Tagged: economics

On Art and On Health Insurance Costs

These two have nothing to do with each other, so don’t spend any time searching for the connection. Art and Health Insurance Costs have nothing to do with each other. They’re just both on my mind and I’ve been meaning to write about them for some time.

The reason to write about Health Insurance Costs is because I finally know the answer to my long unanswered question, “How does it work?” I usually ask this question when the person taking my money says the word “only”. And the HR folks seem to always say, “You only pay…”

While I haven’t ever googled anything like what I’m about to share, part of the reason for that lack of searching is that I wouldn’t even know how to ask the question. Experience was the way for me to “search it up”.

My company tells me that I can choose between an HSA or whatever the other, more traditional plan is called. Neither the acronyms, nor the explanations of benefits made a difference to me, and the paycheck deduction is near identical. I chose HSA.

Long story short: the HSA costs me (family man) something like $230/paycheck no matter if I go to a doctor or not.

But there’s a $3,000 deductible.

So that means that if you happen to go to the doc, whatever the number the letter in the mail gives you after figuring out what was “covered”—pay attention—must be paid. So if you go and owe $3,000, you’re now paying, over one year (26 paychecks) $345/paycheck ($230+$115). (Luckily, most places don’t charge interest on these year long payment plans—luckily for them, I mean…)

To restate that, if you need to spend your full deductible, you go from paying $460 a month to $690 a month!

Now, once the deductible is met, there is an “out of pocket max”. For my plan, this is—for any one us—$6,875/year. For the entire family it is $8,000. (Don’t quote me on these numbers. They’re close. Who would have them memorized? I have better things to do.)

Again, once some one (1) member gets bills for $6,875, which is only $3,875 more than the “deductible”, the new paycheck-ly cost of the plan is…(total of $3,875 / 26 added to $345)…$494/paycheck! Put plainly, we’re up to $1,000 a month!

If we get bills to the tune of the family out-of-pocket max, that’s an addition of $1,125 (over the course of 26 checks) or a grand total of $537/paycheck!

In short, before all the medical bills become “covered” (natural sense of the word) by my health insurance, I have to contribute $1,100/month or so, or the initial $230 x 26, plus $8,000, for a grand total of $13,980!

I’m not sure the word “covered” really means anything at this point. Maybe we’re “covered” in the sense that a year of mortgage payments “cover” our heads all year.

“What’s your mortgage?” Next time someone asks, tell the truth. Add up both the mortgage and the health insurance.

Now you know. And no one ever had explained it to me before. So I wrote it down today.

Next, unrelatedly, let’s talk about Art. I just listened to a podcast on the philosophy of Art and a super intriguing idea was planted in my mind. The idea? All Art as “work song”.

I like this idea so much, it gives me so much joy, that I’m infecting you with this idea now. Is Art itself merely “work song” for our lives, comprehensively? If so, what does that mean? If not, how is genuine “work song” (like “I’ve been working on the railroad” sung by actual railroad workers while they work on the railroad to pass the time away…) different than Art?

Fascinating to consider. On the one hand, if all Art is work song, that paints a pretty depressing vision of life on Earth—as in, life is so bad we have to sing to get through it. But I don’t see why it has to. I like singing and I like working and I like singing while working. Just did it the other day. Was chatting movies on the leg home and belted out, “Say it soft and it’s almost like praying”. (Name that tune?) Made the crew chatty and made me smile.

As for me, I’m undecided as of yet. But I’m leaning towards siding with the “all Art is work song” crowd. What do you think?

Bamboozled Out of Baseball

I’ve swung back-and-forth quite a bit during this pandemic. The two ends would best be characterized by denial and anxiety. Today something new is bubbling up. I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been bamboozled.

It started as I considered this notion of “essential”. Actually, it started by reading what exactly was “essential” according to the government, and seeing how markedly it differed from my previous understanding of the word.

Now, it continues to build as I focus on how this is exactly how a socialist economic system works: Central planning. In other words, someone, not me, decides what I believe is essential.

Before the pandemic, Americans were doing just fine determining what was essential for their life. If we made a lot of money, we couldn’t live without extravagance. If we didn’t make any money, we survived by driving for Uber.

We were never satisfied with our fancy cars and ever changing diets, or we were eternally grateful to be able to make more money at will.

Now, the government is both feeding us the horrifying information about the disease and determining which parts of our lives are essential. This is a problem.

More pointedly, I just want to repeat that Major League Baseball is essential to summer.

Hey, You! Sleepy-head! Wake up! What is essential to you?

On “Not the Bad” Socialism

As an officer in the United States Air Force I defended more than an idea. I defended more than a way of life. I defended more than a nation. I defended individual people. And I believe that my experience qualifies me as an expert on defense–at least of individual people. The following is one particular defense tip for daily use.

The national politicians are going to use whatever words they believe will help gain and retain their power. But you and I are not national politicians, so our game is different. Our goal is not obtaining power, it is encouraging people to think for themselves. Our goal is encouraging people to become individuals.

Last night, I heard what I’m beginning to hear more and more as the election nears.

I agree that Russia and Venezuela are bad socialism. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the good socialism–like Sweden and Norway.

Now, on the national level, President Trump has declared, “America will never become Socialist,” while his opponents respond, “Yes, I am, in fact, socialist. It is the best way.”

(Again, you and I are not national politicians or pundits. Stay in reality.)

At this point, I could have (and shamefully began to, until I quickly retreated) discussed socialism with this individual. That never works. Never. Instead, I volunteered, “The government should not be able to take my money. It is my money. Not theirs.”

As any good socialist would respond, he said, “They’re not going to take your money. They’re going to take the rich people’s money.”

I must have gotten a look that said, “What if I become rich?” because the man, while not instantaneously converting to truth, seemed to realize the immorality of his suggestion (that someone besides me gets to have my money) and we paused the discussion.

To recap: Unsuccessful defenses of the individual include, “Have you read what socialism is?” “We are not Sweden.” “Socialism is always evil.” “There is no such thing as ‘good’ socialism.”

Successful defenses of the individual include, “The government should not be able to take my money.” And, “Gas tax and tolls (the answer to his additional clarifying query, “How do we pay for roads?”).”