Economic Approach: Fire Yourself

Posted by: MartinFocazio

Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/20/08 08:08 PM

Economic issues are a fairly mundane reason to think of LTS, but nonetheless, the most likely man-made disaster we all can face.

OK, here's a scenario.

You lose your job, tomorrow. If you're like the vast majority of Americans, you're not going to have 6 months of cash and another job lined up at the same or greater salary.

So what would you do to conserve cash? I'm sure we all have the list of things that would go, the list of things that would stay.

Back in January, I "fired myself" and we went on what we called the "Oh S(&*&T" plan of economic management, as if all I had was part-time and contract work. We did a complete and accurate assessment of our spending and not only did we discover a lot of the "regular" expenses to be cut (ALL subscriptions to ANYTHING that's not a utility, magazines, Netflix, all of that - we don't have a TV, so we didn't have to cut off Cable subscriptions) we also found a pile of ways to cut back expenses which we implemented:

- We stopped using the landline phone, and turned to Skype, which has a huge number of handsets that work well with it, so it's like using a regular phone, but much much cheaper. We keep the DSL service so we have real 911 and a real dialtone, but only for 911 calls. We also use prepaid cellular phones (I'm a big tracfone fan) at a great savings and NO MONTHLY BILL.

- We stopped going out to eat so much. We didn't cut that out entirely, but we set an absolute maximum of $100 a month for ready-to-eat food consumed out of the home. That means pizza, coffee, snacks, whatever. We loaded the van and my jeep with kid chow for when they gripe about wanting a snack.

- Similarly, I brow-bag lunch and I brought a bunch of canned food to work for those inevitable times when I forget the lunch at home.

- We instituted a NO LEFTOVERS policy. We eat what we cook, and if we cook too much, we eat that until it's gone.

- We got more chickens, so now I sell more eggs and we'll have free meat in the fall when I cull the flock before winter.

- I drive slower and we drive MUCH less. We use maps and plan trips.

- I carpool when I can, and where I can. That's not easy.

And all of this while still very much employed. The effects have been great. We have cash to save, I have a lost weight and feel great. Not only that but I'm finding even more slack in my budget and we're cleaning that up too. I don't actually NEED 6 computers running at all times, and I don't really NEED a lawn tractor (sold it) and in fact, I've ditched almost all of my gas-powered machinery in favor of electric or manual. This spring was liberating - fewer engines to prep for the season, less oil and gas to buy - we're down to a chainsaw, a small lawn mower and a pressure washer, and the backup generator and I'm thinking about getting two goats to do away with the need for the lawnmower. I'm seriously thinking about an electric chain saw for the woodpile area at least.

Anyway, we're really re-evaluating the "hafta" list and finding it shorter than we expected. The bottom line benefits have been many. Try it.




Posted by: Rodion

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/20/08 09:04 PM

But... you still keep an up-to-date BOB, right? wink
Posted by: climberslacker

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/20/08 10:02 PM

two goats??
Posted by: Todd W

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/20/08 10:19 PM

I just called DSL up (my back-up Internet I work online) and asked if we could lower my bill and she said sure and in under 5 minutes it went from 39.95/mo to 19.95/mo no contract smile Never hurts to ask this applies to those who have CC debts / payments too. I lowered my truck interest rate a TON too that took a little longer but well worth it.

-Todd
Posted by: bws48

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/20/08 10:34 PM

We find the things that kill your budget are the monthly 'contracts' for things like cell phones, cable, etc etc etc. The marketing around here has a lot of advertising for low rates for the first 6/9/12 months, after which they go up to the 'regular' rate. People sign up, then fall into the habit of paying and "having" to have the service, whatever it is and however much it costs.

I see this hitting some of my young co-workers especially hard, with them having trouble making car payments, getting calls from bill collectors, but looking at me like I'm an idiot when I suggest they drop the $100+ month cable tv service. Their reason: "but be get all the movies free" Can't convince them TANSTAAFL, or even free movies...

A yearly budget review and scrub is a good idea. How hard is it to get a new job that will pay 10% more? Probably hard. But it is probably easy to cut 10% off your spending - plus, the new $$ you have are tax free.
Posted by: BobS

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/20/08 11:30 PM

I have a Remington electric chainsaw, had it for going on 25-years. Itís the best chainsaw I ever had, I got rid of the gas one years ago.



Another way to save on electricity is to put all your appliances on power strips. When turned off they are still consuming power as are all the small wall chargers we all use to charge our cell phones and other battery powered junk we tell ourselves we must have. Put it all on power strips and kill the power to it when not in use.
Posted by: jshannon

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/20/08 11:58 PM

It's called simple living (www.simpleliving.net) and people have been doing it for decades.

Magic Jack may be better than skype.
Posted by: MartinFocazio

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 12:11 AM

Originally Posted By: jshannon
Magic Jack may be better than skype.


Maybe, but their web site sure makes it look like a big time scam.
Posted by: z96Cobra

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 03:25 AM

Originally Posted By: martinfocazio

(ALL subscriptions to ANYTHING that's not a utility, magazines, Netflix, all of that - we don't have a TV, so we didn't have to cut off Cable subscriptions)


Well, if ya don't have a TV, why would ya have Netflix anyway!?!? grin I'm just being funny!!!!

Originally Posted By: martinfocazio

- We instituted a NO LEFTOVERS policy. We eat what we cook, and if we cook too much, we eat that until it's gone.



If you cook too much and have leftovers, why not save 'em for the next day? Forcing yourself to eat food you aren't hungry for is just wasting food/money and if it happens often enough you may start gaining weight!


Originally Posted By: martinfocazio

I'm seriously thinking about an electric chain saw for the woodpile area at least.


IMO, I'd keep a gas chainsaw just in case. If a storm blows a tree down and you need to move it, you may not have any power for the electric chainsaw. I realize you have a generator, but you'll be using gas for it to power an electric chainsaw! You may also need the generator for powering stuff in the house at the same time you may need to drag it somewhere to use the chainsaw.

I'm just offering up my opinion, and only you know what you need for your family and your situation. I applaud your efforts/gusto and now you have me thinking about trying some of the things you are doing!

Roger

Posted by: unimogbert

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 12:24 PM

Great exercise and good daily practice anyway.

One thing that seemed to be true of others who got laid off with me some years back was that job-loss seemed only to happen to the worker. Never to the family of the worker. It seemed that the family members pretty much just continued as before, as if the event hadn't involved them at all and that the money was there and would always be there.

If one could get their family involved in the pretend job-loss exercise you'd be miles and miles ahead of the usual reaction.

Another benefit of practicing frugality is that some of us get great satisfaction in fixing stuff that others call the repairman to do. Or which can be fixed for a dollar which others would discard and buy new for tens if not hundreds of dollars.
I figure in the worst event that my repair skills could be bartered for services. For instance, I could fix the lawyer's leaky faucet. In return he can mow my lawn for the summer(I can't think of anything else a lawyer would be good for in survival conditions ....... :-)
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 01:00 PM

I can't fire myself, I'm retired!!!
Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 02:05 PM

Thanks for the inspiration, Martin.

We live a very modest lifestyle due to the sacrifices necessitated by the priorities weíre chosen. The big ones are living on one income so my wife can stay home and sending the kids to Catholic school because we think our #1 purpose in life is to raise our children.

Iíve been scouring the budget lately and I seem to be out of things to cut. Going by the 80/20 rule, 80% of our income, in this order, goes to:

1. House
2. School
3. Groceries
4. Heating oil

Gas, even at todayís prices is a distant fifth place.

Now, what can I cut from this? Our home, menu and thermostat setting are all very much in keeping with our modest lifestyle. School is the only thing that could be considered extravagant and it would be the first to go in serious unemployment survival mode. Weíre always questioning if we are doing the right thing there.

In the other 20%, thereís utilities, cell phones, landline, DSL, Netflix (no cable, so Netflix now w/ the instant viewing is a very good deal). I need to look into how much I could save by dropping the land line but keeping DSL. Subscriptions? HAHAHAHAÖ My lunch is usually a can of soup (target price <$2) and some Ramen noodles for filler. Our cars are 8 years old, bought with cash. No self respecting male in my family would ever call a mechanic, plumber, carpenter, electrician or any repairman.

Now, not included in this 100% is ďincidentalsĒ such as root canals, birthday presents, clothes, blow money, and all other irregular and often unpredictable spending. Iím really struggling on how to account for this stuff right now.

Any ideas?

Posted by: Alex

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 03:09 PM

Tom.
I have one idea for you. If your heating oil cost is on the 4th place, you might think of your house insulation improvement.

By the way, one hint from me. The electric bill in California is quite noticeable. I've managed to save about 20% every month after installation of motion sensors with timers in place of regular light switches for non critical indoor lights. After a month of use my family even found such an innovation quite convenient to have smile
Posted by: Arney

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 03:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Alex
By the way, one hint from me. The electric bill in California is quite noticeable. I've managed to save about 20% every month after installation of motion sensors with timers in place of regular light switches for non critical indoor lights.

Just curious, but are these motion sensors hooked up to incandescent lights? It's too bad that CFL's don't like being turned on/off repeatedly and have a shorter lifespan when you do so, particuarly since the better quality CFL's aren't cheap to replace and are a pain to dispose of so you want to make them last as long as possible.
Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 03:40 PM

Alex - I think you hit the nail on the head. My house is quite old w/ poor insulation and windows. My only hesitation is that it would be a large project and I don't know if we will stay in it long enough for payback.

Electricity costs about $100/month so its not a huge killer. My wife likes to have a million little lamps on everywhere and it drives me nuts. There is a florescent light over the kitchen sink that she leaves on 24 hours a day, but I consider 7 cents a day to be a good investment because it avoids my constant nagging. I'd bet a new refridgerator would save us quite a bit, but the old one simply refuses to die.
Posted by: MartinFocazio

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 04:35 PM

Originally Posted By: thseng


Iíve been scouring the budget lately and I seem to be out of things to cut. Going by the 80/20 rule, 80% of our income, in this order, goes to:

1. House
2. School
3. Groceries
4. Heating oil

....

Now, not included in this 100% is ďincidentalsĒ such as root canals, birthday presents, clothes, blow money, and all other irregular and often unpredictable spending. Iím really struggling on how to account for this stuff right now.


For us, the 80/20 works out to:

1. Health Care (Long story, but we have no health insurance)
2. Mortgage
3. Gas
4. Tuition
5. Food



Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 05:15 PM

Originally Posted By: martinfocazio
For us, the 80/20 works out to:
1. Health Care (Long story, but we have no health insurance)
2. Mortgage
3. Gas
4. Tuition
5. Food

Ouch!

I have a dream of one day walking into the doctor's office and when they ask for my insurance, I slap a wad of 50's on the counter and say, in my best Clint Eastwood voice: "THIS is my insurance! Any questions, punk?"

If I had the $1500/month my employer probably shells our for insurance, I'd be in great shape. As it is, they would only credit you a measly $100 for opting out.

My other dream is to have a lawyer draw up a contract that goes something like this:

"You, as my healthcare provider, are responsible for submitting claims to my insurance correctly. If you fail to do so, I will be happy to assist you in rectifying the situation. My rate for this service is $150/hr with a 3 hour minimum payable by money order in advance. The scope of this service is solely to facilitate a conference call between your billing office and my insurance company, since your employees are incapable of picking up a phone and dialing it unless it is to harass me."
Posted by: MartinFocazio

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 07:22 PM

Originally Posted By: thseng

"You, as my healthcare provider, are responsible for submitting claims to my insurance correctly. If you fail to do so, I will be happy to assist you in rectifying the situation. My rate for this service is $150/hr with a 3 hour minimum payable by money order in advance. The scope of this service is solely to facilitate a conference call between your billing office and my insurance company, since your employees are incapable of picking up a phone and dialing it unless it is to harass me."


Not to hijack my own thread...but.

Living without health insurance is not as bad as you think IF you have a good job and you can afford to keep up with the bills. I actually canceled my health insurance, which I was paying for myself, because the policy turned out to not have maternity or well baby care of any kind, a $5,600 deductible for "in network" care and an $11,300 deductible for "out of network" care. The maternity care DID NOT apply to the deductible. Upon close reading of the policy, it would seem that only if I were hit by a bus on any odd-numbered Tuesday that was also Thanksgiving, and it was between the hours of 3:41 AM and 3:54 AM and the accident happened while I was scubadiving in a kiddy pool, then I'd have partial coverage for all injuries that did not involve any part of my body.

Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 07:55 PM

Not to cooperate with the hijacking, but...

I would certainly prefer the C.A.S.H. insurance plan if I could get a reasonable credit for opting out. I would buy a plan that would cover nothing short of a hospital stay and then park the difference in savings.

We tried the C.A.S.H. dental plan recently after two of my kids were treated to a really lousy first ever visit to our "primary provider". The non-covered dentist we went to next was a husband and wife operating out of the first floor of their home with no other staff. Originally they quoted $55 each for two kids and then they dropped it to $40 for one and didn't charge for the baby.
Posted by: LeeG

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 09:22 PM

Here is the advantage of health insurance: group rates.

A friend of mine has major medical only with a $5K annual deductible. He had to have a hospital procedure done and his cost was $3500, so one would think that the insurance was useless. If he had gone in and had that same procedure done as a 'walk in, cash patient', the cost would have been over 8K.

The insurance companies have negotiated fixed price deals with their 'in network' providers which is almost always lower than what a walk in would pay. Ditto for dentists. A few years ago, I had to have several root canals/crowns done. Even though my insurance only paid the first $1000 (my annual limit per year), it saved me over $2500 extra due to negotiated fees. The walk-in price for a crown is about $1000 + $1500 for the root canal. My cost was $1500 total for 2.

High deductible major medical is pretty inexpensive and well worth it. Sorry for the continued hijack.
Posted by: bws48

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/21/08 11:03 PM

OK, I have to go with the flow.

Most of what employees think of as health insurance isn't. The employer contracts with Big Health Company ("BHC")to 'administer' the 'plan'. BHC then deals with Dr.'s, sets fees, coverage etc. They get $$ from the employer for the services, and send the employee health care bills back to the employer (in a round about way). The employer is 'self-insured', and the BHC that cuts the employer's cost in health care gets his contact renewed next year. The one that doesn't is replaced. Health care costs thus impact your employer's bottom line.

True war story. I was in a small 60 person company. The spouse of secretary had triple by-pass; the company was 'self-insured' with a big "health insurance' provider; the cost of the triple-bypass caused the company president to miss his profit target for the company that year and cost him his bonus. Then there was a lay-off and the secretary with the spouse with the heart condition was laid off.

Even with an individual health insurance policy, its like getting auto insurance with a bad driving record if you have a chronic, serious medical problem, like in our case, diabetes. If you have to ask how much the policy costs, you can't afford it. It's called "rating;" they raise your rates so basically you pay their estimate of how much you will cost them plus their admin fee and profit.

My apology for the rant guys, and the continued hijack.
Posted by: MartinFocazio

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 12:54 AM

Originally Posted By: LeeG

High deductible major medical is pretty inexpensive and well worth it. Sorry for the continued hijack.


Sorry, but bulls(*&7t. Double bull#@&@T.

I'm fed up with this party line, and I'm calling out any provider of a HDMM plan that actually lets you get to the dammed deductible with routine healthcare expenses and the occasional ER visit. I've been playing this game for almost 8 years now, and my attempt at humor before was actually a fairly accurate description of the sh&^&^t that I had to put up with with the HDMM plans I've tried and now that I'm uninsured, I'm seeing even more of the vast scam up close and personal.

When I was clawing my way to meet a deductible, Labcorp and Quest and the Dr.'s Offices would send the insurance company a bill - for the Dr. it was $90. Then the insurance company would "Reprice" the bill to $64. Then they would make a determination based on some arcane formula if the $64 even aplies to the deductible. More often than not it didn't, so yes, it's nice to have a lower bill, but so what? It's not going to apply to the deductible. Same goes for the Lab bills - they'd reprice the bills from $450 to $80 and then in some random formula again, some were applicable to the deductible, others not.

I had an ER visit last year, got some stuff in my eye, needed it scraped out. They repriced some, not all of the bills, half didn't apply to the deductible and all were my responsibility. An ER visit that cost me $2,400 ended up applying about $900 to my deductible.

So we went to the cash/pay as you go program, and you know what? The bastards don't care that I am willng to pay my bill on the spot with no administrative overhead on their part, no rebilling mambo - I want to pay the same $64 they would have gotten from the insurance company, but no, they offer a discount of 15% so my bill is $84. Big deal. They have already demonstrated they will take $64 for a visit, I'll give them the same for no hassle.

I'm extremely angry right now an this topic is, by my own fault, way off the rails, but the cost of HEALTH CARE is why I'm thinking about long-term economic survival at this time, and why I think it's important to discuss.



Posted by: nurit

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 12:58 AM

Hi everyone. First post. Longtime lurker. You guys are terrific!

To return to the subject of cutting expenses... For years I've been buying most of my clothes at resale shops and Salvation Army/Goodwill. And lately Ebay too. This all requires time and patience, but I've found excellent things at a fraction of the original price.

Aside from the money saved, there is the joy and unpredictability of the hunt. And buying good secondhand stuff is another form of recycling.

best regards to you all
Nurit
Posted by: BobS

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 02:42 AM

Originally Posted By: nurit
Hi everyone. First post. Longtime lurker. You guys are terrific!

To return to the subject of cutting expenses... For years I've been buying most of my clothes at resale shops and Salvation Army/Goodwill. And lately Ebay too. This all requires time and patience, but I've found excellent things at a fraction of the original price.

Aside from the money saved, there is the joy and unpredictability of the hunt. And buying good secondhand stuff is another form of recycling.

best regards to you all
Nurit



I bought a Kelty backpack about a month ago for $3.00 at the Goodwill store.

While out working I almost always stop in if I drive by the store. Iíve found all kinds of interesting things to play with there.
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 12:48 PM

Welcome Newguy!!!

(a couple of days ago I got a pair of like-new 511 shorts at Goodwill for $1. Love those places)...
Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 01:00 PM

Originally Posted By: martinfocazio

I'm fed up with this party line, and I'm calling out any provider of a HDMM plan that actually lets you get to the dammed deductible with routine healthcare expenses and the occasional ER visit. I've been playing this game for almost 8 years now, and my attempt at humor before was actually a fairly accurate description of the sh&^&^t that I had to put up with with the HDMM plans I've tried and now that I'm uninsured, I'm seeing even more of the vast scam up close and personal.

Insurance is GAMBLING. People think they can bet against the house and win. I don't know why.

I'm betting that my premiums will be less than my cost if I was uninsured. Even though I'm clearly losing my shirt, I stay in this game because I just might need a triple bypass one day. You can't get out of the overall game. If you don't place your bet with the insurance company, you automatically place it with Murphy. Then if you need a triple bypass, Murphy wins big and you lose everything.

You can't win. You can't break even. You can't get out of the game.

Oh, also, the game is rigged. As you described, the insurance company makes all the rules and plays their games and it is so complicated there's no way to nail them down. I love it when I ask how much a procedure will cost and they tell me "we have to do the procedure, submit the bill to your insurance and then they tell us how much you owe." B.S.

I can't understand why a doctor wouldn't give you a better deal for cash. Think of how much it costs them to process a claim with your insurance company and if they code it wrong they won't get anything! If they are lucky they'll get ten cents on the dollar from a collection agency. How do they get through medical school WITHOUT OWNING A BRAIN?

Here's what I want when the world becomes perfect: To pay for my routine, expected, reasonable medical costs with CASH. I should pay for what I get, just like anywhere else. I want an insurance policy that will cover only unlikely events that would bankrupt me in the blink of an eye and I want it priced in accordance with the likelihood that I'll need it. I don't want a "deductible" because life is too short to argue over whether a doctor visit counts for $90 or $68. I want providers go get a brain and remember why they where called to their vocation.

There are some out there. A doctor who will take your phone call, listen to your symptoms and call in a prescription for no charge. The dentist I mentioned before who took a quick look at our baby's two front teeth and didn't charge us anything (our regular dentist would have gladly taken our copay and billed our insurance, after making us wait for an hour).

Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 01:07 PM

Originally Posted By: nurit
To return to the subject of cutting expenses... For years I've been buying most of my clothes at resale shops and Salvation Army/Goodwill. And lately Ebay too. This all requires time and patience, but I've found excellent things at a fraction of the original price.

Welcome, Nurit.

We should make a list of things that are expensive when bought new compared the cost of buying them used. How about:

Cars (drive a new one off the lot and you already owe much more than its worth)
Kid's bicycles (they are almost given away at garage sales)
...
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 02:02 PM

More times than I like to think about I have been in pharmacies and seen them charge one price for an item to a person with insurance, and a different (and higher) price for the same item to a person without insurance. No insurance, you're gonna pay more. If you rarely if ever have to use prescription drugs you MIGHT save money by not paying insurance premiums, but one good illness or injury and I fear that you will be broke in no time. I just had eye surgery. The bill for the gas passer alone was over $700, discounted (thanks to my Blue Cross) to a little over $300, my out of pocket cost, $34...
Posted by: bws48

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 02:46 PM

Hey, maybe we need a thread/forum on surviving the health care/insurance system wink
Posted by: KG2V

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 05:27 PM

RE Insurance:
Yes, you are betting against yourself - with the whole of the "group" as a base - the insurance company will NEVER (or almost never) lose against the group as a whole

An individual can occasionally "Break the Bank" (unfortunately, over the last 12 months, I've been one of those)

Generally - if you can't get seriously discounted medical (hey, my company pays for it, and won't give me more pay if I opt out, so I might as well 'play' - as I'm playing with 'funny money'), you are best off with a pure "catastrophic" plan. At one point, we had a plan - basically it covered NADA till something like $10K. The way it worked - it was basically "if you get in an accident/have something drastic happen (cancer, heart attack etc), we will pay after you rack up 10K in bills" - wan't cheap, but wasn't too expensive either. The KNEW I was not going to be submitting anything unless I/my family was in the hospital dieing
Posted by: TeacherRO

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 05:39 PM

Oh, and buy used cars with good mileage
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 08:08 PM

Ahhhhhhhh

Reading this post once again reminds me how fortunate I am to be Canadian.

No earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes or tsunamis. Very few dangerous animal species, and most likely the best health care system in the world.

I get full coverage for medical AND dental for myself and the wife/kids including free prescription meds. For 30 bucks a month through work I get full death benefits up to 400 000 bucks and it doesent matter how I die, so long as I am dead my family gets the coin.

The only bad thing we had up here was Celine Dion and we gave her to you.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!

I guess I wont be moving down south anytime soon. Sounds like you guys are getting raped.
Posted by: climberslacker

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 08:19 PM

And you guys get the metric system! SOOOOOO much easier!!
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/22/08 11:06 PM

"...the best health care system in the world..."

When we were in BC a few years ago we talked to a guy who was off work with a blown disc in his back (been there done that). He was on a waiting list about two years long for surgery. I got mine in CA within ten days, the delay was for traction and physical theropy prior to the procedure. Has that been changed???
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/23/08 02:07 AM

I think Taurus is just teasing you folks a bit. (Nothing wrong with loving your country, though. I think you'll all agree.)

Both the U.S. and Canada have very high-quality health care, once you get access to it. And that's the challenge on both sides of the border.

If I understand it correctly (and correct me if I'm wrong), you can get services in the U.S. immediately if you can afford to pay cash. There is infinite capacity in the system, ready to go. But if you can't pay for it directly, or want to be reimbursed, you're rather at the mercy of whatever insurance plan you have. These act for all practical purposes as gatekeepers.

In Canada, nearly all services are paid for through public insurance (which is really means the government pays for it all, and we pay more in taxes). Here, the gatekeeper is the wait list, especially for specialists and non-emergency surgery, where there is only so much capacity. Yes, it has been an issue. It's slowly getting better, though granted it's not perfect.

But remember, the Canadian system is a publicly-funded system. When we as a country decided to stop deficit spending at the federal level and start paying down our national debt, there were sacrifices made across the country. Health care was hit pretty hard along with many other sectors. That's the big picture behind some of the stories you've heard.

So, each to his (or her) own. Each system will get you one way or another. Given the cost of health services, that's almost inevitable.
Posted by: BobS

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/23/08 03:06 AM

Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout
If I understand it correctly (and correct me if I'm wrong), you can get services in the U.S. immediately if you can afford to pay cash. There is infinite capacity in the system, ready to go. But if you can't pay for it directly, or want to be reimbursed, you're rather at the mercy of whatever insurance plan you have. These act for all practical purposes as gatekeepers.


In the USA anyone can get medical problems handled right away if itís an emergency, all one has to do is go to any hospital.

You could argue and Iím sure this is abused by some, but for a real emergency you will get very high grade medical help regardless of coverage.
Posted by: Alex

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/23/08 10:08 PM

Originally Posted By: thseng
Alex - I think you hit the nail on the head. My house is quite old w/ poor insulation and windows. My only hesitation is that it would be a large project and I don't know if we will stay in it long enough for payback.


But you said that:

[quoute]No self respecting male in my family would ever call a mechanic, plumber, carpenter, electrician or any repairman.[/quote]

It might cost you something near to nothing. You can improve the situation with just properly utilized paper... Check google for hints and tips on that.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/24/08 02:27 AM

Fair comment. I don't believe anyone would be turned away in a genuine emergency.

I was thinking more of elective surgeries and such (in response to OBG's question) and how the two systems differ.

Though anyone with a really bad back will tell you that IT IS a freaking emergency.
Posted by: marduk

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/24/08 02:57 AM

Check out www.simplecare.com . This is an organization of "cash only" providers, mostly physician offices,few if any hospitals.

Look into HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_savings_account.

Cash discounts vary by location, but should be more than 15%,
sometimes as much as 50% (just like any transaction, charges are negotiable, don't take the first offer, also "shop around" if time and circumstances allow.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/24/08 03:04 AM

I live in an 80-year-old farmhouse, so I understand the reluctance to spend a lot of money on an old structure.

But FWIW there's a lot that can be done, inexpensively, to keep an old house warmer/cooler:
- use heavy curtains to keep air off the windows at night
- caulk every window and weatherstrip every door; makes a huge difference
- put reflective insulation on windows that aren't used all the time (the stuff with foil on both sides and bubble wrap in the middle); if you need some light through basement windows, use doubled-up bubble wrap
- put temporary clear plastic on the inside of windows you don't need to open (this is standard stock in every Canadian hardware store; you attach it with double-sided tape and use a hair dryer to even out any wrinkles; I assume it's widely available in the northern U.S.)
- heavily insulate the attic; this gives a lot of bang for very few bucks, and is much easier than upgrading walls.

All of this will save money, and make an old place a lot more comfortable.
Posted by: Susan

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/24/08 04:59 AM

Martin: sheep eat grass, goats eat brush.

Unimogbert: "It seemed that the family members pretty much just continued as before"... only because they were allowed to do so.

Thseng: Why spend money on private school when your wife isn't working? There are about 3 million families in America who are homeschooling. It is legal in all 50 states. If your wife can read, she can teach. There are all kinds of programs that can help... Health care billing errors? What's wrong, do you hate being charged for baby paraphenalia (bassinette, diapers, mobile, etc) when you go in for a cracked wrist?

BigDaddyTX: "My only beef with Goodwill is that I feel like they mark some things up too much." That's no joke! My local one tends to have used stuff priced double that of the exact same stuff new. The only time you get a real deal there is if you find something that they don't know what it is or what it's for.

Taurus: You're funny! No earthquakes?
...June 23, 1946.....Vancouver Island...............7.3
...August 22, 1949...Near Queen Charlotte Islands...8.1
...July 10, 1958.....Alaska/B.C. border.............7.9
...June 24, 1970.....So.of Queen Charlotte Islands..7.4
...Dec. 20, 1976.....West of Vancouver Island.......6.7
...Feb. 28, 1979.....Yukon/Alaska border............7.2
...Dec. 17, 1980.....West of Vancouver Island.......6.8
...Dec. 23, 1985.....Mackenzie region, NWT..........6.9
...Nov. 12, 1988.....Saguenay region, Quebec........6.0

"Very few dangerous animal species"?
Well, let's see... you've got people (#1 for dangerous), grizzly bears, people, wolverines, and people.

One of the first rules of survival: be [more] aware of your surroundings.

But you certainly do have a BEAUTIFUL country!

BobS: "...but for a real emergency you will get very high grade medical help regardless of coverage." Not always. I was in shock and on my way to bleeding to death, and the doctor was seeing broken wrists and dog bites first. 'Wait your turn, Sweetie!' My neighbor recently had surgery and nearly DID bleed to death, all because they couldn't put the staples in properly and they couldn't be bothered to do proper monitoring. A young woman who weighed about 90 lbs was accidentally given a double dose of morphine meant for the dying man in the next room.

Piece of advice to all: Anytime you are billed for medical care (hospital esp), immediately request an itemized list of charges they are asking you to pay and the codes to decipher them. You will probably be charged for things that had nothing to do with your problem. And it annoys them incredibly!

Sue
Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/24/08 07:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Alex
It might cost you something near to nothing. You can improve the situation with just properly utilized paper... Check google for hints and tips on that.

Can you be a little more specific there?
Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/24/08 07:18 PM

Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout
I live in an 80-year-old farmhouse, so I understand the reluctance to spend a lot of money on an old structure.

Thanks for the tips. The windows are old wooden ones but they have aluminum storm windows that help a lot. Replacing them would be a good idea but a lot of these window companies smell like a ripoff.

The main problem is the "balloon" construction w/ no insulation in most of the walls.
Posted by: thseng

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/24/08 07:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Susan
Thseng: Why spend money on private school when your wife isn't working? There are about 3 million families in America who are homeschooling. It is legal in all 50 states. If your wife can read, she can teach. There are all kinds of programs that can help... Health care billing errors? What's wrong, do you hate being charged for baby paraphenalia (bassinette, diapers, mobile, etc) when you go in for a cracked wrist?

It is more often being billed for the right thing but submitted the wrong way. About 20% of the time they even send it to the wrong insurance company!
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Economic Approach: Fire Yourself - 05/24/08 09:36 PM

Quote:
One of the first rules of survival: be [more] aware of your surroundings.


Ha! we shut my mouth I guess. I have NEVER heard tell of a quake here except off the coast. As far as being aware of my surroundings I have never heard tell of a Quake in my area, never seen a live wolverine, and the only bears I have seen were through the sights of my rife mostly. I have never felt endangered by one. Like ace said, give them their respect and they will(mostly) do the same. As for people, they are dangerous by default.

You still get stuck with Celine Dion though. ha