Saturday, March 11, 2017

How to Save U.S. Health Care Insurance

Those of us with a conservative mindset really hated Obamacare. We mostly don't think the Republican "Obamacare Lite" is much of an improvement. But I for one will take it.

I'll take it for the simple reason of self-interest. As an independent business owner responsible for my own health insurance, I've related how the cost of Obamacare was bearing down on me (see BlueCross BlueShield BlueNopoly Part I / Part II / Part III).

Long story short: I had a company health plan with the usual bells and whistles in 2008. Then an HSA health plan for my nearing-26 son and me the next year with a high deductible for about three hundred bucks a month.

Then with Obamacare kicking in, that doubled. Then by January of this year, Obamacare mandated a version for which BlueCross wanted me to pay over a thousand bucks a month. Just for me. Healthy as a horse and young as a, well, a princess phone.

A funny thing happened on the way to the aforementioned. Donald Trump won the election and suddenly a plan appeared on Farm Bureau's site that only costs me $267 a month. It isn't Obamacare mandated, has a lower deductible and better benefits, still works with my HSA.

Why? I suspect with Trump's victory, the insurance company knew Obamacare would be repealed and replaced. The exorbitant penalties they were scheduled to face for offering non-compliant plans and that I would have to pay for choosing one would be eliminated. I was all set to pay the penalties because even with the penalty, I would come in at half the cost of the Obamacare plan that BlueCross was offering. I am tickled pink at how things have gone so far.

Not too pink. I still think it's bad policy for the government to try to make sure everybody has insurance as an entitlement and it's not insurance at all if "insurers" are forced to cover everybody equally regardless of pre-existing conditions. I actually have a pre-existing condition exclusion on my current policy involving kidney stones, having had an episode with those little buggers last year. Seems fair enough to me.

Of course, I would feel differently if I had a cancer or heart disease problem that was excluded. I understand that concern and I feel for those who cannot afford insurance. The backlash from those in both categories is why the Republicans including Donald Trump are proposing such a wimpy remedy in their new "American Health Care Act."  That's why I propose the following simple two-step plan as the next step in repealing and replacing Obamacare:

1. Mandate that current policies and coverages be left in place for, say, two years, as a safety net, but immediately remove all conditions on all newly written health care insurance policies, including pre-existing condition restrictions, state mandates, and the obstacles to purchasing across state lines. The resulting free market in health insurance coverage will drive prices WAY down and open the feasibility of health insurance coverage up to millions of new customers and small company corporate policies.

2. For those who choose not to buy insurance for whatever reason - expense, sloth, pre-existing conditions - set up an alternative health network that the non-insured must use for health care. This network would be made up of existing VA hospitals, community health clinics, even outfits like Planned Parenthood which could finally have a legitimate reason for being, and perhaps some mission clinics which serve the poor and nonprofits which serve clients with a specific disease. Care would be on a sliding scale, subsidized by the government to the extent the electorate is willing. The non-insured could still buy private health care if they could pay out of their own pockets. And philanthropies and state and local governments could assist as they see fit.

My proposal should satisfy both sides of the issue - those who want real, viable, market based health insurance, and those who want a single payer plan. Access would be free and easy. Everyone would be covered. And those who wish to pay for better benefits will have the freedom to do so.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Occupy Movement continues... the the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the N.S.A. and doubtless every other department and agency of the federal government.

Why? It's not the revenge of the loser Hillary Clinton. Despite an occasional tweet she's a dead duck. Instead it's the lame duck that won't die, Barack Obama. It's that Donald Trump represents the antithesis of Barack Obama. For Trump to succeed will be the undoing of every "accomplishment" of Obama's term in office:

  • Open borders.
  • A direct line to single-payer healthcare.
  • Chaos in the Middle East... and in America's streets.
  • A weakened military.
  • A strengthened police state.
  • The give-over of U.S. sovereignty to the U.N.
  • Control of capitalism via the global warming hoax.
  • Racial strife.
That's just a short list. Over eight years of blaming George W. Bush for everything "wrong" and straw men for any legitimate criticisms of his own policies, Barack Obama proved himself to be a passive aggressive huckster for every antagonistic remnant of the dope-smoking, baby-aborting, draft-dodging sixties.

Z.. he lives: Lead Occupier of the United States - LOOTUS. Even if the rest of the swamp is draining, he sits low in the deepest darkest hole resisting the legitimately elected new President.

But there is one big difference between himself and Trump that Obama cannot overcome: The people - the working and ambitious and post-racial people who actually prosper side by side - black and white, brown, yellow, and red - as Americans first and foremost, who don't just live in a smoke-filled bubble of sixties antagonism. The people are with Trump.

Trump is a winner, democracy and rule of law eventually will sustain him, and LOOTUS will eventually choke on the ever more concentrated swamp water he has left to live in.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Bunch of Screaming Mimis

I thought the Republican Party was DOA after the 2012 election. I still think it's just a shell of a party, reminding me of the Xipe Totec Indians who wore the skins of their dead to connect to the afterlife. Old hacks like John McCain and Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, have bellowed around the media for the past eight years representing the country club and hawkish vestiges of a once-proud Reagan coalition while younger legacy inductees like Paul Ryan and Marsha Blackburn pretended to be an opposition party but really did nothing to stop the Obama train. They are the skin. The only thing animating them is that Donald Trump has some real life in him and ran on their ticket, much to their horror.

But as bad as the Republican Party is, the Democrats have got it worse. Democrats once stood for something positive in America, though of course no more perfectly than what the Republicans stood for. They stood for the little guy. They were the anti-corporatists of their day. They were the champions of transparency and peace and justice and for the most part, meant it. No one exemplified this better than John F. Kennedy.

But in order to have a "modern" coalition they have tapped into the wackiest extremes of society. They promised hope and change to people who have serious problems that can't be fixed by society, but whose solutions need to come from within - aging sixties draft dodgers, abortion survivors, illegals, those with sexual and racial and substance abuse issues, the lazy, the whiners, and the chronically malcontent - and it has perverted the party's mission.

It must be hard to be a Democrat with common sense these days. It is practically an oxymoron given the fringe element that characterizes the party now, that goes around wearing sphincter hats supposedly marching for women's rights, that screams down the opinions of anyone they don't agree with, that works relentlessly to cram acceptance, not just tolerance, down the throats of people of conscience on the other side of an issue.

There has got to be a third way, a path between the moribund Republican establishment and the whacked-out fringe element leading the Democrats. That's why I am still and more than ever for Donald Trump. He may not be my alter ego but he's shaking it ALL up, on both sides of the aisle.

The clearest evidence of his success is the screaming Mimi's at the town hall meetings, in the progressive media, and in the sphincter-hat marches. These "not my president" folks are squealing because they're getting stuck with reality. And at some point when the screaming dies down and the dust settles, we're going to have a country that's better for it all. It won't be the Reagan coalition, it will be disaffected Republicans and fed up Democrats coming together for the "Great Again Coalition."

So you common-sense Democrats, you Tea Party Republicans, you folks who can't follow either of the two choices but call yourselves Independents: Do not lose faith. Churchill had it just right: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

We'll get there despite the Screaming Mimis.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

For the history lover on your Christmas list...

Imagine... stepping back in time fifty years, a hundred, or in this case, nearly two hundred, and getting to sit down with your great grandfather and get to know him as a real person, not just a name followed by birth year and death year. Reading Col. John Amenas Fite's memoir is as close as any of us is ever likely to come to that.

Col. Fite was born in Alexandria, Tennessee, a few miles south of Lebanon, in 1824. He was one of a mess of Fites who settled in that area after migrating originally from Germany through Pennsylvania, then North Carolina, and finally over the Smokies into Middle Tennessee. His grandfather was a Revolutionary War veteran and took the land grant for his service and prospered as a farmer, passing his strong work ethic and winning personality along to his children, not the least of which was John Amenas Fite, a self described "rattling kind of boy'' full of mischief and having the run of the fields and towns all around his home.

After graduating from Cumberland College, Col. Fite settled in Carthage to start his career as a lawyer. When the Civil War broke out he answered the call of his state to come to arms and was elected Captain of his regiment, part of the Seventh Tennessee infantry which was assigned to General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. He was wounded several times in battle but always came back to lead his men, rising through the ranks to Colonel before being captured in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, spending the rest of the war in a Union prison, where he lost a hundred pounds and was released on exchange just before the war ended.

Col. Fite was a popular man, had a way with words and a great sense of humor and sentiment. His rich personality comes out beautifully in this memoir dictated in his later years (he lived well into his nineties despite his war wounds), full of interesting anecdotes about life in the antebellum South with slaves and horses and youthful adventures, as well as war stories which include encounters with Stonewall Jackson and other Confederate luminaries.

Col. Fite is my great great grand uncle (or thereabouts) and my namesake. I have transcribed his memoir from the original typed manuscript, shortening sentences and dividing it into chapters to make for easier reading, but the real gift is the encounter with Col. Fite's own words. I sent it to a friend who specializes in the history of Middle Tennessee and he reported that upon receipt, he thought he'd read into it a little and found it so compelling that he read it from beginning to end in one sitting. The two unsolicited reviews so far on Amazon give it five stars. It would be a great gift for that person on your Christmas list who loves history, or... for yourself if you'd like a few hours of hearing an entertaining and enlightening voice from our past. Just click on the picture of the book cover to order. If you'd like to see a little more about John Amenas Fite, including a letter he wrote home as a prisoner of war and a photo of him in his Confederate uniform, visit the site I've set up for him by clicking here.

While on the subject, for local Civil War history buffs I'd like also to mention a book I've just finished reading, The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War by William Thomas Venner. Mr. Venner has written a very readable, exciting, and thorough narrative of Col. Fite's regiment from war's outset to finish and he relies extensively on Col. Fite's memoir along the way, as well as records of his brother, Dr. James Fite, who was the regimental surgeon.

Finally, one last plug with the desperate Christmas shopper in mind, might I also recommend my novel In Measured Steps? Since it's a novel and that's a very subjective thing, I won't belabor the point with self-promotion on this one, but if you buy it and it turns out that you or your giftee don't like it, contact me and I'll personally refund your money!

All book cover pictures on this post link directly to Amazon. Thanks for your consideration and Merry Christmas to one and all!

Monday, October 31, 2016

BlueCross BlueShield BlueNopoly - Part III

Obamacare is delivering a knockout punch to working stiffs like me, aided and abetted by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee among other state "nonprofits." They are well on their way to the monopoly of health insurance they were booking for while the federal government is well on its way to being the single payer, thus owning another 20% of the economy.

I won't belabor the details. For that simply see my first post on the subject and my last post on the subject and know that this is the letter I got this week:

That's for one person (moi), not family coverage, with a Health Savings Account, a very high deductible, and zero health problems.

I hope all the folks on subsidy appreciate how hard I've worked all my life to subsidize them. Somehow I doubt that.

I'm voting for the candidate who says he's going to scrap this B.C.B.S.T.B.S.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

In the spirit of Halloween...

...there are horrifying things coming out in this presidential election.

But don't be too quick to cast the first stone if you're a normal healthy heterosexual male. Or married to one. Or mother to one. Or sister to one. Or anyone.

Male or female, if you had a hidden microphone on you 24/7 and you're a human being, you would eventually say or do something that shouldn't see the light of day. Maybe about your spouse. Or a parent. Or a sibling. Or a rival. Or your boss. Or that good-looking thing that just walked through the door! Whoa!

From the Democrats, feigned horror over Donald Trump's "lewd" comments is expected. But the priggish hypocritical Republicans who denounce him publicly are the really disgusting element here.

Remember, even fundamentalist Baptist Jimmy Carter confessed publicly to lusting in his heart after other women. There are few men in this world who don't, truth be told, maybe a saint here and there, but just check out Saint Augustine's life story to see what a struggle that can be. It just so happens Donald Trump wears his heart on his sleeve.

He will survive this like every other arrow slung at him. Or stone thrown at him. In fact, I think it humanizes him more than ever and will as before bring him unexpected, visceral support from people who find "Chucky" Clinton's manufactured candidacy to be the real horror show here in this election.

Monday, September 26, 2016

If you still hate Donald Trump... probably wouldn't have supported the election of another bombastic, self-promoting, narcissistic, party-switching, love-him-or-hate-him candidate for one of the world's highest offices.

If Twitter had existed in his day he would have set hyperspace on fire with his infamous insults.

He was aristocratic, a chain smoker, and hated by the pseudo-intellectual elite. Speaking of which, one of Barack Obama's first acts as president was to have his bust removed from the White House.

Yes, Winston Churchill was quite a cad except for one thing: he was right when the best "minds" of western civilization were wrong. He called a spade a spade. When he looked at Adolf Hitler, he saw a psychopath dead set on dominating the world through any means necessary. All of free world politics was about post-World War I pacifism, so Churchill was mocked for his relentless push to build up the military.

The pre-war prime minister Neville Chamberlain publicly proclaimed that his 1938 Munich Accord with Hitler brought the world "peace in our time." Hitler, however, promptly invaded Czech territory in complete disregard for their agreement, then proceeded with one unchecked aggression after another. In short order the folly of Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler was undeniable. He stepped down and thankfully for western civilization, in 1940 Churchill took his place and guided the Allies to victory in World War II.

So... maybe we don't need a Mr. Nice Guy as president, polished and politic and a poet with words. Maybe in this time of chronic terrorism, a Middle East in more turmoil than ever before after eight years of Obama as president and Clinton and Kerry at State, and an economy that's wearing a straight jacket of anti-capitalism and rapacious federal regulation, we could use a plain-if-not-eloquently spoken leader who will clear the decks.

Maybe he's no Churchill. But he is Trump. And he's your only choice - and quite likely in my opinion, a damn good one - if you want America to have a chance of getting out of its spiral into failure.