Health Insurance Puzzle

by Harry on October 24, 2003

It’s health insurance decision time at both my workplace and my wife’s. Like most employers mine is shifting more of the cost of insurance onto employees (though, brilliantly, it is not telling us how much we will have to pay, though we have to choose by today). I usually insure the family through my employer, and will again this year despite the cost, since, although my wife’s insurance would not cost us anything, we could not continue with our current GP on her insurance.
BUT, of course, we are also entitled to insure through her employer, and without any cost to ourselves. This would save us about $200-500 per year, as the co-pays for drugs through her insurer are lower and she gets better dental coverage (and we use a lot of drugs and dental). It would cost her employer about $10,000 per year to provide us with this benefit. (On top of the $12,000 my own employer pays).

So, what should we do? Have her employer pay $10,000 to an HMO so we can save at most $500? Or just lose the $200-500? (Please don’t suggest moving to a civilised country with a sane and efficient arrangement for funding healthcare: that’s not an option).

Three relevant facts:
1. My wife’s employer is the local public school district.
2. For years my employer has been effectively subsidising hers, both because when the kids are sick my job has the flexibility that I can take time off instead of her, and because we have never signed up for health insurance through her employer.
3. She works 30-35 hours a week and is paid on a 50% contract.

Cash. Rules. Everything. Around. Me.

by Ted on October 24, 2003

Speaking of Eminem, I’ve been fascinated for a long time by this: quite a few black and Latino rappers fill their albums and videos with images of ostentatious, even cartoonish wealth. With the possible exception of Vanilla Ice rolling in his 5.0*, I’ve never seen a white rapper portray his success in a remotely similar way.

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Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos

by Ted on October 24, 2003

Hee hee hee….

I have certain questions for the candidates that only TV campaign ads can answer. Such questions as:

Have you ever had a picnic with minority schoolchildren?

Do you like to quickly walk down hallways while surrounded by people holding clipboards and laws?

Can you go to a factory, put on a hard hat, shake hands with other people in hard hats, and look at a blueprint while pointing off into the distance as if you know how to extrapolate things from a blueprint?

“Peu de gens devineront combien il a fallu être triste pour ressusciter Carthage.”

Next week the body that oversees the technical co-ordination of the internet, ICANN, meets at Carthage in Tunisia. The top item on the agenda, for anyone who cares about privacy and freedom of expression, is the WHOIS database. This is the set of data of domain name owners which was originally collected so that network administrators could find and fix technical problems and keep the internet running smoothly.

Of course no collection of personal data can remain long without various interests campaigning to open it up to a variety of unintended uses. In this case, those interests include IP rights holders, law enforcement, oppressive regimes, stalkers, and of course spammers.

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It’s a sign…

by Maria on October 24, 2003

Well, strike me dead. BBC news online reports that Jim Caviezel, who’s playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s controversial film, has been struck by lightning. And an assistant director too, him for the second time. Apparently it actually is true that people struck by lightning have smoke come out of their ears (how? how? where does it come from?).

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Concorde

by Chris Bertram on October 24, 2003

Today brings the “last commercial flight of Concorde”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3209837.stm . “Concorde”:http://www.concordesst.com/ was built jointly by engineers in Toulouse and in Bristol (the city where I live and work). It is a tremendous source of local pride for the people of the city. Just last weekend I happened to be in the British Aerospace Welfare Association in Filton and overheard a number of elderly people who had worked on the project chatting about their experience of the aircraft. Anyone who grew up in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s will also know what the plane represented then in terms of confidence in a new technology-driven future, how the test flights were reported, the celebrity status of test-pilot “Brian Trubshaw”:http://www.concordesst.com/history/trubshaw.html , the worries about Concordski (later crashed at the Paris air show) and Boeing’s rival SST (abandoned). Now it will take longer to get from London to New York than it did twenty-seven years ago.

British Philosophical Association

by Chris Bertram on October 24, 2003

The “British Philosophical Association”:http://www.britphil.ac.uk/ , which aspires to be a professional body representing all academic philosophers in the UK, has its inaugural conference today. Onora O’Neill (Cambridge) and Robert Audi (Notre Dame – from the American Philisophical Association) are the keynote speakers. I’ll be there.

Body as text

by Henry on October 24, 2003

Via the ever wonderful “BoingBoing”:http://boingboing.net/2003_10_01_archive.html#106695295940140592 this interesting, if very, very weird “project”:http://ineradicablestain.com/skin.html in which Shelley Jackson invites a couple of thousand people to each have a single word tattooed on their body; the words, when put together, will form a short story that will not be available in any other medium. Jackson is responsible, among other things, for a fine (if rather _visceral_) collection of short stories, _The Melancholy of Anatomy_, as well as for the “cover”:http://www.lcrw.net/kellylink/sth/sthimage.htm of Kelly Link’s

Neither fish nor fowl

by Henry on October 24, 2003

“Dan Drezner”:http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/000837.html claims that France’s flouting of the rules governing the euro is proof that the European Union is just a standard international organization; I’m not any more convinced than “I was”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000383.html when he made the same argument a couple of months ago. I simply don’t see how this particular case provides a definitive test of whether or not the EU is a standard international organization (which is incapable of disciplining its more powerful members) or a truly supranational organization.

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Solar Labyrinths

by Henry on October 24, 2003

I’ve been meaning for days now to put up a pointer to “John Holbo’s”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2003/10/gene_wolfe.html nice post on Gene Wolfe, which has an interesting comments-thread. A statistically improbable proportion of the politically-inclined blogosphere “are”:http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/archives/002548.html “Gene”:http://www.longstoryshortpier.com/archives/indulgences/000013.html “Wolfe”:http://chun.typepad.com/chun/2003/10/kim_jong_il_tim.html “junkies”:http://www.highclearing.com/archivesuo/week_2001_10_28.html#001834, and a fair few of them have commented on this thread. And if you haven’t read Wolfe, shame on you. The field of science fiction/fantasy has two standout candidates for great authors who’ll be read in 100 years, and Wolfe is one of them. His masterpiece is “The Book of the New Sun” series (collected in the US in two volumes, _Shadow and Claw_ and _Sword and Citadel_ (with a sort of coda, _The Urth of the New Sun_). It’s a wonderful book; shadows of Kafka, of Borges, of Chesterton. Wolfe’s prose style is ornate, without being baroque; _BOTNS_ is thick with archaisms, loanwords and other exotica, but they’re employed with precision and economy, and even a sly sense of humour. It’s grave, and chilly, but it sings .

bq. We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life – they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.

Go read.

Plus 25% for yourself

by Kieran Healy on October 24, 2003

Patrick Belton at OxBlog disapproves of the “Pope Death Watch” but can’t resist linking to the betting on JPII’s successor, together with an analysis of the contenders. The main candidates are an Italian, a Cuban and a Nigerian, which sounds like the beginning of a pretty bad joke, the punchline to which is left as an exercise for the reader. I want the Nigerian to win, mainly because of the expanded possibilities for spam:

bq. REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE — STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.

bq. Dear Sir, I pray this important message meets you in peace, may blessings of God be upon you and your family and grant you the wisdom to understand my situation and how much I really need your assistance. Before I start let me introduce myself, my name is FRANCIS ARINZE, Cardinal of the most holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, former President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and prefect of divine worship and discipline of sacraments. I have recently been elected Pontiff of the Universal Church by the conclave of cardinals, which you may have seen on the news.

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