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Rx Madness!

I’m writing to inform you of an ordeal Jan and I have been experiencing for the past few months that you might benefit from in knowing the outcome. In the latter part of 2020, we received notice from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina that our individual qualified high deductible health care plan will increase in premium to about $1870 per month. Do the math; that is $22,440 per year for a high deductible health plan to be associated with an HSA. My annual deductible under this plan is $7000 and Jan’s annual deductible is $7000. So, our total annual liability would be $22,440 plus $14,000.

We could “save money” by going to a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina group plan. We considered this in past years, but Blue Cross’s rules are such that our agency would need to be an S corporation. As it stands our agency has been a proprietor, LLC. To switch to an S corporation would mean a total restructure of our business, learning QuickBooks, and many of the complexities which avail nothing other than “saving money” on our group health insurance. By the way our premium would drop from around $1870 to $1200 for us both for the same coverage, same network, and same liability, $7000 deductible for each. So, we bought QuickBooks and we applied for Blue Cross group coverage, effective 1-1-2021.

We do not take a lot of medicines, but I take a solution medication called Clobetasol. It is for itchy scalp. I’m allowed one bottle each month. I had been paying about $44 per month per bottle and I had been buying it from a local independent pharmacy in Harrisburg called Harrisburg Hometown Pharmacy. The entire $44 was going towards our high deductible, and I was happy. We switched plans effective January 1, 2021 but for my January prescription for the solution, it filled for the old $44 price, still in the system.

Earlier this week I asked Jan to stop by the pharmacy and pick up my February prescription. She did, and she informed me that the price was $123! Nothing changed except we went from a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina individual policy to a Blue Cross and Blue Shield group policy, so we thought. I immediately called the pharmacy and Blue Cross to check with them to see if there was a problem. The only problem was that my formulary under the group plan was nowhere near as good as the formulary under the individual plan. Remember, we have no copays; this is discounting.

[In Blue Cross’s Defense, North Carolina laws do permit carriers to write a 1-person group [yes; a 1-person group is an oxymoron], but most group carrier do not, due to their lack of profitability. Apparently, Blue Cross is offsetting its losses on this plan by using its unusually austere formulary.] This is not to say that ALL BCBSNC group formularies are this way.

While I was speaking to the pharmacist, I pulled out my iPhone and went to the GoodRX app to look up Clobetasol and you can see the below image as to what I saw. Through my local Harris Teeter, who has apparently joined a program with Kroger, I could fill my Clobetasol prescription for $6 per month in their club. Club membership is $36 per year per individual and $72 to be able to add 6 more ‘anybodies.’ That breaks down for one to approximately $3 per month fee on top of $6 per month co-pay, essentially. They happily gave me this pricing over the phone, not even knowing who I was.

As a last-ditch effort to try to remain with Blue Cross and have my purchase of my prescription drug funnel through and under my exorbitantly high annual deductible. I reached out to my Blue Cross online service which is called Alliance to see what their pricing would be if I ran the script through them. They told me that they cannot give me pricing until the prescription had switched or transferred to them. I asked them, “what sense does that make?” Why go to the trouble to transfer something if I don’t know the price? But, I took them at their word, and last Friday actually initiated the transfer. But I was told by them Friday to call Monday, which is today, to get the pricing. I needed to do this because whether I would be happy with their pricing or not the script would go through if I did not call to intervene in the process. I asked how could this be as the script has already been filled for February. I got no real answer. Juxtapose this lack of transparency from MY CARRIER to the good folks at Harris Teeter.

So, I called today to the online people at Blue Cross Alliance, and really got nowhere. I was told that since the script itself would not transfer until March, they would not be able to release pricing until then. This is the point that I gave up on my insurance company.

I called the people at the 800 number inside the Kroger discount club website. [The HT link sends you to the Kroger site. They are compatible.] They are extremely helpful. They signed me up for their annual membership for $36 and immediately sent me to confirmation emails with all my individual information in the club, a group number, and prescription bin number. They told me my price would be $6 each month for the prescription, but it gets better!

They said that I could put in a request for the Clobetasol to be filled every 90 days and they would drop one of the $6 copays [Not really copays, but that is what I am calling them]. In the end, had I remained with Blue Cross and paid $123 per month, my total annual cost would be $1476 for 12 of those little white bottles. However, through Harris Teeter my cost will be $36 + (12 X4) = $84. Madness! And, at this price, I bet they are still making money.

I thought I would pass this information on to you. Thank you.

P.S.: Maybe Jan will let me go buy something? Mirrorless Canon camera?

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Antinatalism and Job

On yesterday, there was a UK Daily Mail story about a man wanting to sue his parents for birthing him without his prior consent. This is the antinatalism view of assessing negativity to ones birth or the prospect of being born, as stated in the Wikipedia link above. Setting ontological absurdity aside, this can also be seen as affront to Genesis 1 and God’s creative sovereignty over suffering conditions that even a righteous man like Job was guilty of.

In Job 3, Job lamented his poor circumstances to the degree of questioning why was even born.  God listened to Job complain about his plight to the extent of questioning his own existence, and then He commands Job to listen to Him from His point of view, in some of the most eloquent Scripture in the Bible. God declared himself alone as sovereign over all of His creation, Job’s sufferings not withstanding, as illustrated in the following outline by David Dorsey.

[WordPress formatting does not all me to show you the text indention I want you to see, but look down, below to the next paragraph/table, to the left, seeing A, B, C, D, C’, B’, and A’. Point A, B, and C work their way to the center – D, and back out again to C’, B’, and A’. Prologue point A correlates to epilogue point A’, and so forth. The center point D is the heart of the text. This is common ‘chiastic’ Hebrew literature.]

A prologue:  Job’s suffering  (1:1-2:13)

B Job’s introductory speech: he wishes his birth had never happened (3:1-26)

C cycle of speeches by Job and his three older friends (4:1-27:23) D Center: poem about wisdom (28:1-28)

  • D Center: poem about wisdom (28:1-28)

C’ cycle of summation speeches by Job and his younger friend (29:1-37:24)

B’ God’s closing speech: birth and all life is under God’s good control (38:1-42 6)

A’ epilogue:  Job’s suffering reversed  (42:7-17)*

            *David Dorsey. The Literary Structure of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.

At the center of our struggles in life is God’s wisdom, personified in Jesus the Christ. He understands that we are living under the curse, due to the fall of man. That’s why He put in action the plan of salvation and redemption, not only for man but for all of His creation. All of creation is groaning for its Savior, and that person is Yeshua ha Messiah, the Jewish Messiah. Faux movements like works-based religions and environmentalism will not do, though in their darkened state, they grope in darkness for the answer to their need of salvation from sin. There is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. Only faith in the blood of the Savior will suffice.

Antinatalism or any other ideology questioning one’s own existence, ultimately feeds into depression and even perhaps suicide, if unabated. This is a serious healthcare problem today, particularly in our young adult population.

So, remember, the suit story is not just another ridiculous story to be shuffled-off in our mixed up days. “For we battle not against flesh and blood…” Be aware of the term, “antinatalism.” It’s an affront to the command, “be fruitful and multiply,” and it should be given no quarter in our public discourse.

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History of Healthcare & Healthcare Reform [originally posted, 5/21/2013]

Jesus focused on the meaning of suffering and the healing of the whole person; little distinction is made between healing of the body, mind, and spirit. Emphasis is placed on the power of the thought life to affect health (Matthew 15:17-20). Early Christians believe that sickness, whether or not caused by sin, can be healed through prayer (James 5:14).

Physical healing does not become a dominant and widespread Christian practice until about the fourth or fifth century A. D. During the first three centuries, mainstream Christianity does not promise physical healing (as did the pagan healing cults) (Ferngren, 1992). “Caring for” rather than curing the sick is the chief ministry of the early Christian community. According to Ferngren (1992, pp. 13-14), caring for the sick was Christianity’s truly novel contribution to healthcare. At that time, pagans did not care for their sick in any organized fashion or on any widespread basis. The Jewish community provided care primarily to its own. The Christian Church, on the other hand, offered care not only to Christians but also to non-Christians.

Clement of Alexandria (150-215), one of the early church fathers who is well versed in Greek, argues that health by

Medicine has its origin in and its existence from God as well as resulting from human cooperation. He notes that the art of healing learned by human wisdom is from God. This view is reinforced by Origen (185-254), who notes that just as God allows trees to grow, so also does he give medical knowledge to humans.

Until the Christian era (after 350), there is no evidence of buildings (i.e., hospitals) devoted to the care and treatment of sick persons in the general population (Gran-shaw, 1993, p. 1181). Eastern Orthodox Christians, at the insistence of St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, establish the first great hospital in Asia Minor around 370. It is scattered among hotels, poorhouses, homes for the aged, buildings for diseases and a special hospital for lepers. This is done to honor the biblical obligation, in Matthew 25:36, 40, to clothe the poor and to heal the sick (Pollak, 1963, p. 74).

[Circa 400-550] There is great respect for physicians among Jews. The Jewish Talmud prohibits Jews from living in a city in which there is no physician (Dorff, 1998, p. 14). A hospital for the mentally ill is established in Jerusalem in 490 (Alexander, 1966).

[Circa 500-1200] The first period of medieval medicine is designated as “Monastic” or “Monastery” medicine, since it is practiced and taught under the direction of the Church (Pllak, 1963, p. 79).

[Circa 500-1000] Care for the poor and sick throughout this period is provided primarily by the Church (Amundsen, 1998, p. 83).

The Knights Hospitallers (equivalent to modern hospital physicians) are monks who operate hospitals in Jerusalem at the time of the crusades (Stevens, 1989). Clergy-operated monasteries continue as the primary institutions of healing. In medieval Europe, hospitals “were usually associated with a church or monastery, with religion defining life within them.” (Granshaw, 1993, p. 1182).

There is an intellectual awakening: Institutions of higher learning are reopened (1200-1300) and are largely supported by the Church. The word “doctor” is first used to indicate a learned person skilled in a profession. Science and the Church, however, begin to butt heads. The Church condemns Aristotelian empiricism, which incorporates the Greek scientific tradition and becomes widely popular between 1200-1240 (Kroll, 1973). The Theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) synthesizes Christian faith and Aristotelian philosophy, which is finally accepted in the mid-fourteenth century (Kroll, 1973). Under Aquinas’ influence, medieval scientists begin to see their work as uncovering God’s plan. Aquinas writes about the importance of dreams and the workings of the unconscious (almost 700 years before Freud). The later period of medieval medicine is known as “The Age of Scholastic Medicine.” The relationship between religion and medicine undergoes a crucial shift that separates the two ever so slightly as doctors become certified by the state, rather than by the Church (Pollak, 1963, p. 91).

The greatest of the natural philosophers: Sir Isaac Newton composes his famous work Philosophiae Naturalis Frincipia Mathematica (1687), which sets up mathematical and mechanical systems of physiology and therapeutics to help guide a more scientific medicine. Newton argues that the entire universe can be explained in terms of physical laws. According to Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity, Newton “believed that his scientific discoveries were communicated to him by the Holy Spirit, and regarded the understanding of Scripture as more important than his scientific work.” (Dowley, 1982, p. 490)

In the late 1600s, the Church holds the position that secular methods of cure (medical or surgical) are God-given and work only through the exercise of God’s power.

The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul organize Catholic nuns to serve both religious and secular hospitals. By 1789, there are 426 hospitals run by the Sisters of Charity in France alone (Porter, 1993, p. 1543). Not until the 1830s do Protestants have anything similar, when a Lutheran pastor starts a nursing school in Kaiserwerth, Germany, to train women (called “deaconesses“) for a life of service to the sick. Later, Florence Nightingale applies this concept to a secular setting to train the first “nurses” (Numbers & Amundsen, 1998, p. 2). For a more detailed history of the emergence of the nursing profession out of religious orders, see Nelson (1997).

Julien de LeMettrie (1709-1731) publishes L’Homme Machine (1749), which argues that humans are wholly material beings, that modern anatomy and physiology can find no evidence of a soul or spirit. Soon afterward, Denis Diderot (1713-1784) publishes his Reve d’Alemhert, which argues that human consciousness is entirely organic in origin. These works characterize the Enlightenment period (Porter, 1993, p. 1457).

Gamwell and Tomes (1995) note, “The rise of science in the eighteenth century slowly eroded the foundations of religion and ultimately led to the secular science of the modern world.” (p. 19).

The Wesleyan-Methodist tradition begins in England (as an offshoot of the Anglican tradition) with the work of John and Charles Wesley. John Wesley (1703-1791) writes extensively on health topics, including volumes such as Thoughts on Nervous Disorders (1784), The Duty and Advantage of Early Rising (1789), and his most famous work on the subject, Primitive Physick (1747). Primitive Physick becomes one of the most popular medical manuals of the eighteenth century.[1]

In 1765, the first medical school in North America is established at the College of Philadelphia, which later (1791) merges with the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania.

In the early 1800s, there are only three medical hospitals in the United States: the New York Hospital, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and the Massachusetts Hospital. The first official nursing organization in the United States is initiated in Emmetsburg by the Catholic Sisters of Charity in 1803, following a French model. The sisters perform home nursing as well as offer institutional care (Nelson, 1997).

The Second Great Awakening [1780-1830], a Protestant revival, sweeps the United States. Calvinistic teachings on man’s depraved nature are disputed, and some theologians shift from a doctrine of predestination to the doctrine of free will. It is possible, through good works and community volunteerism, for humans to influence their own salvation. This movement has great social force in America and helps prepare the country for a new approach to the treatment of mental illness (Taubes, 1998).

The American Medical Association is established in 1847.

One of the earliest health care proposals at the federal level was the 1854 Bill for the Benefit of the Indigent Insane, which would have established asylums for the indigent insane, as well as the blind, and deaf via federal land grants to the states. This bill was proposed by activist Dorothea Dix, which passed both houses of congress, but was vetoed by president Franklin Pierce.

Pierce argued that the federal government should not commit itself to social welfare, which he believed was properly the responsibility of the states.[1][2] After the Civil War, the federal government did establish the first system of national medical care in the South. Known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, the government constructed 40 hospitals, employed over 120 physicians, and treated well over one million sick and dying former slaves. The hospitals were short lived, lasting from 1865 to 1870. Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, DC remained in operation until the late nineteenth-century before it became part of Howard University.[3][2]

The Progressive Era was a period of social activism and political reform in the United States that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s.[1] One main goal of the Progressive movement was purification of government, as Progressives tried to eliminate corruption by exposing and undercutting political machines and bosses. Many (but not all) Progressives supported prohibition in order to destroy the political power of local bosses based in saloons.[2] At the same time, women’s suffrage was promoted to bring a “purer” female vote into the arena.[3] A second theme was building an Efficiency movement in every sector that could identify old ways that needed modernizing, and bring to bear scientific, medical and engineering solutions.

In 1932 Franklin Roosevelt (D) won the presidency, and the following year his administration began an aggressive program of economic and social intervention known as the “New Deal.” Many liberal Democrats expected some form of national health insurance to be a part of this program. Indeed, in 1933 Roosevelt’s Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) declared healthcare to be a fundamental human right.

But during the war (WWII), a policy designed to keep inflation in check had an unintended consequence that was to shape the way most Americans would receive healthcare for the next seventy years. The federal government imposed strict price and wage controls on many industries, so companies found that they no longer could use competitive wages to attract talent. A growing number found that company-subsidized health insurance, then unregulated, fit this need.

In 1951 the IRS declared group premiums paid by employers as a tax-deductible business expense,[6] which solidified the third-party insurance companies’ place as primary providers of access to health care in the United States.

Medicaid was created by the Social Security Amendments of 1965 which added Title XIX to the Social Security Act. Medicaid was created as an entitlement program to help states provide medical coverage for low-income families and other categorically related individuals who meet eligibility requirements. Candidates include the blind, aged, disabled and pregnant women. In essence, Medicaid serves as the nation’s primary source of health insurance coverage for low-income populations. Each state administers its own Medicaid program, establishes their own eligibility standards, determines the scope and types of services they will cover, and sets the rate of payment. Benefits vary from state to state, and because someone qualifies for Medicaid in one state, it does not mean they will qualify in another.[6] The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) monitors the state-run programs and establishes requirements for service delivery, quality, funding, and eligibility standards.

In 1965, Congress created Medicare under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide health insurance to people age 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history. Before Medicare’s creation, only half of older adults had health insurance, with coverage often unavailable or unaffordable to the other half, because older adults had half as much income as younger people and paid nearly three times as much for health insurance. Medicare also spurred the racial integration of thousands of waiting rooms, hospital floors, and physician practices by making payments to health care providers conditional on desegregation.[2]

In October 1972, President Nixon signed the Social Security Amendments of 1972 extending Medicare to those under 65 who have been severely disabled for over two years or have end stage renal disease (ESRD), and gradually raising the Medicare Part A payroll tax from 1.1% to 1.45% in 1986.[23] In November 1972, Nixon won re-election in a landslide over the only Democratic presidential nominee ever not endorsed by the AFL–CIO, Senator George McGovern (DSD),[24] who was a cosponsor of the Kennedy-Griffiths bill, but did not make national health insurance a major issue in his campaign.[25]

The HMO Act of 1973 created incentives for the formation of for-profit HMOs and introduced the managed care approach that would quickly come to dominate private insurance.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) (Pub.L. 93–406, 88 Stat. 829, enacted September 2, 1974, codified in part at 29 U.S.C. ch. 18) is a federal law which establishes minimum standards for pension plans in private industry and provides for extensive rules on the federal income tax effects of transactions associated with employee benefit plans. ERISA was enacted to protect the interests of employee benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries by:

  • Requiring the disclosure of financial and other information concerning the plan to beneficiaries;
  • Establishing standards of conduct for plan fiduciaries;
  • Providing for appropriate remedies and access to the federal courts.

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Act, which applies to all ages, permits the use of certain age distinctions and factors other than age that meet the Act’s requirements. The Age Discrimination Act is enforced by the Civil Rights Center.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Cafeteria Plans were added to the Internal Revenue Code in November 1978.[10] Internal Revenue Code Section 125 sets forth the requirements and tax treatment of cafeteria plans.[11] Section 125 has been amended multiple times since its enactment.[12]

The Cafeteria Benefits Plan was a result of the revelation that “one universal benefit program can no longer do the job,” said Thomas E. Wood of Hewitt Associates and chairman of the Corporate Board for the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Wood was the originator of flexible compensation due to the fact American corporations and households were becoming increasingly dynamic and globalized. As quoted in his chapter of the business publication, Business, Work, and Benefits: Adjusting to Change produced by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “Wood’s framework creates a specific detailed picture. The concepts include the establishment of a basic “safety net” of benefits to cover financial hazards associated with old age, death and disability, and catastrophic medical expenses, with supplementary benefits offered on a defined contribution basis”. [9]

1980 [August] – Janice Osborne (Belue) began working in Greensboro, North Carolina Pilot Life Home Office.

1982 – Mark Belue – Graduates from the University of South Carolina, with a BS degree in Accounting, and goes to work for the Pilot Life Insurance Company, of Greensboro, NC in the Group Division in 1984.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (or COBRA) is a law passed by the U.S. Congress on a reconciliation basis and signed by President Ronald Reagan that, among other things, mandates an insurance program giving terminating employees the ability to continue health insurance coverage after leaving employment. COBRA includes amendments to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The law deals with a great variety of subjects, such as tobacco price supports, railroads, private pension plans, emergency room treatment, disability insurance, and the postal service, but it is perhaps best known for Title X, which amends the Internal Revenue Code and the Public Health Service Act to deny income tax deductions to employers (generally those with 20 or more full-time equivalent employees) for contributions to a group health plan unless such plan meets certain continuing coverage requirements.

Section 89 of the IRC, enacted as part of the 1986 tax reform act, imposed qualification standards on healthcare and other welfare benefit plans. However, this controversial legislation proved to be too costly for companies to administer and it was repealed by Congress as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (OBRA ’89). Section 89(k) qualifications standards, although repealed, remain very much alive in the qualification-type standards that continue to exist in the IRC and the ERISA. Courts still use these rules as ERISA guidelines.

1990 – Mark Belue moves to Charlotte, NC to open the Charlotte Sales Office of Mid-South Insurance Company of Fayetteville, NC as Regional Manager.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990[1][2] (ADA) is a law that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990. It was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush, and later amended with changes effective January 1, 2009.[3]

The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964,[4] which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. Disability is defined by the ADA as “…a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” The determination of whether any particular condition is considered a disability is made on a case by case basis. Certain specific conditions are excluded as disabilities, such as current substance abuse and visual impairment that is correctable by prescription lenses.

President Bill Clinton had campaigned heavily on health care in the 1992 U.S. presidential election. The task force was created in January 1993, but its own processes were somewhat controversial and drew litigation. Its goal was to come up with a comprehensive plan to provide universal healthcare for all Americans, which was to be a cornerstone of the administration’s first-term agenda. A major healthcare speech was delivered by President Clinton to the U.S. Congress in September 1993. The core element of the proposed plan was an enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all of their employees through competitive but closely regulated health maintenance organizations.

In 1992, Bill Clinton (D) made his plan for universal health insurance a prominent part of his platform. Upon taking office, he appointed First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to head up a healthcare task force and made achieving universal healthcare legislation his principal first-term goal. The Clinton bill was met with concentrated opposition from conservatives and insurance industry groups. The bill, which would use a complex series of mechanisms, national boards, and rules to achieve universal coverage, was easy for opponents to demonize. Opponents contended that Clinton’s reforms would lead to the government’s deciding on Americans’ healthcare rather than their doctors.

The bill died in Congress, and its failure contributed to Republican victories in the mid-term elections in 1994, giving the GOP control of both houses for the first time since the 1950s. Clinton spent the rest of his presidency fighting for less ambitious healthcare reforms, including: the S-CHIP, a program which dramatically reduced the number of uninsured children; the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, an initiative that helped some Americans maintain their health insurance after losing or changing jobs; and Medicare Advantage, which permitted Medicare recipients to receive insurance coverage (including an expanded list of benefits) through subsidized private insurance plans instead of traditional Medicare.

The Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) is legislation signed into United States law on September 26, 1996 that requires that annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits be no lower than any such dollar limits for medical and surgical benefits offered by a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering coverage in connection with a group health plan. MHPA was largely superseded by the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici‘s Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), which the 110th United States Congress passed as rider legislation on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2008. Prior to MHPA and similar legislation, insurers were not required to cover mental health care and as a result access to treatment was limited, underscoring the importance of the act.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA; Pub.L. 104–191, 110 Stat. 1936, enacted August 21, 1996) was enacted by the United States Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. It was sponsored by Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (RKan.).[1] Title I of HIPAA protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Title II of HIPAA, known as the Administrative Simplification (AS) provisions, requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers.[2] This act gives the right to privacy to individuals from age 12 through 18. The provider must have a signed disclosure from the affected insured before giving out any information on provided health care to anyone, including parents.[3][4]

Mark & Jan Belue found, Belue & Associates, LLC in March of 1997.

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act[1] (also called the Medicare Modernization Act or MMA) is a federal law of the United States, enacted in 2003.[2] It produced the largest overhaul of Medicare in the public health program’s 38-year history. Its most touted change is the introduction of an entitlement benefit for prescription drugs, through tax breaks and subsidies.

In the years since Medicare’s creation in 1965, the role of prescription drugs in U.S. patient care has significantly increased. As new and expensive drugs have come into use, patients, particularly senior citizens for whom Medicare was designed, have found prescriptions harder to afford. The MMA is meant to address this problem.

The MMA created a new Health Savings Account statute that replaced and expanded the previous Medical Savings Account law by expanding allowable contributions and employer participation. After the first 10 years over 12 million Americans were enrolled in HSAs (AHIP; EBRI).

“Economic Survey of the United States 2008: Health Care Reform” by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, published in December 2008, said that:[58]

  • Tax benefits of employer-based insurances should be abolished.
  • The resulting tax revenues should be used to subsidize the purchase of insurance by individuals.
  • These subsidies, “which could take many forms, such as direct subsidies or refundable tax credits, would improve the current situation in at least two ways: they would reach those who do not now receive the benefit of the tax exclusion; and they would encourage more cost-conscious purchase of health insurance plans and health care services as, in contrast to the uncapped tax exclusion, such subsidies would reduce the incentive to purchase health plans with little cost sharing.”

When Barack Obama (D) became president in 2009, his large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress offered the opportunity to achieve the substantial expansion and reform of healthcare in the United States long envisioned by Democrats. Compromises made to accommodate Democrats from conservative states and districts, however, led to an intra-party fight over the legislation, with more liberal Democrats championing a public option similar to Nixon’s proposal in 1974. Obama said he personally favored the public option, but in the end agreed to a deal taking it off the table, and the Affordable Care Act, which was designed to dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Americans, was signed into law in March, 2010, with most of the changes staggered over the following four years. Going into the 2010 mid-term election Republicans vowed to campaign against the reform and repeal it if they regained control of Congress. Due to the complexity of the law and its massive impact on the group and individual markets, a summary is not possible, here. Living in this fallen world, under the curse due to man’s sin, with steady degradation of creation from sin towards death, is a struggle. Treating and caring for the sick and injured is a gift of God from the Great Physician, Himself. Belue & Associates, LLC is dedicated to witnessing the love and care of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and hold Him up as our model for selflessly serving our clients. We regard our agency as actively participating in the financing of the healing ministry of Yeshua the Messiah. By God’s grace, we are faithful He will impart to us the knowledge and wisdom to properly care for and advise our clients that He has given us for whatever changes and developments may come, as He has already done, to date.                                               

[1] Harold G. Koenig, M. D., Handbook of Religion and Health (Oxford University Press, Oxford, NY) Pages 31-47. Most references from the first 2 pages of this paper where taken directly from these referenced pages. Dr. Koenig is the Director of Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health, a Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and an Associate Professor of Medicine.

[2]Most of the following references and information containing hyper-links were taken from Wikipedia and some other media websites.

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The Borrower is Slave to the Lender. [orig. post, 8/29/2012]

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” [Proverbs 22:7] Sandra Fluke is set to give her prime-time speech in the Democratic Convention to be held in Charlotte, NC. She was a relative political unknown until the Rush Limbaugh flap over her self-proclaimed right to receive free birth controlled pills from tax payers, while she pursued her law degree from the exclusive Georgetown University. Republicans claimed her sudden media exposure was all a part of a contrived, “War on Women,” campaign designed by the Democrats to distract attention away from the real election issues of the national debt and the poor economy. But, the question remains, why would the party have Sandra Fluke paraded front and center on this very important stage? Why give her, of all people, so much notoriety in the convention spectacle?

Yes, she is a liberal. Yes she is advocating core liberal causes like abortion, right to contraception, and other feminist causes, but she is not the only surrogate the Dems have, and she is not the most articulate mouthpiece for these causes. She is a young radical, like the Occupy Wall Street protesters, but she is not an anarchist. She is not a typical 99% street fighter/agitator, raging against the capitalistic machine, vandalizing corporations and their capitalistic icons in the streets with the other hooligans. She is a calm, clean, and well-spoken radical. She is studying to become another brick in the wall, so to speak. She is perhaps being spotlighted and elevated to become an important part of the liberal political ruling class. But why her? Why a student?

She represents the young, college student constituency who is enslaved to the government through government student loans. She is a phase in the Life of Julia. All an elected official has to utter are phrases like, “student loans,” or, “student loan indebtedness,” or “interest on student loans,” and like a mind-programmed CIA covert operative, the new collegian constituency hopefully will snap to attention like a Jason Bourne being summoned to a task. Suddenly, a once oblivious, self-centered and self-directed student becomes an active and useful cog in a newly-developed Democrat voting block to vote their financial interest in accordance with all of the other liberal causes of the day. Sandra Fluke personifies that obedient and self-interested student lieutenant. Since the Democratic losses of the once-dependable senior block through Medicare, politicians have turned theirs eyes towards the younger voter through student loan obligations. The deeper in debt, the more obligated, the better.

The “student loan bubble,” is only the latest bubble to be created by the government amid an increasing entitlement-based populace. The housing bubble was largely instigated by years of politicians funneling loan money to its constituency under the guise of, “affordable housing.” The house loan market was swimming in government-backed loans, propped-up by Government Sponsored Enterprises [GESs] and juiced by ever increasing community organizing and political overlords shaking down lending institutions, like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. In fact, banks have been required to make riskier loans to low-income borrowers for this type of housing since 1977 under the Community Reinvestment Act. Banks were demonized and threatened by the government for discriminating against low-income applicants trying to buy a house, stating their lending practices were discriminatory and unfair. The end result: People bought houses they could not afford in a natural market, and the world’s economy fell when the bubble popped.

So we put the people who created the housing bubble in charge to fix that bubble, while they begin another bubble: Student Loans. To date, total student loan indebtedness exceeds over $1 Trillion. I routinely talk to students who are $25,000 to over $100,000 in debt to the government. It is a travesty and a national disgrace. I recently spoke with a waitress at Cracker Barrel in Concord, NC with a four-year degree in Anthropology from the University of Georgia who is $80,000 in debt, and she is not atypical! How will this poor girl ever find a job earning enough money to ever pay this back? She will either:

Be enslaved for life, will severely compromised wealth accumulation potential,

Default, which case the tax payer will be on the hook,

Marry into money, or marry so the spouse can help shoulder the burden of the debt,

Or, some ill-advised combination of all.

Colleges are not innocent by-standers in this money-grab. They are willing contributors towards this financial wreckage. They, themselves, are hurling forward with building projects and capital improvement, as if there is no end to this false money. Whether the parents or grandparents squander away their wealth in the direction of these institutions, or the students continue to be willing to follow goat after goat off the cliff to financial ruin, this whole system – like the housing bubble – will pop! It is unsustainable. It is as financially impossible and destined for failure as the Medicare system was from the beginning and is today, unless meaningful changes are made. The government take-over of the student loan industry by Barack Obama is another government boondoggle for politicians who are pandering for votes. And we fools who bite into the dangling worms of entitlement money have hooks jerked into our jaws. We become like puppets subjecting ourselves to the pulls of the political puppeteers. We do not receive what we think we are getting, but rather we give away our freedoms declared by our Constitution in exchange for an often worthless degree from a University! We willingly sacrifice our heritage as free people for a bowl of soup.

Those parents who spend their time and energy chasing college scholarships for their children, from their moment of birth, are no different. It is all welfare, when the rubric is: someone else must pay for my kid’s education. How is persistent pursuit of a child’s scholarship different than Sandra Flukes argument? Fill in the blank; Some other citizens MUST pay for my ________, because I cannot or do not want to pay for my own expenses. I think it’s my right. It’s no surprise we do so well in the Olympics, and so poorly in church! Too many of our kids from “good homes,” in AAU tournaments on Sunday mornings and lifting weights on Wednesday night are pre-occupied chasing the almighty scholarship to bother with church attendance. These kids are from Christian homes!

Something will change. There are more on-line and for-profit colleges, as well as community colleges, that totally replace or at least be a part of a person’s education, for a much better value. Tablets and internet will change everything. Whatever happened to work? Remember, Adam worked in the garden, before the fall of man. Work is not a sin, but rather, it is God-given as a blessing. It is possible to educate young adults in higher learning without committing bankruptcy, either to yourself, or grandparents, or the country.

Suitability should become an integral part of college matriculation when the taxpayer is on the hook for a federal student loan. Colleges should be responsible for documenting for their claims of short-term sacrifice equals long-term rewards. Colleges should disclose and be responsible to make the student loan applicant fully aware that based on his/her projected indebtedness, certain fields of study would be, “unsuitable,” for one’s financial circumstances. The loan should not be made. Grants are available for financial hardships and other special situations, but loans are different. Debt is different. Colleges should have “skin in the game,” should their graduating pupil, holding their degree, fail to acquire a suitable level of employment necessary to avoid default on the federal student loan. There is no way a student should ever leave a university with a degree in Anthropology, $80,000 in debt, without some degree of oversight and warning – fully documented – on the part of those who should know better. Colleges are complicit in taking advantage of gullible students, and well-meaning but ignorant family members. The debt must not equal or exceed the probably that the degree and the profession can reasonably support the expectation of returning payment to the lending taxpayers. Large debt may be suitable for a business degree or the medical profession [pre-Obamacare], but not anthropology. Colleges should be responsible for obtaining that information, maintaining that information, and disclosing that information.

Do not fall for the Sandra Flukes or any other representative of you, bidding you to long-term entrapment. Resist the easy way. Value striving and earning your own way through life. Do not overpay for education. If you are buying higher education today, you are, “buying high.” “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” [Proverbs 3:5]

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When America is Judged.. [Orig. posted 2012 following election of Barack Obama]

God’s will is done. The people have voted with a political party who expelled God from their platform to elect a more pop-culture president who panders to abortion and government-paid contraception, sodomy-marriage, marijuana legalization, other sins and vices, in favor of a life of slavery, debt, and dependency. More poverty and slouching towards Gomorrah will likely follow. For those who see a further decline of the America they love, perhaps a more Biblical perspective will be beneficial.

Barrack Obama was correct in a sense when he said, “America is no longer a Christian nation.” Like Israel of the past and other great and affluent nations, we have rejected the ways of the God of the Bible, which this nation was founded upon. The majority of Americans is looking back long for the leaks of Egypt and slavery wanting government free stuff; not forward to a life of freedom and self-sufficiency. But, in a very real sense, Obama is tragically mistaken about this no longer being a Christian nation or at least escaping God’s notice. All of these aberrant choices by its people are taking place in plain view of the holy God who abhors sin, whether we acknowledge Him or not. Sin must be either paid for or atoned for, in accordance with His Word. There is a cost, when the butcher’s bill is due, and God’s anger gives way to His wrath.

Unlike Allah, who needs his minions of henchmen to do his bidding, Yeshua can contend for Himself. God judges sinful and disobedient nations, who have rejected Him and their God-given birthright. The Democratic Party, literally, in its Charlotte, NC convention, in the buckle of the Bible belt, voted out or rejected God. When America is to be judged by God for our many sins as a nation, remember that it will be for the ultimate salvation of those who would see God in the judgment and believe in Him. God’s purpose of judgment and discipline is always for salvation and correction. God is of no political party. He is holy and sovereign and He longs to be one with His fallen creation.

The Democratic victory of 2012 was largely due to the urban voter or city dwellers living in high-population centers. City folks are different than sub-urban and rural folk. City-dwellers are more about the collective and the so-called common good rather than the more self-reliant individual. There is more dependency and awareness of government services in and around the city. The tall skyscrapers of New York City attracted and inspired the late atheist, Ayn Rand, in her escape from communism and her pursuit of her own philosophy of personal self-interest and her ideal man. The tall buildings of the city are reminiscent of the Tower of Babel, symbolizing the pride of man and his desire for man to be the god of his own universe.

Recall, it was not God’s idea that Israel would even be ruled by kings like other pagan nations. God, through the prophet Samuel, tried to reason with Israel against rejecting God, and wanting to be exploited by an earthly government led by a king. Recall Abraham’s offer his nephew Lot the first choice of the land. Lot chose to pitch his tent towards Sodom. It offered plenty of what he perceived he needed to live, ignoring its wickedness. Cities are attractive to many for amenities such as the arts and culture – a by-product of Cain’s children – but they are often portrayed in the Scriptures as being anti-God and generally, evil.

Since there is a greater concentration of people in the city, there is a greater concentration of sin there, as well. We even associate certain sins with certain cities, like sodomy and San Francisco, gambling with Las Vegas, and revelry with New Orleans. College campuses are like little cities or concentrations of people and they abound with liberalism and sin. Cain’s progeny of the Bible were responsible for the first city mentioned in the Bible so named after its builder – Cain’s son – Enoch. Nothing good is written of Cain or his descendants in the Bible, other than God’s mercy towards him, after His judgment for killing his brother, Abel. After this election, we might feel resentment to “those city people.” But, God loves cities, because God seeks to save the lost people in those cities. God Himself visited Sodom and Gomorrah seeking the righteous before He judged the cities. God sent Jonah to Nineveh not to judge the wicked of the Assyrians city but to call them to repentance and forgiveness. Yeshua was sent to Jerusalem. Paul was sent by God to Rome, Philippi, Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica, Athens, and other major metropolitan areas. Although Cain is responsible for the first earthly city, Christ builds the final, eternal city of the Bible.

When America is to be judged by God, followers of Yeshua must be obedient messengers, following the obedience of Yeshua sent to do the will of His Father, not the disobedient Jonah. Jonah hated the Assyrians because they were ruthless pagans whom he wanted judged, but God insisted Jonah carry a message of salvation. Yeshua’s obedience means loving the unlovable, as He loved us when we were and are unlovable.  Yeshua made a way of eternal mercy available through Him for those who deserved eternal judgment. Those who revel in their political victories allowing for debauchery are no different in their lostness than we were, before Yeshua sought us and saved us. Love your enemies. God’s judgment will surely come, but believers are to pray and act towards mercifully in order to help bring about the recreation of the lost in Christ. Pray that God will open the eyes of those troubled by His judgment that we might help point them to Messiah. Israel will be more isolated than before, hopefully to seek their God and find their Messiah they pierced, as Zechariah prophesied. Pray that the circumstances of geopolitical events will cause them to see their Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. They are already forgiven for piercing their Messiah. It was for the sake of the Gentiles that they rejected their own Messiah. He longs for them to trust in Him and Him alone, and be reunited with their rejected Messiah, even as Joseph was reunited with his brothers. In the end, God will bring judgment to the nations of the world set opposed to Israel so the nations of the world might see God, believe in Him, and be saved.

So, what does all this look like? How are we to love those who might stand opposed to us, politically? Are we now mad at voters in northern cities who voted in a way that did not suit us? How will God initiate His judgment on the US? God used enemy nations like Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon with Israel. God also used severe weather conditions and pandemics. Can we see the devastation from Hurricane Sandy? Do we see their misery? Will we help? I can assure the NC Baptist Men of Mission will be there, long after the news media leaves, as well as Samaritan’s Purse. Does God care for those people enough to reveal His mercy and salvation in this misery? The Gospel message is being handed out with a hot meal or a hot shower and a kind word and the tender smile beaming Yeshua’s love. Will you give to be a part of that effort? Will you cheerfully give, over and above your normal giving, to be a part of what God is doing amidst this hopelessness and devastation? Let God search your heart, and hear Him, and be obedient to His calling. God’s will be done.

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NEW! Individual Dental Plan Launch – Ameritas

I’m please to tell you of a NEW and IMPROVED Individual Ameritas Dental product now on sale at,, called PRIMESTAR! I myself have just switched from the old Ameritas to this new product for Jan and me.

It offers these improvements over the previous plan:

  • $50 Deductible waived for Preventive.
  • Implants covered.
  • Same great Ameritas DPPO Network.
  • Sealants and Flouride treatments in 100%. [Missed out on that one; mine have flown the coup!]

There are trade-offs:

  • Panoramic x-rays in Majors.
  • Lower benefit percentages for non-par dentists.
  • Annual increasing benefits, however…

The annual increasing benefits use ‘calendar year.’ So, since our coverage will be effective 11/1/2018, then our first year of lower benefit will only last for November and December. We’ll have full benefits in January 2019!

If you have a current individual dental plan or know someone who needs one, I’d definitely have them check this link above!

Thank you, and have a great weekend!!

Shalom y’all!

M. O. Belue, CLU

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Let’s talk about suicide.

This is not the cheeriest of subjects, but it needs to be discussed. There has been a rash of suicide reports recently in the media regarding Karl Rove, Anthony Bourdaine and Kate Spade. so from Hollywood to Main Street, the problem is leaving no one excluded.

Our family has been very closely touched by this, and as a social epidemic, it does not seem to be abating. This is a difficult subject that affects us all, and the bottom line is, there are signs that are being sent to someone. It’s important to know those signs and how to react.

Attached some documents you may look at supplied through a contact at Carolinas Healthcare.


Business Case for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

MHFA Summary

Attached are other recent pieces reporting on the matter.

My goal is not to inundate you with all this, but to bring this matter into your thinking that perhaps you may view at least some of this material just in case you or someone you know could benefit from it.

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evicore: A Company behind your Healthcare Company

Have you attempted to make an unusual purchase using your credit card, only to be denied by the card company? Perhaps you were traveling to a new place, and you did not know to notify your credit card company ahead of time of your itinerary, and they blocked your purchases on the grounds of fraud prevention, thinking someone might have stolen your identity. How would they know, amid all their 1,000s of customers and many more 1,000s of purchases, what is outside your normal purchasing tendencies? Did you know you have a purchasing profile, based on those tendencies? We all have that profile and the company behind your card company might be FICO, using their Falcon Fraud Manager service. Credit card companies use your purchasing norms and employ sophisticated algorithms to establish your own purchasing profile. Step outside of it, and, your credit card is “blocked.” They are a company behind a company you use everyday.

Did you know your health insurance carrier uses other companies behind and with your insurance company? There are more than one, but I want to speak about one I recently learned about: eviCore. Learn about this to understand how they are working with your carrier to help supply you with timely and cost-saving options for your health care.

Yesterday, I was at an annual employer benefits enrollment meeting for all employees in the Hickory, NC area. An employee I’ve known for years told me of an account that recently happened to her. She’d put off having a CT scan for some time, and she finally relented, although she understood the full amount would be applied to her deductible. Her primary care provider [PCP] booked her appointment, knowing it would cost her a minimum of $4,100 to be applied to her deductible, and she thought that was that. Shortly afterwards, she received a call from her carrier. We discovered, it was eviCore working alongside in conjunction with her insurance carrier.

The eviCore representative identified herself and told this employee there were other imaging options available for her that she might want to consider, if she did not mind leaving the Hickory area for the service. This CT scan, like just about all other things in the medical community, has a procedure code, called a CPT code.  There are thousands of these codes that standardize many if not all medical procedures. This made apples-to-apples comparisons between one imaging provider to another plausible. The rep gave this employee the contact information of the other facilities, along with some basic instructions, and off she went!

To her pleasant shock [and my shock and the collective shock of the insurance experts that were there at the meeting with me] she was quoted alternative rates ranging from $490 to $2,100 for the same procedure. These facilities were in Gastonia at Novant and in Belmont at CaroMont. For that cost difference, she did drive to Gastonia, opting for the $490 rate at Novant, about a 45 minute drive down the highway. And, a consumer-driven health care evangelist was born!

I’ve learned that eviCore is primarily used in this fashion for making outbound, intervention-type calls for high-tech radiation imaging like CT, MRI, and PET scans, and high-cost pain management, only. But insurance carriers have many other resources about many other cost-savings treatment options through on-line portals, apps, and just by calling customer or member services, and speaking with them about how you might take more control of your own healthcare. This is consumerism, which is the use of relevant and timely information freeing us to make our own purchasing decisions in a free market, is our best option for bringing down the cost of healthcare. Go and discover your companies behind your company, and become your own healthcare evangelist!

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Obamacare NOW!

Jan and I received notice from BCBSNC warning us to prepare for perhaps a double-digit increase in our own health insurance for January 1, 2018, because our Grandfathered health insurance plan would end. We are to be dumped into the Affordable Healthcare cauldron of what is ubiquitously referred to as, Obamacare. Looking at our old / current plan we’ve been happy to have and would prefer to keep – as was originally promised, many of you would hardly call it health insurance at all. It is a Qualified High-deductible Health Plan, designed by the government, with a $10,000 family deductible. Wellness is covered, but nothing else, until that deductible has been satisfied for the plan year. At the end of the plan year, it resets. For Jan and I, the effective monthly premium is about $500 per month. We also have the Blue Options network, which is broad. We took BC at their word and thought our monthly premium may go to $1,000 or perhaps a little more.

We now have our actual quote for 2018. Our premium: $2,100 per month for Jan and myself, our deductible liability will be over $13,000, and our network has shrunk. To be fair, they did add additional benefits, like pediatric dental and vision, plus Jan and I are now covered for maternity. This is Obamacare Now! This is why I traveled to Washington, DC several times carrying your letters to NC Sen. Burr and NC Rep. Hudson and others to lobby against this awful bill. This is the lowest cost for us, and there is no other carrier to choose from in NC. Group insurance is not an option for us. Christian sharing ministries are not insurance. Who is there to appeal to, when nameless, faceless bureaucrats hold sway over our very lives, dictating these high premium costs, which is really a tax!

Jan wrote the NCDOI, President Trump, both of our NC Senators, and Rep. Hudson. There is little else we can do. I urge you to do the same. Our economy will crack under the weight of this bill. The cost will only increase from here, until we clamor for full-blown National healthcare – that is, unless you are a government elite. They are exempt!

Thank you.