Bribery: Also Known As Lobbying

October 23, 2009

The health insurance companies of America are lining up at the doors of Congress to commit legalized bribery like never before. In this time in which Congress and the President are trying to craft some type of health care legislation, insurers want to make certain that their feet are firmly under the table.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the national association representing nearly 1,300 member companies providing health insurance coverage, reports that it spent $2.4 million just from July through September.

The non-partisan group Center for Responsive Politics reports that some drug companies are also outdoing previous efforts at buying influence. Pfizer has spent $16.3 million lobbying so far in 2009, and Amgen spent $9.2 million so far this year. Those amounts far outpace their 2008 bribes.

So, let’s run a total:

$ 2,400,000
$16,300,000
$ 9,200,000
$27,900,000

That doesn’t count individual companies like US Healthcare, Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, Humana, United Healthcare or any others. That also doesn’t count October and November.

But remember…there are 435 members of Congress and 100 Senators, one president and one vice president who is also president of the Senate. That totals 537 people. Divide the bribery total above by 537 and you see that each elected official could potentially have received $51,955.00 in contributions just from these lobbyists.

Remember also that the bribery is not done. Remember also that the opponents to this health care bill are also lobbying and bribing.

Even the AARP has spent a mind-boggling $15.1 million in lobbying bribes this year, which is less than they spent in the first three quarters of 2008.

Don’t worry about the insurance companies, though. Their profits are secure, and Congress will NEVER leave them out.

Why?

The insurance companies have vast investment portfolios. A big part of their portfolios are government bonds and other government securities. If the insurance companies sold off even 1 or 2% of their holdings at once, they could cause the bond markets to collapse overnight. Washington knows this and won’t allow it to happen. So, insurers will get pretty much anything they desire.

As the old saying goes…“when money talks, all the bullshi* walks.” Don’t believe ANY headlines that tell you the insurance companies are dithering and worried. They have NO WORRIES.

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Best P&C Insurance Companies: How Do You Find The Best?

October 14, 2009

In 2008, The Department of Insurance of the State of New York released a report showing the 40 P&C insurance companies that had the most complaints. We did an article about this previously. We showed the ten worst companies, the ones that got the most complaints. But we did not feature the ones that got the least number of complaints in New York, a tough insurance market.

Here is the list of New York’s best P&C insurance companies as determined by the least number of complaints, higher number of complaints as you go down the list:

1. Long Island Insurance
2. Infinity Property & Casualty
3. Interboro Mutual
4. Tri-State Consumer Ins. Group
5. American International Group (AIG)
6. Safeco Insurance Group
7. Countrywide Insurance
8. White Mountains Group, OneBeacon, Esurance, Auto One Ins.
9. State Wide Insurance
10. Hannover RE Group, Clarendon National (no longer writing business)

You may find that some of these companies are only local or regional and that you cannot do business with them where you live. But notice that AIG, Safeco, OneBeacon and Esurance are national companies that got fewer complaints.

It’s not as easy to list a Top Ten Best P&C Insurance companies for America. We would have to contact all 50 state Departments of Insurance and find out which insurers had the least complaints. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners presently does not have any such report. In addition, complaints are not the only criteria that should be used to evaluate an insurance company.

Think about this statement, my friends.

The only thing that truly matters about your insurance is what happens when you submit a claim. It doesn’t matter how good your agent is…or if the company sends you a calendar every year…or buys you dinner. It really doesn’t matter if you pay a low premium or a higher premium. Claims handling is EVERYTHING!!

    Claims are about KEEPING PROMISES.

When the insurance companies don’t keep their promises, the complaints pile up!

Lowest premiums are not the only criterion you should use, either. Shopping for insurance is confusing and complicated. Determining if your quotes are “apples and apples” comparisons takes strict attention to detail.

You may need the help of a dedicated, experienced agent to determine your insurance needs and buy the right policy. Still, my recommendation is to shop widely for your insurance needs. Get quotes from captive agents (who only write for one company) and independent agents (who write for multiple companies).

Getting quotes on the internet makes shopping for insurance very easy these days. But look for an insurance quote service that can give you competitive quotes PLUS strategies on submitting insurance claims that will help you collect thousands of dollars more in your claim settlements.

So, which insurance company should you do business with?

1. Choose a company that has an A+ or A rating from the insurance rating services like A.M. Best.
2. Get multiple insurance quotes at least every two years, then choose the company whose policies give you the most coverage for the least money. Don’t worry about company loyalty. The companies don’t care and neither should you.

If you are one of the unfortunate people who experience a loss of any kind, you’ll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. You will need to know how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out:

www.ClaimSecrets.com

For the only online insurance quote service that provides you competitive quotes and claims strategies, check out:

www.InsuranceQuoteHQ.com

You can win the insurance game if you have the right information. So go and win!


Mississippi High Court Protects Homeowners

October 11, 2009

The Mississippi Supreme Court recently handed down a new opinion that rejected the Fifth Circuit decision concerning the Anti-Concurrent Clause (ACC). This new Supreme Court opinion has crucial importance to homeowners and business owners across America. Coastal areas are experiencing population growth, as well as other areas subject to catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

The High Court’s UNANIMOUS opinion in Corban v. USAA states that the “all-risk” policies mean exactly what policyholders and legal scholars have been saying that they mean:

1) That the word “Concurrent” means “at the same time.”

2) That in all-risk policies, the insurance company bears the burden of proving which part of any loss was caused by an excluded peril. The ACC clause does not vacate the insurance companies’ obligation to determine causation if it wants to exclude coverage for a part of a loss.

Although the Corban decision is welcome relief for policyholders, it does not help the many thousands of policyholders near the Gulf Coast who have been hammered by the insurance companies since 2004. Hundreds of thousands have either had their damages denied, or have accepted claim settlements that were only a fraction of what they should have been able to collect under the terms and conditions of their policies.

Future disaster victims nationwide should benefit from Corban. A unanimous Supreme Court opinion, viewed in light of traditional legal precedent procedures should result in significantly higher claims settlements in every state. Said another way, insurance companies will have a tougher time denying claims in the future, and that is a very good thing.


Barack Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

October 10, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize continues its tradition of being a completely meaningless award with no basis in reality.

Here are some of the more “interesting” past award winners:

2007 – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore: perpetuating a lie about climate change and human causation.

2001 – United Nations, Kofi Annan: A do-nothing caretaker of the most ineffective political body on the planet.

1994 – Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin: Three terrorists – two with state legitimacy in Israel, one a terrorist with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

1990 – Mikhail Gorbachev – only USSR’s president for 21 months, he presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union.

1986 – Elie Wiesel – Jewish holocaust survivor and writer.

Mr. Obama has caused shock and awe for his peaceful ways throughout the world in less than 9 months in office by:

Prosecuting a war in Afghanistan in which thousands of innocent civilians have been murdered by American military personnel.

Prosecuting a war in Pakistan in which millions of persons in the Swat Valley were displaced and turned into war refugees. In addition, airstrikes with pilotless drones have killed and injured hundreds or thousands of civilians.

Prosecuting a war in Iraq that he inherited from former President George Bush. Now it’s his war. He has continued the staffing of the new embassy, and the completion of at least seven new military bases in Iraq. Military troops are still dying regularly in Iraq, and civilians are also still being killed by the hundreds. The death toll in Iraq from war is way north of 1 million people.

Maintaining the procedure of extraordinary rendition. Obama widely criticized rendition in his campaign, but has reversed himself and embraced it in his presidency. Rendition is the process whereby persons suspected of “terrorist activity” are captured and shipped to secret prisons in other countries where they are tortured and interrogated.

Promising to close the Guantanamo base, and then not doing it.

Threatening the nation of Iran with military air strikes if Iran does not capitulate to American and Israeli desires to end its legal uranium enrichment program.

Would someone somewhere please explain to me how this litany of torture and death can be considered for the highest honor for promoting peace on the planet?

Lastly, if this short list of infamy gets you the Nobel Prize for Peace and a cash award of over $1 million, Joe Stalin, Pol Pot and Adolph Hitler should get the awards posthumously.


Do Gun Shows Have Loopholes?

October 9, 2009

Today’s Nashville Tennessean newspaper’s lead story headline is “NY slams gun show ‘loophole’ in Tenn.” The story is about a purported undercover investigation of gun shows done by the City of New York. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long been an anti-gun activist.

Apparently, Bloomberg sent investigators to gun shows in Tennessee and other states, using tiny hidden cameras to record what they considered illegal activity. They allege that guns from Southern states are regularly found to be used in felonies in New York, and that it is too easy for criminals to buy guns at gun shows.

The article spotlighted one gun show held in Nashville that attracts 250 gun dealers and up to 10,000 people every month. Gun dealers must be licensed by the Bureau or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). Background checks on buyers must be performed by dealers. Penalties for selling guns to felons can include fines and imprisonment for the dealer.

The New York report showed that most dealers were law-abiding and that most sales were legitimate. So, where is this alleged “loophole” in the law?

It’s found in individual liberty and property rights.

Any of the attendees at a gun show are free to offer their own guns for sale to any other attendee. They may not represent themselves as dealers under penalty of law. But nothing prevents them from striking up a conversation with another attendee and offering to sell a privately owned firearm. They also don’t have to be bothered with the firearms registration paperwork that a dealer must complete.

I’ve seen this every time I’ve attended a gun show. There are people walking around with guns on their shoulders with a “for sale” sign attached to the gun. And any time a sale is made by an individual, they simply take their transaction out to the parking lot where the money and firearm changes hands.

No background checks need be done when an individual sale is made. So there is the possibility that an individual could sell a firearm to a felon without the seller’s knowledge. There is also a chance that a buyer could make a firearm purchase on behalf of another person.

But it seems to me that the only “remedy” for this “loophole” is to pass a Federal law which only allows firearms to be bought and sold through licensed dealers. And a law like that would be no remedy at all. It would violate individual property rights in a chilling way. It would also be unconstitutional, but that has not even slowed Federal and state lawmakers from passing legislation that infringes on the right to keep and bear arms.

The solution for crime reduction is rescind all gun laws that prohibit or restrict the rights of any person to keep and bear arms. Armed populations are polite populations. Ask Switzerland. Criminals are far less likely to commit a crime when there is the likelihood that the victim (or someone nearby) will be armed.

So, three cheers for individual liberty and property rights! Hip, Hip, Hurrah!


Hospital Blindness: More Cognitive Dissonance On Display

October 9, 2009

Today I’m at the Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m sitting in a gorgeous eight-story atrium, filled with light, palm trees, and other wonderful green plantings. It reminds me of the lushness of the Opryland Hotel’s atrium.

I’ll get to the cognitive dissonance in a moment…

My mother-in-law has a pacemaker implant, and the battery has gone dead. She has to have a surgical procedure to replace the battery. I had time in my schedule to transport her and my father-in-law from their home, about an hour’s drive away, to the hospital.

When I say “Cognitive Dissonance,” I mean the ability to hold two opposing ideas in one’s mind at the same time. Usually that causes some uneasiness. But at Centennial Medical Center, it just seems like medical blindness.

My life philosophy is “Actions speak louder than words.” If you want to truly understand what is important to another person or a business, don’t listen to what they way…only watch what they do. Their values are found in their actions.

Hospitals blab on all the time about healthy lifestyle choices, taking care of yourself and losing weight. And that very blathering is happening at Centennial Medical Center. Centennial’s actions are anything but promoting healthy lifestyles.

In the atrium, there is a coffee bar where I’m sitting right now. On display are sugar-laden juices, candy, cookies, chips, oversized muffins, sugar-laden sodas and all sorts of coffees, cappuccinos, espresso, etc. That’s bad enough, but how about the food court?

The food court on the second floor above the atrium is mind-boggling. When you walk through the doors you are met by TWO fast food franchises…Dairy Queen and Subway! Beyond that is a grille area, and beyond that is the steam table area.

The breakfast menu included:

Scrambled eggs
Bacon
Sausage
Hash browns
Grits
Biscuits and gravy
Assorted Danish
Cinnamon rolls
Caramelled apples

Beverages were every kind of sugary soft drink you could imagine, along with diet soft drinks, coffees, sugary “vitamin water,” sugary fruit drinks and bottled water.

Most of the patrons for breakfast were hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and other medical staff. And a cursory look at their choices proved that they ate the standard American menu of fats and sugars.

The lunch offerings were:

The entire DQ menu board
The entire Subway menu board
Pork Tenderloin in gravy
Salisbury steak in gravy
Baked chicken
Mashed Potatoes and beef gravy
Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts…all boiled into a nearly undistinguishable mush, thereby destroying most nutritional value.

After my mother-in-law emerged from surgery into recovery, they brought her a lunch box, which contained half a chicken salad sandwich, a bag of pretzels, a bag of cinnamon cookies, and a can of Coke. This is nutrition?

What can we learn from this? Is it reasonable to conclude that the hospital doesn’t really consider healthy eating to be important? There is no salad bar on the premises. No truly healthy food is offered for any person who frequents this food court. Most public school lunchrooms do a better job of nutrition.

The most cynical viewpoint is that the hospital is all about treating diseases. Most diseases that humans get are directly attributable to the stuff they eat and drink. So, feeding the patients, their family members and the medical staff the very stuff that keeps them overweight and sick assures a steady stream of customers for the hospital. If people ate right and got healthy, they wouldn’t need the hospital. It might have to downsize or close its doors altogether.

A hospital that was truly committed to healthy living would not serve or sell the traditional American diet. It would champion the cause of abundant vegetables, limited fruit and meat consumption, no sugar, wheat, caffeine or processed foods. That’s what is known as the “alkaline lifestyle,” and is the most healthy lifestyle to maintain.

I challenge you to find an American hospital that has championed the cause of healthy lifestyles by only serving healthy foods on its premises. Let me know if you find one.

But I don’t expect to hear from you any time soon.