Some First-Person Encounters With Policy Debates

When last I was permanently in America, my wife and I together were paying one hundred twenty dollars a month combined for health insurance with a three hundred dollar deductible. This last August, I finished my doctoral education at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer and returned to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. I was once again on my wife's insurance. Only this time, six years later, I found to my shock and dismay, that the co-pay and monthly payment had almost doubled, and the deductible had more than doubled. I was agog. But then, I should have expected this, since over the last two years, I had also noticed that Ontario had added a yearly (income-based) insurance premium onto their provincial income tax and, if the Canadian government was "raising rates," as it were, then surely profit-based insurers would be way out ahead.

So this has convinced me that health-care costs are in all places going up, even where the government is picking up the tab. But then, the government picking up the tab at least enables the state to spread the burden around so that it falls harder on those who can afford it. The appalling degree to which American insurance costs have gone up over the last six years was shocking enough to convince me that *something* needs to be done to bring spiraling health-care costs under control, but my experience with Canada has shown me that even with the government making a full-bore effort, the effect is one of standing against a flood.

In other exciting first hand experiences of news stories, we can see that state universities rely a lot on state tax revenues and that these same universities got into an unhealthy habit of playing the stock market and then putting that playing of the stock market into their annual budgets. That's great in times of growth. But in times of financial crisis, the result of this policy is several canceled job searches and that a university that had been planning on hiring an adjunct lecturer in medieval history couldn't get money released to make said hire. So now it's exciting to experience what exactly this U6 unemployment rater that economists talk about is. And I'm not being all *that* sarcastic--it's amusing explaining to a job interviewer that a PhD in medieval studies does not in fact make one overqualified for an entry-level, unskilled job when the student loan bills are about to start coming due.

As a side-note, I've also gotten to learn first-hand that when one pays into Ontario unemployment for six years as a non-Canadian, one can't draw Ontario unemployment, but then neither can one draw unemployment from one's own state. (But then, since all but one year of my doctoral education were funded by the Ontario government, I don't really have much place to grouse.)

Interesting times. Whee!

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what would be an interesting analysis


is the new mandates (over the six year period) required in the current state you are residing in and new mandates required under the Canadian system. it would be informative.

it would be interesting to see the investment and income guidlines with respect to how the college endowment was managed.

““I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration!”” –H

Those would all be fairly informative


I am reminded of a message from the university president a few months ago in the University of Toronto bulletin in which the first few paragraphs mentioned that from 2003 to 2007, the University's endowment had experienced unprecedented growth. It was followed by a very brief statement to the effect of, "Of course, that all disappeared over the last few months."

That is all well and good


but what was the purpose of the endowment? what were the objectives and how was it hedged?

““I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration!”” –H

I think you'd be even more appalled

HankP's picture

at the fact that what you and your wife are paying is almost certainly not the entire insurance cost, only the part that is passed on to you by her employer. Have her ask HR what the actual monthly costs are.

I blame it all on the Internet

Friend of mine lost his job recently


and got a nice letter inviting him to apply for COBRA benefits for the low, low price of two grand a month.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

good diary


side question: both of my parents are medievalists (art history and literature), what are do you specialize in out of curiosity?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Intellectual and Religious History


My dissertation is on catechesis in thirteenth-century England, and in general I work on how clergy carried out things like preaching, confession, and catechesis. It's fun stuff. But darned hard to get a job with. :P