous night to be outside. The music was ok. The company was great!

We’re preparing for college orientation with Oldest Son. Soooo much to think about. So much to tell him to help him be successful!

Found this sweet girl in my bed in the morning.

My boys found their Yu-gi-oh cards when they cleaned their rooms. Do you remember these? They are making a comeback in our house. So funny!

This was the sunrise yesterday as we headed to college orientation. Almost made it worth getting up so ridiculously early!

That was really more than a week, but I’m still figuring things out.  Feel free to follow me on Instagram – @judys_perspective! It’s a little bit addictive:)!

I’m linking up here – I think anyway, if I did this right:)!

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