Shades of gray – life is not black and white

Nothing to do with a book, if you want that…move along nothing to see here.

If life was easy there would be clear lines of black and white in all things. Right and wrong. Good and bad. Left and right. Stop and go. Near and far (sorry, had to link to it!).

In some things there is the clear distinction and in some things there is not. Some people want to make it black and white in everything and really to probably cause controversy, advanced their own political agenda or to try and ostracize & label people.

Not voting for President Obama does not mean you are a racist. Not supporting ObamaCare does not mean you want people to die and die quickly. Not supporting gay marriage does not mean you are homophobic. Not supporting illegal immigration or blanket amnesty does not mean you hate Mexicans or other immigrants. Not supporting Jerry Jones does not mean you don’t like the Cowboys…okay had to try and throw a small curve-ball there.

Part of what got me thinking on this topic is the current gay marriage debate before the SOTUS this week. I think this article by Dana Loesch sums up a lot of what I think on this topic: The Argument For “Marriage Equality” Is Not A Conservative One.

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Obamacare – you can keep you healthcare except that you can’t always

I have debated telling this story. Some will say it’s not true as you will see I will not give the real name of my friend. But it is a true story.

President Obama campaigned for his signature healthcare legislature partially on the promise of keeping the healthcare plan you have if you like it. Here is some of what was said:

“Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year.”
via http://change.gov/agenda/health_care_agenda/

“No matter what you have heard, if you like your doctor or you healthcare plan you can keep it.”
via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXqKp5B0ZLE

In my opinion, this was misleading, perhaps deception and at worst and outright known lie.

For me personally, my premium costs have gone up every year since the law was passed. Some will say the cost benefits don’t really kick in until the law if fully implemented. Well, unfortunately for many the costs may go up more than $2,500 before they come down.

As for my friend

For this story, I will call my friend Jane. I have worked with Jane for about 10 years.

Early in 2012, some of us were meeting and we were told the unfortunate news that Jane’s breast cancer had returned. Jane beat it once back in the 1990s.

First and most important, Jane is still with us and is back in remission.

Jane was able to still work some during her chemo treatments which means when she could she came to the office. I got to see the slow effects on her and it saddened me. For instance, I shave my head…I watched Jane cut her hair shorter and shorter as she went through the treatments to the day she came in saying we had the same haircut…none.

Then I was there the day she got the call of an “all clear” diagnosis and she came up behind me at my desk and just hugged me and then broke down in tears of joy. If that does not move you, you lack basic human emotions.

Another day she came into work and told me she finally had more hair than me. A good day.

Now, Jane is not on our company’s healthcare plan, but her husband’s as it provided better overall coverage for the cost and likely would be considered one of those “Cadillac” plans. She has been on that plan for years.

Jane told me that her cancer treatment costs were very minimal and covered almost everything 100% after reaching the deductible. This includes the surgery to remove the tumors, the 6+ months of chemo treatments, the ~10 months of drug infusions, the doctor visits, the MRIs, the follow-ups, etc. Great plan for her. It was a true benefit that her husbands company provided for it’s employees.

Jane does not have that plan anymore. Her husband still works for the same company. The company told them due to the healthcare law changes from ObamaCare they could not continue to afford to provide it to the employees. Why? Well, recall that ObamaCare will tax these health plans.

Jane no longer has the coverage she once had, she was lucky in a sad sense that the cancer returned last year when she had the full plan. Now, she has higher out-of-pocket costs and not as much coverage.

So, Jane did not get to keep her healthcare plan and believe me she liked it. She and her husband lost out.

We have to remember that while there are sometimes positive effects to new laws, there are also negative effects. My friend no longer has the coverage she once had, some will say that is fair. Honestly…I am getting tired of this “fair” concept about as much as I am starting to dislike the word free. Life is not fair, there are winners and there are losers. Life throws everybody lumps. One persons definition of fairness is someone’s unfairness and many want the government to impose fairness.

As for President Obama’s statements on keeping your plan, well that was only if you company and health insurance company was willing to keep it the same. I believe his statements were misleading.

As for me?

For me, my coverage has not changed, still the same plan as last few year, but my premiums have gone up a little every year since  2009.

Given the “fines” companies of a certain size will pay for not providing coverage for their employees…I expect some day in the future my company (given I am still there!) will pay those fines versus providing the coverage. Will they be the first or just follow suit after another major company does it? I don’t know. Of course, I may be wrong.

I admit I don’t fully understand all the details of the law (I doubt many do), but a $2K-3K fine is cheaper than paying $4K plus for a healthcare plan. Do the math, it potentially saves large companies millions in healthcare costs.

I do know from a purely financial point-of-view it makes sense to dump the employees into the medical exchanges. Which I personally think was a unwritten goal of ObamaCare…to entice companies to actually dump coverage and let the government take it over for them.

As for others

There is no doubt some will benefit from ObamaCare, I know someone who probably already has now that they can get coverage.  The other friend had some pre-existing conditions and could not get coverage. Yes, there probably should have been plans made for these people before, but yes they should also have been more expensive than a normal plan. Sorry, but let’s deal in reality people…people that require more healthcare, cost the system more and that entire burden should not be put on others to subsidize. Is that fair to the healthy people?

I find this Reason.com article a refreshing change and advocate the direction some doctors are taking against nationalized healthcare. The Obamacare Revolt: Physicians Fight Back Against the Bureaucratization of Health Care.

I know many will disagree with me and that is fine, I respect your opinions even if I disagree with them. The majority of of us will never be 100% happy with whatever plans our government forces on us, just a fact of life.

Dreams of my father

Nope, nothing to do with our President’s famous book. But might be more about sayings from my own father.

This is about some things my dad told me over the years. These are not the exact words because few of us can remember the exact words of some thing that was said years ago.

  • “Son, isn’t all of this beautiful.” — This relates to the backpacking trips and fishing trip me and my dad took to the Colorado mountains…some with church youth groups or just me and him. My dad loves nature, especially the mountains, whether it was backpacking through them for a week or hunting. Take in all that nature and God provided in the wondrous landscapes of this country. Great times.
  • “Son, I wish you never would have had to see something like this in your lifetime.” — This was a couple of days after September 11th. This is one time where I remember exactly where I was when I first heard of the plane crash and when I saw the towers collapse on TV. This is when for some reason, I realized the dangers of this world. Sad time.
  • “Son, don’t depend on social security it is likely not to be there when you reach retirement.” — This was back when I was in high school, early 1990s. Yes, I just dated myself to some degree. But seems my dad had some foresight into what was coming down the pipeline. Without major change SS will be worthless when I reach that retirement age. Finance educational time.
  • “Son, just try your best.” — This was when playing sports. I was not the best athlete in the world (or I might be rich!), but I tried and dad was always there for encouragement. While dad was self-employed, he always tried to make it to my basketball or baseball games from little league through high school no matter how far away the games were. He did not make all of them, but it was a rare sight not to see him in the stands. Encouraging times.

Was life perfect with dad? No, there were always the strains and stresses of growing up. But when looking back it is good to think that the good times out weigh the bad times.