Thursday, October 10, 2013

One Thing You Can Count on with Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, got off to a rocky start last week. But it will be years before we know whether the law can achieve its long-term goal of getting more Americans insured while slowing the growth of medical costs.

Proponents say that more Americans will have access to medical care, certainly a plus in a country as prosperous as ours.
However, many of us could end up paying higher premiums to supplement those who will pay little or nothing at all.
I’ve spoken to experts in the healthcare and insurance professions. Most are pessimistic with this move towards socialized medicine. One concern is that the wait time to receive that care could soar as more doctors refuse to accept insurance and Medicare. Thus delaying critical treatments.
With that consensus, one thing is almost for certain: More people piling into doctors’ offices seeking treatment means longer waiting times for you.
For example, if you normally estimate a visit with a specialist will take two hours, better figure on four once Obamacare takes hold.

Best wishes,

George

Thursday, September 12, 2013

No Long-Term Care in Obamacare


Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act as passed by Congress, also known as Obamacare, starts October 1st. But if you haven’t been following my posts, you may be shocked to learn that long-term care insurance is not part of the provisions.

Back on June 30, 2012, I announced that t
he CLASS Act entitlement was Obamacare's first casualty and a huge embarrassment. It was meant to be a voluntary long-term care insurance program that would have let Americans with health problems receive coverage. But the Administration’s beancounters discovered that the concept was impractical, so they quietly walked away from it.

To sum it up: You’re on your own when it comes to long-term care. Medicare has limited coverage. And you must be almost broke to qualify for Medicaid. My advice is to learn what options you have and come up with a strategy to follow in case your health, or that of a loved-one, changes.

Best wishes,

George

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Long-Term Care Survey Yields Scary Findings


Bankers Life and Casualty recently conducted a survey about long-term care (LTC) costs. The result: 52% of the respondents said they expect Medicare to pick up the tab.

Scary because the truth is that Medicare generally doesn’t pay for nursing home or assisted living expenses.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sorry, Congressman, you didn’t make me feel any better


Back on August 15, I wrote a post More Americans Say ‘Adios’ to Uncle Sam. And just as I said I would do, I sent my concerns to my Congressmen.  

Here is Representative Patrick Murphy’s reply:
 
 
I appreciate the time the Congressman or his aide took to reply. However, he really didn’t say anything that most of us didn’t already know. His allegedly comforting words: “I will keep your thoughts in mind to work across the aisle to get our nation back on track.”  

Sorry, Congressman, you didn’t make me feel any better.  

Neither Senator Nelson nor Senator Rubio has replied.  

You can locate your Senators here. And for your Representative, go here.

 
Best wishes,
 

George 

P.S. Feel free to use the following letter when contacting them, or tone it down if that’s your style. I’ll let you know the reply I get from my lost Senators.

-----------------------------

Dear [name of the Congressman],  

I’m going to make this real simple: You and your colleagues in Washington are doing a horrible job. And 81% of Americans in a recent poll agree with me. Still not convinced?  

Well, the number of American giving up their passports jumped six fold from a year ago.

Spend, spend, spend on social programs has become the mantra in Congress, with no end in sight. But amid the recovery, the U.S. has also seen an increase in poverty levels, which the Census Bureau puts at 15.9% of the total population, or close to 50 million citizens. In 2008, that figure was 13.2% of the population.

And, while the unemployment rate has fallen from 10% at its Great Recession peak in 2009 to 7.6% in May, 11.8 million Americans still remain without work; 4.4 million comprise the long-term unemployed.

The way you are giving out my tax dollars simply is not working.

So please let me know what specific action you are taking to cut the outrageous spending on social programs that do nothing other than create a society that depends on big government for its survival.

Sincerely,

 
[Your name]

 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

More Americans Say ‘Adios’ to Uncle Sam


A lot of Americans are making that move … at least compared to past years.

According to an August 9 Bloomberg article, the number of Americans giving up their nationality at U.S. embassies leaped to 1,131 in the three months through June from 189 in the year-earlier period. For the first half of this year the total is 1,810 compared with 235 for all of 2008.

Granted, that’s a tiny number. But it points to how many Americans feel about the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires them to disclose foreign assets in excess of $50,000 to the IRS. Financial institutions abroad must now provide the IRS with information about accounts held by U.S. taxpayers and foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.

The Bloomberg article pointed out that,

"The U.S., the only nation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that taxes citizens wherever they reside, is searching for tax cheats in offshore centers, including Switzerland, as the government tries to curb the budget deficit."

Having more than $50,000 in an offshore account doesn’t exactly put you in the mega-rich camp. So it’s clear that our elected officials in Congress are going after middle class Americans … you and me. Shame on them, and shame on us for keeping them in Washington with the hope they’ll look out for our interests.

But I think there is an additional reason Americans are fed up and turning in their passports …

Coincidently, also last week, Gallup released a poll that found that only 14% of Americans approve of job Congress is doing. And 81% give them a thumbs down.

The approval trend is clearly on a slippery slope as you can see in the chart below.


 

So is it time to turn in your passport and take off for Dominical, Costa Rica; Saint Helena Island; or the slopes of Nepal? I don’t think so.

But it is time we hold Congress accountable for burying us up to our eyeballs in debt, and now using every trick in the book to dip in hardworking taxpayers’ wallets even more.

You can locate your Senators here. And for your Representative, go here.

Best wishes,

George

P.S. Feel free to use the following letter when contacting them, or tone it down if that’s your style. I’ll let you know the reply I get from my Congressmen.

-----------------------------

Dear [name of the Congressman],

I’m going to make this real simple: You and your colleagues in Washington are doing a horrible job. And 81% of Americans in a recent poll agree with me. Still not convinced?

Well, the number of American giving up their passports jumped six fold from a year ago.

Spend, spend, spend on social programs has become the mantra in Congress, with no end in sight. But amid the recovery, the U.S. has also seen an increase in poverty levels, which the Census Bureau puts at 15.9% of the total population, or close to 50 million citizens. In 2008, that figure was 13.2% of the population.

And, while the unemployment rate has fallen from 10% at its Great Recession peak in 2009 to 7.6% in May, 11.8 million Americans still remain without work; 4.4 million comprise the long-term unemployed.

The way you are giving out my tax dollars simply is not working.

So please let me know what specific action you are taking to cut the outrageous spending on social programs that do nothing other than create a society that depends on big government for its survival.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Worst Tenant Mess I’ve Ever Seen


Over the years, I’ve had my share of tenants who left the properties in pretty rough shape. A hole in the wall, a screen door ripped off its hinges, and carpet destroyed by a pet with a bladder problem are not uncommon.
But nothing that even comes close to what this poor landlord experienced. He took a shocking video of what was once a beautiful home that you can watch by clicking here.

Best wishes,

George

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why It Pays to Screen Tenants

I’ve owned and managed a number of rental properties over the years. And I’ve learned the hard way why it pays to screen prospective tenants before turning over the keys.
Well, here’s a case that was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel where a landlord apparently didn’t do that, and it cost him dearly.
A landlord in the Milwaukee area unknowingly rented a building to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The agency used the building to run an undercover sting. When they moved out, they left behind broken doors and walls, unpaid utility bills, and damaged carpeting from an overflowing toilet.  
The landlord asked the ATF to pay for the damage to the building and unpaid utility bills. ATF supervisors in Milwaukee and regional headquarters in St. Paul refused.
When the landlord pressed his case, an ATF attorney warned him to stop contacting the agency or it may be considered threatening a federal agent.
He settled for a fraction of his original claim because he wanted to end the fight with ATF and move on. He has since sold the building and said the episode has made him distrustful.
He is still upset that the agents put him and his son in harm's way. Both were at the building several times when ATF customers — felons selling guns and drugs — were inside. After ATF cleared out, he encountered customers looking to do business with the Federal agents.
Best wishes,
George