Posts tagged ‘BC’

Thanks Vancouver For Banning Uber So I Could Wait In 30-Minute Taxi Lines

This picture was taken at my hotel in Vancouver, BC on Saturday.  This is only about a third of the mob trying to get a taxi, a process that took me over 30 minutes.  The whole thing was made doubly frustrating by another bit of government interference -- about half the taxis that showed up dropping folks off left the hotel empty despite the huge mass of people waiting.  Why?  Apparently certain airport taxis are not allowed to pick up people in certain areas.  So the taxis had to go all the way back to the airport empty, despite the fact that people there were waiting to go to the airport.  Absolute madness of crony government intervention.

Yes, I understand that Saturday is "cruise day" and there is a huge spike in demand as these boats load and unload.  But this is exactly why Uber would make so much sense.  Think about all the folks that have weekday jobs that would love to earn some extra money driving on a Saturday.  Uber allows for just this sort of flexibility.

If You Like Your Health Plan...

We received a letter from Blue Cross / Blue Shield of AZ saying we could keep our plan, but the cost goes from about $579 a month to $739 a month in January of 2015 (a 27.6% increase).  Note that this is for a pretty high deductible health plan, something like $5000.  We wrote to our broker to explore options.  We got this response:

Crazy as this latest BC [Blue Cross] rate increase is it is a lot better than Obamacare.  I ran the same plan under the Affordable Care Act with BC and the rate for 1/1/15 would be $963.70 a month and if you went to the $6300 deductible plan the rate would still be $914 a month.  So I guess we are all lucky to be out of ACA until we are forced into it.  Now there is one variable that could lower your cost and that is if your household income in 2015 will be under $92k you could go into the Marketplace for premium assistance from our wonderful Federal government. If it is going to be higher than that be grateful you are where you are!

As predicted in advance, Obamacare and the exchange are not about saving money.  The only people who are saving money are those getting taxpayer subsidies in the exchange.

Obamacare Update: Letter From My Health Insurance Broker

My health insurance broker wrote me this in response to our telling him we got a letter from Blue Cross (BC) terminating our policy

Did  your BC letter say your policy ended 12/31/13 or 12/31/14.  If it ends in 2014 I strongly suggest you stay where you are until you are forced into Obamacare which will probably raise your rates substantially.

Given that I run a small business with fluctuating earnings, my last two years tax returns show zero net income.  If I had not honor, I probably could go into the exchange (if and when I could actually get into the exchange) and qualify for a large subsidy.  I could also probably go uncovered, and just sign up when I get sick, and pay the penalty, which is trivial if you are showing no income on your taxes.

Does anyone know if the exchanges do a net worth or asset check?  I don't see how.  If they only look at taxes, I will appear dirt poor.

Insurance Creep

I have a high deductible health plan, which makes a ton of sense to me.  For reasons I don't understand, by increasing my deductible from $100 to $2500 I save over $3,000 a year in premiums.  So even if I max my deductible every year, which I don't, I still don't pay as much in a year as my old BC/BS gold-plated policy.  And as an extra, added benefit, we have actually started price-shopping health care services, and that has been a real eye-opener as well.  Bottom line - one can get things like tests and X-rays a lot cheaper if one has the incentive to shop around.

So I worry about exactly this with the new federal health care bill:

Wendy Williams and her husband liked their health insurance plan.  The premium and annual deductibles made sense for them, and a more "gold-plated" plan was not worth the money.  Yet Massachusetts' health care regulators disagreed, and forced the Williams to pay a $1,000 fine if they wished to keep their insurance plan "” a plan they prefer to a comparable state-approved alternative....

If the federal government adopts an individual mandate, Ms. Williams fears her experience could soon replay itself nationwide.  She's right to fear.  Once there is an individual mandate, interest groups will flock to Washington seeking to have their preferred treatment or service incorporated into the requirements for acceptable health care plans.  Over time, the requirements will grow, and the cost of health care plans for many Americans will increase as a result.  Consequently, many individuals who have health care plans that fully meet their needs will suddenly find themselves "underinsured" "” and taxed fined as a result.

Are Republican Immigration Hawks Socialist?

From Fred Thompson, via Insty:

But he received his biggest applause for blasting the bipartisan plan
for immigration reform, which he called unworkable. "We are a nation of
compassion, a nation of immigrants," he said. "But this is our home . .
. and we get to decide who comes into our home."

Isn't this an essentially socialist view of property, that the whole country is essentially owned by all of us collectively and it is our government's responsibility to administer access to this community property?

I am just completing a course on the history of Rome from the Teaching Company (whose products have been universally excellent in my experience).  One of the interesting things that contributed substantially to Rome's strength, at least through the BC years, was their flexibility and success in absorbing many different peoples into the state.  They actually had various grades of citizenship, including such things as Latin Rights where certain peoples could get access to some aspects of citizenship (e.g. ability to conduct commerce and access to the judicial system) while being denied others (e.g. voting). 

Can't we figure out something similar?  Shouldn't it be possible to allow fairly open access to being present and conducting commerce in this country, while still having much tougher and tighter standards for voting and getting government handouts?  The taxes immigrants pay easily cover things like emergency services and extra load on the courts, but fall short of covering extra welfare and education. 

Unfortunately, the debate seems to be dominated either by Lou Dobbs racists who see Mexicans as spreading leprosy or by Marxists who see poor immigrants as a wedge to push socialism.  The problem is again traceable to a President who tries to lead on divisive issues without trying to clearly communicate a moral high ground.  For example, I would have first tried to establish one simple principle that has the virtue of being consistent with most of America's history:   

"The US should allow easy access to our country for immigrants, but immigrants should expect that immigration involves financial risks which they, not current Americans, will need to bear.  Over time, they will have access to full citizenship but the bar for such rights will be set high."

OK, it needs to be shorter and pithier, but you get the idea.  Reagan was fabulous at this, and Clinton was pretty good in his own way.  Bush sucks at it.