Skip to main content

Consumerism Goes Medical

Our society is getting pretty messed up. We are developing a culture of selfishness and we're being egged on by the retail industry, the car industry, the housing industry, and the MEDICAL INDUSTRY?! Ok, perhaps not medicine itself but the medical finance industry. Here's my pearl of anecdotal evidence.

A little while ago, my wife needed to have some dental work done (a bridge replaced). Turns out that this is an extremely expensive set of procedures on the order of several thousand dollars. Well, since I'm not at the point where I have that kind of money laying around, we opened an account with a company called Care Credit. They're big thing is that they'll defer interest for up to a year to give you a chance to pay off your debt. This looked like a good deal and, based on our experience, I would recommend it to people with unexpected medical bills. All in all, I've been pretty happy with it.

Well, along with monthly bills, also came a monthly newsletter called CareCheckup - Healthful Hints on Living and Staying Well. So I look at it expecting something extolling the virtues of staying well with, of course, the mandatory push to use Care Credit if the worst should happen. I was expecting it to contain stories about how Care Credit had helped many of the month to month people who get caught with medical expenses they can't afford. Was it in there? Not at all. The entire newsletter was devoted to how Care Credit can help you with plastic surgery (for your high school reunion or to get your pre-pregnancy look back), cosmetic dentistry, lasik, etc. I've looked through two or three newsletters now and there is nothing about helping with the unexpected medical expense. The entire thing is devoted to how you can freely borrow money to pay for elective surgeries.

Now comes the good part - what it actually costs. While Care Credit is great for deferring medical expense, be sure to read the fine print. Interest will begin to accrue immediately upon charging the card. The interest free gimmick only works if you pay off the ENTIRE balance before your 12 month (or less) grace period expires. After that you'll not only be charged interest on your current balance but you'll be charged retroactively for interest from the day you made your purchase. And what's the interest rate? About 20%.

So you've got a newsletter encouraging you to spend more than you have on care you don't need at a finance charge of 20%. And people wonder why the American public is so badly in debt...


Popular posts from this blog

Insteon: Controller vs Responder

This entry is going to be more of a technical article.  If you're not planning on setting up scenes in an Insteon environment, this isn't for you.  If you are or like me, have been running into some confusion about what should be set up as a controller, what should be a responder, and what should be both.  Here's what I learned.

I've been using Insteon switches for a couple of years now and had set up a few scenes.  When adding a switch to a scene, you have the option of adding it as a controller, a responder, or both.  Not knowing the difference and wanting to cover my bases, I set all of my scenes to both.  Since my scenes were all timing type scenes (e.g. turn on night lights at sunset) it worked fine.  Then I added an 8 button keypad and started programming the buttons to control other lights.  The program for this, of course, is a scene.  Once again, I set every switch and button as both a controller and a responder.  Then I created a scene, specifically for my E…


I just finished reading The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. It's a biographical novel of Michelangelo (you know, the famous sculptor/artist whose statue of David and the paintings in the Cistine Chapel are super famous) that gives a very interesting view of his life. It seems that while Michelangelo had a very productive life, it wasn't a very happy one.

One of the first things that I noticed about Stone's portrayel of Michelangelo is that he was obsessed with creating sculptures and a true perfectionist. For a large portion of his life (into his 60s it seems) his every action was calculated toward a goal of sculpting marble - either getting a commission or improving his talent (or both). Not only did he want to sculpt, he wanted his pieces to be as real as possible.

His obsession with carving perfect sculptures drove him to do endless studies of the human form. He even spent months sneaking into a morgue to dissect bodies so he could figure out how the body real…

Sonos Control with the Amazon Echo - How I did it

I've had my Amazon Echo for a year or so and one thing that I've wanted ever since I purchased it, is to be able to use voice commands to control my Sonos speakers.  I waited patiently (OK  not patiently) for Sonos skill to appear on the Echo but it still hasn't come.  I was encouraged when Sonos announced it was going to focus more on voice but still nothing.  Isn't there any way to control my Sonos with my Echo?

Yes - sort of.

WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart because the solution is not trivial.

So, I found a project on github that uses another project on github combined with a custom skill on
the Echo via a web service hosted by AWS Lambda.  OK, that was the easy part.  I knew that going in.  That's why, initially, I waited.  There must be an elegant solution out there.  I searched and waited and searched again and waited again.  Finally I decided to give it a try.  If it worked it would be really cool.  If it didn't, well I'm no worse o…