Monday, October 24, 2011

A challenger

Not since the late '90s have I been so impressed with a hamster website: Hamster for President 2012.

And now I have that damn song stuck in my head.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A promise fulfilled

President Obama ran for office on a campaign touting hope and change. Many of us have been disappointed by certain things that did not change, and a continuation of the status quo that left us hopeless. Finally, the war in Iraq is coming to its official end. While nearly everyone can agree that ousting Saddam Hussein was a positive result, the costs of this war, in terms of lives of U.S. troops, allied forces and civilians, as well as the financial burden on the U.S. government and taxpayers, were crushing. This war crushed each family who lost a loved one to the cause. It crushed our sense of patriotism and American pride. It crushed our federal budget and added enormously to our national debt.

I hope this decision to end the war in Iraq gets the attention it deserves. When one of your "Independent" friends brings up his or her disappointment with President Obama's tenure thus far, remind them of this achievement. Of course, Obama did not accomplish this by himself. But, it was his campaign promise and he saw it through to fulfillment during his third year in office. I'll take it.

Next time I see Barry in person, I'm going to thank him for this...from all of us.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Public health and your tax dollars

I am one of the lucky 250 million people in this country with health insurance. Today I went to an eye doctor for the first time in 2.5 years. I handed over my health insurance card to the woman behind the desk, who has the God-forsaken job of verifying health insurance coverage. Upon first review, she wasn't sure I was covered for vision care, but she began the long, sad process of getting in touch with Blue Cross Blue Shield to see what they would pay for and how much they would pay.

I needed to check my eye health and get an updated prescription regardless of coverage, so I went in to the doctor's office while she investigated my coverage. After the appointment, I walked over to the check out counter to see what I owed for this visit.

"Good news, your insurance covered the exam 100%, and you'll just need to pay for the contact lens assessment."

Now, there are at least 50 million people out there without any health insurance, let alone vision insurance. Because so many of us have reduced health costs as a result of the insurance coverage, demand is higher, which drives up prices.* So, aside from having no insurance, they have to pay a higher fee because some of us are insured! Seems a little unfair, right?

As a Democrat and bleeding heart liberal, I am proud to pay a few extra cents or dollars per year towards the goal of wider health insurance coverage. The alternative, lowering the number of insured people to weaken demand, seems neither progressive nor feasible, as most of us have connected health insurance with employment benefits since World War II. (See Slate's "A short history of health care.")

So pay a little now to insure your neighbor...neighbor goes to eye doctor and gets vision corrected through glasses...neighbor has laser-sharp vision and DOES NOT RUN YOU OVER when they drive down your avoid week-long stay in the ICU, lowering your health costs in the long run.

See how great public health is?

*Another related factor in driving up prices is the fact that many doctors charge a higher fee knowing that the insurance companies will negotiate the price downward.