Tag Archives: entitlement

how about behavior reform?

When I started this blog, I wanted to keep personal details out of it. Mostly so if random people happened to find it, they wouldn’t discount my opinions because of my background or experiences. But, let’s be honest: who we are shapes our opinions, world views, understanding and expectations. Right? So, if readers choose to discount my perspective because of any personal details I happen to share, I didn’t want them here anyway!

In 2007 I was working, my husband was in school, and our insurance was provided through my employer. Then I had a baby and chose not to return to work. But because we needed insurance for some medical issues, we chose to pay COBRA for the next 6 or 8 months. COBRA cost us around $850/month, as much as the rent on our apartment.

During that time, I needed to have a small procedure done. It came up just as we were considering ending our COBRA coverage, so we figured we’d see which was the more economical option: pay the $850 for another month of coverage or pay for the procedure in cash. I asked my doctor what the procedure would cost. She had no idea. I asked the front desk people what it would cost, they had no idea. I asked the billing people and all they could tell me was, “Oh honey, it’d cost a few thousand dollars at best.” No one could give me an exact figure. So, we paid for another month of COBRA.

But it’s hit me lately that, as consumers, it’s almost impossible for us to operate within the healthcare market the same way we operate within other markets. My husband, for example, is a huge deal hunter. He researches, he studies, he shops around, he gets the best deal he can find. I don’t think we pay full price for much of anything, and it’s great to be able to choose how we spend our money on the items we want or need.

With our healthcare, however, we don’t even question the cost. Why? Because “our insurance covers it.” Someone else is paying for it. We’ve even adopted the attitude that, “Well, I probably could just wait out this cold, but shoot, it’s only $5 to see the doctor, I might as well go in.” What does that doctor visit really cost? Who knows? $100? $10? If the healthcare market actually functioned like every other market in this country, I’d call around and see which doctor had the best rates (combined with the best quality of service) before going in and spending my money on a visit.

Before we blow trillions of dollars on sweeping healthcare reform, why don’t we focus on behavior reform? If consumers could understand comparison shopping and financial accountability, they’d force the market to become competitive, all without government involvement or mandates. How to achieve this, I have no idea, but letting the credit market crash would’ve been a good start.

This video demonstrates my point exactly! And I appreciate how he clarifies that insurance initially existed to cover huge expenses like cancer treatment, catastrophic emergencies, etc., not routine, day-to-day care. Can’t we get back to that way of thinking?

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switching gears

Dear [Senators/Congressman],

I got my first job when I was 16. I remember my first paycheck–it was $50. I was so excited because my monthly allowance had been $50 and here I had made the same amount in a part-time work week as a grocery store cashier.

I also remember going shopping soon after, thinking about how much my $50 would buy. It didn’t buy much, obviously–I looked at a few shirts before it hit me: to buy this shirt, I’d have to work X number of hours; to buy that shirt, I’d have to work Y number of hours; and if I wanted shoes or jeans or a purse on top of that, those were more hours I’d have to work.

Suddenly, my paycheck took on a whole new light. It wasn’t just cash in my teenage pocket–it was the monetary worth of my time.

I learned the value of “stuff” pretty quickly, and the value of hard work even quicker. I took pride in the fact that I no longer had to ask my dad for money to buy things that I wanted. I gained a new respect for the things he provided our family with from his paychecks.

I’m well out of college now and have been paying more and more attention to the fact that a large population of American citizens have no concept of the value of hard work, money, or what “stuff” costs.

And you–our political leaders–do very little to help them learn. Instead, you provide handouts. Handouts that send the message, “It’s okay, you don’t have to learn any important life lessons, you just have to ask and we’ll take care of you.” The recipients of such handouts rarely stop to think about who is actually paying for their benefits, and if they do realize who’s paying, they probably don’t care because hey, it’s not THEM.

And you have perpetuated the same attitude of entitlement across the broader population with the recent bailouts and programs like “Cash for Clunkers” (the CARS program). You’re printing up money that doesn’t exist to hand out to Americans to do what? Seems to me you’re trying to create a false sense of confidence in a failing economy. And you don’t seem to care who’s going to pay for it.

What good does the CARS program actually do for the environment? From the studies I’ve read, little to none. There’s nothing “green” about manufacturing new cars or destroying the “clunkers” just to save a few MPG per vehicle. Someone who trades in a Hummer (that has years and years of use ahead of it) can “upgrade” to another SUV that gets slightly better gas mileage, but the Hummer gets destroyed.

The CARS program has run out of money. That’s fine; I say END THE PROGRAM. It served its purpose of handing out cash to the people who jumped on the offer; there’s no reason to throw more money into it. Especially when that money is being printed out of thin air.

End the program, save my children the burden of paying for my neighbor’s new car.

Thank you.

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