Medical Elasticity

How elastic are medical costs versus demand? Higher deductibles, outpacing wages, are putting that to the test. Personally, if my cardiologist hadn’t switched me from visiting twice a year to once, I might have done that myself. I managed to get last year down to one physical and one cardiology checkup. A physical is fully covered, but the grand in blood tests associated with it are not. I’m still paying for the almost $500 my share of the cardiologist this spring, and a somewhat lower cost specialist’s bill should bring the running balance back up soon.

On the plus side, the more than $300 a month that I pay toward coverage through my employer is easily offset by what we save on prescriptions, and the dental part of the coverage, low in cost, was a boon.

In any event, a serious medical issue would likely mean the insurance keeping the medical providers from being completely stiffed by my total inability to pay, but would otherwise mean I’d owe and be unable to pay a bill that would amount to a substantial portion of my income.

In theory, if you need medical attention, you need medical attention. In practice, you can skip or delay appointments or tests to some degree, as the article discusses. Delays can be problematic, or they can simply trim the revenue from an overzealous business. After all, medical practice is a business.

Gone Galt

Be it unintentional or not, the economy isn’t the same after many workers have gone Galt, dropping out of the full-time workforce on an extended, if not permanent, basis. This hits close to home. I didn’t start out intending to participate negligibly in the economy until the economy rejected me. Now it’s about stability, bare adequacy or making do, and refraining from helping the economy any more than necessary until at least 2017.

I Didn’t Realize It Was THIS Bad

However, this corroborates my view that there is indeed a new/continued housing bubble and, naturally, the potentially for it to fuel another crash. I’m lucky to be in an apartment with rent that doesn’t routinely increase, but what was barely affordable market rent ten years ago is now slightly less affordable below market rent. In a world in which we need either an even larger apartment or, better still, a house rental. Neither of which will happen any time soon, though certainly they will happen sooner than home ownership. The only way I’ll ever own property is if I pursue my old dream of buyng a piece of insanely cheap land in the middle of nowhere so I can at least camp out on it now and then, perhaps build a cabin getaway, or if the housing market fully crashes next time and I am in a position to take advantage of it. It was a big surprise to me that houses didn’t deflate to what they were worth in the last crash, and tended still to be overpriced. The house next door last sold in a $100,000 short sale, at a price that was somewhere between 20 and 70 grand more than I’d have considered appropriate.

Public Domain Alternate History

Had copyright law remained as it was in 1957, quite a list of works would have become public domain on January 1, 2014. As noted at the link, famous works will tend to remain available, if not as inexpensively so as might be the case, but I am concerned with orphan works. When I look up books I liked as a child and cannot find them in print, or in print at a price one can afford, then the copyright holder either has no interest in holding them in copyright, or there is no living copyright holder, heir or assign who is aware or interested in that status. Such works have no reason to remain protected. Even if that protection lies only in fear that someone who can legitimately prove ownership might come out of the woodwork after all, if any interest is shown.

Worst are the academic publications that are behind overpriced paywalls that keep the useful arts and sciences from being promoted. Congress ought to be ashamed of extending copyrights to unconstitutional lengths, and courts out to be ashamed of going along with it. At least, I assume they have, since there must have been challenges. Copyright should not be controlled by media corporations. That was never the idea.