Health Care Legislation: The Future of Health Care in America

March 28, 2010

(This is a reprint of an article I posted at http://www.DumpDC.com)

You didn’t really think that I could resist weighing in on this health care debacle, did you? With my 35-plus year background in the insurance business, I think I can bring some unique perspective to the table.

I don’t know for sure what is in the bill. But from what I read all over the Internet, there are a few features that need early discussion.

First, this bill has a name already. But, on the day that President Obama signed the bill, Vice President Joe Biden whispered in Obama’s ear that this was a “Big F**king Deal,” which was picked up by microphones and broadcast around the world. So, from now on, I will refer to this bill as the BFD.

One bound copy of the BFD

The agenda hidden in plain sight

The BFD is not about providing health insurance coverage for the 32-40 million ESTIMATED Americans without health insurance. It’s about a government takeover of a giant portion of this nation’s economy, and fascism.

How do I know for sure?

Well, let’s use the low end of the estimates, 32 million. I’m only using that because the government always lies, and the true number is probably a lot lower. And let’s say that the annual premium for the best health insurance policy you can buy is $5,000 per year per person regardless of age. Then do the math. 32 million uninsured people times a $5,000 annual premium per person is only $160 Billion.

Congress and President Obama could have bought every uninsured person in America a deluxe insurance plan for only $160 Billion. But that’s not what they did.

This bill is estimated to cost over 900 Billion dollars…and they ALWAYS underestimate on the low side.

So, as I said, this ain’t about insuring the uninsured.

But it IS about demographics.

Demographics and Two Major Players

The health care providers didn’t fight this bill. That’s because right now there are a lot of uninsured people that use the hospital Emergency Room as a free clinic. But under the BFD, all of those people will either pay for coverage, or the Federal Government will pay for their coverage. The days of hospitals providing free health care to the poor and indigent will be gone. The health care providers see the tidal wave of health care benefit money that will hit their shores. All they have to do is soak it up.

The health insurance industry didn’t fight this bill, either. That’s because they see 32 million people (questionable estimate) that aren’t paying premiums that will begin buying insurance. And many of those people will get the DC crowd to pay their premiums for them through “low income” subsidies. In addition, the health insurance companies already have the trained staff to help DC roll out this health care law and administer it for the DC bureaucrats. More money for the insurers.

What pact did the big insurance companies make with the devil?

The insurance industry has not fought this BFD. They have not used their club in the closet. So, the logical conclusion is that the insurance industry has made a yet-to-be-discovered pact with the DC Devils to enrich themselves at the public’s expense.

All of the insurance companies domiciled in the USA have investment portfolios. Part of their money is always invested in government securities. That means bonds and other debt instruments. These can be Federal, State or even municipal bonds. But they all hold a large percentage of US securities.

Their bond holdings are sufficiently large that if they suddenly sold even a small portion of the bonds, it would collapse the entire bond market. And with the volatility of the dollar, and the mind-boggling Federal debt that is constantly growing, the value of all government bonds is dropping like a stone.

The insurance companies know this. They already know that they could cause the bond market to meltdown any day that they began selling off government securities. The US Federal government would finally be proven to be bankrupt. So, in essence, they have created a government interference insurance policy for themselves that protects them from Washington’s meddling in their business. It’s the equivalent of the old “club in the closet”…the weapon you bring out when it’s needed. And NOTHING prevents them from threatening DC with that club.

One of the features of the BFD is that pre-existing conditions will no longer be considered in underwriting a health insurance policy. In practice, this will mean that I could wait until my doctor diagnoses me with terminal cancer before I buy an insurance policy. Then, I pay my copays and stick it to the insurance company.

Another feature is that there will be no lifetime cap on benefits. Underwriting and actuarial considerations are worthless when an insurance company cannot calculate the limits of their loss exposures. Insurance ceases to be insurance…a transfer of risk…when there ceases to be any risk. Under the BFD, health insurance becomes a healthcare welfare system.

No insurance company would ever agree to this…unless underwriting and actuarial decisions don’t matter anymore. That would only occur if there was some entity above the insurance company that was going to pay all the benefits. Guess who?

Health Care Rationing is Inevitable

Here’s the way for Washington to screw up any economic activity:

1. Tax it
2. regulate supply and demand
3. impose price controls
4. impose wage controls
5. impose limits on profits, or “windfall profits” taxes

The DC bunch is going to do this with health care. The health care industry will naturally shrink in size as many people realize that it makes no economic sense for them to continue in this path.

As the BFD unfolds, and the regulations start to affect doctors, the number of doctors will diminish. Some will retire early, some will switch to other careers, premed students will switch majors, and most doctors will just sing “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.”

Some doctors will opt out of the government benefits system and stop treating anyone covered by the BFD. But that brings up another possible scenario. If the number of participating doctors drops, and rationing inevitably begins, I can see Washington stepping in and forcing doctors to treat BFD patients. Think about it. Doctors are licensed in every state. Congress could easily pass a new law that mandates all licensed doctors to accept BFD patients and BFD benefits…or no license for the doctor. What’s to stop Congress from doing this? Nothing.

But some medical professionals will adapt and prosper.

Doctors are going to watch as their incomes shrink. But some will think of ways to escape the American healthcare system while still practicing medicine.

That means an escape from America.

Canadians have been coming to American doctors and hospitals for decades to escape the rationing in Canada. Now it’s America’s turn to run for the border.

Over the next ten years, thousand of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals will set up shop outside the USA. They will establish clinics and surgical practices “just across the border” with the most modern and advanced medical treatment facilities possible…free from Washington’s crushing burden of regulation.

Expect the offshore medical industry, or commonly called “Medical Tourism” to explode in Mexico, the Caribbean (and Cuba, once Castro dies) and Latin America, in places like Panama and Costa Rica. Read more about Medical Tourism HERE.

For example, the prestigious Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Global Health opened the Hospital Punta Pacifica in Panama City, Panama in 2006. It is the most advanced hospital in Panama and rivals any great American hospital. Medical tourism will be a huge cash cow for this facility as health care falls apart in America.

Big Pharma is Smiling

The pharmaceutical industry has entered in the Promised Land. They will negotiate their pricing with the government, and the government health care will promote and buy their products. All Big Pharma has to do is continue paying bribe money to Congress.

The Swami Predicts…

1. Health care rationing nationwide
2. Price controls on everything related to medical treatment
3. Hundreds of hospitals close their doors
4. Dozens of health insurance companies close their doors
5. Thousands of doctors stop practicing medicine in the US
6. Thousands of doctors and nurses become Federal employees
7. Pharmaceutical companies’ stock value soars
8. Mortality rates in America creep upward due to rationing
9. Hyperinflation must occur as DC monetizes debt with paper money
10. The US economy collapses and America enters a Dark Age

OR…

11. Courageous states of the United States secede and the United States dissolves into the ashbin of history.

Which will YOU choose?

Secession is the Hope for Mankind. Who will be first…and wisest?

DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.

© Copyright 2010, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.


Fill Your Vehicle’s Tires With Nitrogen

March 26, 2010

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a shimmy in my Mercedes when I’m driving over 70 mph. So, today I took the car into Butler Tire Company in Austell, Georgia, to get the tires rotated and get a high-speed balancing for all four tires.

Man, did I learn a lot from those guys!

Chris Arthur, the superb front desk guy, explained to me the benefits of inflating my tires with nitrogen instead of regular air.

I learned that the airlines and most private planes fill their tires with nitrogen. Even NASA fills the tires on the Space Shuttle with nitrogen. And NASCAR, Indy racers and drag racing cars have nitrogen-filled tires.

Oxygen is an enemy of your rubber tires. Atmospheric air is comprised of about 78% oxygen, 21% nitrogen and 1% other gases. When pressurized air is pumped into your tires, it also has moisture in it depending on the humidity of the air around the air compressor. The combination of the oxygen and the humidity works on the inside of your tires, causing oxidation of the rubber. Over time, the tire loses some of its elasticity and strength.

Clemson University did a study of nitrogen versus air in vehicle tires, both passenger vehicles and fleet vehicles. They discovered the following benefits of nitrogen:

• A 6% fuel savings over air-inflated tires
• A 31% increase in tire life
• A reduction in tire pressure loss of 35-55%
• Road failures were reduced by 50%

Other benefits of nitrogen inflation:

• Nitrogen molecules are fatter than oxygen molecules. So, tires hold their pressure longer. Therefore, tires last longer because they don’t run underinflated as much as happens with air-filled tires.
• With a nitrogen tire fill, you should only need to check your tire pressure once every four to six months.
• Heat doesn’t affect nitrogen like air. A tire’s pressure can vary up to 10 pounds depending on the temperature of the tire. But nitrogen stays cooler and the pressure hardly fluctuates at all.
• Nitrogen is not flammable. So, if you have a blowout, your tire is much less likely to burn.
• Tires properly inflated with nitrogen roll better and your motor doesn’t have to work to overcome soft tire resistance. You save fuel and save money.
• Chrome wheels sometimes rust inside the tire from the humidity of the air. Nitrogen has no moisture and causes no rust or corrosion on wheels.

Use nitrogen with a purity of over 98%, or don’t bother. 99% is best. Using a low purity of 95% or lower is no better than inflating your tires with regular air.

You should use the same tire pressures as the vehicle manufacturer recommends when using nitrogen. Check you tires when they are cold to get the most accurate pressure readings.

If your tire is damaged or picks up a nail and deflates, try to have the repair shop fill it with nitrogen, but if they don’t have it, go ahead and fill it with air. Then, when you get back home to your favorite tire dealer (mine is Butler Tire), have them refill the tire with nitrogen. Many tire shops will do this for free.

After the guys at Butler finished their work on my tires and wheels, I took the Benz out onto I-75 for a test drive. I took the car up past 90 mph, and it rode as smooth as glass.

I love those guys! If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can do no better than Butler Tire. They baby your car. They have five locations: Marietta, Austell, Doraville, Buckhead and Alpharetta. Check out their great website at: http://www.ButlerTire.com.

By the way, I’m not getting a penny for writing this. Use nitrogen in your vehicle tires, no matter where in the world you are. Can’t do any better!


Medical Tourism: Could Medical Tourism Save Your Life?

March 24, 2010

A growing number of people worldwide are seriously considering a new phenomenon called “Medical Tourism” as an answer to high cost and/or unavailable health care. Others who have already used medical tourism are praising it as a terrific solution to an ongoing problem.

If you don’t live in the US, you may still have some interest in medical tourism–perhaps your health care provider doesn’t cover a procedure you want, or maybe the wait for the procedure is too long. For those people worldwide without health insurance, and with limited access to the health care system, going to another country for a medical procedure could literally save your life.

The cost of medical care here in the United States is high and going higher. However, the World Health Organization ranks the US healthcare system as #37 in the world. We are behind nearly all Europeans nations, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica.

So, you might survive your medical condition and treatment. But will you survive financially when the medical bills arrive at your door?

For a growing list of reasons, Medical Tourism is an idea whose time has come.

There are two prominent resources for Medical Tourism listed below:

PlanetHospital.com

PlanetHospital began in 2002 as a coordinator of overseas healthcare for the uninsured desiring to travel abroad because they could not obtain or could not afford healthcare in the US or their respective country. Over time, as news of medical tourism spread, carriers, employers and self-insured groups began to ask PlanetHospital to explore ways that would allow PlanetHospital to solve their skyrocketing healthcare cost problem. Consequently, while maintaining their commitment to individual self payers, they expanded into healthcare solutions. As a result, over the past two years, PlanetHospital has developed several products for the marketplace. Most of their products center around four critical needs:

1. Self insured companies and their related partners (such as Stop Loss agencies, TPAs, and MGUs)
2. Uninsured and underinsured individuals
3. Healthcare plans that need to control expenses
4. Immigrants and guest workers who need affordable healthcare while working in the US.

I strongly urge you to spend some time touring their website at: http://www.planethospital.com

HealthCare Tourism International

HealthCare Trip, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit service of HealthCare Tourism International, was started on April 1, 2006 as a portal and service that connects all people interested in healthcare abroad with safe and effective information and accreditation. In addition, they do not have any financial partnerships or arrangements with for-profit healthcare tourism operators, hospitals, or providers, so that they may maintain a non-partisan approach to safe healthcare services abroad. HCTI is the world’s first 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization specifically for health travel safety.

Visit their website at: http://www.healthcaretrip.org

Medical Tourism includes many of the following specialties in Medicine.

Alternative Medicine

There are many treatment procedures with long histories of success that are not approved and available in the US. For example, German cancer specialists have alternative treatments that are much more successful than traditional American procedures. Other alternative medicine is found in heart disease, for example.

Nursing Home/Long Term Care

In order for Medicare to pay for nursing home care, one must be basically broke (under $2500 in assets). If you do not have Long Term Care insurance, the monthly costs can easily run between $3,000 and $5,000. In other countries, high quality nursing care can be found for less than $50 a day.

Dental

Some of the most popular and widely-used medical procedures are dental procedures. With only half the US population covered by dental insurance, Americans are streaming overseas for high quality, low cost dental care. Medicare does not cover dental work, and elderly people have elderly teeth that require more care than the young.

In certain areas of Prague, Budapest, Bangkok and Tijuana, streets are lined with dental clinics. The savings the patients realize can more than compensate for their travel costs. Teeth caps that range from $750 to $1,000 in the U.S. cost $150 in Mexico. In Budapest, a top-quality crown costs $780, compared with $1,200 to $2,000 in the United States. In Great Britain the average cost of an implant is $3,500, but in Budapest you can get it done for $1,000.

What about the quality of the work? According to the non-profit group Healthcare Tourism International, their surveys of patients found high levels of satisfaction. But that should come as no surprise. A spokesman from the New York University College of Dentistry states that they bring in over 100 dentists a year from 33 countries, train them in advanced procedures, and send them home.

In March 2008, FOX News reporter Lori Lundin blogged about her husband’s dental excursion to El Salvador. The quote they got in the US for the dental work he need was $60,000. They had the work done in a world-class Salvadoran facility for about $19,000. He had the procedures done and experienced no pain, plus they had a tropical vacation while they were there. Lundin figured that the total cost including travel expenses and lodging was $30,000.

Cosmetic Surgery

Tummy tuck, Breast Augmentation/Reduction, facial, liposuction, butt/thigh lifts and other cosmetic procedures can be done through Medical Tourism.

Conventional Treatment

Medical procedures include:

• Fertility
• Orthopedic Surgery
• Heart Surgery
• Bariatric
• Cancer/Radiation
• Eye and vision
• Gynecological
• Lung procedures
• …and many others

Pharmaceutical purchases

Pharmaceuticals outside the US cost a small fraction of US prices. For the most part, the manufacturer is the same as you would find in an American pharmacy. Countries like India, Brazil and Thailand have huge generic pharmaceutical industries, and many of their companies are importing product into the US. Patients can save hundreds per year by buying drugs outside the US.

Travel benefits

One of the other benefits to medical tourism is that, depending on how long you stay for your medical procedures, you may be able to take in the sights while you are being treated. Imagine yourself on a Costa Rican beach while you wait for your dental work to be completed! Picture yourself attending the Prague Symphony while you are in the city for your medical treatment. Wonderful!

Caveat Emptor

As with any major purchase, you should do extensive research before you spend your money. Do not trust ANYONE just because the letters “MD” are tacked onto his name, or because he’s wearing a white lab coat. Spend the time necessary to thoroughly investigate any medical provider. Then, make an informed decision.

Medical Tourism can be a tremendous money saver for you, and can provide you with world class medical treatment and a memorable vacation. Good luck and good health!


Public Adjusters: A Battle Looms in Florida

March 5, 2010

By Russell D. Longcore

In the State of Florida over the last twenty years, Public Adjusters (PA) have been very successful in helping policyholders recover all the money they are entitled to collect.

Way too successful for the insurance companies’ liking.

So, a major battle is looming in the State of Florida over the business practices of Public Adjusters.

Three insurance associations are supporting legislation to restrict how Public Adjusters operate. The Florida Insurance Council, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and the Florida Property Casualty Association issued statements which criticize Public Adjusters…who represent homeowners in the professional preparation of insurance claims…accusing them of “inflating” claims, driving up costs for all policyholders.

But think about it for a moment, friends. The insurance companies enter into agreements with the PA and the policyholder to settle a claim. That means that “a buyer and a seller” agree on a price. Nothing forces the insurance companies to agree to a price they believe is too high. The insurance companies simply hate the fact that a policyholder goes into the marketplace and hires a claims professional to represent himself in the preparation of his claim. That is akin to the IRS getting mad at people for having their taxes prepared by an accountant.

State Senator Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, and Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole filed new legislative bills in February. The bills (S2264 and H1181) seek to:

• Prevent Public Adjusters from soliciting customers either by phone or in person unless both parties had a prior knowledge of one another or were family members.

• Prevent PAs from sending mail to prospective clients in the first 30 days after a storm. Further, the bill seeks to force Pas to label their letters “ADVERTISEMENT” in 14-point font red letters.

• Prohibit PAs from informing a prospective client of their firm’s success record in obtaining claim settlements for policyholders.

• Cap fees for PA services at 10% for hurricane claims, and a 20% cap for all other property claims.¹

It is a criminal restraint of trade to suggest that a Public Adjuster cannot attempt to make contact with a prospective client for 30 days after a storm. After a major hurricane, communications systems are usually broken for a time. In most instances, the only way a PA can contact a prospective client in the dasy after a storm is through either a personal visit or mail delivery.

Insureds with damages have immediate needs for emergency board-up, mitigation of damages, Living Expenses and other policy benefits. The insureds will need this kind of help immediately, not 30 days after the storm.

There is no legislation that prevents a building contractor from soliciting business right after a storm. Same goes for a roofer, tree removal company, or a debris hauler. So, no restriction should be imposed on PAs either.

You don’t see a restriction on accountants in tax season. You don’t see restrictions on Personal Injury attorneys after accidents. Why pick on PAs?

Think about this also. Hurricanes happen in hot weather. Damages from water quickly become mold damages. Mold left untreated for 30 days could render a building entirely useless and could require demolition. Further, the insurance companies have written ironclad Mold Exclusions that you can be sure they would invoke.

The state legislators wish to deny policyholders the timely assistance in preparation of their insurance claims, under the guise of protecting the policyholders of the State of Florida. But this effort to too transparent not to be seen for what it is…a desperate insurance industry trying to maximize its own profits at the expense of the policyholders of the State of Florida.

A recent state study found that in the past six years, the Division of Insurance Fraud received 937 complaints about public adjuster-related fraud from insurers and policyholders. It investigated only 269 of the complaints and made 31 arrests from 2004 to 2009. Curiously, the study did not say how many complaints it had received from policyholders about their own insurance companies’ claims practices. Nor did the study show how many hundreds of thousands of claims had been filed from 2004 to 2009. But we do know that SIX major hurricanes struck Florida in that time period.

They were:

Charlie – Category 4
Frances – Category 3
Jeanne – Category 3
Dennis – Category 4
Katrina – Category 3
Wilma – Category 4

Let’s run some numbers to show how deceptive this report is and give some perspective.

Let’s say that the total number of property claims filed for all the listed hurricanes togetherover six years was 1,000,000 claims. You already know that this number is ridiculously small, since tens of millions of property owners suffered repeated losses in the hurricanes. But at 1 million claims, 937 complaints is less than 0.0937% of all the claims filed. That is less than one percent of a purposefully low estimate of claims. And in only 31 cases was there enough evidence for even an arrest, much less a conviction.

And 31 arrests…not convictions…over six years is not enough illegal activity to cause legislators to pass additional laws restricting the business operations of ALL Public Adjusters.

Looks to me like the Public Adjusters, taken as a group, are paragons of virtue. They should be praised, not pilloried…lauded, not legislated…decorated, not demagogued.

I wonder if Senator Mike Bennett and Rep. Janet Long would open up their financial records and disclose how much money they have received in contributions from insurance industry-related donors. My guess is that these Florida solons are bought and paid for by the insurance lobby.

Write to your own Senate or House representative and vigorously protest the enactment of these bills into law. Florida policyholders would once again be taken advantage of by the insurance companies if this bill is passed.

¹To read the bill for yourself, go to: Public Adjuster Bill

© Copyright 2010, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.