Medicare or Who Cares for All?

“What if I die?” My question landed on her face.

The USF Diploma on the wall behind her backed up her authority on the topic, so I anticipated a clinical answer, “We all die,” she said and smiled.

Doctors should not tease, but she and I had exchanged joking comments from time to time and her answer did not shock so much as what was to follow. She explained that the day for me was not that day, but she did want to run some tests to be sure we were on the right track. When she had suggested some tests, she explained, “Sonogram of your carotid arteries to be sure that brain of yours is getting enough blood.”

She gave some comfort explaining how the tests are done, and then added, “First step is to be sure your insurance will pay for it.”

“How long may that take?”

“Most times in a couple of weeks, could be a month at the most.”

“A month,” led to that question, “What if I die before the insurance approves my reason to continue to live?”

This story goes on all the time for those ripe enough to be on Medicare. Several problems with the fanciful idea of ‘Medicare for All’ comes to mind.

First, Medicare is not free. We pay every payday all our working lives into that fund that is rightfully our money.

Medicare payroll tax on earned income

The Medicare payroll tax is 2.9%. It applies only to earned income, which is wages you are paid by an employer, plus tips. You’re responsible for 1.45% of the tax, and it’s deducted automatically from your paycheck. Your employer pays the other 1.45%. If you are self-employed, you pay the full 2.9%.

The Additional Medicare Tax

The Additional Medicare Tax was added by the Affordable Care Act in November 2013. The ACA increased Medicare by an additional 0.9 percent, but only for individuals whose incomes are over a certain threshold. Those affected pay a total of 3.8 percent in Medicare tax.

Once we get to the age when we qualify for Medicare Insurance and can begin to use all that money taken from our payday, we continue to pay. The cost for the insurance is deducted from the monthly Social Security check. If you do not have supplemental insurance you are on the hook for twenty percent of the cost of actual care. A recent operation for a shoulder injury requiring a hospital stay racked up over $150,000. That twenty percent means $30,000 out of pocket. Therefore, Medicare is not free.

Next, the doctor you get may not be the one you want. Several years ago we enjoyed a family practitioner that really knew her stuff. We were not alone. She gained the trust of many and decided she no longer needed to work for someone else, a practice that did accept Medicare. She opened her own office and discovered she would have to hire someone to fill out all the paperwork and take on the liability of getting insurance companies to pay. That education so nicely framed in her office had left her with over a half million in college debt, so forget hiring someone to fill out government forms. Instead, like so many doctors, she instituted the DIY system of file your own insurance in the hope to get back some of the $200 appointment fee. With too much out of pocket, we had to find another doctor with a practice that accepts Medicare.

The problems associated with ‘Medicare for All’ includes:

Approval or denial of life saving tests delaying potential treatment.

Doctors in debt that refuse to accept Medicare. With a single payer system this could create a number of doctors that choose not to run their business on discounted prices and high overhead.

In 2018 there were about sixty million people on Medicare. Nearly twenty million were on Medicare Advantage that covers some of the gap or out of pocket costs. What happens if we expand that pool of those insured by ‘Medicare for All’ to include all three hundred twenty some million Americans?

The answer is you will not get health care, but instead you will get an insurance policy. An insurance policy is not health care. This would be as if the government gives everyone in America a car, but no gas.

When you hear anyone who says, ‘Medicare for All,’ the truth is, ‘Who Cares for All’.

Your government will not care if you lose your doctor. The politicians do not care if your life saving tests are delayed or outright denied. No one in Washington, D.C. cares about the trillions in national debt that you will pay for every April 15th for the rest of your life.


Sources:

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/medicare-tax-3193121

https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/new-medicare-taxes

https://www.kff.org/medicare/state-indicator/total-medicare-beneficiaries/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

Cattle Baron Strikes It Rich

Old McDonald’s farm had grown over two centuries to become a formidable cattle enterprise.

Truth be told, he wasn’t that old, just enough years to remember the Beatles being called the British Invasion long before the word invasion offended half the country. W. Robert McDonald, or affectionately referred to as Billy Bob; short for William Robert McDonald was in charge of the five thousand acre ranch tucked between two large breasts of mountains somewhere in the Midwest.

Billy Bob ran the place successfully enough to make his grandfather’s grandfather proud. A big operation like this is huge with multiple buildings and large equipment to harvest hay to feed thousands of cows. Each of these animals takes nearly three years of feed to fatten them up for tasty hamburgers at the other McDonalds under the golden arches.

Life was good. Then, he received a letter from a new government agency serving an eminent domain notice. This gave him concern, so he called and discovered the government did not want some of his vast acreage for a new highway, the notice was for his cattle. They offered what the government called a fair price which was no where near the two thousand dollar going rate for a beef cow.

When Billy Bob asked for an explanation, the young official stated, “All scientists have agreed the emissions of methane from cows are destroying the atmosphere leading us all to extinction in just twelve years.”

“Is that so?” Billy Bob inquired.

“Absolutely. The ozone is disappearing as we speak.”

“What do you plan to do with my stock?”

“They will be set free to live out a peaceful life on the plains. It would be inhuman to just kill them for no reason.”

Billy Bob thought and offered, “Well that is thoughtful of you to consider a better life for our bovine friends. However,” he said and paused.

He whipped out his trusty Excel Spreadsheet.

“Hello, Mr. McDonald?”

“Just a minute,” then he offered “There may be something to consider.”

“Such as?”

“You do know a fair number of our stock is slaughtered currently to feed the masses. Out of the ninety four million cows currently grazing just over thirty two million end up slaughtered every year. That keeps the net population just about the same as it has been for years; right around that ninety million mark.”

The young clerk  intimidates, “So?”

“You may not know this but a good healthy cow rarely dies of natural causes. Most make it between eighteen and twenty two years of age on their own. Barring any mad cow disease or pack of wolves, they will do just fine. However,” he pauses.

“However what?”

“Left without our consumption, and the fact that the birth rate for cows is around forty three percent, in twelve years just over six point nine billion cows will be grazing the plains right here in the good ole U S A and farting away the ozone you are so concerned about. Again let me be clear, that is billion with a ‘b’ and that’s a lot of cows.”

“Look,” says the clerk, “Do you want the government to pay a fair price or just take them?”

“You make that sound like I have no choice in the matter.”

“That’s one way you can take it.”

“What am I supposed to do?” says W. Robert. “This ranch is all my family has done for several centuries.”

“You are missing the silver lining.”

“What silver lining could that be?”

“Now, with all your free time you can do art, invent something, go to a museum, learn something, take a vegan cooking class, move to Florida, whatever you want. Isn’t that great?”


Enjoy the continuing series:

Fiction

Environmentalists Have Been Busy

Back To the Future

Common Sense

Fiction.

The words on the page lost the magnetic power they once held over him.

Those seeds planted in sentences from some far away or long gone authors once grew full and wide enough to carry him into the future where anything would be possible. Some sentences sprouted weeds of discontent and fear pulling the past forward. Polarity that attracted or repelled had lost its energy. The time had arrived for him that imagination’s lure passed out of sight no matter how cleverly those words had been united to create a thought.

Younger people see a decade of time through different lenses.  A measure of ten years may as well be a place in another solar system. Then, the day comes when words lose power. The day on the calendar preceded by three thousand six hundred fifty days is blank and all the pages before just flash by as a memory of something that may have happened just yesterday. That’s why the young put off things and set five and ten year goals that would take a normal traveler a lifetime to achieve.

Words once again appear to the man. The reader whose page upon page of sentences became white noise found a new and loud noise that made no sense. One lone voice spoke the words but the sentence grew wide from the seed planted.  Soon the contamination spread as the audience grew and applauded enabling the addiction to grow.

What were these words?

Should the idea be repeated and become a movement?

Vast kingdoms have been founded on lesser sentences. A slogan rallied people to follow leaders to great revolutionary acts. Countries were formed. Civilizations blossomed and spent its life cycle herding followers of words. Can words do that? Witness what Jesus inspired twelve guys to do. It was just words. But, now thirty seven million buildings are meeting places for billions to repeat the words on Sundays. A church on every corner is no exaggeration.

What was the linkage of words that may have a similar impact?

They must be powerful magnetic words.

“We will replace all fossil fuels within twelve years.”

That’s the quote that shook people old enough to realize ten or twelve years is just yesterday.

Suspend reality for a moment and imagine what would have to be accomplished each day of the new calendar. One hundred and twenty five thousand gas stations would be closed. What will we do without our big gulp and Twinkies? The nine hundred thirty one thousand people that work there will be retrained, or just depend on welfare handouts.

Dismiss any idea of reselling one of the two hundred seventy million cars currently on the road. They won’t run. Consider the carbon footprint of recycling our vehicles. The smelting factories will be busy melting down over a trillion pounds of useless vehicles. That’s over five hundred tons turned to molten liquid shooting untold billions of carbon into the air.

Each year homes across America have been routinely purchasing over a million brand new gas stoves over the course of twenty decades past. The industry of gas stoves launched in 1828 has become a villainous band of thieves stealing away atmosphere faster than grilling a thick tenderloin. Those cook tops and ovens preferred by gourmet foodies will be confiscated by a new government that repurposed ICE to vast collection agencies of useless appliances.

They will be busy. Once the gas stove is removed, they back up the truck to pull gas heaters from eighty-five percent of American homes that rely on gas heaters to keep the kids from freezing during the winter months of this global warming sword of Damocles.

A knock at the door jarred the man.

In the fog of waking the words that had pulled him into an Orwellian future just a mere twelve years ahead, he realized he was not dreaming caught up in the fiction of his favorite novelists. This was a wakeup call; the delivery person at the door.

She smiled, “Here’s your delicious hot meal for today.”

As she turned to walk away, the man heard the soft hum and saw the electric government truck idling waiting for her. The package shared fresh warmth from the government owned microwave that heated his soy concoction for the day.


Enjoy the continuing series:

Environmentalists Have Been Busy

Back To the Future

Common Sense

Environmentalists Have Been Busy

There’s a war and it threatens all life on our planet based on Weapons of Mass Defecation.

The enemy ranks are filled with cows conspiring to wipe out humans with their farts and burps. Actually more burps than farts as a matter of fact. So, as our bovine friends stroll amongst shafts of fresh grass burping and farting with each step, much the same as I wandering from room to room in our house, they really are on a death march. At least that’s the way the alarmists see the way the world is.

What can we do?

The first step is to bring some analytical reality into play. There are roughly one point five billion cows roaming the planet plotting our destruction as they graze away the hours making sure their digestive systems are busy cranking out deadly methane.

Where are these evil doers? The biggest population is in India where some religions consider cows sacred.  Maybe that will insure safety and salvation from their wrath of gasses.

The census of cows shows this:

  • India is home to over 330 million cows.
  • Brazil is the home to the second largest number of cows, with more than 210 million living in the country.
  • It’s followed by China, which has just over 100 million cows.
  • And, in the United States we feed on the milk and slaughter from our heard of 94 million.

If it is true that these Weapons of Mass Defecation are doing us in, we need to work on the other billion or so plus cows around the globe. We may stand a better chance of getting Kim Jing Un to trash his nukes.

To drill this down to science, just what are these animals doing to us.

The plant diet of cows is high in cellulose where microorganisms break down the cellulose into carbohydrates. Methane is produced as a by-product of this process.

Just how bad is this gas?

Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. One pound of methane traps twenty-five times more heat in the atmosphere than a pound of carbon dioxide. Methane is also the main ingredient in natural gas. Because methane can be captured, it can be burned to produce electricity, heat buildings, or power garbage trucks. Capturing methane before it gets into the atmosphere also helps reduce the effects of climate change. Since America is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, maybe we can sell those cow farts to other countries.

Has methane from animals in the past had a negative impact on our planet?

Go way back in time to the dinosaurs. They managed to walk around eating plants, farting, and burping for two hundred and fifty million years. Just cutting one Brontosaurus fart could fill a hot air balloon. That didn’t end their time here. A giant asteroid ninety three miles wide crashed into earth sixty-six million years ago. That big rock cooked up two thousand three hundred seventy degrees; some really hot global warming.

The methane didn’t get them, bad luck in the solar system did.

Before we run out of luck trying to outrace an asteroid, pile the kids in the minivan and head to McDonalds for a happy meal. Let’s get the environmentalists back to doing what they do best. Stop cutting down trees to erect giant steel and glass solar panels. Check out our other article on Common Sense. 



Sources:

https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange//kids/solutions/technologies/methane.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_event

https://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/methane-cow.htm

https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/09/21/youll-never-guess-which-country-has-the-most-cows.aspx

https://www.quora.com/How-many-cows-are-there-in-the-US

https://www.quora.com/How-many-cows-are-there-in-the-world

 

Back to the Future

We were the Chevrolet family tucked comfortably between the Oldsmobile Super 88 and the Buick Roadster households to the right and left of us in our line of post World War II bungalows on Patrick Avenue.  My Dad paid around fifteen hundred in 1953 for our Chevy Coupe while the Buick and Oldsmobile models were for the rich folks next door at twice the price. Saying they were rich really wasn’t that much of an exaggeration since a three thousand dollar car on a four thousand a year salary for our blue collar neighborhood was a lot of money. How did they do it? This collective of factory workers, postal employees and bus drivers all shared the commonality of not having a lot of money. What was the secret to owning more expensive things?

General Motors was cleaver using different makes and models to offer buyers what they could afford. The Buick and Oldsmobile hood ornaments were rockets, the Chevy hood ornament looked more like a jet plane. These were the small symbols to remind a united nation of one goal to go faster and conquer space years before President Kennedy made his promise to go to the moon. Another brilliant moment for GM was an idea ahead of its time in the 1920s. That major disruptive concept was the auto loan. This revolution  launched GM to the number one spot and created a consumer demand to get what you want today and pay for it later. Soon people all over America were financing  just about everything such as appliances, radios, and furniture by 1930.

You might say things have not changed much since a one hundred thousand dollar salary buys a seventy five thousand dollar car.

Since then, we have been adding decimal points and digits to the pile to create four trillion dollars in consumer debt. That’s just about the size of the entire GDP of Japan where all those new cars come from. Four trillion is a lot and here’s how Americans borrow so much:

  • Credit cards eat up a little over a one trillion.
  • Nearly three trillion in non-revolving debt which includes things like college loans and car payments.
  • Debt for your neighbors has climbed in double digits since 2013, and that does not include mortgage debt.
  • Those house payments add another nine trillion to the debt Americans will owe the banker.
  • Approaching fourteen trillion in debt meaning we all owe a sum nearly bigger than the GDP of China.

All of this is personal debt. That’s the debt that grows every time you swipe your smart phone at Starbucks for a five dollar coffee increasing the debt to four trillion and five dollars. For those that push for wealth distribution this should be alarming, since the only thing left to distribute is debt; not wealth.

The really big number is the National Debt now over twenty two trillion. The only time the national debt was paid off was in 1835 when Andrew Jackson was president. No wonder his picture is on the Twenty Dollar Bill.

We need more Billionaires! We do not need wealth distribution.

In 1953, thirty one percent of the population was considered to be in the top one percent, with sixty nine percent in the bottom ninety-nine percent where General Motors made all their money. The numbers have not changed dramatically as in 2010 the top one percent was thirty five percent and the bottom ninety-nine making up sixty five percent. It just takes more money to get there, but surprisingly it is not a group only for multi-millionaires and billionaires. If you make around four hundred thousand, you are in the top one percent. Some doctors make that as do some sales people.

Are you ready to fork over seventy – eighty – even ninety percent of your money to a government that losses no sleep over twenty two trillion in debt. Or, would you rather keep some of that revenue to pay down that personal debt for that new car? The decision to choose the 1953 Chevy with a jet for the hood ornament, instead of a rocket, may be a prudent way to go forward into the future.


Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_of_wealth

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/consumer-debt-track-reach-4-trillion-2019-203504452.html

https://www.investopedia.com/insights/worlds-top-economies/

https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/mortgage/u-s-mortgage-market-statistics-2018/

https://www.housingwire.com/articles/46455-americans-now-have-more-debt-than-ever-before

https://www.focus-economics.com/blog/the-largest-economies-in-the-world