Friday, January 13, 2017

Fixing our Healthcare Crisis

My good friend, John Koziol, recently wrote a post about Obamacare and that it sucks. I am also a believer that Obamacare sucks and I agree with his assessment that all it did was raise the “count” of how many people are covered by insurance. It forced people to purchase insurance that basically covers catastrophic events. These are people who couldn’t afford insurance in the first place, and now they are doling out money for a plan that still doesn’t address their basic health care needs. Most are no better off, and many are much worse.

For many of us that already had insurance, Obamacare significantly raised our insurance rates. In my situation, my health insurance premiums went from paying $1,000 a month $1,700 a month. Folks, that’s MY portion, after my employer paid their portion!! When your health insurance premiums are more than your mortgage, something is wrong!! Because of that increase, I had to make the tough decision to find a new job that provided health insurance at a more reasonable rate.  

Obamacare simply forced people to purchase insurance. It did not address the REAL issue, which in my opinion, is the exorbitant cost of medical care. In fact, forcing people to purchase insurance only exacerbates the problem. Over time, the system has become broken and people aren’t recognizing why that happened. This is my take on it …

Employers began providing health insurance to employees, which everyone loved. Unions, such as auto workers and teachers, demanded the cream of the crop insurance plans which costs the employees very little or nothing because the employer paid for it. As more and more people were covered by insurance, they disregarded the cost of medical care because it didn’t come out of their pocket. People literally had no idea how much their employer was paying for their health insurance. In addition, people literally had no idea how much the insurance company was paying for their doctor visit, or MRI, child birth, or surgery. They didn’t care about any of this because it didn’t come out of their pocket. They simply had a $10 copay and that’s all that mattered to them.

All this fed into the medical industry being able to raise their prices, again and again and again, without the majority of people realizing it. The insurance companies were paying the bill, not the average person. So of course, with expenses rising, insurance companies increased their rates. You can’t blame the insurance companies because that’s a no-brainer; If your expenses increase, you have to increase your income .. Duh! And because employers were paying the increased insurance premiums, the people still didn’t pay attention.

Finally, businesses had enough and started making the employees chip in more for their health insurance. And deductibles increased. And copays increased. And that’s when people started to complain. But they’re just complaining at the employers and insurance companies, not the medical industry. And the people certainly aren’t recognizing how their “doesn’t matter to me what it costs” attitude created this mess.

I believe one of the keys to fixing the system is transparency and equality. Providers should have a price sheet that lists the cost of each of their services. And the cost is the same for everyone no matter who their insurance company is or whether the patient is paying cash out of pocket. No more charging different rates depending on who is paying the bill. The provider’s price sheet should be available to anyone who asks. Right now you can’t get that. Try asking your provider how much they will charge for a particular service. Most of the time you won’t get an answer. And even if you do get an answer, often the actual charge ends up more.

My current insurance company recently implemented a feature that addresses some of these issues. They have an app that I can load on my phone. If I need a major service, such as an MRI, I can search the app for approved providers near me. But it doesn’t just stop at that. Some of the providers are indicated as “preferred” providers because their costs are less than others. If I chose one of these “preferred” providers for the MRI, the insurance company rewards me with a rebate check of $50, $100, or whatever is appropriate for that service. I believe that’s a step in the right direction by educating the people and allowing them to make wiser decisions. Stop and think about that for a minute. If the insurance company is paying me $100 for choosing provider A over provider B, it probably means they are saving way more than $100 for that service. That should open your eyes to the disparity of the cost charged by different providers.

I believe another key to fixing the system is contribution. People need to have skin in the game. What I mean is that people should have to pay a portion of the insurance premium, and a portion of the services (copays, co-insurance, or a combination). Free does not work. If it’s free, people will abuse it. When it’s free, people are irresponsible and go to the E.R. for a runny nose. When it’s free, people don’t care what the costs are, which contributed to our current situation.

I believe a combination of the above factors (transparency, equality, and contribution) work together to fix the system. When people have skin in the game, they begin to care about the costs. And when people can shop around and compare costs for a particular service, providers will be forced to become more competitive. As the cost of services are brought back down to reasonable rates, the cost of insurance premiums will go down accordingly. It's a win-win.

As many of you know, I have battled the healthcare and insurance industries for years. I hate them. I despise them. Simply put, the system is broken. It's time we fix it. I pray that the incoming administration -- Democrat, Republican, Black, White, Male, and Female -- will all work together and fix it.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bonding with the new team

For the better part of my 30+ career as a software developer, I've had the luxury of working from home. It's been a great experience and I've loved it. It gave me the opportunity to be flexible with my children's school and sport schedules, as well as the ability to deal with some difficult medical issues within my family.

But alas ... it was time for a change. My youngest son was graduating from high school this year and that afforded me the opportunity to relocate from Michigan to someplace warmer. Earlier this year, a series of events unfolded that allowed me to do just that. As of June, my husband and I have relocated to North Carolina and I am now working for SunGard Public Sector. I am lovin' it here in North Carolina. I am lovin' the new job. And I now realize how much I missed working with REAL people (my dog didn't really give me much feedback with development ideas.)

A few months after getting settled into my new job, I showed up at work one morning and found a giant replica of the Visual FoxPro 7.0 box in my office. In 2001, Microsoft had this box made as a promotional gimmick. There was only one box made. At the time, I was working for Microsoft as a contractor. Several of us from the Fox Team took our picture around the box, which was sitting on the tailgate of my SUV. My license plate is "FOX ROX" and we thought it would be fun to pose with the box, the plate, and the team. The picture has been on my cork board ever since. A few months later, the box was put on stage at the 2001 Advisor DevCon conference in San Diego, CA. It was later given away as a door prize at the end of the conference. That was the last time I ever saw that box ... until now.

Apparently, several people from OSSI (now SunGard) were in attendance at the conference. They didn't win the box, but Frank Luo really wanted that box. He approached the guy who won and offered a trade: a case of Fox Software mugs for the box. A deal was made and the box has been with OSSI/SunGard ever since. Whenever new developers are hired, the box mysteriously appears in their office some morning.

As you can imagine, I was stunned the other morning when I saw that box in my office. I never imagined the box was still around twelve years later. The people at SunGard didn't know that was the ONLY box, nor did they know about the picture the Fox Team had taken with the box and my car. I shared the photo with my coworkers and we all reminisced about 2001. And then we got the bright idea ... I still have a "FOX ROX" license plate so let's recreate that photo!

And so we did ... and we had a ton of fun doing it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2012 FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Award

Wow .. during the keynote of the 2012 Southwest Fox conference (, I was presented with the 2012 FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Award. This was a surprise to me! Nobody told me this was going to happen! I was so caught off guard that I didn't even say "Thanks" or give an acceptance speech! Heck .. I'm only 25, so how in the world could I be considered a candidate for a "Lifetime" award (humor me .. it's my fantasy.) Seriously, though, where do I even begin to express how humbled I am to have received this? The list of previous recipients includes many well-respected people in the FoxPro Community (Click here for a full list).

I began working with Fox products in 1989. It took 10 years before I actually attended my first conference and realized there was a great FoxPro Community. I quickly discovered it was so gracious, so helpful, so supportive and so welcoming. It didn't take long before I stepped out my comfort zone and began writing articles, writing books, and speaking at conferences. It's been a wonderful journey. It has forced me to learn things that I wouldn't have otherwise known. It has forced me to dig deep, be tenacious, and not accept "that can't be done" as an answer. It has forced me to keep my skill set sharp and continue to discover new and creative solutions.

What I hadn't predicted was what a wonderful group of friends I would gain along the way. The FoxPro Community is such a friendly group of people. They share their knowledge openly and freely. They truly want to help others. I've been lovingly dubbed the "Reporting Queen" by the FoxPro Community and I wear that crown with great honor. I'm so glad that I've been given the opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to me.

To everyone in the FoxPro Community, please accept my heartfelt "Thanks" for your friendship, your knowledge, your support, and this wonderful award!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

8th Microsoft MVP Award Received!

I am thrilled that once again I have been honored with the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award for my contributions to the VFP Community. This is my 8th year in a row and it's always a great feeling to be recognized for your efforts. The sad news is there are only 14 recipients this year. That means many other well-deserving people who are serving the Fox Community didn't receive the award. On the other hand, it also makes me feel even more honored that I'm included in this group of wonderful people. See for a complete list of VFP MVPs.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New VFP 9 SP2 and Sedna Book Available

After a really long time in gestation, “Making Sense of Sedna and SP2” has finally been published by dFPUG in both English and German. This book, co-authored by Tamar E. Granor, Toni Feltman, Doug Hennig, Rick Schummer, Bo Durban, and me, goes into tremendous depth on VFP 9 Service Pack 2 and Sedna, including installation gotchas, things that work, things that almost work, and how to make the use of the new features in both products. “Making Sense of Sedna and SP2” is available now from Hentzenwerke Publishing as an e-book and will be available in printed version in July.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Update on my son

It's been almost 4 weeks since my son's horrible moped accident. I'm very happy to report he is doing remarkably well. He spent 4 days in ICU and another 3 days in the hospital. The first several days at home were pretty rough mentally and physically, but soon things began to work out and we adjusted.

Originally we were told it would be 4-6 weeks before they allowed him to bear any weight on his right leg because of the pelvic fractures. However, one day shy of the 3 week mark, the x-rays reveals miraculous healing and he was given the thumbs up to walk unassisted. Nobody had to tell Kyle twice! He gave up the wheelchair and the walker and began walking right away. He wouldn't even use crutches. He still has a pretty noticeable limp, but considering he was hit by a truck .. well .. at least he's walking!

He still suffers from double-vision and more recently some hearing issues. The doctors are scheduling him an appointment with a post-concussion clinic to address those issues. Hopefully those are temporary symptoms and his vision and hearing will return to normal soon.

He's back in school part time. He was spending 1/2 a day at the high school and the other 1/2 a day at the career tech center in a welding class prior to the accident. He's back at the high school but not quite ready to go back to welding class yet. Of course, *HE* thinks he is but I'm still leery. The doctors don't want him to do any heavy lifting or anything that could jar or impact his stomach. They want to give the internal organs plenty of time to heal.

Since the accident first occurred, we've learned a little bit more. For example, he actually broke 5 ribs, not 4 as we thought. I also learned that he didn't tumble end over end and land in the grass like I was first told. Instead, the impact of the truck sent him and the moped flying across the intersection. The moped hit the curb and then landed up on the grass. Kyle, however, went airborne and then his body slammed into a tree and was bounced back onto the grass several feet away from the tree. So not only did he get hit by a truck, he also slammed into a tree. Talk about bad luck!!

I've seen the moped. I've seen pictures of the truck's grill. I've seen the tree and the missing bark about 3-4' off the ground. I'm amazed he's alive! Truly, I am! I'm also amazed at the outpouring of support from all my friends in the Fox Community. I want to thank everyone for all that you did! You guys (and gals) rock!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stay safe!

It's been quite a while since I blogged. I've been very busy and never seem to find the time. However, today I seem to have a lot of time as I'm sitting in my son's hospital room. Kyle, my 17 year old, was in a severe vehicle accident on Thursday. He was riding his moped and was hit broad side by a truck. He went airborne and tumbled end over end repeatedly and landed in the grass about 45 feet away.

As you can imagine, Kyle's injuries are severe. Lot's of internal bleeding from damaged organs. The doctors rate the injuries on a scale of 1 to 5. His spleen is between a 1 and 2, his kidney is a 3, and his liver is damaged the most and rated a 4. Luckily, the internal bleeding stopped on its own and Kyle didn't need surgery. He's still not out of the woods yet as any wrong movement could restart the bleeding, but it's looking very good at this point. The doctors plan to let him get out of bed on Tuesday.

Besides the internal injuries, Kyle also has 4 broken ribs and a broken pelvic bone. Those should all heal on their own. Once the trauma team gives the "okay" that Kyle can get out of bed, the orthopedic team will work with him to teach him how to move and walk without putting weight on the right side. He also had a pretty ugly slash on his arm and a major puncture wound in his abdomen.

Considering the severity of the accident, Kyle is doing quite well and we're happy with the improvement. For anyone that wants to keep tabs on his progress, I have a "Care Pages" website set up:

What I really want to get across in this blog is safety!!!!

Kyle's accident was his fault. He didn't have his attention focused on driving. He was in the right-most lane of a busy intersection. The light was red and there was a school bus in front of him. Kyle was on his way to his first job interview, and thus was unfamiliar with where he was headed. While waiting for the light to turn green, he was looking down and fumbling with the GPS.

What happened next was a split second of poor judgment because of a lack of focus. The vehicle to his left rolled forward a little bit. The bus in front of him turned right. Kyle registered the movement of both those vehicles as, "The light must have turned green." He didn't realize the bus turned because of the "Turn right on red" rule. Without verifying the green light himself, Kyle just drove ahead right through the busy intersection. Unfortunately, there was a truck coming towards him from the right. The truck hadn't been able to see him because the large school bus was blocking the view. The speed limit is 45 on that road so the truck was moving very fast when he slammed directly into the right side of Kyle.

So the first point in today's blog is that I want everyone to remember to stay focused while driving. We've all done it. We've all turned our focus to something else. Fumbled with the radio. Talked on the cell phone. Admired something on the side of the road that caught our attention. I'm just as guilty as everyone else. Of course, Kyle is a young driver and hasn't had near as much experience as most of us. I'm sure that's a huge factor in the distraction being so detrimental to Kyle's bad decision. But we all know that we could have easily made that same mistake.

The second safety point of my blog is to stress the importance of wearing a helmet!!!

Had Kyle not been wearing a helmet, I would not be writing this blog. Instead, I would be dealing with my son's funeral. There is absolutely no doubt about this fact. Those who witnessed this accident described it as horrendous. I have talked with the unfortunate man who was driving the truck. He told me that as he ran to Kyle's side, he just knew in his heart that he was going to be dead. He didn't think it was possible for someone to survive that impact. The driver was quite shaken up and so relieved to hear that Kyle is going to survive. He was even more relieved that Kyle suffered no brain damage.

Surviving being hit at 45 mph and tumbling end over end for 45 feet across pavement, up over a curb, and into the grass is a true testament to the importance of wearing a helmet. I really doubt Kyle would have lived if he hadn't had a helmet. If he had lived, he certainly would have had severe permanent brain damage. So I can't stress enough the importance of wearing a helmet!

It's tough world out there! Please be safe!