Wherever the Road Leads

HealthCare, Socialists…

… and personal accountability.

Perception is reality.

The world seems to laud President Obama and the Democrats for providing Health Care to the masses here in the land of the Unwashed and Uninsured. The Republicans seem to want to scuttle the plan to leave us at the mercy of unethical and overpriced hospitals.

Using my own overly-simplistic and skewed terms, here is how I view the difference between the Republican Party and the Democrats: Republicans want to have minimal government and give everyone the opportunity to do well. Freedom but also responsibility.

Democrats – and Liberals in Canada as this is actually where I realized this – believe that the government should think for the folks because the folks are too stupid to think for themselves.

Recently pointed out to me was that the US, despite it’s panic to NOT be socialist/communist, has the largest welfare system in the world – Social Security. Using that interesting interpretation of the facts, I would like to point out that the US has the largest and most successful private Health Care in the world.

Obama et al spouted the fact that 20% of Americans were uninsured. That means that 254 million people successfully have Health Care Insurance. When you turn 65, you become enrolled in Medicare, administered by the government with an affordable premium and the health care provider sends the bill to the government. If you are poor, there is MedicAid, paying for the birthing of many an inner-city teenager’s child.

For everyone in between, it’s ‘user-pay’. If you are a family of six, your premiums will be significantly more than mine, single, who doesn’t smoke, drink or buy lottery tickets. Like car insurance, the lower the deductible, the higher the premium. Generally, a doctor’s visit involves a co-pay. Thirty-five dollars cuts down on frivolous visits for every hangnail and runny nose.

To me, that seems like a sensible way to run a business – which Health Care is. If you smoke, you pay. If you have six children, you pay.

I learned a long time ago that the value placed on an item is in direct proportion to the time or money invested. Here at the RV Park, as a Workamper, I don’t pay for electricity up to $75 per month. I pay for propane. When I cook potatoes, I first boil the water in the electric kettle using “free” electricity before putting the saucepan on the stove to cook, using propane that I have to pay for.

I heat the camper with an electric heater because electricity is “free’ and running the furnace, although a better heat source, burns propane, which I pay for.

It’s human nature that something that costs nothing is of less value. If one has to pay the first $35 of a $110 doctor’s visit, I can guarantee there are less people in the waiting room than if there was no co-pay and it was “free”.

Individual accountability is what it comes down to.

Outside the US, the perception may be that ObamaCare has radically changed the Insurance Industry. ObamaCare is not a takeover of the Insurance Industry. The government is involved, but it’s beau de loin, mais loin d’être beau… good from far but far from good.

The government does indeed run the website – exchange – the one that cost millions and didn’t work so well. You fill in some personal information and your financial worthiness is based on the previous year’s tax form. That puts you into Category X. Numerous choices are shown to you, from various Private Insurance companies. You select the monthly premium and the deductible that you are comfortable with.

The cost-to-you may be $200 per month. The ACTUAL premium may be $800 per month. You pay the $200 and the government pays the other $600 to the Insurance company. Unfortunately, in so many cases, where a family was paying, say, $500 per month prior to ObamaCare, their share of the premium is now $1300 per month.

For those in Commonwealth countries with Socialized medicine, you may be thinking that even $200 per month is an exorbitant amount to pay for Health Care. What you don’t realize is that you are already paying it. AND, you have zero choice in what your individual cost might be.

When I come to Canada, I am astounded at prices and taxes. Canadians can no longer see that. Each has been paying it so long, it’s simply accepted. Thirteen percent point-of-sale tax??!! On EVERYTHING. Lawyer’s fees, utility bills, newspaper subscriptions, taxicab rides, municipal parking, postage stamps, snow removal, lawn maintenance, golf club fees… and the one that astounded me.

My truck is ‘Canadianized”. I had to pay a fee to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles – about $200 plus 13% Harmonized Sales Tax – to have my truck checked over to make sure that it conformed to Canadian standards, meaning that it had to have metric on the speedometer and the daytime running lights enabled.

Prior to that, in Detroit/Windsor where I crossed into Canada, I had to pay the $100 Excise Tax on my air conditioner – still considered a luxury in Canada. The cost for a $100 tax? $106. How? There’s 6% tax on the tax of $100. Tax on tax.

In a recent blog, I moaned about the ‘Ecology Tax’ on electronic goods. Ostensibly a tax to cover the cost of disposing of electronic items containing mercury, it was added to the cost of the television that I bought. Grumble, grumble, grumble. That was until I looked at the receipt. The Ecology Tax was added into the cost of the television before the HST was applied, so I paid 13% tax on the TV, and 13% tax on the Ecology Tax. Tax on tax. Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

But Health Care is “free”.

A gallon of gas here, quite possibly produced from Canadian crude, taking a smaller American gallon and the exchange rate into consideration, is still considerably cheaper than in Canada. I pay $1.63 per gallon for Shell (my truck can’t use off-brand) gas in nearby Darien, Ga. This morning, gas at the Esso station at Dixie and Eglinton in Toronto, the first branded station listed on gasbuddy, was 82.5¢ per liter. That’s US$2.23 per US gallon, or 36% higher. (82.5¢ x 3.785 liters in a US gallon, divided by 1.4 for 40% exchange rate)

But Health Care is “free”.

Everyone outside the US has heard a horror story about an individual who has been near-bankrupted due to medical bills. I don’t doubt the validity of these stories. However, I would be very interested in hearing the entire story. Why does the person NOT have insurance? As I mentioned, for the poor there is MedicAid, for the retired, MediCare. For everyone else in this country, just like car insurance to drive, you need medical insurance to live.

When I lived in Chicago, I changed jobs and bought a house at the same time. I had plenty of mail and that’s the feeble excuse I’ll use for overlooking my benefits package from my new employer. After working for the new company for a number of months, I noticed that Health Care premiums were not being deducted. I called HR to ask.

They told me that in the benefits package mailed to me, I had to decide which Health Coverage package best suited me, go online and make my choice… within the first ninety days of employment. I was at Day 95. Whose fault was it? Mine. Who was the dumb bass? Me. Three months seemed like plenty of time to the Insurance company to make a choice. I was unable to join the company Health Insurance plan until the next Open Enrollment period, many months hence.

So, do I hope for the best, or take responsibility? I called Blue Cross of Illinois and paid dearly for Individual Health Care coverage. It was expensive and had a high deductible but it kept me out of bankruptcy court if something happened. And Day One of Open Enrollment, you bet I got myself signed up for the company-paid plan.

This was recently posted on Facebook…


Sounds like a sad story, for sure. But what is the whole story? She’s 34, so has been working for about ten years. Apparently she has chosen to work for a company that does not provide benefits – perhaps a small mom-and-pop muffler shop, say. And for many, that is indeed the case.

However, SHE made that choice. She might have considered seeking a job with a larger company where health benefits were available. She might have called up Blue Cross of Illinois to purchase her own personal health care insurance. She has tumors that are well-progressed. Was she not seeing a doctor all along? Even Wal-Mart cashiers have Health Insurance. I ended up between jobs at one point and became a waiter at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant because the sign outside said, “Servers wanted. Day One benefits.”

What this woman wants to do, and now with ObamaCare what all the taxpayers are on the hook for, is to purchase Home Insurance after her house has burned down. “Pre-existing” means ‘previously diagnosed’, so she knew about her condition. You can’t wait until after your leg is broken to purchase Health Insurance. The definition of ‘insurance’ is, “providing protection against a possible eventuality.” It’s shared risk, not a genie in a bottle.

I love this story about a Canadian woman, seven months into a troubled pregnancy…

Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel billed $950K US after giving birth in U.S.

jennifer-huculak-kimmelA warm weather holiday has turned into a hot mess for a Saskatchewan couple. Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel gave birth nine weeks early while on holiday in Hawaii in November 2013. Her baby daughter had to be hospitalized.

“My water broke two days into our holiday,” Huculak-Kimmel said. “I spent six weeks on bed rest and then baby Reece was delivered by emergency C-section on December 10th.”

Reece had to stay in the hospital for just over two months; the baby, until February 23rd. Huculak-Kimmel thought that her insurance would cover the almost $1 million US bill.

In the end, Blue Cross denied payment. In a letter to the family, a Blue Cross worker wrote, “We are unable to provide coverage for any medical expenses incurred for Ms. Huculak’s baby” and “please note that Ms. Huculak’s travel policy expired on Nov. 9, 2013.”

The parents are now unsure what they’ll do next. (How about looking for part time jobs?)

“Blue Cross said that because I had a bladder infection at four months and hemorrhaged because of that, that they would not cover the pregnancy,” she said. “We thought we had done everything right. We thought we had covered all avenues and we thought we were covered. We thought we were safe to go.”

“We thought”, “we thought”, “we thought.” Did they check? Did they consider that it may not be wise for a seven-month pregnant woman to take the first flight of 90 minutes and then the second flight of over seven hours to another country and in the middle of an ocean?

Their $940,000 hospital expense brings up another, I believe, misconception that hospital visits in a Social Medicine country are cheaper than in the US. If it costs a million dollars a day to run a hospital in Tucson, how much does it cost in Toronto? If six weeks bed rest and pre-natal care, the birth of a premature child then three months incubation and round-the-clock medical attention costs $940,000 in Honolulu, how much does it cost in Hamilton?

Sure, examples abound where an aspirin or a box of tissues costs $10, but if a brain surgeon in Cincinnati is making a million dollars a year, one in Sydney is not working for minimum wage. The difference is that the patient doesn’t see the cost. But the taxpayer sure feels the effect of it.

To me, the difference between Socialists and personal responsibility can be summed up thusly…

I was talking to a friend’s little girl, and she said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, ‘If you were to be the President, what is the first thing you would do?’

She replied, ‘I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.’ ‘Wow – what a worthy goal.’ I told her, ‘You don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow, pull weeds, and sweep my sidewalks and driveway, and I’ll pay you $50. Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food or a new house.’

She thought that over for a few seconds ‘cause she’s only 6. And while her Mom glared at me, the little girl looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?”

And I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party, sweetheart.”

Trump 2016. He’s nuts, but he’s right.

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  1. Alistair Mair  February 25, 2016

    Great writing! Stay tuned for more as the Provinicial budget comes down today Feb. 25. 2016. fEderal budget March 29th. So far carbon tax has been announced 4.3 cents per litre. Great video on Transit signs!


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