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Health care costs fuel reform call

I was stunned last week to learn that the health insurance premium my company pays for my wife and me (we're in our 60s) is $1,827 per month. What am I getting for $22,000 per year? Not even a death panel. It's a $2,200 deductible plan with a stop-loss of $4,400 for the two of us combined. This is through Blue Shield, which is still operated as a nonprofit.

Good, bad and the ugly of Kaiser

My new Aussie puppy reminds me of the dog-training book, "Good Dog, Bad Dog." Meanwhile, the flood of e-mail after my column on Kaiser Health suggests that it's time for a book "Good Kaiser, Bad Kaiser."

If you want to see the fur fly, say something good about Kaiser.

Plenty of people were quick to disabuse me of the thought that Kaiser was vastly improved as a result of all that money they have been making. Several pointed out instances of sloppy, inattentive care and misdiagnosed illnesses. A few of these stories sounded horrendous and inexcusable.

Retirement Boot Camp now begins

To spend or not to spend? Do we enjoy life to the fullest and accept what it costs, or do we save for retirement? We can try to build up those retirement coffers still further, but what if we get hit by a bus?

All that parsimony and grinding self-sacrifice might be for naught. Maybe there's a case for instant gratification and then letting the chips fall where they may when real retirement rolls around. On the other hand, if we create a self-imposed Retirement Boot Camp of sorts for at least some period, rigorous discipline for a few years may allow us to eventually have it all.

Banks not paying back AIG money

I saw the Johnny Depp movie "Public Enemy" about John Dillinger just days after learning that the average wage this year at Goldman Sachs will be $700,000. What made Dillinger a popular folk hero during the height of the Great Depression was that he robbed what people thought of as the culprit causing the nation's malaise.

Nobody today would think that robbing banks would be a good idea, but it sure makes sense to do a better job of controlling them until every speck of government money is repaid with interest.

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