The Affordable Care Act is Not Affordable and No One Cares

acanotI just came from turning in my insurance forms this this coming year. Once again I cannot afford to add my family to my employer provided coverage.

And, because my employer follows the law and offers coverage, I cannot qualify for subsidies in the ACA exchanges. So we can’t afford to insure our family there. Luckily I don’t make a lot of money, so my kids qualify for the CHIP program here in Texas. And we are Christians so my wife can get covered through one of those Christian Co-Ops. So we won’t get fined/taxed/penalized for not having coverage we simply cannot afford. I had to swallow my pride and take a government hand out so my children could have health coverage, because I simply could not afford it under the Affordable Care Act.

I don’t blame my employer. They offer very good insurance, and they pay about $6000.00 for my coverage. But if I want to add my wife to that same plan, then I must pay over $500 per month. If I wanted to add my children, the price would inflate to over $900 per month. I don’t know a lot of middle class families that could afford to lose over $10,800 annually.

Years ago, before the ACA was passed, I was self employed, and I had a plan I liked. My family was well covered with supplements and major medical. Then the ACA went into effect, and I got a letter saying that my plan was no longer offered, and I would have to shift to a different plan for a 300% increase in premiums. It had been more economical and effective to have a major medical plan with supplemental plans to cover us for basic services. In the new post-ACA world, I must spend more for less coverage.

That continues to be the case today.

I often see friends complaining online about how much their premiums are going up. I hear on the news about Healthcare Exchanges that are going out of business. Healthcare is not getting better.

I know that something had to be done. There were real issues with the old insurance/healthcare system, things that needed to be addressed. But this ACA is a horrible replacement for what we had before. I don’t know one single person who has better coverage for less money. From what I’ve experienced and heard, if you had insurance before the ACA kicked in, you are less happy with your coverage now.

Occasionally I will hear people saying that since the ACA has been passed, and some people who did not have coverage before now have it, you can’t take it away. Why not? The government took away my coverage and forced me to find an alternate/ worse plan. The current system under the ACA is not working. Exchanges are crashing, and costs are rising on plans that offer less coverage for more Americans. What we have now cannot continue for much longer. Something has to be done, sooner rather than later.

And no one with the power to do anything seems to care. Oh sure, there have been bunches of show votes where Republicans tried to “repeal” the ACA,but that did exactly jack squat for my family, and everyone else adversely effected by the ACA rules. Democrats seem to be afraid to criticize the President’s signature legislation, even though there are obvious problems with it. In many ways middle class Americans are worse off now than before, regarding insurance.

Our elected representatives are more interested in talking about how they care than doing something that actually helps us. This will be a big concern for me in the upcoming elections. I don’t want to hear a Republican say they will repeal the ACA, I want to hear them say what they will do to replace it. I want to know how they will help my family have better coverage for an amount we can afford.


Cost of Camping Out for Black Friday

Black-Friday-LineThis year I saw tents up in front of Best Buy as early as 9 days before Thanksgiving. 9 days of camping on concrete to buy cheap stuff.

My immediate questions was, “Don’t these people have jobs?” I mean, they are planning to spend a lot of money, otherwise why camp out. No one camps out to get a deal on headphones. These people are looking for TVs, computers and such.

That led me to the next question… How much are they really saving by giving up 9 days of work to camp out?

Let’s say they had a low paying job, about $8 an hour. Not sure how they can afford to buy a lot of big tickets items on this budget, but let’s go with it. And assume they owned all the camping gear, tents and blankets necessary. And can get people to cover their spot for bathrooms, etc…

9 days before Thanksgiving means 7 working days. At $8 per hour, 8 hours a day, gives us $448 gross earnings lost.

Then food for these days. Let’s assume they planned ahead and brought breakfast food. 18 fast food meals for 9 days: $126.

That’s $574 in cost/lost wages to camp out for the chance to save money. That number goes up if the camper’s job is better than entry level.

To make that worth while you have to buy a lot of big screens and computers and phones.

Contemplating the BMPCC: Is the Price Drop Worth it?

bmpccBlackMagic has dropped the price of the Pocket Cinema Camera to $500.

That is an amazing price. It is an amazing camera. There are some things to think about before upgrading, but at $500 it’s a lot more tempting.

I wrote a while back about my recent change in camera approach. And I’m still committed to renting better gear than I can buy. But it is very tempting to upgrade my EOS M to the BMPCC.

Of course the $500 isn’t really the true price. You would need a lens adapter or two. And the camera requires very fast cards, and lots of batteries. Apparently normal ND filters don’t work. So you are looking at more like $700.

But the big cost comes when you look at the crop factor of the BMPCC sensor. It’s 2.88x. That means that your “wide” angle 28mm that you use with your full frame or APS-C sensor body now is the equivalent of an 81mm lens. A nifty 50mm is like a 144mm lens. Plus, inexpensive adapters don’t allow for electronic changes in aperture. So your modern EF lenses (for example) are wide open.

In order to use the BMPCC in most settings you will need to buy new lenses. These would either be MFT mount wide angles or vintage manual wide angle lenses you adapt to the body, but these will almost all be longer than you want or insanely expensive. The Panasonic 20mm f1.7 is well thought of, and delivers an equivalent 58mm for about $150 used. The slightly wider, but slower and softer, 14mm (40mm equivalent) f2.5 will set you back $180.

With just one basic lens you are back up to almost $900 for the BMPCC. It does make pretty video, though.