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Showing posts from December, 2010

The Tiger or the Tiger?

In the tale of the lady and the tiger, a man was asked to choose one of two doors. Behind one was a beautiful bride, behind the other was a ferocious man-eating tiger. But at least the man had options.

Cut to this story about baby boomer fears that Medicare won't be there for them:

Initially, 63 percent of boomers in the poll dismissed the idea of raising the eligibility age to keep Medicare afloat financially. But when the survey forced them to choose between raising the age or cutting benefits, 59 percent said raise the age and keep the benefits.However one feels about raising the eligibility age for Medicare, this is a misleading way of presenting the option. Suppose that I live to be 75 and that starting at 65 my Medicare benefit averages $500 per year for a total payout of $5000. If the eligibility age is raised to 70, the payout drops to $2500. That is a cut in benefits, which means that far from presenting a real choice, the poll in effect manipulates respondents into selecti…

The Beveridge Model

Want is only one of the five giants on the road of reconstruction and in some ways the easiest to attack. The others are Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness. -Social Insurance and Allied Service, a.k.a. The Beveridge Report (1942)In 1940, Great Britain tottered on the edge of extinction. Its armies badly mauled by the Wermacht in France, its cities absorbing a ferocious shellacking from the Luftwaffe, and the United States still over a year from entering World War II, the British government in an act of supreme optimism began making plans for post-war life on the assumption that it would prevail over both Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan.

There was little doubt that the aftermath of two world wars and an economic depression would wrought profound changes on British life. The working- and middle-class men who had fought the wars would insist on taking charge, and the heretofore dominant patricians admitted that they had a point. Prime Minister Winston Churchill appointed noted…

holiday's are here!

I've managed to stay home today and miss all the crazy-ness that lurks out in the shops. I've been keeping pretty busy though wrapping presents, making last-minute presents, baking cakes, and finishing off the tree with some ginger bread stars all the while listening to this.
Wishing all my readers the merriest of holidays, the tastiest of feasts and of course sweet treats! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

How Much Money Do You Spend On Health Care?

The per capita annual income of the United States is $44,070. Of that, $6,174 goes to health care expenses, meaning that the average American spends 14.3% of his or her income on health care. This can come in many forms: co-pays, Medicare withholding, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, and tax subsidies for employer-based health insurance.

As a point of comparison, consider the averages of six of the Beveridge Model nations. (I've excluded Cuba, Hong Kong, and Norway: Cuba has a command economy and so is not comparable; Hong Kong is an outlier; and Norway's nationalized petroleum helps fund its social services.) As a group, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and Sweden have an average per capita income of $37,222. Of that, $3,031 goes to health care, meaning that the residents of these countries spend 8.1% of their incomes on health care (including the tax burden).

Six Bismarck Model nations (Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland) have an averag…

The Big Four

The nations of the world have coalesced around four approaches to delivering health care:
The Beveridge Model, wherein the government owns and operates health care. Cuba, England, Hong Kong, Italy, Spain, and the four Scandinavian countries all provide health care via the this model, which is named for the British reformer who designed the parameters of Britain's welfare state. Beveridge Model systems are characterized by their commitment to public health and primary care, as well as efficiency. Also known as single payer, the Beveridge Model is the embodiment of socialized medicineThe Bismarck Model, wherein all residents of a country are required to have health insurance and insurance companies are required to sell it to them. France, Germany, and Switzerland and most countries of western Europe operate under this model (as does Japan), named for the German chancellor who designed it in the 19th Century. Insurance can be profit, non-profit, or both (depending on the country); ind…

One Man's Agenda 1, Honest Debate 0

In his column today, New York Times columnist David Brooks writes:
But it should be possible to strengthen the safety net while modernizing some of the Great Society structures. Paul Ryan, a Republican, and Alice Rivlin, a Democrat, have come up with a Medicare reform plan in which new enrollees would receive a fixed contribution from the government, growing a bit faster than inflation. They would apply that money against the cost of health insurance. This would make Medicare a defined contribution program and save hundreds of billions. If Obama said he was open to thinking about this sort of fundamental reform, he'd generate tremendous excitement on the right.Medicare inflation is a Titanic burden on the health care system and on the overall economy. It must be addressed, and one way to start is with an honest presentation and not an ingenuous sales job. Unfortunately, Mr Brooks' remarks are closer to the latter.

You may well believe that the Ryan plan is the best way to curb M…

At What Cost Is The Right to Know?

Gina Kolata writes in the New York Times that new tests have raised an ethical dilemma for physicians: Should they notify patients who do not have Alzheimer's that they are at risk for the disease?

Ms Kolata's article implies another dilemma as well: Should the tests be performed at all?  Should we be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on procedures and tests for a condition that has no cure, that can eventually be diagnosed without the tests, and when not everyone who receives them descends into Alzheimer's? Americans and their physicians have become addicted to the latest diagnostic technology, and yet our healthy quality of life is no better -- and in many cases worse -- than the citizens of other wealthy economies. Our costs, though, are staggering -- nearly double those of some of the same countries.

Moreover, whether by design or economic imperative, the United States has chosen to invest in secondary and tertiary care at the expense of primary care and public h…

Where It All Began

In 1929, Justin Kimball, then a vice president of the Baylor University medical extensions in Dallas, reflected on a pile on unpaid hospital bills, many of them from teachers. He proposed a prepaid plan wherein for $6 a year, Dallas teachers would receive up to 21 days of hospitalization. The idea proved popular, and soon 75% of Dallas teachers were enrolled. From this modest beginning, the American health insurance business took root.

Meanwhile, the ravages of the Great Depression influenced New Deal policy makers to urge President Franklin Roosevelt to propose a national policy of guaranteed health care. But Roosevelt's attention was preoccupied with other legislative priorities and with conducting World War II. Moreover, he shied away from battles with the American Medical Association and southern segregationists, who feared that a national plan would lead to integrated hospitals.

Harry Truman, Roosevelt's successor, felt a stronger commitment to guaranteed health care and ma…

winter warmth

There always something so wonderful about winter that makes us all want to slow cook, bake and venture into all things homemade while I'm sure keeping the house just that little bit warmer through the streak of bitter cold. Right now for me since I'm not so fortunate to have a warm roaring fireplace, which at the moment would be blaring non-stop, it's all about keeping cozy under a blanket and well pretty much not moving.
I love the warmth of a winter cabin feeling. How cool would it be to stay in a cabin over the holidays? I know I wouldn't mind.
Oh, and if you still looking for a few little homemade gift ideas go here, here and here.
1. Winter Cabin, 2. Grandpa's shirt, 3. Untitled, 4. Patterns are everywhere, 5. Fireplace, 6. Untitled, 7. Pumpkin Pancakes, 8. red fox in snow

homemade peppermint patties

Hey everyone! It's the time of year where family, snow covered lawns and chilly nights are abound, where we retreat to our warm houses for some much needed homemade treats and steaming spicy hot chocolate to keep the cold at bay. So I bring a sweet easy-to-do treat that you can send off with guests, use as stocking stuffers or set out on a tray and see them disappear. I don't know about you but when ever I see peppermint patties they instantly remind me of Christmas. I think it has to do with the fact that each year when we head over to my Grandma's house for Christmas dinner she puts these in our stocking where I find them somewhere squashed between the apple and orange.

400g icing sugar, plus more for dusting 1 tbsp of lemon juice 1 egg white 1/2 tsp peppermint extract 200g of chocolate (best you can find)
In a bowl beat the egg white with the lemon juice until it starts to foam, add the peppermint, sift in the icing sugar and combine. Once the mixture gets tough, br…