Mixing Business With Racism Is Crazy

Last week I was shocked to get a Penzeys Spices newsletter with the title, “Newsletter +Racism Update!” As an IT professional I am familiar with the current best practices for email marketing practices. This title was a completely unnecessary risk to the business. For many businesses this is their peak season. Suffice to say anyone in their right mind would recognize this is the season to connect with their customers in positive ways. It takes about twenty postive engagements to overcome one mean spirited engagement. This is not the time to toss your marketing plan out the window because your candidate lost an election. You actually have to be an adult about running a business. To compound the problem he actually wrote in the body of the newsletter, “The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades. ” Regardless of how you felt about the election this statement will antagonize half of the population. Then on the next day I cringed again as he wrote another email with instructions on how to unsubscribe from the newsletter if the previous email bothered you. I am not making this up! On the third day he wrote again. This time the title was, “Opt-out results for racism update email!” When will the insantity stop!

To Opt Out Or To Not Opt Out Has Nothing To Do With Racism

I checked my records and my first order with Penzeys Spices was in 1996. Typically this is the time of year I stock up with their products. They have a great selection and good product quality but they are not the only business selling spices.  Recently I have been weaning myself away from them because I bought too many spices. To save myself from myself I opted to purchase spices locally when I run out. Jungle Jim’s has a great selection of spices. Someday I may buy bulk quantities of spices from Amazon. The important point is for a business like Penzeys Spices to remember is that customer retention is crucial. Customers have plenty of reasons to opt out of your newsletter without you forcing the question. Do not encourage them to opt out for an issue unrelated with your business. The number-one rule of business is to stay business-focused.

David Burge On Lefties

David Burge On Lefties

Things that make me go hmm… Poop Swastika Story Might Be A Fraud

 wrote an interesting story about the facts surrounding the poop swastika at the University of Missouri. He investigated the story and found out:

  1. No one personally witnessed the poop swastika.
  2. The photo of the poop swastika appears to have been taken from the internet. A Google search for the same image shows that it has been floating around the Internet for nearly a year.

This leads me to two fascinating questions.

  1. In this modern world where every phone has a camera, why did no one take a picture?
  2. If we assume the poop swastika was in the men’s bathroom then are we saying that there is a male student at Mizzou who not only had cleaning supplies but cleaned the wall so well that they did not need to involve a Resident Adviser or the building maintenance staff?

Why Does Medicare Cost More Than My Health Insurance?

I was reading the latest Thoughts From The Front Line newsletter, Unhealthy, Not Wealthy, and Far from Wise, and could not help wondering whether Medicare costs more than my health insurance. My wife and I are 61 years old and our health insurance premium is $479.  According to the Medicare website the 2015 “Part B” premiums is $209.80 per month for a couple earning less than $170,000. That looks nice but it is only the part of the total health care bill. According to the Medicare NewsGroup in “2011, Medicare spent a total of $549.1 billion on health care coverage for 48.7 million beneficiaries” or about $11,275 per person. This is considerably higher than what we are paying for private insurance, $4,764 per person. It sure looks like the vaunted cost efficiency of single-payer health care systems is more sizzle than steak and you have to wonder how many of these services were necessary!

John Mauldin goes on to say that Medicare costs are going to get much worse.

In July, the Medicare trustees issued a report estimating that next year’s Part B premium will have to rise 52% in order to keep the system solvent. That’s right, 52%. This will be an increase of $50 to $175 per month, again depending on your income. So much for 2% inflation.

Some supporters will agree that Medicare has not done a good job of controlling costs but then say at least it is not dysfunctional. I think they are sorely mistaken. Nothing describes how dysfunctional Medicare has become than Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell pledging that 70% of Medicare enrollees will be exempt from the rate increase. Now I am beginning to dread the day I become eligible for Medicare because health care costs are growing faster than Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments and I will be part of the 30% who will bear a disproportionate burden of the cost increases. Someday we will have to start thinking outside of the box about cost cutting because this is not a revenue problem. Both the single-payer health care systems and the health insurance exchange rely too much on wealth redistribution. Without intelligent cost cutting to temper our health care abuses and inefficiencies,  the system continues to get more dysfunctional.

Things that make me go hmm… Medicare Drumming Up Business For Health Care Professionals

Since I am not enrolled in Medicare and my birthday is in March I was surprised to get this email a few days ago. Obviously Medicare does not follow the best practice used in the business world of verifying email addresses by using a Double Opt-in process. I guess I will continue to get the other Mr. Huber’s Medicare emails until he notices that he is not getting emails from Medicare. Arghhh!

What I found particularly interesting in the email is the fine line between preventive care and what looks like Medicare going the extra yard to drum up business for the health care industry.  I am really curious whether this strategy will achieve different results than the Oregon Medicaid Experiment which showed no statistically significant impact on physical health measures despite increased use of health care services.


 

Dear WILLIAM H HUBER,

Happy Birthday from Medicare! We wish you well in the upcoming year and want to remind you of the preventive services Medicare offers to help you stay healthy.

Our records show that you have not taken advantage of some of the preventive services which are available to you now or in the future and listed in the table below. Please talk with your doctor to decide which ones are right for you.

Name Eligibility Date
ANNUAL WELLNESS VISIT 10/01/2016
ALCOHOL MISUSE SCREENING 10/01/2015
ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM 10/01/2015
CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE (BEHAVIORAL THERAPY) 10/01/2015
HIGH INTENSITY BEHAVIORAL COUNSELING 10/01/2015
OBESITY COUNSELING 10/01/2015
DEPRESSION SCREENING 10/01/2015
COLORECTAL 10/01/2015
PSA 10/01/2015
PROSTATE 10/01/2015
PPV 10/01/2015
DIABETES 10/01/2015
CARDIOVASCULAR 10/01/2015
PHYSICAL 10/01/2015

To see more details of the services you are eligible for, visit www.MyMedicare.gov and select “Preventive Services” under the “My Health” tab. Or, talk to your doctor for more information.

Remember, Medicare is your partner in health.

Sincerely,
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Things That Make Me Go Hmm… Ohio’s Medicaid costs $2 billion less than estimates

Since I had recently researched Ohio’s Medicaid costs in an effort to understand Cato’s critique of Governor Kasich’s budget growth, I was curious where The Columbus Dispatch article, Ohio’s Medicaid costs $2 billion less than estimates, got its numbers. I remembered that Medicaid was over-budget. So I went back and re-read the Budget Footnotes from the Legislative Services Commission for July 2015 and found this statement on page 18.

Medicaid, which comprises close to half of all GRF program expenditures, was $85.2 million above its fiscal year estimate, and FY 2015 GRF Medicaid expenditures were 9.5% above the FY 2014 amounts.

Since the Legislative Services Commission is the score keeper for the Ohio legislature, I wonder where the head of Ohio’s Medicaid got the $2 billion number.

Things That Make Me Go Hmm… Pocket-calculator climate model outperforms billion-dollar brains

Over at Watts Up With That blog they posted an article, Pocket-calculator climate model outperforms billion-dollar brains, that reminded me how I tried to solve engineering problems in college. Before attempting a rigorous solution to a complex engineering problem, I was taught to quickly estimate the answer first. This estimate was used as a guide to make sure the more rigorous and time consuming solution was going in the right direction. It was really hard to argue with professors for partial credit if you did not check your work. So it is no surprise to me that earlier this year four scientists developed a simplified climate model that can be run on a pocket calculator and it did a good job of predicting the current climate conditions. Despite its greater accuracy the climate alarmists complained that the simplified model was not back tested. So the four scientists took up the challenge, plugged in historical data, and found that the pocket calculator model was more accurate than the current climate models. Now they have written a paper about their findings. Hmm… all of this complicated, time consuming climate modeling work and you can get better results from a model that can be run a pocket calculator. As my engineering professors would undoubtedly say, “You should have checked your work!”

Things that make me go hmm… How Can Planned Parenthood Sell Body Parts From A Nonviable Fetus?

Abortion generally involves a fetus who is unable to survive outside the uterus after birth because its organs are not mature enough and yet these same organs are suitable for organ donation and medical research. It sure looks the difference between aborting a fetus versus aborting a human being just got a whole lot fuzzier. If Planned Parenthood thinks an organ from a fetus is suitable enough for organ transplants and medical research then why isn’t that fetus actually a human being? It has been a long time since Roe vs. Wade and it appears the medical community has a different time frame about fetus viability then they had in 1973.

I Thought That One Of The Benefits Of Carrying A Smartphone Is That You No Longer Needed A Watch

I stopped wearing a watch about ten years ago. I don’t even remember whether it was because the battery on my watch failed or because I forgot how to adjust the watch for Daylight Savings time.  I moved on. The only task I needed a watch for was recording my runs and it did not take to long for me to enjoy running with my smartphone. So if I am a happy camper with my smartphone, why do I need an Apple or Google watch that does the same things as my smartphone but on even smaller screen?

Things That Make Me Go Hmm… Are Health Exchanges Medicaid For The Middle Class?

I have been thinking about this HHS quote I saw on a Zane Benefits blog post today. It got me to thinking. Are health exchanges sustainable if only 13% are paying the full price for health insurance? If health exchanges are not sustainable without government subsidies then they begin to look like Medicaid for the middle class. Does this mean that we are gradually turning our health care system into one modeled after Medicaid? I want the old health care system! It was not only cheaper but it provided me with better health care options than this new, improved one.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), 87 percent who purchased health plans through Healthcare.gov in 2014 qualified for premium tax credits, with the tax credit covering 76 percent of the premium cost.

LOL… The #IRS Says It Lost Key #Lerner Emails?

As an old IT guy this excuse has me laughing out loud! 😆 The most common corporate email system, Exchange, is host based. Some businesses and government agencies have switched to Gmail and it is host based, too. In all of my years in the IT business I have never run across an email system that was susceptible to a local disk drive failure. This makes no sense! Why would anyone put in a system that stupid? This would require a level of incompetence I have trouble imagining.