Thursday, September 17, 2009

Public Option Please

I got a notice from the home insurance company that covers a rental home my wife and I own. They said that they were canceling the policy because we now had a swimming pool on the property. I called and told them no renter had asked me to pay to put a pool at the house and what were they talking about? They hummed and hawed and sort of, kind of admitted perhaps their agent had checked the wrong home. They will check again they said. I couldn't even blame the government for this stupidity, this is a private insurance company hard at work showing us how well the private sector operates. Here's another, more grievous example from the Huffington Post. Remember: I don't for one minute believe that that Big Pharma is spending a million and a half dollars a day lobbying Congress against the public option because it is in the best interests of We The People. Nor should you. Of course one has to wonder what tort reform will do in cases like these. Texas has reformed tort laws to no visible effect on the cost of medical insurance.
The South Carolina Supreme Court has ordered an insurance company to pay $10 million for wrongly revoking the insurance policy of a 17-year-old college student after he tested positive for HIV. The court called the 2002 decision by the insurance company "reprehensible."

That appears to be the most an insurance company has ever been ordered to pay in a case involving the practice known as rescission, in which insurance companies retroactively cancel coverage for policyholders based on alleged misstatements - sometimes right after diagnoses of life-threatening diseases.

The ruling emerges from a conservative Southern state with one of the most pro-business climates in the country. And it comes as progressive Democrats on Capitol Hill are pressing for health care reforms, such as a public insurance option, that reflect wariness about the private insurance industry's motives.

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower court's verdict against Fortis Insurance, now known as Assurant. The trial jury had awarded the former college student, Jerome Mitchell, $15 million in punitive damages; the Supreme Court reduced that amount by $5 million.

Mitchell learned that he had HIV when, while heading to college, he donated blood. Fortis then rescinded his coverage, citing what turned out to be an erroneous note from a nurse in his medical records that indicated that he might have been diagnosed prior to his obtaining his insurance policy.

Before the cancellation of the policy, an underwriter working for Fortis wrote to a committee considering whether or not to rescind his policy: "Technically, we do not have the results of the HIV tests. This is the only entry in the medical records regarding HIV status. Is it sufficient?" The underwriter's concerns were ignored and the rescission went forward.

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Night Walk

It's rainy season in Key West still, and there is something quite refreshing about taking a lunch time walk after the latest storm:The city has quieted down for the most part by two in the morning, but I'm sure a good few of them are lying awake wondering where the thunder and lightning has gone:
It's a time of day I can stand on the street and fiddle with exposure settings and see what looks most interesting on the street. A Honda Metropolitan 50cc scooter, in my view one of the best values in reliable useful transportation, an economical clean four stroke with lots of storage and a very low seat height. My wife became a confident scooter rider with her yellow Metropolitan before Hurricane Wilma drowned it for her:I gave this house six seconds open shutter, transforming it into daylight almost:
Outdoor dust catchers. Why Laurel and Hardy? Who knows...
Jeep Wranglers and their ilk are popular in Key West, I think because they speak of carefree vacation time. To me their 14 mile per gallon fuel consumption would give my high mileage habits a headache. Their wide un-aerodynamic, old fashioned mud guards make a good place for rain drops to settle:
This is the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses on White Street even though all the lamps make it look like a the gulag at two in the morning. Approach at your peril.
Sometimes I am amazed when I speculate how these funky little houses have survived and even flourished in the climate of mad rebuilding that swept America in the modernizing 1960s.
And I am forced to wonder if the residents ever do sit out and watch the world go by from these chairs. Probably in another couple of months it will be pleasant enough to do just that:
I must have spent ten minutes trying to get this one to come out crisp and clear, but I couldn't park the camera anywhere where I could get the reflection and i couldn't hold the squeeze box still enough to eliminate the fuzzy picture entirely.
I ride past this motel-like complex quite frequently, on Catherine Street near White. I like the covered walkway facing the street.
Two men were standing in the street arguing about some drama, the details of which escaped me. I wished them a good morning as I drew near, and they pulled apart, shocked into silence. The silence continued as I splashed on by, leaving a cone of no sound behind me the way a ship leaves a wake in the ocean. Then, when they judged I was out of earshot they started up again, whispering passionately about some human frailty or another.
The irony is that I couldn't get a crisp shot of them, but this palm tree cooperated entirely with my camera and allowed itself to be photographed entirely clearly:
As I drew close to my destination I came across a reminder of the passions of electoral politics. I don't suppose Craig Cates was thinking about it when he chose his colors but yellow on green makes for a very visible sign in the middle of the night.
His opponent, incumbent Mayor Morgan McPherson chose red which makes quite a splash in daytime. But I work night shift and because I live in the county I am a bystander in city elections.
There was only one motorcycle in the police lot when I got back to work, which gave me a clear shot. Chief Lee is also a big fan of recycling; he's a fifth generation Conch so I like to think he's keen to preserve his town while keeping it clean, which suits me just fine.