All you need to know about the health care and medical insurance in the US can be summed up in the pending merger of CVS and Aetna for $66 billion. Continue reading
This post is coming a little late, due to my manic Monday.
It started Sunday as I was eating dinner and felt a problem with the bridge in my mouth.
Monday morning I went to my dentist to have it looked out and cemented back in. Well that did not happen. Instead the bridge slipped down my throat. Gone.
Now the coughing and slight choking was the least of my problems. My dentist assumed that the bridge went down my esophagus and told me to eat some bread and drink water to move it through my digestive system.
After eating half a loaf of seeded semolina Italian Bread and 5 glasses of water, the pain did not move down my body.
So I drove to a walk-in medical office, which my family call doc-in-a-box, and explained my agita problem. The young doctor took two X-Rays and broke the news. “You need to get to the hospital right now. The bridge is in your lungs.”
To me the pain was manageable, but I knew I had to do something. I went to the ER and was ferried through a very crowded triage and ER unit with may patients on gurnys in the hallways, to a room.
So here’s where the economy angle comes in. The woman who checks your insurance comes in. I give her my information and she says, “Oh, you have very good medical insurance. Thank you and get well soon.”
And so starts the parade of tests and specialist, who to the best of my knowledge have little or not expertise in what I am experiencing.
A vascular intern wants to look at my legs. A EKG technician comes in to run a test monitoring my heart. A cardio fellowship doctor comes in the let me know my heart looks good. A psychiatrist fellow comes in to ask me if I have anything to discuss about what happen to me?
All the time the meter is running on my “good medical coverage”.
Finally the Angel of Mercy comes in — the ER nurse — and tells me this and that about what is going on. I tell her it has been three hours and I need to have a cigarette. She tells me how to get outside and will cover for me.
Ok, I know, I have a three-inch metal and ceramic piece sitting in my right lung, but an addiction is an addiction.
SO now the fun begins, the pulmonary team wants to send a probe down a breathing tube to retrieve the bridge, but the anesthesiologists control the tube so they have their own thoughts on how to pull it out.
Everyone is involved because this type of case does not walk into the hospital everyday or every year, or so I am told.
All the while the haggling is going on over me as I laid on the bed in this “closet” in the Pulmonary Care Unit. “Let’s use this trach device,” says one gas passer. “No, this one is larger,” says another. As I look at the size of the mold plastic and say out loud, “Linda Lovelace, couldn’t get that down her throat.”
Unfortunately, not one of the twenty-to-thirtysomething Indian-decent doctors had a clue to the reference. But the doctor in charged knew and laughed.
So here’s where the fun began. The medical team of 10 people, including nurses, put me out and proceed to retrieve the bridge from my left lung, they are able to grab it, I am told afterwards and bring it up, only to drop it in my right lung.
Twenty minutes later after figuring out what went wrong, the pulled out of my right lung and placed it in a jar. I am told photos of the bridge in the jar were taken, but I have not seen them yet.
And so, that’s my tale of a bridge too far. Oh, one last kicker. The the hospital lost my favorite shirt from Rockaway Surf Shop that I was wearing. It had The Beatles in silo carrying surf boards across Abbey Road.
After Friday’s fiasco on the ObamaCare vote I believe we will see the beginning of the Trump dump.
This may take equity markets down as much as 20% from the post-election highs as a “Do-Nothing” Congress stymies the White House at any move.
Congress will want tax cuts, but not this year. They want those to be set up to impact the 2018 elections, so there is plenty of time for that. Even if you assume it takes a year for lower taxes to impact Main St. there is no rush to get the tax cut bill enacted.
The White House is so far out of its league in knowing how to work the Hill that it can’t even get Republicans to fall in line.
How poorly Trump and his aides handled this will tell Wall Street everything it knows about the stonewalling that will take place on tax cuts and other initiatives push by Trump in the campaign.
Trump’s vindictiveness after the loss did him or the American people any good and showed just how outside the process he is. Trump’s actions made Democrats dig in their heels and had some Republicans flip, hardly in the mold of LBJ in getting legislation passed.
So what to expect over the next six months? No much on the legislative side or executive orders to placate equities. The debt ceiling will go down to the wire to string out the White House agenda.
I would hope Trump looks at his White House aides and finds a new chief of staff. I would thing Reince Priebus needs to fall on a sword for the ObamaCare debacle. Chief aide Steve Bannon should also find the door, since he only brings negative attention to the president without a shred of experience to how Washington works.
We have had “Do-Nothing” Congresses for the last few years under the Obama Administration and we saw how well the economy grew under that leadership.
So look for the equity trend line to move lower as Spring brings no “green shoots” and infrastructure jobs programs and other initiatives fall victim to haggling over debt limit through June.
The S&P 500 is at 2,343 on March 27, On June 27, 2017 will it be at 1,960? perhaps.
The health care debate will rule the news cycle today as well as equity markets.
The repeal of ObamaCare has become a proxy for the Trump Administration’s ability to get other meaningful measures accomplished this year including tax cuts across the board.
Look for another sell off Like Thursday’s close in stocks should the Trump White House go through with its ultimatum of pass it or stay with ObamaCare for the next two years.
As I wrote earlier Trump’s thinking as a CEO is over on this issue, He has tasked people to come up with a new health care plan. He’s ticked that off his list of things to accomplish. If he is stymied by Congress, then he will move on. Politics is not his forte, obviously.
As of 7am EDT, Dow futures are up 25 points, which indicates some positive thought on the passage of the vote.
I use Wall St. as a better barometer than the Washington pundits since the traders have money on the line versus “insiders” with no skin in the game being spun by legislative aides looking to make a name for themselves to get on the DC gravy train.
This same metric told me Trump won the November election — hours before any network called it — when the futures market fell some 700 points around 10pm EST.
Two updates on items I ran this week:
- Ford Motors came out with numbers on Thursday pointing to the problem with subprime auto loans by saying that used car sale prices will be lower for many years due to a flood or repossessed cars hitting the market. Ford hinted that this will have a material effect on it business going forward.
- On Monday I wrote about the rash of Russian politicians dying. Denis Voronenkov a former member of the Dumas and an open critic of Vladimir Putin was shot down in broad daylight outside the Premier Palace Hotel in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
Here’s what ObamaCare has done to the US economy in the last month and it’s certainly is not healthy for growth.
- There’s no benefit rise for Social Security recipients because there is no inflation, although Medicare rates and co-pays are jumping 15% for those under Affordable Care coverage.
- Coverage for working families is expected to cost 8% more as lower cost companies closed up during the year on big losses. Industry-wide losses are projected to be $2.5B.
- All the additional health-care spending by consumers added 30% to the Q3 GDP, which is a tax and should not be included in the survey.
Under these conditions, US consumers will be constrained with their spending next year to afford health coverage. Not an ideal position for an economy looking raise rates.
If the consumer is 68% of the US economy, then picking their pocket further to allow greater coverage will not help discretionary spending.
A new study shows what Americans are doing with their gas cost savings.
While more well-off consumers spent the money at restaurants and on groceries, lower middle-class consumers actually put the savings in their tank. Instead of buying $5 in gas, they were more likely to fill it up.
Since there is no interest inducement to bank the savings and therefore have the cash available to pay down debt, consumers are spending it.
The idea of improving the economy on the back of oil-price decline is really superficial, since spending is not growing, just shifting from the Mobil station, to McDonald’s.
That’s fuel for thought.