retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to yesterday’s piece about health care reform and the Safeway approach, one MNB user wrote:

Health care. Don't get me started! My husband just found out that our insurance will not cover him for the Great Indignity (colonoscopy) anymore because his first such exam, eight years ago, found a polyp. It was removed, which removes the threat of cancer, which is the point of these exams.

You'd think they would want to cover his future exams to keep him from getting cancer, which is much more expensive than the Indignity and removal of polyps.

But no. Now he has a "risk factor" so we have to pay for it out of our HSA, all in the name of making consumers more responsible for their own health. The way it works is that the insurance covers any "routine" tests (i.e. there is no reason to think we need it) but not tests recommended because of our health history or symptoms.

Since he is unemployed, he is reluctant to spring for the test himself, which means he may go longer between such exams and run the risk of a future polyp having time to get dangerous. That is called health care reform. Go figure.

How many other people will forgo tests under these new convoluted rules, and end up sicker by the time they finally get to a doctor?

I’m fed up with the whole health care debate. As far as I am concerned, most people get it wrong. While the US may have the best health care in the world (depending on where you live and what your insurance happens to be), the system is dysfunctional. There are too many stories like this one.

Another MNB user wrote:

Interesting discussion of the "Safeway Amendment" to the pending healthcare reform bill.  In particular, the divergence between "business groups" who favor the personal-accountability aspects of tying health insurance rates to people's lifestyles, and opponents like the Heart Association and Cancer Society who fear adoption of the provision would upset the notion of health insurance rates (apparently) no longer hinging on individual's health status.  Which presumably, to one extent or another, directly although certainly not entirely results from their personal life choices.

A slippery slope appears on the horizon, I suspect: regarding health-insurance rates, if I choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle (a fat-laden diet, for example) of my own free will, why should you be forced to pay the same health insurance rates as I do?  If I choose to drive habitually recklessly (speed and tailgate, for example), why should you be forced to pay the same auto insurance rates as I do?  If I choose to engage in high-risk behaviors (skydiving, for example), why should you be forced to pay the same life insurance rates as I do?  (All other salient factors assumed equal in the above examples.) If health-insurance rates do, in fact, become uncoupled from one's lifestyle choices affecting health status, can similar uncoupling regarding auto and life insurance rates be far behind?  Might there also be other similar contexts wherein this same notion of "equality for all" can and likely will be applied, appropriately or not?

I'm as much for minimizing my own -- as well as your -- insurance costs as the next guy; why not?  But not if such equilibration of rates has to rely on situational ethics to pass.  Situational ethics here as in "I'm for whatever is good for me, logically defensible or not."  Far too much of America runs on such tainted ethics, I'm afraid, and I can't help but call it out when I see it.  So when I see something like this "Safeway Amendment" which, on the surface of it, seems for all the world to be "rewarding good behavior", how bad a thing can that possibly be?  Maybe it still needs tweaking, maybe not; I don't know.  But if the Heart Association and the Cancer Society are at all suggesting it should be DOA, I just can't see that.

I wrote yesterday that Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld ultimately will be judged on whether the Cadbury acquisition works, which led one MNB user to point out:

And if she isn't successful, there still awaits a generous severance package as she is led out the door.


Regarding another MNB story, MNB user J. Schindler wrote:

In regard to Walgreen's push into food - their ad last week included Oscar Mayer Bacon.  I was going to pick some up but thankfully noticed that all of the packages on the shelf had a Dec. 29, 2009 expiration date.


We took note yesterday of the passing of Glen W. Bell Jr., the founder of Taco Bell. Which led MNB user Mark Walton to write:

While I know Mr. Bell is famous for founding “Taco Bell,”  to my family he will always be noted for Bell Garden in Valley Center, Ca.  My sister lives in that town, and for many years our visits included a stop for the fresh produce and a free train ride or hay ride for the kids around the property.  Occasionally, I would see Mr. Bell at his farm engaged in light conversation with the many visitors.  Most people never knew who he was.  He gave back in a simple way.  Thank you Mr. Bell!
KC's View: