Decisions… decisions…

We stopped by my in-law’s home on the way back from picking up Courtney from my parent’s place on Sunday so that we could celebrate a combined Courtney/Les Birthday seeing as Courtney’s was on the 13th and mine is this Wednesday. As I had anticipated I got a small, but appreciated, bit of money to spend as I choose which puts me back into a familiar dilemma: I can’t decide what to buy myself.

This is due to the fact that I rarely have much spending money anymore so when I do get some there’s always a ton of different things I’d like to spend it on. In this case, I have enough that I could afford to pick up a DVD burner for my PC, but there’s two different options I’m considering. One which is slower (8x) and a brand I don’t know a lot about (MicroAdvantage), but I’d get $50 back in a rebate and the other one which is faster (16X) and a brand I do know (NEC), but would eat up most of my gift money. Then I take a look at my Wish List and see stuff on there I’d been meaning to get for the longest time and I wonder if I shouldn’t spend it on some of that stuff. Of course that presents a problem as well in that I have to decide if I want to maximize my loot by buying several of the older and cheaper items, or go for something bigger that I might not be able to afford at all later such as the wireless bridge to connect my PS2 to my wireless network.

This is part of why I love having people buy me stuff off my wish list. Everything on there is something I’d like to have (natch) and when someone makes the choice for me I know that I’ll like it no matter what and I don’t have to make a choice as to what I’ll get so there’s none of this sitting around fretting over how to spend my gift money. I know people who prefer cash to gifts because they can get what they want that way, but it’s just a source of stress for me. Not that I’m about to complain too much as it’s always nice to get something even if it does make me sweat for a few hours as I decide what to do with it. So that’s part of what I’ve been daydreaming about at work this afternoon instead of actually doing any work. That and the arrival of our new cat, Melvin, this evening. I know I’m going to have to make a decision soon (about what to buy, not the cat) or it’ll distract me all week and drive my wife insane in the process. I just wish I had the ability to call for a Life Line like on that “Who Wants To Beat The Shit Out Of Regis” show. What? Isn’t that what it’s called? Well, shouldn’t it be?

14 thoughts on “Decisions… decisions…

  1. Les,

    Are you excited for your cat to come home?  You might have already answered this question earlier, but I don’t remember if you did, but is Melvin a kitten or an adult cat?  What does he look like, you should post a picture when he gets home.

  2. Decisions, decisions.  My birthday is tomorrow and since my insurance has quit paying the $365 per WEEK that my meds cost, I’ve been telling everybody I want drugs for my birthday.  Oh, for the good old days when that meant the good stuff….

  3. What the Hell is wrong with insurance companies?  How can they justify ceasing the payments for someone’s medication?  What is it that they’re insuring anyways?

  4. While I agree with your frustration StinkAss insurance companies are in the business of making money.  Unfortunately, this means they impose maximum yearly or lifetime limits on what they are going to pay out on policies.  This means that for someone like Cindi that has a need for ongoing medication, eventually the insurance money is going to dry up.  These policies on the insurance companies part also mean that someone like myself can afford insurance.  I’ve been in Cindi’s situation and it really sucks.  The problem in this scenario isn’t as much the insurance companies fault (yes they have some blame), as it is the pharaceutical companies who don’t allow generics to be made, hospitals for charging exhorbitant fees, HMO’s, people stupidly going to the doctor for a cold virus, incompentant doctors, frivilous lawsuits and juries handing out 10’s of millions for those lawsuits.  All of the aforementioned things drive up the cost of medical service and since insurance companies exist to make money they have to draw the line somewhere.  I’m not saying that it’s right, or that the insurance companies don’t have billions of dollars and could afford to lose a few, but they aren’t the cause of the situation, they are just the face that most people see.  And no I don’t work for an insurance company.

  5. Here’s an idea.  Let some people volunteer to defray their insurance costs by doing some background fraud investigation research for insurance companies.

    I’m with StinkAss on this one.  These companies are getting over big time at the expense of some needy people.  It’s not just medical insurance either.

    As a motorcyclist, I’ve paid more than double the amount of the actual bike in premiums without ever filing a claim.  This is aside from my medical insurance.

    In Texas we also have a law that states that you must have insurance in order to operate a motor vehicle on a public road.  We also have a law that states you must carry insurance against an uninsured motorist.  It’s not surprising to see more people opt out of insurance and if an accident or large medical emergency ensues, they go to bankruptcy court.

  6. I’m not saying that insurance companies aren’t to blame in a case like this.  However, they aren’t the root cause of the problem.  To solve the problem, or at least make some improvements, the main source of the problem has to be addressed.

      In the states, there has been alot of media attention concerning states who want to purchase drugs from places like Canada where prescription drugs are much cheaper in order to lower state run health care costs.  Every time a state tries to do so, some yap starts complaining that they’d be putting people at risk because the drugs haven’t gone through the “marvelous” FDA approval process.  In my mind the whole reason that there is such a stink about it isn’t due to lack of FDA oversight, rather it’s due to pharmaceutical industry lobbying groups reacting to the threat to the industries revenue such an action by the states would cause.  The root cause of policies to limit how much insurance companies are going to pay out in prescription drug benefits would then be, if what I’ve said above is correct, the trillion dollar pharmacuetical industry. 

    Not that I mind people pointing fingers, but rather than blaming the problem on the insurance companies, who are merely trying to cope with the situation the best way they know how, shouldn’t we be pointing fingers at the primary culprit?

  7. I love getting cash for my birthdays. Of course in most situation I do not actually spend it. Generally out of perhaps every 5 cash presents, I would only spend 1 of them. The rest usually goes into savings. But I guess that is just me.

    Now for the point relating to pharmaceuticals. The short answer as to the seemingly expensive price is that while the cost of manufacturing the drug may be low, the cost of research and developing that very first pill is very high.

    If technology were to stop and that the state of medical science will never improve then one may have quite a compelling reason to allow more generic drugs. But the fact is that medical science is improving and that the cost of developing these drugs cost a lot. Success in research is never certain. So if the drug company looks at:
    1) Development Cost of Drug
    2) Probability of Success
    3) Projected profits in event of success
    What then happens if one changes (reduces) the profits in the event of success? The firm may have to re-evaluate its research and taking into account the probability for failure and the lost in development cost as a result may decide that the risk is just not worth it. Furthermore, if the firm needs outside financing, the banks may simply look at the lowered projected profits and decide that the risk/profit ratio simply does not match and not offer financing. One may argue that we are not asking drug companies not to be profitable but that they should make less profits. Let me give you an extreme example. If you were asked to make an investment say the ownership of your house and that there is a 10% chance that the investment would make money. However, the profits is say $1. It is profitable but unless one is a addictive gambler, most would not make such an investment. Once you take into account that the probability of success is quite low, the requirement of high profit margins of the company may not seem too crazy.

    The end result of forcing drug companies to sell at a lower price is that in the short run we may have cheaper drugs but in the long run we are shooting ourselves in the foot. An analogy is somewhat like the killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. Already one is seeing the result of such pressure on the drug company. In the recent years, drug companies have been steering clear of AIDS/HIV research due to the pressure exerted on them to lower prices. Instead they are focusing on ‘lifestyle’ drugs such as viagra and rogain.

    Let us look at the term drug companies. On one hand you have the big pharmaceuticals that you rave against and on the other hand you have the generic manufacturers, who happen to be quite often located in Canada. How often do you see a generic firm developing a drug. In most instances it is the pharmaceuticals such as GSK that are coming out with the new drugs. 

    You have to remember that patents for the drugs are not definite and lasts for only 20 years.

    What then about government grants or university research. What if the government happen to be opposed to one particular area of research. Does that mean that all research should ground to a halt in that area? If you wish to bring in government or university backed drug development then you have to recognise that amount given by them while large is not sufficient. Already there are reports coming out in recent times about the financial ties between universities and drug pharmaceuticals. The universities are actively seeking out the pharmaceuticals for tie up because of the amount of money involved in developing the drug. Even if the universities can easily develop the drug by themselves there is no reason to think that they will give it away for free. After all do you hear students complaining that they are paying too little. No, many universities even the public ones are not charitable organisations.

    We complain about the high prices of the drugs but such drugs would not have even been available without the high prices in the past. One might claim that drug prices was not high in the past. That is true but choices on offer were also lower. And that today’s drugs are more complex and cost more to develop.

    Ktannal stated that “shouldn’t we be pointing fingers at the primary culprit?” Coincidentally enough one report on higher price of drugs also pose that report. But the answer may be not what you think. Who is the culprit? Go to a mirror and take a look in it and you will see a picture of one of the culprits. The reason why prices are high is because people demand it. No one is forcing you to purchase the drugs. But my life is at risk you may claim and the shout back would be without the high price you would not have even the option to consider that treatment. Every generic drug produced is a form of ‘tax’ on people who pay the full price. Generic producers and users are a form of ‘freerider.’

    If you had a choice between 1) not even having the drug at all as it is not developed or 2) having the drug but only available at a high price, I think the later situation is preferable to the former. Think of this as somewhat like the environmental issue. You may profit in the short run from dumping toxic waste into oceans and lakes or clear forests for development but in the long run it is a devastation. Just as we want to ensure that there is a world for our children, we too want to ensure that medical science does not ground to a halt in our generation.

  8. Thanks for the support, folks.  Pop Tarts:  You certainly make valid points and I have no problem with drug companies (or any company) making a healthy profit and recouping their R & D costs, but have you ever read the annual report of a large pharmaceutical company?  I’m not crying a river for them or their investors. 

    However, in my case, I am not sure I can even blame the drug companies.  I have been told that as this is a highly addictive medication and was the “abused drug” of choice for a handful of anesthesiologists, Congress mandated the high price to make it less attractive for the doctors to play with.  Basically, all that did was make it so they were the only ones that could afford it.  I am also told that the manufacturer has resisted putting out a generic and has enlisted full government support in their effort to “keep the medication in the hands of those who need it, not abuse it.”  What a crock of shit.

  9. Maybe it is the way medical insurance is organized in the US!
    I know many people here in Europe who are on permanent medication (myself included) and NOBODY has to pay themselves or worry about having to in the future. We DO pay higher taxes though, but for that we know that nobody has to die of poverty. And thats always worth it!

    Why don’t you get some books, Les?
    They don’t become outdated nor do they break down, so you’ll still have your present in ten years time.Just a thought.


  10. I’ve got about a half-dozen books that I’m at various stages of reading at the moment. I tend to take my time with books so I only need to stock up on occasion. grin

    After talking it over with a couple of friends I’ve decided to go with my first impulse and pick up the DVD Burner for my PC.

  11. Evil it is.  Half-tempted to write my congressman, but with age comes dissolutionment and I doubt it would do any good.

  12. I’m with you Decrepitoldfool on the heaven forbid thing.  The politics messing in the medicine problem is hard to take when you figure the Doctor only studied years to learn to treat you and the government acts like it is the expert.  I sure as hell don’t want my Senator removing my gall bladder or my Representative diagnosing the pain in my ass.  Although I think the pain is my ass maybe cause by my Senator or my Representative!

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