Monday, October 8, 2012

Finally Catching Up

It seems really unfair that the way the business world works these days, this is how a vacation tends to go:

Week before vacation - Work huge number of hours so feel like things are settled enough that you can leave for a while.

During vacation - check in daily, hope nothing terribly wrong happens, end up un-surprised when you get three phone calls in a single morning while fly fishing.

Week after vacation - Work huge number of hours to try to catch up on what you didn't do last week.

The net result is that I worked as many hours in the three weeks that included my vacation as I would have worked in those three weeks if I hadn't taken vacation.  Something seems really, really wrong there, to be honest.

Overall, my vacation was fairly relaxing.  Due to the weather, I got out fishing only three days, and I only caught fish on two of those days.  The fish in my last post was the biggest fish I caught all week.  My son fished with me for a couple days and had about the same results that I had.

I went to a concert.  Worked out a lot.  Slept a lot.  Finished season 4 of Breaking Bad.  And now I'm back at work; today starts my second week back.

My wife is also back at work today, which is certainly a relief for her.  Being out of work was certainly costly.  We paid two months of COBRA coverage for health care - a big chunk of change.  And, my wife is not eligible for health care insurance at her new job until December.  So, until then, I am using my company's insurance, which is very expensive, has a very high deductible, and requires me to put a significant amount of money into a health savings account.  Neither this policy or the COBRA policy is remotely affordable, and on top of losing 9 weeks of pay, the health care costs have been a big hit.  Regretfully, none of the people running for President is willing to deal with people caught in a situation like we are going through.  I'm not saying that it's the government's job to help me out right now.  I do think that our health care system should be different so that no one has to endure what we've just dealt with.

We are lucky, in that we have been able to scrape by without the second income and still pay the health care premiums.  But, many people would not be able to do so.  Having no health insurance exactly when you need the insurance the most - when your income is reduced or gone - seems absurd to me.

My wife and I have never collected unemployment, never used food stamps, never used welfare, always paid our bills, and played by the rules.  And, with college degrees and years of job experience, we are doing OK.  I certainly have a new understanding of the hardships people endure when unemployed or underemployed and uninsured or under-insured at the same time.  And more than ever, the idea of a single payer health care system seems imperative to me.

Yet, the people who want to be president have shown no interest in something like that.  Congress has shown no interest.  About half of the electorate, if not many more, many of whom may get government-provided health care, see no reason to support coverage for others who don't have it.  The people who have insurance seem to believe "I got mine; you're on your own."  Those who don't have insurance are still using the health care system, but probably at a much higher cost per incident, due to use of emergency departments.

To me, it all comes down to greed, purely and simply.  Vermont is ahead of the nation on the way to a single payer healthcare system.  I hope it does get implemented.  And based on my income, I expect to pay more in taxes for that system that I currently pay for insurance.  I'm glad to do that, if I know there will be a safety net there for insurance if and when my job situation isn't what it is today.  And yes, I trust the government to implement that system.  Medicare and the VA are two of the most efficient health care systems in the US, if not the two most efficient.

Maybe I'm a socialist.  So be it.

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