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Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Let’s face it.  Planning for the unthinkable isn’t fun.

Healthcare benefits are important and they are complex.  Choosing health benefits is challenging and making an informed decision requires focused effort to understand how the benefits are changing or understand all the intricacies of your insurance service and how any of the changes will affect you.  A daunting task to say the least.

In addition, it’s been a year since President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but many of us don’t know enough about the basic law let alone understand the fine print.

Speaking of the president, back in October I blogged about Obama visiting Oregon to stump for now Governor Kitzhaber and with his visit occurring in the middle of rush-hour traffic it triggered an accident on I-84 when eastbound traffic slowed to watch the president motorcade traveling west from the Portland Air National Guard Base.  A motorcyclist and northeast Portland man (Peter Kendall Gunderson, age 59) may have failed to see traffic ahead of him was slowing down for the presidential motorcade and as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident died at the hospital.

A couple weeks ago, Steve Duin, of The Oregonian published a compelling follow up report about the incident and the story reads like an old fashion motorcycle club “beat-down” by a privately held, for-profit company — Lifewise.

The Lifewise mission is: “To provide peace of mind to our members about their health-care coverage.” But five months later, Mr. Gunderson’s wife, Ellen, is still held captive to all the gray areas of the cost of trauma services; the imprecise terms of insurance policies; and the ethical dilemmas that arise over the exact moment when a donor’s death is certain and his organs become available.   I suspect like many of us, Mr. Gunderson never anticipated there would be so much uncertainty in the wake of a personal tragedy.

I suggest you read the story.  Then take action to review your beneficiary designations, understand your medical rights and responsibilities and plan for the unthinkable. Mr. Gunderson organs probably saved three lives but, the process for his family of navigating the billing intricacies, months of lien notices, collection threats and double billings has certainly been painful.

Lifewise has a reputation for trying to get out of their responsibilities to pay for the cost of medical care, but it’s important to note that according to the BBB there have been 3 complaints closed in last 3 years with no significant government actions involving the LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon.

Photo courtesy of Lifewise.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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He’s a preacher’s son, a perpetual optimist, and in a nod to the “Imported from Wisconsin” team he rides a Harley-Davidson Road King.

I’m talking about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who pledged a “return to frugality in government.”

Harley motorcycles and government frugality are two things I can rally behind, but just 6-weeks into his term, the badger state protesters, mostly public-sector workers have seized the same building and are comparing the governor to Hitler and Darth Vader.

The trigger?  A bill which would reduce most public-sector workers of their union rights and pare back their benefits. The protesters interpreted “frugality” as code for “union busting” and erupted into dueling rallies and slogan chants.

In my overly basic description, unions have two sides.  One is the great positive influence on democracy of people banding together for equal and fair treatment by employers.  The other is the misuse of that power to force too many concessions from employers, or become unreasonable about the union making concessions when economic conditions have changed.  In fact, watching the teachers demonstrate in Wisconsin I wonder how all these people obtained college degrees because a 6th grader understands that if you have $50 in the bank, you can’t withdraw $500.  Can they spell bankruptcydeficit, or foreclosure?  And if your taxes are increased (suggested by legislatures who like gov. welfare programs and want someone else to pay for them), will you have more money or less to spend?

“Frugal” may describe Gov. Walker, but for many Americans we’re in ‘frugal fatigue’ fearing a job loss any day, coping with rising health care costs and hoping for any opportunity to break the economic gridlock and return to the good ‘ol days of 2005.

Take Harley-Davidson who was on a high-speed-train to utter collapse.  They had to reduce labor costs and gain worker flexibility to remain competitive in the new economy.  They stated it would move operations from Milwaukee to Kansas City if it did not get a new union contract with lots of worker concessions. They also had threatened to move operations from York to Shelbyville, Ky., if it could not get a contract in York.  The company never blinked and I don’t think it was an empty threat of playing one location against another, and the reality was they have the capability of moving if they want too — anytime.  The company wasn’t expecting much and didn’t get any pushback from the unions given the dismal job market and in the past 22 months, Harley-Davidson has negotiated competitive labor contracts with the unions, exited non-core brands, expanded internationally, rebuilt its balance sheet, and addressed the scarcity value of the brand.

Will there be fewer people employed at $35.00 an hour to manufacture a H-D motorcycle?  Yes,  but this wasn’t some proud attempt at “union busting” by the company management.  It was about survival of the company and for the remaining few people employed it was about work or do without!

So, for all the Wisconsin fans and Wisconsonites in these troubling times – for the love of the Super Bowl champions, Bucky the badger and of course, the beer (Pabst, Schiltz, Miller and Blatz) – can we all just agree and get united to pitch in a bit more on health care and retirement benefits like the rest of us in the non-public, non-union job sectors and break the gridlock?!

Photo courtesy of WI., collective bargaining rights protestors.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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