Saturday, January 24, 2004

Looking at Medical Bills

Insurance and medical bills are so whacky. I recently had some lab tests done at a local hospital. The Hospital billed $175 for one of the lab tests. My insurance company allowed only $41 of those charges. I paid $8. Another one of the tests, the hospital charged $143 for and the insurance company allowed $11. I paid $2.25. What kind of nonsense is this? The hospital knows what the insurance company is going to pay for these various tests - why the huge discrepancy? I've had it explained to me that the hospital keeps jacking up the price in the hope that the insurance company will agree to pay more, but this big of a difference? Come on. Now if these high charges were truly justified and considering that the insurance company only pays a small portion of these charges, then the hospitals should be broke. Obviously they are not, so their charges are bogus.

It makes me wonder if I had no insurance and needed these tests, would I be paying that full price? I think by law, the hospital couldn't discriminate and give me a lower rate, simply because I didn't have insurance. So my guess is, that I would pay that higher rate. So maybe that's how the hospital makes up it's shortfalls - on the backs of those who can't afford insurance. Of course, any person who didn't have insurance would be asking what this was going to cost them before taking the test and most likely they would decide they don't really need that test (even if they do). Of course the hospital can't tell a huge conglomerate like Blue Cross to shove it, so they continue to play this game. Think it's time for another letter to the ol' congressman. Lest one think that the hospital is trying to screw the insurance company by hyperinflating their charges, well, I have no doubt that the insurance companies are hosing all of us - are 20% yearly premium increases year after year, really justified? I sure hope the Dems can fix this mess, but with the constant Washington stalemate politics, I hold out no great hope.  

Friday, January 23, 2004

This is Disgusting

I've read some pretty damn spooky articles in the paper before, but this one tops them all. I heard about this article in the NY Times on CNN this morning, so decided to go read it and boy - this is rough. If you want to learn a bit more about sex traffic in the USA and Mexico and elsewhere (and you probably should be aware), , then you will learn more here than you want to. After reading this, I think if I had a daughter, I'd chain her to my wrist at all times of the day. Makes one want to go out on a crusade to save these girls. A sick picture of society.

Dean Given Raw Deal by Press

I think the Press has run totally amuck with Howard Dean's war whoop after the Iowa caucus. I think Hardball with Chris Matthews has run this a 1000 times. I think this is grossly unfair to Dean. Sure, he went over the top a bit, but he was talking to a bunch of kids, some 3500 of them late at night and was trying to keep them inspired after a tough loss. . Was it not the smartest thing to do? Surely not and he admitted that on Primetime with Dianne Sawyer, but at the same time, he admitted that he plays it from the heart. Personally that would make me trust him more than it would someone who was cold, dry and unemotional. I heard a lot of comments that this rhetoric after the caucus was "angry". How could anyone describe it as "angry"? I saw it a 1000 times myself and there is no way it could be described an angry. Overenthusiastic - yes, but who the hell made these reporters God? We should all be entitled to a slight goof now and then without being mercilessly hounded by the media. I thought Howard and his wife looked great on Dianne Sawyer's show. Dianne kept badgering away as well and I was disappointed in her. I think Howard makes a lot of misstatements, gets flustered at times and I'm not sure he would be the best candidate for President, but he sure as hell didn't deserve this treatment. And I thought he and his wife had the right values - it's obvious they have a good marriage. You'd get my vote Howard if you just tell them to shove it where the sun don't shine.  

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Robert's got it right

Marriage Aid that Misses the Point Another waste of money - I thought Republicans were supposed to be for smaller govt? Ha! And check out this boondoggle of spending initiatives Among the most controversial provisions, as a whole, are nearly 8,000 "earmarks," or special funding measures, for projects in the home states of representatives and senators. These come to $10.7 billion, according to the watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, which advocates reduced government spending Just a few of it's goodies - $50 million for an indoor rain forest in Iowa, $1.8 million for exotic pet disease research in California, $200,000 for recreation improvements in the city of North Pole, Alaska. As John McCain said, "The sum of these political indulgences is enormous and growing and amounts to the theft of our future and the theft of our economic recovery."  


Noticed that my fav web browser (MYIE2) was topic of discussion on TechTv today. Ol' Leo was suitably impressed. For those of you who haven't tried this out, go to MyIE2 and download. Just install the basic MYIE2 - skip all the plugins they offer or at least the UCMore one. The others are OK. UCMore is suspected of spyware. Along with tabs (the best damn thing that ever happened to browsers), it has mouse gestures (very handy) and also allows URL aliases. What are those? Let's say you have a long url like the one here - Well, you can assign for instance the letter m for that URL. Then instead of typing in the whole URL to go to the web site, you just type "m" and hit enter. Pretty slick. You can set up as many of those as you like. Just one of many, many features with this browser add-on - the options are extensive. It is frequently updated. And it's FREE. Other web browsers sometimes stumble on certain sites because they are not set up for IE. This gets around it because it uses IE as it's core engine with all the extra goodies you really want.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Another evening of BS

If you had the chance to watch the Pres's State of the Union, then you must have wondered what State of the Union he was talking about. The facts behind all his statements are dramatically different than the reality he proposes. What is sad is that many average Americans don't read enough or care enough to understand that his statements are simply disingenous. What I find amusing is that I recall all the talk about how successful Bush was in Texas in the State House getting both parties to work together and how he would be able to do that as well in Washington. They must be smoking some bad stuff down there in Texas, cause if this guy could bring people together, than I'm ready for the loony bin. This guy is leading America down the path of ruin and many of us had better wake up!

On a more pleasant note, watched Rabbit-Proof Fence last night on DVD. Would give it 3.8 out of 5 and for the background info, I'd give it a 5 out of 5. Movie was good and informed me of a situation I only knew vaguely about, but the background info on the movie and how it was made and how these young actresses were selected was outstanding. If I had a life to live over again, I'd probably have done something in movies - cinematography or something along those lines. I find it fascinating to see how all these talents come together to produce a movie.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Atkins Hasn't Really Changed

Media and Docs get it wrong again I have to admit that I see this happen all the time. All these so-called "experts" that read these diet books and then write articles on them, don't really read what the guy has written. They pick up some snippets of conversation somewhere and then proclaim them as truth. It must be particularly frustrating to folks like Atkins,Sears,Weil,etc... to always have to try to play down these inaccuracies.  

Monday, January 19, 2004

Kerry,Edwards strong winners in Iowa

Well, I must say, I'm pleased with these results. My two picks for people I'd choose and in the order I'd choose them. Not totally surprised - I think people are looking at "electability" and Kerry in particular presents that image, and I think Edwards is respected for keeping his fight above the "negative campaigning". Nothing against Howard Dean, but I'm afraid he just doesn't come across that well, except as "angry" and people want more than that in a leader. And he appears quite stiff when contrasted with Kerry or Edwards. It was surprising in Iowa with the huge turnout that the "organized" campaigns of Dean and Gephardt didn't do better - that left all the pundits scratching their heads. It showed the people were expressing their personal opinions about the candidates and actually turned these caucuses into a primary. The unions that supported Gephardt got slam dunked which had to be a shocker for them. The Vets were a definite plus for Kerry and will be as well when the campaign turns towards S.Carolina and Florida and other southern States, where many Vets reside.

Now it will get interesting in NH, for sure. Will Kerry get a bounce out of this? With Clark in NH, could be quite a 4 way slugfest, assuming Dean still has some fight left. Looks like Gephardt will drop out, Kucinich might as well, and I don't think Lieberman has a prayer anymore either, so we're down to 4. Stay tuned. 


Been watching a lot of movies again. Started up the addicting Netflix thing to amuse myself during sleepy winter months. Will probably regret this! Did have the chance to watch 2 excellent and widely divergent films lately. Winged Migration was absolutely fabulous. I'd recommend getting the DVD to see the extra info on how they filmed this, which is practically as amazing as the film. Definitely a family pic - no R rating on this beauty. You don't need to be into birdwatching to admire this movie. It's quite interesting that the Academy of Motion Pictures awarded "Bowling for Columbine" the Oscar for Best Picture over this film. Nothing against that film, which I also found well worth watching, but it pales (imho) in comparison to this feat of movie making.

Switching to a wholly different arena, I can also recommend Bloody Sunday . If you want to get right in the middle of the march that ended up so tragically and started "the Troubles" in Ireland, this is the film for you. Interesting, in that Brits produced it, yet it definitely shows you that the Brits ran amuck on this given day. I was surprised to see that Brits produced it and didn't pick up on that till watching the extra info on the movie - I would have sworn Irish Catholics would have produced it. A riveting movie and highly recommended. (Note - the "f" word is a favorite word of the Irish, so if it bothers you, I warned you!)