Monday, October 28, 2013

My Problem with the Affordable Care Act

I have lots of issues with the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), the least of which is it is called 'ObamaCare'.  For the Republican's who want to rid themselves so badly of President Obama, they sure have found a way to tag him with his 'signature domestic piece of legislation' that will live long after he is out of office and on the speaker's circuit.  See I am already off topic...

My main problem is how each side is packaging their product or hate for the product.  The White House's twitter feed is spewing out ACA facts trying to sell us on the many benefits of the act. 

This sounds wonderful.  I am all for women's health and for them staying healthy.  Go get your who-ha checked, complete with a pap test and tack on some birth control annually, please!  While you are there save that ta-tas and get them squeezed with a picture.  But lets not act like these are free.  They are not.  Lets not act like the insurance company is giving them to you for free.  They are not.

Let's be clear: No Business Stays In Business Giving Away Free Services.  Put another way, the economic principle of 'there is no such thing as a free lunch' (TINSTAFL) applies.  Someone has to pay for it.  Someone has to pay the front desk lady who checked you in, the nurse aide who weighted you, the nurse who prepped you, the doctor who saw you, the lab technician who analyzed the pap, the courier who ferried it to and fro, the front office lady who opened the mail with the results, scanned it and filed it, and the office manager to supervise all of this.  Someone has to pay the electric bill to run the machine, the office rent to the lease holder, the debt payment on the machine, and all the supplies and drapes used along the way.  And then, somewhere all of the in between people, and yes the doctor, has to make a profit.

We can argue all day what that profit should or shouldn't be, but the reality is that these people work for profit.  The ugly middle man of all of this is the insurance company.  We can hate them all we want, but the reality is we really do want them.  We want Blue Cross Blue Shield putting us and their other 99 million members together (wiki article here) and power negotiating our cost down with the providers.  (for the record: a study recently concluded insurers only make about 2.2% profit, while the pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies were raking in 20% profits)  We actually need them in this debate to be the balance to a highly dysfunctional three legged stool of patients, providers and insurance companies.

The ACA, at its core, is not a bad piece of legislation.  It aims "to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance, lower the uninsured rate by expanding public and private insurance coverage, and reduce the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government".  It attempts to make health insurance, and by the health care, accessible and affordable across a broader spectrum of our populace.  It attempts to solve huge issues with the current methods deployed by health insurance companies and thereby eliminate many of the major hurdles found by many in lower income brackets.

However, in my opinion, it is trying to solve our health care problem by not attacking the problem.  The act is 381,871 words long.  The result regulations, or rules, on how to implement the act is 11,588,500 words (as of 10/14/13).  As printed by the Government Printing Office, the law is 906 pages long.  That is a lot of words that fail to attack the true issue, in my mind.

What's the problem you ask?  The lack of transparency across the system that allows the free market system to really work.  In my town there are two major hospitals, several critical care and specialty hospitals, and dozens of walk-in clinics.  I have simply no ability to determine if I want to pay the specialty hospital or the county hospital to do my heart bypass.  I can't get that information.

Several times (even now) over the last two years my wife has had simple outpatient procedures.  I literally have to wait for a full month to get the picture of what that procedure cost me.  I have no way to know that upfront to plan or decide if I want to do this procedure now.  I need the doctor, the hospital, the anesthesiologist, the lab, and any other one off bills to come in to understand what the procedure cost.  Did I get a good deal?  Should I have gone to the other hospital?  I can't answer that.  That data simply isn't there, and the hospitals, providers, and ancillary business don't want you to have it.  They make their markup on our ignorance and controlling all pieces of the non-transparent pie.

And frankly, it angers me.  So I say to republicans: You want to rid yourself of 'ObamaCare', fix the real problem and I will vote for the your guy to go and repeal it.  I say to democrats: You want 'ACA' to be the paramount social program of the 'teens', then get on board with a real fix to the system, not a 900+ page patch.

Now off to pay medical bills...seriously...that is next on my to do list.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

a "Living on Wheels" update

I was going through our blog and realized that it is silent about a huge purchase of ours...our own fifth wheel RV!  After extensive looking, reviewing, shopping, looking, reviewing, taking notes (get the picture?) Holly and I special ordered a 35 foot Open Range Light 305BHS.  We love our RV.  It has three bunks in the back, an outdoor kitchen, and it is large enough not to be stepping on each other when the mountain rains run us inside.  We took delivery of it in early July 2012 from Pharr RVs in Lubbock.  If you are in the market, look us up.  We will hook you up with a great salesman! let's catch up on our trips thus far:

1. The "Getting Acquainted" trip: July 13-15, 2012: Brantley Lake State Park; Carlsbad, NM

2. The "Mountain Getaway" trip: July 27-August 4, 2012: San Juan National Forest; Pagosa Springs, CO

3. The "First Solo Trip": October 5-7, 2012: Palo Duro Canyon State Park;Canyon, TX

4. The "Sand Camping" trip: May 24-26, 2013: Monahans Sandhills State Park; Monahans, TX

5. The "Cave" trip: June 14-16, 2013: Carlsbad KOA; Carlsbad, TX (visited Carlsbad Caverns NP)

6. The "Annual Jack Family and Friends Mountain Trip": August 2-10, 2013; San Juan National Forest; Pagosa Springs, CO

7. The "Zay's Birthday and Hotter than Heck" trip: August 30-September 2, 2013;  Palo Duro Canyon State Park;Canyon, TX

8. The "Scrub Brush Camping" trip: October 10-13, 2013; Lake Colorado City State Park, Colorado City, TX

So that catches you up!

Man, we are already making some great memories and learning a lot about this side of the state and eastern New Mexico.  I know everyone says our boys' schedules will keeps us from really using our camper, but I am hoping not.  This time away, even if just to sit around and laugh while they learn to ride bikes, is so refreshing.

Anyone want to go on a weekend trip?  We will meet you there!

 (Better Photos to Come)

Friday, October 04, 2013

Tap...Tap..Tap...This Thing On?

I said I was going to post more, and I haven't.  So very sad.  Before I start again I was wondering if anyone was even still listening.  Anyone here?

Monday, January 28, 2013


Saturday was a day of extreme contrasts.  It started by heading to the local sports store to sign Eli up for tee-ball.  What a crazy thought: a child of mine playing  a sport.  I probably should find an ‘Idiots guide to tee-ball’.  While there the guy asked if we were going to sign Zay up for the four year old league.  So there standing in front of this guy who looks at kids all day was a five and two year old.  He thought my two year old was four.  Contrast #1

We rushed home to push the kids out the door so Holly and I could attend a funeral for a two year old in our church.  He died of brain cancer.  Sitting in a church looking at a casket that is sized to hold the same size age as your own child will rock your world.  Watching a video tribute where you can see your son sit next to a kid that is dead will rock your world.  Contrast #2

After the church ceremony we were waiting on the family to leave.  This family has a seven week old son.  Yes while their son was on chemo and grasping for a miracle, the had another son.  In this sad saga, the family learned of their son’s illness four months before he passed.  Their lives changes through death and birth that quick.  Contrast #3 The odd sound of an infant child crying at the funeral of a two year old is quite an amazing contrast.  Contrast #4

We left the funeral and had about an hour to our self to regain some emotional strength.  We met Holly’s immediate family and her aunt and uncle out for dinner.  In that short time we went from weeping over the loss of a child to seeing pictures of Hawaiian vacations, New York mission trips, and the great joy of listening to grandparent bragging.  Contrast #5

Life, Death, Joy…all in a day of contrasts.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Backwards and Forwards

"Life is understood backwards, but lived forwards." - Unknown

Our vision is to be a family that serves God and is free from as many strings in this world that tie us down and limit our ability to react to his moving.   One of the big ways for that to happen is to be debt free.  If you have been around me long at all you know I have always had a 'pay down debt' plan.  It takes focus and discipline to really be debt free, something Holly and I both lack in the financial realm.  Our 'debt free' goal did not make near the progress it should have in 2012, and in a few ways it went backwards.  But I believe that the last quarter of the year really showed us what debt free can and will do for us.  I sense momentum building, excitement birthing, and discipline sprouting.  I am looking forward to focusing in on our finances in 2013.

Personally, 2012's focus was on 'health and fitness' for me.  With a million genetics not working in my favor, I really need to work on a lifestyle of health and fitness, not just spurts.  And if I am being honest there really have not been any big spurts of it in my life either.  I heard a cadiologist make a statement once that heartattacks that happen in your 50's started with choices made in your 30's.  I am working towards not being apart of that statistic. 

Mostly, I am excited to report that I am considering this 2012 resolution achieved!  Sure my goal was to lose more weight and to be able to run that 5k.  I missed my 'goal' number by a long shot and I can't run 5k either.  But that isn't what is important.  Several major victories were achieved.

1. I joined a gym.  I am super self conscious and never more so than in a gym or in a pool.  I don't know the first thing about free weights and I have to read the instructions on the machines.  The guy next to me on the treadmill is running and I am walking and out of breath.  The idea of a locker room frightens me.  But you know doesn't matter.  That guy running isn't looking at me, and if he is he is probably thinking what I am least he is here and not at home eating McDonald's.  They print instructions on those machines for two reasons: legal liability and so you will know how to use them.  And you can come home smelly and avoid the locker room altogether; your wife is just glad you went.

They gym I joined is open 24/7 and has a thirty minute express circuit room.  I got up real early one morning and took my time to read the instructions on what you were suppose to do, read each machine, and figure it all out.  After a week I feel in LOVE with this circuit room.  In a million years if you had told me I would like going to a gym I would have laughed.  I really do enjoy the gym.  I enjoy the days I treadmill and just listen to the news or watch HGTV (they are smart and put it next to ESPN so other guys don't really know which TV I am listening to and watching).  I enjoy the post circuit room feeling of alert and awareness.  I enjoy the hour and a half of alone time (just enough for this 98% extrovert).

Now I am being honest and saying I am currently out of routine at the gym, but starting at 6am in the morning, me and my gym are back at it!

2. I got my diet in focus.  Through a friend I got inspired to try Advocare.  Google it or email me if you want more info.  I have had great results.  In a month I have lost 13 lbs.  Not crazy weight loss, but I am more than happy.  I am a size down in pants.  I have lost inches all over my fat bodied self.  Additionally, I have so much energy, it is amazing.  Besides eating five small meals, I am drinking water. 

Before Thanksgiving if you asked me any given day at bed time how much raw water I had drank, I would have told you 0 ounces.  Since Thanksgiving I have focused on drinking water and I routinely get 40-70 ounces a day of plain water.  Additionally, I gave up all soft drinks and crazy sugar drinks.  After three days of caffeine headaches,  I have had zero cravings for Coke.  Pre change I would easily drink 40-60 ounces of Coke a day; more if we ate out for dinner.  I have maybe had three ounces in the last month and it just tastes weird. 

Like any lifestyle and diet change, it has its challenges.  But I am excited to be out of the holidays and get back into routine of eating well, making smart decisions, drinking my water, and having my small meals.

2013 will be the  year of hitting a goal weight, gaining overall fitness (not just dieting) and having the energy and focus to achieve my personal goals.

So there you have it.  In addition the the 'normal' resolutions, I would like to get back to my random blogging.  I love doing it and maybe more people would read and comment if I was more regular with my posting. 

I do hope you achieved some of your 2012 resolutions and I hope you set some great goals for 2013!

Monday, November 26, 2012

35 days remaining

by Justin

There are 35 days remaining to make progress on those New Year's resolutions.  How are yours coming along?  I making a last minute charge.  It is never too late!  Come on now, get yourself in gear, it isn't too late!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A New Year Dawns

By Justin
 A new year is unfolding - like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within. -Unknown

 In my persistence that I am neither a pessimist nor an optimist, rarely do I feel the need to look upon the new year as a time to truly make resolutions or changes.  It is, in fact, just a day on the calendar arbitrarily created to document the completely human need to chronicle time.  Should changes be warranted in your life, why should January 1st be any different than any other day. 

However, this year I have been reading Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership.  His chapter on dreams, visions, missions and goals has pushed me to rethink my plan.  I am giving 'resolutions' a go this year.

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. - Benjamin Franklin

So in line with his thinking, Holly and I have started the dialog about making our dreams for our family realities.  Casting a vision and getting specific on what it is going to take to accomplish it.  To look with anticipation forward into what our life can be as a family.  These have big ramifications on the individual dreams and goals for our family as well and just like a good vision greatly affect the individual goals I am setting for myself.  

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. - T.S. Elliot

 I am not going to share my specific goals.  I want the changes that are made to be done out of a genuine desire to see the vision to fruition.  My accountability will be with myself and those individuals around me that I know and trust.  I am excited to see what is just around the bend in the tracks ahead.  A new year dawns...and I am excited.