In the old sci-fi TV series The Outer Limits each episode began with an eerie voice heard over a scrambled picture saying, "There is nothing wrong with your television … we are now in control of the transmission … we control all you see and hear." I thought about this when I read a recent New York Times story describing how banks and car dealers were installing engine cut-off switches in cars sold to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit histories. If he or she is overdue in paying back the loan, the lender will send out a signal that prevents the car from starting or disables it while driving. One woman found out the hard way that she was delinquent in her payments when she tried to drive her daughter to a hospital emergency room. There are two million automobiles that now have "starter interruption switches" in them, according to the Times. You’re not in control Let's put this aside for now, as well as any thoughts about the danger to drivers -- yourself included -- when a credit loan officer flips a switch that stops the car ahead of you on a freeway. Instead let's focus on the privacy issue.… (continue reading......)
If you undergo a surgical procedure as I did this year, the tragic case of Joan Rivers should raise a lot of questions – some of which relate to health insurance. Amid all the controversy surrounding what happened at the Yorkville Endoscopy Center in New York City, two investigations are already underway: one by the New York State Health Department, the other by New York City police. And the medical director of the center, who reportedly presided over the procedure on her vocal cords, was fired when published reports alluded to the presence of another – unauthorized – doctor, according to ABC News. It could take months or even years for doctors, lawyers and investigators to sort this out, but the question remains: When your doctor tells you to have a routine surgical procedure, should it be done at an outpatient facility, as Rivers did, or at a hospital? Hospital look-alikes Outpatient facilities, or “ambulatory surgical centers” as they are also known, have become increasingly commonplace. There are more than 5,000 nationwide, and they perform 23 million surgeries a year, ranging from routine colonoscopies to more complicated knee and hip replacements. Many resemble actual hospitals with operating room monitoring equipment… (continue reading......)
I know it's football season when I see the guys walking home from practice still wearing shoulder pads under their jerseys. Last year my local high school team won our state division championship. So when they pass me by I say, "Good luck this year." And one will invariably smile and reply, "No worries, man." Tell that to the NFL No worries? Tell that to all the former professional football players and their families who have sued or already settled with the National Football League. The NFL has spent more than a billion dollars trying to rehabilitate retirees with trauma and brain injuries. Tell it to the family of Junior Seau, the great all-pro linebacker who committed suicide while suffering from a sleep disorder. An autopsy found he had the same type of chronic brain damage that left other pros in wheelchairs or in nursing homes with Alzheimer's. When you're a high school athlete whose dream is to play in the NFL, you don't think about life after your playing career. A study by the non-profit advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide shows that more than half of the 1,000 young athletes surveyed, between 7th and 10th grades, admitted they "played… (continue reading......)
While American moviegoers and TV watchers are fixating on computer-generated horror shows like Into the Storm and Sharknado 2, they seem to be blissfully ignorant of the fact that we are living through the opening sequence of a real horror show called global warming. For years scientists warned us that the earth's temperature is inching up degree by degree. And as it does, we are starting to see all kinds of climate changes -- combined with some very nasty side effects. Stop me if this sounds all too familiar: drought in southern California, flooding in the heartland, firestorms in the northwest, sinkholes in central Florida, and algae blooms in Lake Erie. Some of these events have other contributing factors, but it's interesting that now even the naysayers don't deny the earth is warming. But they'll only say that it's "temporary." So you might ask: "Temporary for whom?" One of the side effects of climate change is plagues. Its mainly African victims can't get enough food to eat or water to drink and wash in. And many Americans now fear that the deadly Ebola virus will erupt in our country. Insurance companies in denial Given what's at stake you would think… (continue reading......)
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