Monday, July 13, 2009

My thoughts on healthcare reform...

Here are some of my meandering thoughts on healthcare reform. Ta-da! ;)

Healthcare reform is a big topic and I’m by no means an expert in the subject. But, having worked as a healthcare provider and then also having the experience of being a user of healthcare insurance, I feel that I have a lot to say. :) First off, just a little background. Prior to kids, I worked as a dietitian for a few years. I’m also married to a healthcare provider. We’ve had great insurance (but paid a lot for it!) and mediocre insurance (and still paid too much for it) and now have no insurance for our family of 5 because hubby is in-between jobs. I have no party affiliation, though I’m registered as an Independent. So there you have it. :)

Having had all those different experiences, I do feel that our healthcare system does not work well for some but works great for others. I also know that some people don’t even have insurance, which is really detrimental to one’s well-being. With that said, I still don’t think we need to go as drastic as government-run healthcare. I feel that we can start by fixing some of the flaws in our current system – maybe even a major overhaul. But to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak, and give more control to a government, which I feel lacks financial wisdom, accountability and responsibilities, might be doing us a disservice. Not all change is a good change. So here’s what I see is a part of the problem with our current system and what I think can be changed.

Because consumers are currently stuck with whatever insurance companies their boss buys insurance from, there is no say in the price paid for premiums or services. I actually really liked the Republican’s plan of giving consumers money to purchase their own insurance, so that it would foster healthy competition between insurance companies, forcing them to be more creative with how to keep costs down, and ultimately drive prices down to draw customers. Why shouldn’t we be able to buy health insurance like we do car insurance or home insurance? Don’t we shop around for the best price and best package before deciding to buy? Don’t we have a choice in what we want to pay, in terms of premiums and such? It’d be great to have that with health insurance.

There is a problem with where the bulk of the healthcare dollars are going to. Some doctors are getting paid a minimal amount to do procedures requiring hours of work and some have quit because they barely make enough to pay their bills. (Aidan’s pedicatric ophthalmologist only got paid about $200 for doing eyelid surgery. That’s atrociously meager to me.) Insurance companies say they are going under because they’re not making enough money. Consumers are running out of money to pay for groceries because of their hefty medical bills. I don’t understand. Is it the insurance executives who are still earning big salaries? I’m almost scared to ask after the government bail-out money (which I really disagree with, btw) went to bankrupt companies whose execs were still getting bonuses and living it up. Maybe if the insurance companies can stand to make a little less, their companies would make a little more and be able to stay afloat? Please, no more bonuses, extravagant parties and corporate excess. Besides these corporate execs, I want to talk about some doctors that have lost their sensibilities and started to see patients simply as dollar signs. I know many great doctors that put patient care first and they are gems! However, I also know of a few that do certain procedures because it reimburses more and schedule more procedures than their patients really need because it brings in more money. It’s scary! [Please do your homework when choosing a provider!] Lastly, the fact is, many consumers are also abusing the system and milking it for all its worth. My husband has seen firsthand how people can circumvent the system and use it to get unnecessary handicapped parking tags, social security disability, extraneous medication to feed an addiction, depleting the funds for necessary medical treatments for others. In short, it’s really the lack of character on all fronts, that is causing this problem and it’s really a downward spiral. Consumers cheat the system. It’s depleting money from the insurance companies who are paying out ‘way too much’ and their execs are not getting enough, so they decrease the amount reimbursed and/or outright reject payments or coverage for more and more services. The hospitals are not getting paid enough because insurance is reimbursing less, so they raise their prices. Who gets the shaft? It’s those honest folks who are trying to follow the rules but are having to pay for things out-of-pocket because they have super high deductibles or their insurance won’t cover it anymore or they don’t have insurance anymore. It’s also those honest doctors who are putting their patients first and doing what’s best even though they are meagerly compensated. It’s a sad state of affairs.

And let’s talk about the fact that if the government-run healthcare gets passed, taxes will go up for those making more than $250K. Even though we don’t make nearly that much and won’t be affected by this hike, I don’t understand why only the rich have to shoulder the brunt of what they expect this new healthcare system will cost. Isn’t everyone using it? Aren’t the rich already taxes more? Maybe I’m one of the few that will say that – maybe I’m missing something here? Also, why say you’re going to raise taxes using the current system that isn’t even doing the job to collect the taxes it is due? Let’s not mention any names where but there have been politicians on both sides of the fence not paying the amount they’re supposed to. And even if it’s their “accountants fault”, don’t these politicians have enough money to hire accountants that know the current tax law? Anyhow, I don’t want to go there. ;) Let’s start by fix this faulty tax system and ask all the politicians to pay up all the taxes that they are supposed to and then see where we stand financially. And, by the way, President Obama (who makes $400K), the President of Bolivia voluntarily reduced his own pay to show the people that he was serious about making changes to how the government spends money. That's a great idea, don’t you think? ;)

Therefore, I think what we need is more competition, more accountability, more character (though that’s the church’s job), and more emphasis on preventative measures & living healthier lifestyles. And because the government is already riddle with red tape and lacking in accountability for so many other areas, I really think it’s best to keep it out of their hands.

I do applaud Obama on making healthcare reform one of his initiatives and appreciate the fact that he is following through on something that he’s promised. I really hope and pray that our leaders will take the time to really think things through before signing a bill that will impact us and our kids for years to come.

PS I didn't write about universal healthcare because I'm not sure if that's what this 'government-run' healthcare will be. But I have thoughts on that, too. :)

Thoughts, anyone?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Education decisions...

So many ppl have been asking me if I'm going to send Aidan to kindergarten because he will turn 5 on 8/3. And each time they ask, I reply that I'm not sure b/c I'm really not sure. I'm been wondering about this for a while now and there are so many thoughts swimming in my head about this. But the more I think about it, the more confused I am - and here's why:

I've been waffling between sending the kids to school or trying my hand at homeschooling for a while. And I have friends on both sides who are strongly believe in what they've chosen for their kids, which helps me to see some of both perspectives. And this is what I've gathered:

Pros: Individualized attention; each kid can learn at their own pace; you can focus more on character because they will be with you more; less exposure to undesirable influences and teachings; flexibility in schedule; can incorporate religion; safe environment (at least more controlled)
Cons: You have to be organized, it's a lot of work; there can be oodles of paperwork and tests to show progress to the state; having young babies around makes it tougher; possible lack in social interactions (that depends on the mom); mom might feel indequate to teach certain subjects; loneliness if no one else by you is homeschooling; paying school tax for a school system I'm not using (that's the frugal side of me talking)
Other considerations: I've heard that if there is a good homeschool co-op nearby, there will be lots of social interaction (ie sports clubs, outings, etc) and lots of support. If I were to actually homeschool, I think having a co-op nearby would almost be a pre-req!

Pros: Teacher proficient in their subject(s) teaching my child; lots of social interaction; if regular school - exposure to different ethnicities, religions, etc; kids hopefully being a light at school; understanding of our culturel positive peer pressure from good friends
Cons: Being taught things I don't agree with; possibly safety issues (ie Columbine); regular school issues - bullying, teasing, etc; bad education; falling through the cracks
Other considerations: There is also alternative schools, such as Christian schoosl and charter schools but some of them aren't much better in terms of safety and teasing, which is bound to happen when you group kids together. Then there are the financial concerns - since we would love to have another, 4 kids in school will be very expensive...and that's not even counting in the cost of college!

But the questions I really have to ask myself after all this are: why am I choosing the route I am choosing? If homeschool, am I choosing it out of fear? If regular school, am I choosing it because it's easier day-to-day? What if there are no co-ops? Am I trusting God in my decision? The fact remains that public/private school these days are just not what they were when I went to school. Back in the 80s, there were no metal detectors and drugs weren't as rampant as they are today. Also, I feel that kids are being exposed to certain topics like sex and abortion earlier and earlier and I question the wisdom in that. And certain social topics I would really rather cover myself instead of having to correct what's been said at school. Also, with the reports of American schools lagging behind in academics and the solutions that have been set in place that don't seem to do the job, I'm even questioning what kind of education they will receive on the academic end. No doubt there are still great teachers out there (which make all the difference) and I thank all my teacher friends that are still out there (you are sooo needed!), but there are also the bad ones that can make you dislike a subject your entire life. (Though my teaching math might do that to the kids...hehe). Plus, each kid is soo different that it might be possible to choose homeschool for one kid and public/private for another...or would that even happen? That then gets even more complicated. I guess it all boils down to lots of prayer, asking God to show me what is best for the kids...which means spending more time with Him. I should do that more anyways. ;)

Back to Aidan...we sent him to preschool this year b/c after we moved to PA, I had a hard time finding boys his age for him to play with that were not in school. We went to playgrounds, malls, bookstores and libraries. And he really, really wanted some boys to play with. So, we were blessed to have found a Montessori nearby and enrolled him right away. Overall, he had a good time there but was teased a bit for wearing glasses and being different looking. That made him really sad and made me really annoyed. Plus, we had done a lot with Aidan and he was already reading some when he started preschool and they were just covering the basics of how to recognize numbers and letters. And since he was a bit bored and very active, he got in trouble a little. But don't get me wrong, he did learn how to color well and he now knows more of what it means to be a friend, which are important skills. Anyhow, I'm glad I have one more year to think and pray about this because we've decided to wait one more year before making a decision and if he were to go to school, I'd rather wait til he was 6. We'll see what happens, though. Either way, I know that God has a plan for him. :)

Anyone with any thoughts on this?

Friday, July 10, 2009

This too shall pass...

...this has been my mantra, as of late. With sooo many changes going on with the move and with having three kids, I really have to keep that in mind. Lately, the two older kids started sharing a room b/c we're moving to another 3 bedroom townhome and we would like Cara to have her own room. So, that leaves the older two to share a room, esp since they can really understand rules...or so I thought. But I promptly forgot that Jana just turned three and LOVES to test the boundaries - PLUS, she's more persistent than Aidan, which can be good and bad. Anyhow, we've tried out this new room sitch for the past 3 nights and it's been very tiring. Jana keeps coming out of her bed to bother Aidan or to bother us. We've tried everything we can think of and nothing has really kept her in her bed. So, tomorrow is a new day. We're going to try the Supernanny trick - one of us will be posted right outside the door for an hour or two after they go to bed. That way, we can reinforce the rules right away and hopefully it will hit home that bedtime is really for sleeping. I mean, they can whisper and chat at night for a bit is ok but bouncing on the bed and screaming is not. I'll try to remember to update what happened between packing boxes and decluttering. :) It's almost ironic that Jana started coming out of her room and/or crying in the middle of the night after Cara decided to sleep through the night. I guess I should count my blessings that I'm not getting up for both girls and that Kev has been taking his turn at night since he's between jobs currently. And it's funny how you forget how bad things were....Aidan used to do the same thing and wake us up every time he had to pee at night when he was getting trained. And I remember thinking to myself...when will this end? When will I get a good night's rest? But then it passed and I almost forgot I had to do that. Anyhow, this post is really a reminder for me to keep praying and know that an end is in sight...even if it won't come for a while. And esp. when I'm all riled up from one, two or three of the kids, I have to keep saying this to myself and learn to enjoy the kiddies. :) G'night!
PS Anyone with any tips on how to help them share a room quietly? They do ok when they wake up - they get dressed and read til we get them, most of the time, but it's the going to sleep that's the issue. Thanks in advance! :)