Thinking Magazine #23 12-10-93

Medical Insurance

I have medical insurance ... or do I? I pay for it ... but am I really covered? Are you covered? If you go to the hospital in need of long term care, is the insurance you have going to pay for it? In many cases, the answer is NO!

Theoretically, insurance companies are regulated, but in order to compete and make a profit, they write medical coverage contracts with a lot of loopholes so they can get out of paying for you when you need it. If the high deductibles and other loopholes built into your policy don’t allow them to avoid paying, they raise your rates so that you can't afford insurance anymore. If you are part of a group plan, they raise the rates on your group until the group can't pay for it anymore. Because of the higher rates, your employer has to choose between firing you when you get sick or dropping coverage for everyone in the company.

When you go to the hospital, the insurance companies require you to be pre-certified. This allows them to make decisions about your medical treatment. The type of treatment you get is not determined by your doctor or other medical professionals. It is determined by insurance company employees. And these insurance companies are trying to cut costs so they can get you out of there as cheaply as possible.

In many cases any time a claim is made, the automatic response from the insurance companies is to assert that it arose from a preexisting condition, whether or not they have any reason to believe that it did. They do this to avoid paying claims, in the hope (and reasonable expectation) that you will give up and won't press the issue. They assume, based on past experience, that claims for less than a few thousand dollars will not be worth the legal cost of your pursuing payment.

So, even though I pay for medical insurance, I'm not really covered. And, very likely, neither are you. If we're not covered, we're not insured. We're being ripped off.

I very much want to see President Clinton's Health Care package enacted into law, so I've been faxing Congress on the subject. Here are some of the letters I've sent dealing with this issue:

==[ A Health Care Question ]==

==[ Health Care Reform ]==

==[ Does Anyone Have Insurance? (Really) ]==

==[ Is Health Care a Right? ]==

A while back, I was watching TV and saw Congressman Dick Armey being interviewed on the subject of health care. I got more than a little hot about it, so I dumped my frustrations on the Republicans:

==[ Yes, It Is A Right! ]==

After sending the above outburst to every Republican on my fax list, I realized that it wasn't in the best of taste and that I should apologize. The following was my humble apology to the Republican party:

==[ The 'F' Word ]==

America - Are We the Dream?

Sometimes I write a really good letter -- and this is one I'm proud of. In my efforts to prod Congress in the right direction, I have written a lot of letters. I hope this was a letter that some of them actually read:

==[ What Is An American (Really) ]==

The NAFTA Battle

Some of you might be wondering why I haven't been writing Thinking Magazine every month like I used to. You may be asking yourselves, "Oh, my God! Is Marc caving in to the system and becoming one of THEM?" Hell, no! But with Clinton doing such a good job and the country moving on the right track again, I haven't felt the compulsion that used to force me to write more than I am now. Still, I haven't been asleep at the wheel. During the debate about the NAFTA, I sent out a lot of faxes in support of its ratification. I focused on pestering Congress since, after all, they are the ones who actually voted on the issue. And theirs were the only votes that counted.

As the NAFTA battle raged, I thought it would be like the budget fight — a one vote winner (or loser). But unlike the budget, which I knew would have to pass I didn't think NAFTA was somehow going to have to be approved. So I thought that if I hit Congress hard enough, I might actually get those few votes to put it over the top, so I sent about 4000 faxes defending it. As it turned out, Clinton ran a brilliant campaign and got NAFTA through easily.

In the beginning, Republicans who were basically pro NAFTA were considering voting against it. They wanted to see some serious backing from the President on the issue because they wanted to be on the winning side. Republican leaders stated publicly that they weren't going to support NAFTA if Clinton didn't lead the charge.

The first move Clinton made that showed he was serious about NAFTA was when he got three former presidents to come to the White House to support it. Seeing Clinton, Bush, Ford, and Carter in the same room giving pro-NAFTA speeches got the message across very clearly.

Clinton was on first, and gave a very persuasive and dynamic speech. But the most interesting comment was made by George Bush, who followed him. Bush walked up to the microphone and said, "That was a hell of a speech! Now I can see why he's on the inside looking out and I'm on the outside looking in."

Even though the four presidents got the ball rolling and brought the Republicans on board, NAFTA still had a long way to go. That's when Al Gore and Bill Clinton got the brilliant idea to challenge Ross Perot to a debate. This was one of the slickest moves I've ever seen in politics and in my opinion, it was the ploy that won the NAFTA battle.

Clinton and Gore knew that Perot was weak when it came to facts. Everything Perot had ever said about NAFTA was already published and In several previous interviews, Perot had come unglued when pressed for specifics. It was just a matter of research and preparation to be able to totally discredit Perot publicly. And knowing Perot had an ego problem, they knew he wouldn't back down form a challenge.

I watched the debate and in my opinion it was the worst slaughter I've ever seen in a political forum. Gore beat Perot worse that Lloyd Benson beat Dan Quayle in the1988 presidential debates. And as a result, looking back, I think I could have saved myself the expense of sending 4000 faxes. But it was an interesting fight and here are my contributions to the battle:

==[ Union Interest vs. the Rest of Us ]==

==[ Defining the Republican Role ]==

==[ NAFTA, Democrats, and the 1994 Election ]==

==[ Democrats and NAFTA ]==

==[ Is Perot Laughing at You? ]==

Nafta Hafta!

==[ Gore Takes Perot to the Woodshed ]==

==[ NAFTA Made Simple ]==

==[ Are the Unions Going to Hurt You on NAFTA? ]==

==[ NAFTA The Morning After ]==

Goodbye, Small Pox

After killing millions of people for thousands of years, small pox has been eradicated. the disease no longer exists anywhere in the population and all that's left are a few samples that are being kept in labs. Now that its DNA map has been made and stored on computer, the last of the small pox virus is scheduled for execution on December 31, 1993.

But will that be the end of small pox? From what I understand, with the DNA map, a device called a DNA sequencer could at some point in the future be used to recreate the small pox virus.

This is an example how new technology is bending our perception of reality. Is a virus really extinct if it can be recreated? Is it alive or is it dead? And isn't the concept of storing life forms as computer data files and intriguing concept?

At this time we are seeing a wild acceleration in technology and it will be interesting to watch and be part of it as it unfolds.

Where Were You When Kennedy Was Shot?

It's been 30 years since JFK was shot. I was 9 years old at the time and I don't remember where I was. Interestingly though, I do remember where I was when I heard Oswald was shot, probably because I found it confusing at the time.

Well, it isn't any less confusing today. Who killed JFK? I don't know. I don't have enough information to determine who did kill JFK, but I can tell you who didn't kill JFK and that was Oswald.

During the week of the anniversary of JFK's death, I detected a serious effort in TV shows on the subject to convince the public that the "Magic Bullet" theory is plausible -- the idea being that if it somehow could have happened, no matter how unlikely, the public will quit asking questions. Thirty years is a long time, after all, and perhaps we can be made to forget the flaws in the "Magic Bullet" scenario.

But there are two problems the new pseudo-documentaries can't explain. First, the bullet was found in perfect condition. Even a bullet shot into cotton is deformed more than the "Magic Bullet" was -- but the Magic Bullet made seven holes and broke several bones in the process. Second, the sum of the bullet fragments plus the Magic Bullet add up to considerably more than the original bullet weighed.

Bullets don't break bones and stay in perfect condition and bullets don't gain weight when they are shot. There is just no way in Hell that Oswald could possibly have killed Kennedy. So 30 years later, it still remains a mystery.

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