Saturday, March 25, 2017

Aiming for the $100 a Day Road Trip Part One, Health Care In America and More....

So, after I wrote about my hundred dollar road trip goal, I have had some questions and comments about how it works. Since I am just now doing serious planning for my May road trip, I though I would share a $45 a night option I discovered , as well as how I drastically reduce gas prices. Since I usually plan a road trip just a month and a half or so out (other than destinations), you all will get to follow along with my first month long road trip in over a year.  





First, though, you all know I have to talk about today's news. As I write this Friday evening,  I assume we have all at least heard some of the news of the day. The Republican health plan (I won't stoop to the level of Republicans and name it after our President) is DOA. The Speaker of the House is so wimpy, he has declared Obamacare the law of the land, rather than try for a better alternative.

The kicker of course in all of this is the Republican Congress itself. As a liberal Democrat, I cannot take one ounce of credit for this. The administration did this to itself, with no help from the so called liberals. In fact, the party is so divided that I (who follow the news and have read the bill) have no idea who sunk it worse-the alt-right/Freedom party types, the moderate conservatives or the American Voters. Personally. I'm going with the voters.

I mean, rabid comments on this blog to the contrary, the law would have increased insurance fees for seniors up to one hundred percent (again, yes, I read this portion) by allowing insurers to charge up to seven times the going rate for seniors. They would have left 20 million people covered under the ACA uninsured. And while they would have kept in place some protections for those with previous conditions, they would have allowed insurers to charge up to ten times the rate. And let's not forget foot in mouth disease. Iphones indeed. The bottom line is that the voters made it clear that if this bill passed, those representatives would be out of a job, many of them in 2018. What's truly sad is that almost all legislation to date (health and otherwise) affects those poor souls who voted for the man the most. They will suffer the greatest.

Now, I am not one of those folks who think that the ACA is perfect. Serious work needs to be done in terms of viability and lowering costs, but insurers need to take responsiblity as do those of us who receive care have a responsibility to be good consumers and be responsible for our own care.  For example, one of the things I object to especially is the idea that twenty somethings should pay a hefty fee for insurance so that they can carry the rest of us. As with many parents of twenty somethings, my college student/full time employee had to be subsidized by me to afford said insurance, defeating the purpose. In my case I aknowledge that as I age my health care costs will probably go up (hence medicare, after all), and while I am unwilling to pay ursury fees for health care, I am also unwilling to have the next generation bear that burden for me.

So the end result is that there is still much to do on health care. The question is will the party in charge take that step, and regroup and come up with a better plan. Or will the turn tail between their legs, whine and complain at the first defeat and show their true colors. No one, not even the most liberal democrat denies that the ACA needs tweaking, but so does health care delivery as well. The ACA is mainly about insurance, and reforming health care will also require tweaking how it is delivered. Now, the evidence shows that the best way to lower costs for all, is to make delivery equitable and cost effective. That has more to do with how care is delivered in terms of cost and efficiency than the insurance portion, although coverage for all should be basic. I mean seriously. Let me wear my own robe and nightgown and bring my own aspirin-that would save me a good 100 bucks a day in the hospital!

Most every other civilized country knows this and manages to do so.  The excuse of our size is really not a defense in this area, although I suppose the power of the states could be on occasion. But, put simply.THE UNITED STATES IS 37TH IN DELIVERING HEALTH CARE IN THE WORD. OMAN HAS BETTER HEALTH CARE!  The fact that the King of Jordan flies to New York for health care has much, much less to do with quality of care and much, much more to do with the pampering experience of a hospital VIP suite, or the Presidential Suite at Walter Reed.

Just a quick note. I've referenced the military health care system as an excellent health care system in past blog posts. For the record, the VA is NOT part of the military health care system, and one of the constantly suggested solutions as yet to be followed through on is to let the military services take back the VA. I personally think this is an excellent condition.

Back on the road trip front, and about those hotel alternatives. Since I was spending the longest amount of time (a week) in the Corpus Christie area, I concentrated on that first. Road trip sleeping is very flexible, and I can always driver a longer time or a shorter time, but the week's vacation was my starting point.

Now, Airbnb is a little newer to me than to many I expect, and I am still learning as I go. In Corpus Christie I learned that I can rent a small gate house or mother in law apartment for 45 bucks a night, and if I were willing to just have a room and bath in someones house I can go as low as $19 (this is the kind of thing I would do in a city I knew little about, to get the local "input").  At at goal of $100 a day, with this kind of price for where to lay my head, I have no doubt I will keep to the budget in Corpus. Now on to those road trip overnights and beautiful downtown San Antonio.4

This weekend, my local Kroger affiliate has four times fuel points, so it's time to go shopping. Along with my groceries, I buy gift cards to places I shop (not just for gas), buy the gift cards when I have four times the fuel points, and save tons of money all around. Last week I had seventy cents of a gallon of gas. This way I will have gas cards to use along the way and fuel points to keep the gas down further-if I'm lucky, around a buck a gallon.

In other end of week news, I still have no oven but the part is on order. I've plowed through the first three Catherine Coulter FBI books (yep, I binge read as well). I started knitting a beautiful poncho/shawl for a gift next year-which I'll share in a bit, as the recipient doesn't drop in here. Immigration and Sanctuary ministry is supporting a woman in sanctuary and visiting detainees. I am attempting to meet my goal of writing every day. And last but not least, I've spent an extraordinary amount of time sunning outside in almost eighty degree weather here in Denver in March. In fact, I'm so spoiled by this weather, that it dropped to the fifties today and I've been complaining all day.  What can I say, give me the heat!!  I may have to look at snowbirding after all.

And now, I'm off to my pillows and fourth Catherine Coulter of the week. Tomorrow, as they say, is another day!

41 comments:

  1. Honestly, I don't know much about health care. But it seems to me the problem is that, as much as we'd like to, it's impossible to have equal delivery for all, and also lower costs. I think the answer is to provide a basic plan for all, and then people can pay to add on benefits, or get better benefits thru their employer, whatever. But isn't that how Medicare works? You get the Medicare plan, then go out an get Medicare advantage or some kind of supplemental plan that has different costs, different benefits?

    Anyway, to show you how old I am ... I remember going to Europe one summer on $5 a day. And we did it, really, our hotels were in the $2 per nite range.

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    1. I tend to agree with you that something along those lines is where we need to start. I also think medicare for all allows for lower rates, just as with the military and fed system. I know we are not where we need to be, I just think that bill was a disaster in the making. And yes, I remember the five dollar days and my copy of "Let's go Europe in my backpack as I looked for the cheapest hostels!

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  2. Since we are totally covered right now, I sat back and watched this entire thing fizzle. We both knew the ACA was not going to work- so I guess we just sit back and wait for the entire system to go down? There are so many cogs in this wheel and neither party wants to say no. Messy! Hoping tax reform goes better (and the D have a better candidate next time around).
    Looking forward to your travel blog. I, too, traveled Europe on $5 a day :).

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    1. Ah yes, the good old days!! Janette, I dont have a solution that is not single payer, to tell the truth. I just believe that it will take more time, and folks need to sit down and seriously do the math if you will, lol. Yes, I also hope tax reform and the budget cuts go more smoothly. Personally, I hope both parties do better in 2020. Whatever your politics, no matter how conservative, I think we now realize that it takes more than being able to run a business to run the country, much as we hate politicians, but hey, that;'s just me!!

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    2. It will take more then politicians to fix it as well. The medical community HAS to get on board, but have no incentive to do so. Single payer is the best way. I have lived it for 37 years, in the US. It does have its problems (see the VA and people complaining about military hospitals) but it gets the job done.

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  3. It's the American people who are the losers in the health deal. Obamacare is going bankrupt and will probably self destruct by the end of this year. 2018 the latest. So many insurance companies are withdrawing out of the Health Market place, I'm surprised it hasn't faltered already. The fact that no politician, Repub or Dem would make a move this time to fix what is destroying this country proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no government should have it's fangs into our health care system. They are a joke.
    Trump is smart to just let it ride. Personally, we've already gone through two failed insurance companies drop us as they went bankrupt. The first company went belly up under Obamacare in 11 months. Couldn't even last a year. In the interim, however, it's the American people (mostly the middle class) who are still stuck with exhorbitant deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and other fees. In other words, they still don't have insurance they can get to use for themselves.
    You are actually making a statement that military health care is good? Are you for real? What about all that hubbub about care our veterans are not getting?
    Trump IMHO, is a genius. Let Obamacare fail. And now let's see the Dems crawl to Trump begging for help. If Trump is as smart as I think he is, he'll do nothing. At least he tried to help the people. Hope politicians rot in hell.
    PS: I know you won't be printing this, because that's what you liberals do.
    BTW, I see my link is still up.
    Amazing.

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    1. Actually, I believe that you are the one that will not tolerate dissenting opinions on your blog.

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    2. Hi cindi. Well first of all, this is my blog and I get to do what I wish with it. how about that? And I have many links to folks that don't agree with me.

      For the record, I have always agreed that changes need to be made to the ACA. I just don't happen to think that tax breaks for the wealthy, eliminating care for the poor, and increasing health care for the elderly is the solution. I mean honestly, you regularly post about how much your health care is. Were you willing to have it double, just to prove your point/ (and yes, it absolutely would have probably doubled. Read the bill and the CBO results)

      Cindi, you really need to read instead of looking at head lines. THE VA DOES NOT FALL UNDER THE MILITARY HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.One of the arguments to save it is that it SHOULD fall under the military system.

      Health care is the republican responsiblity. Democrats did not sink it. If republicans had been loyal, it would have passed. So please, look to your conservative friends for results.

      And as to shared opinions, I neither insult folks on my blog, nor do I not allow other opinions. At least three of the regular commenters on this blog are conservative and voted for the party of Trump. They just seem to get points across without yelling, screaming.

      Meanwhile, I encourage you to read. Bills, laws, legislation and results. Facts beyond the headlines.

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    3. And also Cindi, while I don't mind being labeled or named, give your senator a call. I promise he will tell you that there were as many Republican calls as there were democratic. It's amazing how conservatives love to talk reform until it affects them directly.

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    4. The interesting part is Trump throwing in the towel. Regardless of which side of the fence we all may stand for this subject, it's almost as if he thought this years tv season was over and he will return in the fall. So what if he doesn't have votes now? Wouldn't the next step to be to alter his plan to something more acceptable rather than just say "Oh well, you can't say I didn't give it a shot. Now on to taxes!"?

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    5. Morgan I think you hit it on the head. We revisit bills and laws and amendments all the time and lot's of times it gets rejected the first time, you just try try again. We all agree that health care needs more reform or adjustment. This plan didnt work. The next plan might be more well thought out?"

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    6. Trump a genius??? What alternative reality do you live in? he's a narcissistic liar and is taking our country back 50 years. No funding for Endowment of the arts, no Meals on Wheels, no or little EPA, approving the Dakota pipeline and all the other ones I can't remember. Oh yeah, trying to take away a women's right to choose. It's appalling what he is doing with his cabinet that are all billionaires. And he has Steve Bannon who's a white supremacist.
      I'm not sure what planet you're living on but I want clean air and clean water and Big bird for my children and grand children.

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    7. Well said Christina. Did you read Time Magazine article on how all those programs cost us...it is just a little over $22.00 a year. http://time.com/money/4639544/trump-nea-sesame-street-budget-cut/

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  4. Here in Arizona there was quite a flap about poor care in our vet. hospital, but I have 2 relatives and a girlfriend who receive EXCELLENT care from local VA facilities.My girlfriend has RA and her female physician even is up on the latest in alternative care, which my friend appreciates. I think like all health care it depends on your provider. A Medicare - like system would allow our GOVERNMENT to negotiate with provid ers and hospitals and drug companies, just as they do for Medicare.. instead of allowing the INSURANCE COMPANIES to run the show.Insurance companies leave the exchanges because they are actually having to PROVIDE health care,for a change! If you look at the BONUSES the execs for Aetna,United,Cigna,etc.receive you will realize they are getting rich on the backs of middle class America. We've got this all wrong in America.Health care should be not for profit, and available to all.

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    1. Madline, Im going to edit the blog to show that the VA is not part of the military health system. I agree with the not for profit personally, but even small changes will help at this point.

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  5. Lighter note: AIRBNB= my favorite "find" of the last 10 years!!!!I like how you can put up your own profile and then you can also read about your host, so you can get an idea if you'd be "simpatico."One place we were gonna stay the hostess could not stand the smell of coffee.. no coffee in her house.No Madeline in her house either!! LOL! We have had many great experiences with airbnb. Will be fun to follow your trip with you!

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    1. AS an adventurous traveler I am so looking forward to trying this for the first time. We did look in Seattle, but it was a last minute decision and there was nothing near the city center.

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  6. I don't know if I would do Airbnb, but it is something to look into.

    I will enjoy hearing about your travels.

    God bless.

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  7. Barbara - You could teach lessons in the art of civility. Thank you.

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  8. Barbara: I enjoy your blog. I particularly like your ability to discuss political differences. You write calmly and clearly and don't sound like you are inebriated.

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    1. ha! I can't even drink wine anymore, something happened at menopause...sigh.

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  9. I am a nurse in NY, I worked for a health insurance company for the last 15 years doing the Quality piece in health care, doing doctor reviews and doing the mandatory reviews for CMS, Medicaid,etc
    I also worked for a large hospital 33 years
    Our health care problem is caused by health insurance companies and big pharmacy. ...... simple as that
    It is a complex problem but I can assure you it is not the ACA or any other reason other than pure greed from these entities
    As you said look around the world other countries do health care well

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    1. Could you be specific? I am trying to wrap my mind around how this can work. The countries I know that do it well tax way more and have a much smaller population. Their doctors do not make nearly as much and their universities do not do the type of research ours do. The military (serving about 9 million) does a good job, but you cannot get in quickly and when SH*T hits the health fan, you are farmed out to regional hospitals (higher doctor pay and drugs).
      I just cannot see the "normal" person accepting that they cannot get into Mayo for their broken toe nail....

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    2. If you have information or links to articles supporting this tweet them over and over. My twit handle is barbblogtwits and I am on Facebook or visit http://www.retireinstyleblog.com

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    3. Janette - We have been on military health care for nearly 40 years, both active duty and retired, with Tricare. I am not sure what you mean when you say you cannot get in quickly. If you are retired and trying to use a military facility, then yes, you go to the bottom of the list versus those serving on active duty and their dependents. It's ALWAYS been that way. We currently live on Kaua'i, where there are no military medical facilities. We see private doctors and clinics through our one hospital, and we are seen quickly and pay no more than we did back on the mainland, where we also used local doctors and clinics. Our prescriptions are free (via mail), we pay no deductible or co-pays, and with Tricare for Life (Tricare as suppemental to Medicare) we rarely if ever see a bill any more. The military system WORKS, even for retirees.

      My son and family live in Japan, where they have single payer insurance. The care they receive is excellent, and doctors in Japan practice far more conservatively than they do in the U.S. Our grandson had a seven day hospital stay a couple of years ago (something he probably would not even have been admitted for in the U.S.); their out of pocket expense was less than $800. He has a peanut allergy and they have to carry an EpiPen everywhere - their cost is $0, because Japanese law says that there can be no charge for any necessary medication for children under the age of 18. Even with our superb insurance coverage here, I am envious of their coverage and care.

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    4. Laura- We have been on military health plan for 37 years. Remember getting those statements that would tell us how much our health care is worth? My daughter (AD 3 yrs), my son in law (AD 6) and my son (AD going on 10yrs) all have had military health care.
      You cannot get in quickly to see a doctor in our experiences, unless there is an emergency (and then you are often farmed out because the military hospitals do not have the staff to accommodate all of the different things needed). I don't, necessarily, think that is a bad thing. My mother could not stand it (for us).

      I absolutely LOVE single payer programs. I know I might have to wait in line, but I am OK with that. I accept that I will see an RN instead of a doctor for the majority of my visits. Personally, I think they do a better job. I love that the daughter of my O-3 son will get the same medicine as the daughter of my E-5 son in law and neither has to worry about the costs. The costs I was referring to was not the military member's cost- but the system's cost for outside drugs and hospital stays. I know the system works pretty well for 9 million military people.
      Japan has 124 million people- the US has 340 millionish. Japan is the size of California. And the US...
      We are so spread out and have so many people, I just cannot wrap my head around it! Can you point me to a population and land mass equal that has good universal care?

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    5. Just different experiences I guess - it must depend on where you are stationed. We always got in quickly, but again staffing may be different these days. While we were on active duty everything was handled in a timely manner, and since retirement we've never lived near a base so have always relied on "civilian" medical care and it's all been very good - I have no complaints. Like you, I don't mind seeing a NP instead of doctor.

      I think the thing our country can take away from other countries is to look how it is done and take the things that work and can be expanded or added here. In Japan, the care is good enough that people do not have supplemental insurance, where in other countries with single payer they do. So that might be one way to go - provide a certain level of care to all, but allow people to buy supplemental insurance to see doctors outside of the system (and pay for it as well). Maybe have laws like in Japan where you cannot charge for necessary medication for minors (like Epipens, or insulin). I just don't know if it can be done here though. Start with medical school and think what that costs now. and what most doctors have to pay back in loans. Think of how much insurance companies and drug companies are intertwined with our medical care. We have hospitals run by religious organizations that can impose their own rules for what they will and will not do, and sometimes they're the only game in town. I sometimes think we've passed a point of no return when it comes to single payer.

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  10. I enjoy your blog and agree with almost everyone here. Greed and the politicians on both sides being bought and paid for by the big corporations and organizations will be our undoing. Europe is way ahead of us in many areas...education and healthcare to name a few. And I do think some people must get up on the wrong side of the bed everyday.....

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  11. I think the Republican administration will now settle down to sabotaging the ACA to prove that it is the "disaster" they have labelled it. The HHS Secretary has a great deal of discretion to make things better or worse and this administration seems hell-bent on making things worse for all but the poor put upon millionaire/billionaire class.
    The so-called "health" bill would have resulted in a huge tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of the most needy. The budget director was positively gleeful outlining his plans to eliminate federal spending on such wasteful programs as food for hungry children and seniors. The wholesale gutting of regulations without any forethought will give us a dirtier and more dangerous world to benefit greedy CEOs who are already vastly overpaid. I can already imagine what tax reform will look like to this shameless gang.
    Joan, Michigan

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  12. Thank you Barbara. As always you make such good sense and I like that a lot. I actually feel reassured when I read logical pieces like yours. :)

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  13. It's a total mess. My husband and I are now paying 1,400.00 a month for healthcare. We aren't rich. We always lived very modestly and never splurged on fantastic vacations. This fix was certainly not going to correct the problems. I just wonder how people would/will react if/when we become one national healthcare? To blame all this on insurance co and corporations is rather simplistic. Have you had an automobile accident recently? You get nonstop phone calls from attorneys encouraging you to have yourself admitted to the hospital and sue everyone in sight. I know several of the attorneys. They're political leanings are very liberal so there's greed everywhere. I worked in social services. The problem isn't make cuts its allocating where it should be spent. I truly believe is all people saw the waste and actually unfairness to middle America there wouldn't be as much devide. I'm 64 years old. Let's be honest there are many seniors that take advantage of the system. There's greed there, too. I'm not saying I'm against it but National Healthcare isn't free as some people are inclined to think. If people think their taxes are high now just wait. I don't claim to be liberal or conservative. I just want rational, compassionate legislation. When I went through a divorce, years ago, the judge said to me if I have BOTH parties feeling they didn't get everything they WANTED I did my job. You can't have one side dominating the other and that's what we've had with both parties. Starting with the first vote. That set the whole hate movement in motion.

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    1. For clarification I mean middle class Americans. Not "middle" America.

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    2. Well, before I ramble on my experience with health care, let me say that I agree with the final part. I am actually part of a "resist" movement and our two objectives are to find a group to talk with on the "other side" if you will, and to concentrate on 2018. I do notice that Republicans did not reach out to Dems on health care, but simply ignored them. Just because there seems to be a clear majority does not mean you don't need help from the other side-especially when I am beginning to think any three Republican represtnatives will disagree on every issue.

      Now National health care is not FREE, Health care is not free. It is equal however, for the most part. Germany for examples, bases contributions on a flat percentage of income. And because there is no middleman who needs to make a big profit, that usually lowers costs by almost fifty percent.The bottom line is that single payer is cost effective, equitable, and works.

      Also, with our current system we are last in the western world pretty much in health care delivery, and every single one of the top 20, I'm pretty sure, have Single payer-which is not necessarily the same as National Health Care.

      Now, I can promise you that I know absolutely NO senior citizen taking advantage.How on earth would we "take advantage"? Get too much health care? Go to the doctor to often? It's not like insurance pays us. On the contrary, we double our insurance costs at 65, and get less coverage (said as someone who has just done this and done the research). Personally, both Medicare and my insurance company encourage me to be active and have tests done and more. They want me to see my Doctor, probably more than I would.

      When it comes to single payer, I think most folks once they got past the "socialism" thing would be THRILLED with single payer, as are those folks who have single payer now (Medicare and the US Military system). There's a reason those countries keep it instead of asking for an alternative, ya know? And all those families who stay in the military "just for the health care".

      I do agree that we are "sue happy" in the United States. In fact, most other countries have dealt with both tort reform and as a result the "ambulance chaser" syndrome, something we should be doing as well.

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  14. Excuse me I'm back. I just have to comment on the poster saying the vets aren't getting decent healthcare. This must all depend where you live. My neighbor is a vet and a very particular person. I asked for his opinion of the VA? His response was They treat me like a KING!! It's fantastic. I'm very glad to hear that. Like I said this is a man thats now a retired small bank president. So I guess it just depends.

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    1. I have heard of a few areas, usually small towns I expect where folks have been happy, HOwever, going by just the numbers, most folks who use the VA are getting screwed. I really do wish the Military Healthcare System would take it on.

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    2. Nooooo! The military health care system is barely surviving. They do not have the bed space or the system to take on Vets. My husband gets good treatment at the VA clinic because he is 80% disabled. My son gets good treatment because he is active duty. Two very different systems. Believe me, very different.

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  15. I was not an Obamacare supporter. Our rates have been going up considerably over the past few years. After my husband retired I needed to buy private insurance for myself and for 3 years the rates were about $800.00/monthly. The deductible was so high ($7500.00) that I couldn't even use it for medical services. Two of my kids haven't been covered by insurance in years (both of their companies don't provide it) because they couldn't afford the $300.00 a month for their premiums. They still don't carry it. However, I was very disappointed with the Republican stalemate. I think the bill was rolled out too soon and that everything should have been in place and the members in agreement so that something could be passed. The things I did appreciate about ACA was allowing kids to remain on their parents' policies until age 26, letting people have coverage with pre-existing conditions and no dollar amount is too big for health conditions...although I think those were going to remain in the new bill. Things are a mess right now. diane

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    1. Yes, they are. I just think this is going to take time, and a special committe and working groups-and have a few people with the nerve to at least look sideways at pharm companies and the like.

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  16. Janette, everyone o know in the minitary system is getting great healthcare. And i know mamy active duty people. In fact most of the younger folks i know who stay in do so specifically because of the health care.

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  17. I agree with Anonymous Nurse above. As a retired RN one of the reasons I left nursing was how hard it was to watch corporations, pharma, and insurance companies' greed cause so much patient suffering pure and simple . They are making money and our current regime is so blatantly , unashamedly pro bigger profits for large corps at the expense of all of us health and financial wise that I am amazed people don't see what's right in front of us! ACA definitely needs fixed. It's not good but congress has had 7 years to come up with something better and has not . What's the answer? We had ACA last year and after a series of unexpected financial downfalls and unplanned health issues, we had to draw more $ out of our taxable savings to cover medical bills. This caused our "income" to go way up because ACA doesn't care if income is for disability, medical expenses, hardships etc. it's all gross dollars. Now we have to pay back all the subsidies - over $11,000 on a disability income budget! Viscous cycle. BUT, if we had no insurance last year with all the unexpected hospitalizations and medical expenses, we would have been ruined. Now we will likely have NO health insurance at our age after working and saving all of our lives. Sad state of affairs for the US. Great blog by the way. Keep writing!

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