Where Has All the Health Insurance Gone?

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I want to start going to a fitness center, and since I broached the subject in front of some family members, they helpfully offered the advice that I should double-check what my health insurance offers. It makes some sense, since their point was to prevent me from paying membership fees if they were already included in my policy. Unfortunately, this has become a normal conversation in America, because we have – as a nation – completely lost the true meaning of the phrase “health insurance.” I can’t blame anyone for that, because the language we use to talk about insurance has changed radically over the years.

In spite of being eligible for AARP (by merit of marriage), I’m not yet 50. But, I’m old enough to remember the evolution of how Americans have paid for medical services since the 1970’s, and the terms we’ve used for that.

Medical Insurance – This one is simple, mostly straightforward, and is what we called policies that would usually just cover hospital visits, and emergent care. Some policies would take a small bite out of the costs of routine doctor visits from the start, but most wouldn’t start paying for those regular visits until we had paid a generally high deductible out-of-pocket. My parents would usually eat right through that, since I was a sickly child. “Finally! The insurance kicked in!” was a common statement from my mother by around May or June of each year, when the receptionist in my doctor’s office would tell her those happy words, “No charge for today!” The bottom line for these policies was that people paid premiums to cover primarily extremely expensive services that they couldn’t afford otherwise, and routine care was paid primarily out-of-pocket. Those expensive services were mostly for grave illnesses or injuries.

Health Management/Maintenance Organization (HMO) – Arriving in the early 1980’s at least in our region, the HMO was a godsend in my mother’s eyes – at first. Sure, the paychecks went down more than with the old insurance, since the premiums were so much higher. But, all doctor visits were blessedly low cost! No more writing checks over $50 for just a routine check-up. Before my mother could absolutely declare it paradise, she ended up seeing a pediatrician to remove an in-grown toenail. You didn’t misread that. This was when my mother learned what the “management” part of that acronym really meant – patients will see whoever is cheapest for the organization, so that means the correct specialists might not fit that description. My mother ended up with blood poisoning, a hospital stay to receive IV antibiotics, and a lot of follow-up visits to other (not necessarily correct specialty) doctors to make sure there was no lasting damage to her foot or leg. Needless to say, this was the beginning of the end of people relying entirely on the advice of physicians. It’s great that people have become advocates for their own health, and learn about their medical problems. But, it would have been much better if it hadn’t started out of necessity, because many people were just like my mother – being given the cheapest care their HMO’s could throw at them. The bottom line for HMO’s is to have customers pre-pay for care through high premiums, out-of-pocket expenses are relatively low, but these organizations are focused on saving as much money as possible. They have fallen out of favor because they got a reputation for pushing questionable care – like my mother received – at the expense of patients’ health.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) – This is something that started sometime in the 1990’s in Western Pennsylvania at least, and is essentially still an HMO in how it operates. The primary difference is that instead of telling patients who to see, there is a list of providers to choose from within the region. The companies offering these policies negotiate contracts with hospitals, pharmacies, provider groups, and occasionally with health clubs – which is what I theoretically should be checking. Calling PPO’s “Preferred Provider Organizations” is a misnomer, and if there was truth in advertising, they would be called “Pre Paid Office-visits”. The bottom line for PPO’s is again forcing customers to pre-pay for care, which means that the majority of people do not get anything close to their investments back in these programs. Instead of the problems of questionable care seen in HMO’s there are issues with “in-network” versus “out-of-network” providers. Some regions like my own are ruled by medical monopolies, which means that depending on which insurance company is underwriting a PPO policy, customers could be restricted from using certain hospital and health networks entirely. This has become an issue since insurance companies are increasingly becoming directly involved in providing medical care, and hospital systems are starting their own insurance companies.

Right now, there’s yet another “health care” bill being considered, but because it’s not going to change the status quo of the insurance market that is essentially limited to high-premium pre-paid care policies, it’s no better than its predecessors. I understand, it’s been around 40 years since we had “real” health insurance in America, and that many people don’t remember it clearly at all. But, people really do need to think about this, and reconsider how we’re doing things. We don’t have real choices anymore when it comes to health insurance – the differences are just in costs, not in what they really offer. The primary reasons why traditional health insurance of the 1970’s and before fell out of favor was because of restrictions on Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s), and now that we’re finally easing those, perhaps it’s time to demand that government get out of the insurance business. Let the people demand what they really want from insurance companies. I sincerely doubt that I’m the only person in America who would love to return to a system where I have a policy to cover major medical problems, deductibles on routine care, and real pricing on health care – instead of the imaginary pricing created by government and insurance companies.

For now, it’s time to for me to find out if I can get a health club membership discount thanks to my current insurance – not because I “like” the idea, but because I’ve already paid for it!

Image: ccPixs.com

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Source: Subculture

Where Has All the Health Insurance Gone?

What Gig Employees Wish Employers Understood

If you haven’t heard the term “gig economy” yet, you probably haven’t been paying attention to a major shift in the job market. For various reasons – from complicated benefits requirements for traditional employees, to changes in technology, and everything in between – more and more employers have been opting for contracted labor. The people who are willing to fill those positions often juggle multiple contracts at one time, out of necessity. That “should” be obvious, since it’s not likely that any single gig will pay enough to make ends meet. Employers are theoretically using this option to save money.

That brings us to the first thing that gig employees wish employers understood:

No, you probably aren’t my only employer – If you’re an employer who is having trouble filling a contracted position, take a close look at the time you’re expecting from a potential employee. This isn’t just about the raw amount of time you expect a person to work. If you’re expecting the candidate to commit to being essentially “on-call” all the time, or if you’ve set up hard and fast deadlines spread out through more than just an eight hour day, you’re probably not going to find someone to do the job. That’s especially true if the pay you’re offering isn’t remotely close to market rates for a full-time position in the field. Time is money for a gig worker, and if you’re saying that you expect a person to be willing to jump every time you call, you are setting expectations too high (unless you’re willing to pay for that ability.) Either expect to be told that your work will be done within a reasonable period of time, or be willing to pay handsomely to get your projects to the top of the proverbial pile every time.

Yes, I often do prioritize my projects based on pay scale – This is something that some gig workers might not want to admit out loud, but we’re human. Of course we’re going to get the work that is paying us the most done first. We might push other deadlines to the extreme limit, even to the point of getting ourselves in danger of losing a lower paying gig to keep the higher one. We know we’re expendable on the job market, and usually the first to lose our positions when budget cuts happen. That means we’ll put the highest paying and most stable gigs first, since it will hurt us less in the pocketbook if we lose something small. Sadly, most gig workers won’t let an employer know what the “break point” is – what pay and time commitment level is needed to put a gig on the top of the pile. If you’re really serious about making sure that your work takes priority, ask what it would take. Don’t be surprised if a candidate doesn’t answer easily or at all. (There’s advice to gig workers here, too. It’s better to be honest about this, if an employer asks.) Keep in mind that a lot of people are new to this type of employment – employers and employees alike. We’re all on a learning curve on how to negotiate terms.

I do gig work for the flexibility – That might seem obvious, but it gets lost once the contract negotiations start. Employers get requirements floating in their heads, and potential employees start weighing the wages versus time commitment. Also, it’s important to remember that gig workers have to shift gears from one employer to the next on a daily basis. Not all employers have the same expectations, even within the same field. Don’t set yourself up to lose gig employees on a regular basis by expecting them to know everything you want immediately. For example, in my own field of writing and editing, I regularly shift between writing styles – AP, APA, and Chicago – and occasionally that gear shifting is a bit rusty. If every employer I had assumed that I was incompetent when I would occasionally use the wrong style for them, there would be major problems. Thankfully, I haven’t dealt with that often, but on the rare occasions that I have, employers who insulted my intelligence quickly found out that while they considered me expendable, that thinking was mutual.

Yes, gig workers do talk to each other – This can work for or against employers who hire people on contract on a regular basis. There isn’t a formal “black list” per se, but word travels fast if someone is slow to pay, too demanding for the pay offered, or just generally “difficult.” On the other side, there are companies that get recommended as great employers, too.

I do know how to find other gig workers – If you already have gig workers for one type of work, and need them for another, a good place to start looking is among the ones you already have. Some people have multiple skill sets, so you might have what you’re looking for already. When we apply for a gig, we don’t necessarily say anything about other skills we have. Failing that, we know other gig workers personally, and we usually have favorite places to look for gigs. (Very few of us will ever go to Craigslist, but we probably are registered on at least one or two freelance job sites.) Ask us, and we’ll tell you where to find the cream of the crop, or ask around for you.

Offices are overrated – In my industry – writing and editing – there are rare circumstances when it’s absolutely necessary for people to actually work in an office together. In spite of the movement toward team-building, open office plans, and living room style work spaces, there is still a large contingent of people who like to call the coffee shop their office. Gig workers are usually in that set. Let’s be honest – we do this so we don’t have to deal with set hours, commuting to an office, or changing out of our pajamas to go to work. Beyond saving on overhead for office space, offering remote gigs opens up your options, too. You’re no longer limited to your local area when you’re searching to fill a position. If your argument for having your employees under your own roof is that you want to be able to keep an eye on them, you might need to rethink your staffing choices and management style. Yes, you do have to trust remote workers – a lot. Ask yourself, do you really want to feel that you can’t trust your own employees to do their jobs without needing someone to watch?

This list is generally interrelated, and only scratches the surface. There probably could be a few books written on the in’s and out’s of gig work, and how to break down some of the walls that often end up between the workers and their employers. The bottom line is that gig workers are usually a mix between the “work to live” and “live to work” crowds – the two extremes. Either they’re doing just what they need to be able to pay the bills and afford what they want, or they’re total workaholics who wish for 48 hour days and 14 day weeks. The ones who stick with it aren’t the kind of workers who need hand-holding and excessive amounts of guidance. They’re doing the same thing the business owners they work for do, just on a smaller scale. It’s a business, and when you hire one, you’re hiring a “boss.” Maybe just remembering that is a good start for employers who are stepping into the world of hiring gig workers.


Source: Liz Harrison

What Gig Employees Wish Employers Understood

U2 Still Surprising LA with Live Performances

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Almost thirty years ago, U2 took to a roof in LA, at Seventh and Main. Radio hosts pointed out it wasn’t in a great neighborhood, but people might want to drop by to listen, since the concerts were all sold out. Many people did, which lead to the LAPD shutting down the performance. That was in 1987, when MTV still played music videos, and the band was filming for that and the promotion of their new album, “Joshua Tree.”

That was five years before the LA Riots – the U2 rooftop performance didn’t result in any arrests (or at least there is no mention of them in any accounts of the day on the web now.)

Now, the band is on tour for the first time with just the “Joshua Tree” album on the playlist for their performances. Maybe they thought it would be a good idea to do a smaller scale reprise of the LA live performance that resulted in the music video for “Where the Streets Have No Name.” This time, they just took over Jimmy Kimmel’s stage:

While it might be interesting to see how they would do it, it’s doubtful that U2 is getting as much “help” as they did in that version of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” on the road.

For those of you who want to do a direct comparison, here’s when the band walked the strip in Las Vegas to do the original music video:

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Source: Subculture

U2 Still Surprising LA with Live Performances

Marshall’s Haul

 I went to town in Marshall’s where I found amazing deals on these brands and more. I was able to purchase a new purse strap for my purse. I also paid $14.99 for Guess sunglasses. I found a hand lotion from The Body Shop for 3.99, and a O.P.I nail polish set for $4.99. I even found high end items for cheap. For instance, I found a full size Marc Jacobs eyeliner for $7.99, a Stila eye shadow for $4.99, and a full size lip gloss from Smashbox for $7.99. I mean come on the savings alone justify my spending. Even more I’m planning another shopping trip to Marshall’s before I leave for vacation. If I was to spend my money in department, I wouldn’t be leaving with all this stuff. Now no judgement, I work for it. I have a Michael Kors purse that I purchased with my tax refund. I spent $150 on it, I only spent $76 at Marshall’s, and I walked with more items. That is amazing, I mean seriously this was a great deal.


Source: The Sensitive Shopper

Marshall’s Haul

Katy Kat Matte and Pearl

Only having four things from this collection, I can definitely say there are hits and misses when trying something new. I don’t know why but there only one or two things I like from this. However I know there is a mascara in this line. I have a bad time with drugstore mascaras because I have sensitive eyes. So I won’t be trying any of the Katy Kat mascaras. I’m terribly sorry but I know I can’t wear Cover Girl mascaras.

The first thing I want to talk about the Katy Kat Matte lipstick. I have the shade Kitty Purry which is a pretty mauve plum color. The product goes on smooth and feels very comfortable. However it’s not transfer proof, has a semi matte finish, but is not long lasting. Touch ups are definitely recommended when you wear it. This is very opaque and doesn’t dry out your lips.

Katy Kat Pearl lipstick in the shade Purrty In Pink is not bad, but is not my cup of tea. This is suppose to be a pearly sheen, however it’s more of a creamy sheen. This product can be streaky and sticks to dry patches on the lips. Honestly I’m not the biggest fan of this lipstick.

 

This is a great eye shadow base. The shade is Tiger Rose, which is a lovely rose gold color. This is not heavy on the eyes. Also it doesn’t smear all over the eye. It’s perfect for building up shimmer shadows. I have not experience any irritation or my eyes watering. This a wonderful product, I recommend you giving it try.

Katy Kat Pearl eyeliner, I have the shade Kitty Whispurr. This is a pearly white eyeliner, there is no real pigmentation, no real color, and only a slight pearl sheen. Does not stay in the water liner or the lid. This not long lasting at all, there was no irritation, but it’s just not worth it. There is another however I’m not purchasing it.


Source: The Sensitive Shopper

Katy Kat Matte and Pearl

Beauty Youtubers I watch

I have a very limited list of Beauty Youtubers I watch on a weekly basis. The list consists of five channels, all ranging from different back grounds.

1.) Tati Westbrook or Glam Life Guru: I love her honest opinion and value commitment to providing check-ins  when testing new products. She tries products from the drugstore to luxury products. If you are looking for a well rounded product review. She is the one I watch to learn of new product launches.

2.) Kathleen Lights: Just like Tati, she  does product review. However she also has her own company. She owns KL nail polish, which is amazing, also that means she understands how the beauty industry works. Not from whole product press release, but from the start of how a product is made.

3.) Thataylaa: She reviews foundations for Fair Problematic skin. She tests each and every foundation to see if they cover acne prone skin. While she is doing that, there are swatches to compare under tones. I appreciate that she does that. Her reviews can be very helpful to anyone wanting to know how a foundation looks.

4.) Heyitsfeii: She reviews k-beauty products and acne care products. I love how she testes skin care for acne prone and sensitive skin. She also tries out trends from Korea and Instagram to see if they work. All of her reviews are honest and also informative. However if you don’t like people acting silly while doing something in the video then she might not be for you. Though I enjoy her videos and find them very nice.

5.) Dramatic Mac: She is a Youtuber from Ireland, which of the products she finds is hard to get. However for all of her international fans. She tries to find websites the ship world wide. I like her videos and find her very enjoyable. She even does one brand reviews, where she testes products in the brand of her choosing.

I hope you all find this useful, I find their input can help when I’m testing a product. If something didn’t work for them but works me. I keep in mind what to look for when I’m trying products.


Source: The Sensitive Shopper

Beauty Youtubers I watch

I Might Not Wear Foundation

I have reached a point where I can’t find a good foundation. Recently, my skin has been acting up. Some days it’s very oily or I have dry patches on my face. Anytime I wear foundation it’s very dry looking or it breaks down from my oils. However my concealers are not acting the same way. In fact, they are the only thing that stay on my face. I have been wearing just concealer on my face for the time being. I have noticed my makeup lasting longer. Until I figure out what is going on, this might be my only solution.


Source: The Sensitive Shopper

I Might Not Wear Foundation

It’s a Soap Ad – Not the End of the World!

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In case you weren’t aware of it, many women are very particular about the products that they use to take care of their own skin (and the skin of their babies.) The makers of Dove products have made a cozy home for themselves on the market for women with sensitive skin. In case you’re wondering what that means, when you go into a store with entire aisles of soaps and shampoos, the people with sensitive skin can buy maybe a handful of products on the shelves without fear of adverse reactions.

That means burning, stinging, rashes, break outs, and all manner of other nasty things.

There’s another little problem for many women when it comes to products they like. Manufacturers have a horrible habit of taking some off the market entirely, without bothering to even attempt to replace them.

(My aunt used to say, “Never say you love something, because someone in the factory will hear you, and they won’t make it anymore!”)

Dove is guilty of removing some products, but they’re really good about coming up with a “new and improved” option that often really is at least as good as what it’s replacing. Sometimes, it really is much better.

That said, when I came across people talking about boycotting Dove, I rolled my eyes.

Nope. Not happening in my household.

When I heard why, it was all I could do to keep from spewing coffee everywhere.

Seriously? People are upset about an advertisement about mothers that happens to include a transsexual?

I believe the argument was that Dove was somehow endorsing LGBT lifestyles by just having “those people” in the commercial.

Well, not exactly.

If you watched it, great. If not, just take my word for it on this one.

No, they were not “endorsing” anyone in their commercial.

Yes, they were saying that every mother is entitled to being able to make her own decisions about how she raises her own children. (It’s safe to assume that they aren’t suggesting that can include mistreating or abusing any precious children.)

If you really want to push it to the political end, this commercial was promoting the individual liberty of mothers everywhere, period, full stop.

Dove wasn’t telling anyone how to be a parent.

Dove wasn’t saying any parent is better than another.

Dove was saying all parents (especially mothers) are created equal, and are endowed with the right to raise their children how they see fit.

Oh no!

That’s terrible!

Let’s boycott them right now, for making the radical suggestion that everyone (from government down to in-laws) should stay out of the business of mothers!

Needless to say, this is just another case of people looking for a reason to be outraged.

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Source: Subculture

It’s a Soap Ad – Not the End of the World!

Ann Coulter, UC Berkeley, and Attention Whoredom

I made the observation on Twitter that there really was no way that Ann Coulter was ever going to speak on the UC Berkeley campus.

Full stop.

That shouldn’t need to be repeated, and if anyone can come up with a remotely-close-to-legitimate argument to the contrary, I may have to publicly humiliate myself for their benefit.

Since I’m not into humiliation, on with the explanation why Coulter just wasn’t going to do that appearance.

There is a single piece of information that is needed to explain this—Milo Yiannopoulos was pushed off that campus, violently so.

On the scale of “objectionable persons” in the sheltered world known as the UC system in general, the flamboyant gay guy who likes to call the president “daddy” is actually less detestable than Ann Coulter. At least he’s gay, right?

Coulter has built a reputation for being crass, ignorant, hateful, bigoted… I could go on, but I’m not in the mood to show the extent of my vocabulary right now. Bluntly, she stands for all the things that Berkeley students cower in safe spaces to shield themselves from every day.

If anyone wants to attempt to start the argument of free speech, and diversity of views on campus, see the previous list of negative adjectives. “If” Coulter was remotely close to serious, and could manage to string two sentences together without insulting huge swathes of the US population, then we could get into that discussion.

That isn’t the case.

Coulter is a shock jock, in the hateful toad sense, as opposed to the stripper-loving Howard Stern sense. While the latter might wander into the realm of misogyny, at least it’s with the consent of the participants (and all in naughty fun.)

When dealing with someone who cannot manage to offer constructive ideas without peppering them heavily with hate, there is no reason to suggest that there would be educational value for students. Well, maybe she might be a good case study for psychology students, but it’s doubtful that Coulter would appreciate being told by her audience that they think she’s a sociopath, a malignant narcissist, or both.

This entire exercise had nothing to do with freedom of speech on campus. Hate speech, while still protected speech for the moment, does not have educational value outside of pointing at it as an example of what not to do. It’s already been established that Coulter doesn’t take kindly to being challenged on her twisted world view, so there wouldn’t be an opportunity for an enlightened debate on anything. So, what was this really about?

Coulter is an attention whore.

She’s worried about remaining relevant, so she’s creating dramas to keep herself in the spotlight. What’s better than to have the she-devil claim to be the victim of the special snowflakes that can’t handle hearing her vitriol?

Newsflash—the snowflakes aren’t the only ones who don’t want to listen to her. There are plenty of people who at least slightly agree with Coulter who don’t want to hear her either. Back to the previous statement about her fear of losing relevancy.

So, before anyone gets sucked into the “Coulter as victim” nonsense, think about it. The only thing Coulter is a victim of at this point is fewer dollars in her pocketbook because fewer people want to hear her these days. Now that she’s taken to trying to force herself in front of groups she knows very well have zero interest in hearing her, everyone should be smelling the desperation.


Source: Liz Harrison

Ann Coulter, UC Berkeley, and Attention Whoredom