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Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 10:01 AM PDT

Open Enrollment - some observations

by agent

I work for a Fortune 200 corporation in the financial services industry. It's Open Enrollment time and there are some major changes! Long story short, I'll be switching my family from a 90/70 to a High Deductible plan. And I'm not too unhappy about it. I thought I would be, but I'm not.

  • HMOs are gone!: There used to be multiple HMO options. They were always on the more expensive side, but they were there. This year, they're gone. All of them.
  • The 80/20 PPO is gone too!
  • The 90/70 PPO plan has eliminated copays for non-preventive office visits (both primary and specialist) and made them all subject to the deductible. This is a huge change for me. In most years, these office visits constituted the vast majority of my medical expenses. In the past, these visits meant paying a small(ish) copay and being done with it. Not anymore.
  • The high deductible plan now comes with an employer contribution equal to 50% of my share of the family premium. Factor that in and my premium is down to about $80 a month.
  • The out of pocket maximum on the high deductible plan is LESS than my annual premiums on the 90/70 PPO plan! What possible justification do I have to select the PPO plan now? None.

That last bullet point really struck me as crazy. It almost seems designed to ensure no one signs up for for the 90/70 anymore.

My guess, because I'm a cynical bastard, is they'll remove the 90/70 at some point in the next few years on account of "insufficient participation" and then wait another year or so before they remove the employer contribution to the high deductible.


I just saw this ad on channel 4. I'm in Middlesex county (NYC media market).

I'm surprised they're wasting their money here!


Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 09:43 AM PDT

It's about competence

by agent

A colleague at work (male, mid 30s, grad school, asian-american) mailed in his vote for Obama before the debate and now regrets it. We spoke over lunch about this and his thoughts, in a nutshell, are this:

Obama's done ok but not not great. If he worked for me, he's the kind of guy I'd want to keep but not spend too much of my bonus budget on. I'd do what I need to do to keep him around unless I found someone clearly better to replace him. He's disciplined, he works hard, but his results are just good enough to not get fired for cause.

Romney comes along and he seems like a bit of a joke. The dog on the car? The gaffe-athon in Europe? This guy can't be serious. The GOP can't be serious. Clearly, this guy has no depth and is just a placeholder for someone good in 2016.

Obama? Good enough. I'll vote for the guy because Romney ... well, he's Romney.

And then the debate happens and Romney looks like someone who maybe CAN do the job. He seems confident. He seems like someone who could influence people. He has passion. He didn't live up to the clownish caricature I had of him in my mind, of the socially inept rich boy in a bubble. He deserves a closer look. I should have waited on mailing out that ballot!

Obama's performance had nothing to do with it. I know what he's capable of. He's a solid C+ or B- performer. The question all along was Romney. Is Romney serious? Is he competent?

This is a strain of thought I have heard from quite a few people. My thoughts on the next few debates and the ad campaign over the next month are that they must reduce Romney into a caricature. He must be mocked and ridiculed and made to seem less than serious.

The Big Bird ad is good IMO. I shared it on Facebook and one evangelical white female who is a reliable GOP voter told me she thought it was funny. It won't get her vote, but she liked the ad. It does a good job of starting the job of turning Romney back into the caricature he once was.

Of course, in the next two debates Obama simply can't let Romney dominate like he did in the first debate. If he does, Andrew Sullivan could be proven right.


Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:02 AM PDT

He's lying.

by agent

I'm going to document two conversations I had last night in this diary. Both were on the subject of the debate. The first conversation was with my wife. The second with a close friend. Both are political independents (or as I like to call them, political indecisives) who pay very little attention to the political back and forth I consume on a daily basis here on DKos and elsewhere on the Web.

So, about my wife. I wrote a diary a while ago about the conversation between my wife and I as we went over our mail-in ballots. As I described in that diary, she's not very interested in politics outside of the occasional 5-10 minutes she'll spend watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. She's never heard of the Etch-a-Sketch comparisons and she wasn't familiar with Romney's history of flip flopping and lying about his positions. Here's what happened as I was watching the debate on TV and she walked in during the healthcare segment of the debate after putting the baby to sleep.

Romney (paraphrased): Lots of people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect.
Wife: That's not true.
Me: It technically could be.
Wife: He's lying.
Me: How do you know?
Wife: Just look at him.
[some time later]
Wife: Obama's not giving him any respect.
Me: What do you mean?
Wife: He's not looking at him. Don't you see it?
Me: He's looking down. But I don't see how that's disrespectful.
Wife: It is, trust me. Romney wants to be one of the big boys and Obama won't even look at him.
Me: So who do you think is winning?
Wife: Obama. Mitt is the hungry new kid who just can't get any love.
Me: Interesting.
Wife: Why is Rachel the only woman?
Me: (shrug)
The next conversation takes place on iMessage with a close friend. He has no strong political convictions at all but claims to generally lean Democratic. I have my doubts, but that's neither here nor there.
Obama (paraphrased): I had five seconds before you interrupted me.
Friend: i have 5 sec, hahahahahaha, he's the man.
Me: you're watching the debate?
Friend: Ya
Me: what do you think so far?
Friend: 90 billion? WTF?
Me: sounds like bullshit
Friend: How you know
Me: i don't. i wonder what the fact checkers will say.
Friend: Fact checkers?
Me: yeah like politifact
Friend: Never heard of it
Friend: So who is winning you think?
Me: i don't know. i like obama. but he's just not there today.
Friend: He wants to be home doing michelle.
Me: lololololol
Friend: Romney looks like he wants to beat him up.
Me: ya think?
Friend: Yup. He looks pissed.
Me: maybe a boxing ring would have been a better venue
Friend: Obama would rip that old guys heart out.
Me: today? maybe not.
Friend: Dude romney really hates him.

We live in Middlesex County, New Jersey and our mail-in ballots arrived today.

My wife is a perpetually undecided and independent voter. Not because she has no core principles or beliefs but because she just never thinks much about politics and doesn't really want to talk about it. Ask her who she's voting for she'll usually shrug and say I don't know.

So when the ballots arrived today, I gave her hers and she asked me to fill it out for her because she was busy feeding the baby. I suggested she do it later but she insisted I do it for her. Here's how the rest of the conversation went.

Me: But I don't know who you want to vote for.
Her: Obama.
Me: Are you sure?
Her: Yeah.
Me: Ok, how about Senator? There's Menendez and Kyrillos and a bunch of independents.
Her: What??
Me: Senator.
Her: I don't care. Who's the Democrat?
Me: Menendez.
Her: Ok, Menendez.
Me: Congress. Pallone or Little.
Her: Are there any Democrats?
Me: What is it with you and Democrats?
Her: I heard something about Republicans wanting to ban birth control on that Rachel show.
Me: Yeah, Pallone is the Democrat.
Her: Ok, Pallone.
Me: There are a bunch of local races which I don't really know much about. I'll skip those for now, let's go the public questions.
Her: mm hmm.
Me: The first question is do you allow the state to borrow $750 million-
Her: No.
Me: Don't you want to know why?
Her: Ok.
Me: To build, equip and expand higher ed. So I guess like Rutgers and Kean.
Her: Aren't they always building and expanding anyway?
Me: Yeah, they are.
Her: Then no.
Me: I assume they need it, that's why they're asking for it.
Her: Can they pay it back?
Me: Well, they're bonds. The state always honors that.
Her: No.
Me: Ok. The next question is whether the state should be allowed take money out of NJ Supreme Court Justice paychecks as contributions towards their healthcare.
Her: That's a question? Seriously?
Me: Unless I misunderstand it, yeah.
Her: WTF is wrong with this state?
Me: So.... yes?
Her: Of course.
Me: Cool.
Her: Can you clean up the kitchen after you're done?
Me: .....

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