Archive for November, 2009



November 24, 2009

I understand the current health care reform debate is a very personal issue for everyone. I understand that it has also become a political strategy for the out-of-power political party to wage war with those that defeated them. I understand a bill with this impact creates a sense of bargaining power for every dissenter of any piece of the bill. But the fervor on the talk shows, cable TV and newspapers today seems a bit hyped and overblown as the fear-mongering reaches a whole new level each day. I agree, we each should bring up our personal concerns to light so that they can be taken under consideration, but in my mind, that is different than what is happening.

So what have I misunderstood?

• Wasn’t health care reform a promise to the American Public from both political parties in the 2008 Political Campaigns? Didn’t both candidates and most voters want reform?

• Isn’t the current heated discussion about a DRAFT of a bill up for discussion to be amended and voted on in the Senate that then must be merged with a House Bill, amended a second time, and then voted on again before we have anything to rage about?

• Aren’t the recommendations and restrictions being debated today only applicable with the public option?

• Doesn’t option mean choice? Won’t we have a choice to participate in the proposed public option or keep our existing health insurance?

• If we rage about proposed restrictions in the reform bill, why haven’t we raged equally as loud at the restrictions in our existing health insurance policies?

• If we think a public option is government control we do not want, are we willing to give up social security and Medicare which are also government programs?

In the last six months, my health insurance carrier paid less than $200 on a MRI billed at over $1500 and then informed me they would no longer pay for a prescription that costs almost $90 a month (with no generic drug substitution available). That’s two restrictions imposed by the insurance carrier that cost me personally almost $2000 on top of making individual health care premium payments – which, by the way, increased over 10% again this year.

I guess for me personally, I would rather pay for my annual mammogram myself than continue to be imprisoned by the insurance carrier – subject to increase after increase and denial after denial of coverage. After all, the choice is mine – if I want a mammogram, I can have it – it just may not be paid for by the government.

Of course, if I choose the public option, I may just save enough money that it won’t be a burden to pay for my own mammogram.



November 24, 2009

Since the health care debate has heated up, I have continued to wrestle with telling my personal health story of a fall from a platform, a broken back, the resulting muscle scarring and chronic inflammation of the sacroiliac that led to a financial nightmare that left me with no job, no savings, no home, lots of debt as I struggled to pay over $1000 a month in health insurance premiums and thousands and thousands of dollars of doctor and treatment bills, and eventually, to spend almost 24 months “house-sitting” for caring friends and relatives as I struggled to get back on my feet.

But along the way, because I was not working, I was also given a gift of time that I could spend with my mother and my family as we struggled through the eldercare/nursing home experience and finally her passing three years ago.

Seven years after that fall, I mostly have the health issues under control, am looking at the end of the debt perhaps sometime next year, am working again, and have come to appreciate that the time spent with my mother was far more important than the pain of the healthcare experience. I have learned to consider my situation a success story of perseverance over the adversity of our current health care system. And, for that, I am most thankful!

However, last week I was speaking with an elderly woman about upcoming Thanksgiving plans. When checking on her health, I learned she and her husband have been busy with doctor appointments because “when the healthcare bill gets passed, we will be abandoned.” Her fear made me so sad – that we have allowed this debate to sink to this level and create so much pain for the innocent bystanders.

Now that is something to speak up about. What right, as citizens of this country, do we have to instill that kind of fear into innocent people – all in the name of political gain?

I get it that the healthcare battle has raged for almost a century. I get it that whenever a political party loses power, they attack and when a party gains power and finds they cannot accomplish all they had hoped, they seem to lose their way.

What I don’t get is what it will take to realize this happens and find a way to get ourselves and our country past this to a better system in the future.

Food for thought, along with the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



November 4, 2009

Over the past two years, I have said goodbye to four good friends – three of whom were colleagues of mine during my career at Carlson Marketing Group.

Today, after some years of suffering through a corporate terminal illness, CMG itself ceased to exist as it was sold to Groupe Aeroplan.

For all those who led the way in the early days as the company morphed from the original Gold Bond Stamp Company to PIC to Carlson Marketing and Motivation, plus a small fledgling collection of Radisson Hotels, I am sure this could not have been foreseen.

For me and perhaps many others that joined the team as part of the second generation that under the leadership of Skip Gage and Jim Pfleider, grew the company from $20 million to almost $1 billion in 15 years, this is a sad time – as we face the reality that all those efforts seem to have been for naught.

Perhaps there is solice in the fact that our efforts helped fund the purchase of Ask Mr. Foster and First Tours (forerunner of CWT) as well as provided the profits that funded the growth of Radisson Hotels into Carlson Hospitality.

And for those who came after us, they became the ultimate sacrifice as they were spun off for $175 million to provide capital to shore up their sister companies.

“Carlson Companies CEO Hubert Joly said selling Carlson Marketing is a positive move because it frees up resources that will help Carlson Companies continue to evolve as a major hospitality and travel company.”

We can only hope this last infusion will be sufficient to finally do the trick. Meanwhile, my best wishes to the current generation as you move forward into your next life. Glad you will still be here in Minnesota – at least for now.