Friday, March 26, 2010

Unexpected Cox Resolution: No advertisements in weeks!

1 comment:

Looks like I got the last word after all! The last bit of Cox advertising that came to my house was within a few days of my last correspondence with them. That means it’s been over 2 weeks since I’ve gotten anything, which is a significant difference from multiple adverts per week. It seems they will take your name of their mailing lists if you push hard enough, so if there’s anyone else out there who’s as annoyed as I was, send them a letter. The specific email address I worked with was, but that came to me after I filled out a form I found from the main Cox website. Since each region is set up on a different website from the others, I would suggest going that route instead if you don’t live in Arizona.



On a completely unrelated note…





Battlestar Galactica.



That is all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Verizon Part V: The BBB gets involved

1 comment:

So, it’s not news that the BBB has a complaint on file regarding Verizon Wireless from me. (At least it’s not if you follow me.) There will hopefully soon be a series of emails posted here to show everyone the process I’ve gone through. I’m in the middle of these emails as I type this, so I will hold until complete resolution before posting them all. However, I have decided to post Verizon’s response to the filed complaint. Doesn’t help much, but here you go anyway:


On March 12, 2010, the business provided the following information:
March 12, 2010
Better Business Bureau of New Jersey
1700 Whitehorse - Hamilton Sq. Rd. Ste D5
Trenton, NJ 08690
Re: Complaint dated March 4, 2010, filed by Mr. <NAME> / Case #: <###>(Verizon Wireless Customer Account No. <###>; Mobile Telephone No. <###>)
Dear Ms. Bocchicchio:
This is in response to the above-referenced complaint filed by Mr. <NAME>, received by Verizon Wireless on March 4, 2010. Mr. <NAME> informs of his dissatisfaction with Verizon Wireless' new data plan requirement imposed on a majority of the handsets currently offered. Mr. <NAME> indicates that as a paying subscriber, he should have control over which device he selects and not be limited to lower-end devices that do not require a data plan. He is requesting that Verizon Wireless provide the consumer with the option to block services that they may not use or want, as opposed to forcibly imposing the requirement of a plan.
Our records indicate that Mr. <NAME> established service with Verizon Wireless on <DATE>. Please be advised that as of January 18, 2010, activations of 3G Multimedia phones began requiring the subscription of a data plan of $9.99 or higher. However, subscribers have been permitted to maintain their current equipment at a Pay-As-You-Go rate or with a data block, as in Mr. <NAME> case, so long as the equipment is not exchanged or upgraded to a device requiring a data plan.
The new data plan requirement was made available to consumers as a method of permitting 3G Multimedia devices to function in their largest capacity, all the while eliminating the occurrence of individual $1.99 megabyte charges. Currently, activations of 3G Multimedia devices will require a data plan of $9.99 or higher; however, Mr. <NAME> feedback is certainly appreciated and valued, and can rest assured that it will be forwarded to the appropriate department.
It is our hope that we have adequately clarified our position regarding the above mentioned concern/s. Verizon Wireless regrets any inconvenience this matter may have caused. Should Mr. <NAME> have any questions regarding this response, he may contact the undersigned at (866) 673-9561 between the hours of 7:00AM and 4:00 PM PST.
Adrian Heredia
Executive Relations
Verizon Wireless - West Area

Though they didn’t really address the issue appropriately enough for me, it seems – based on their summary – that they at least do understand the issue. But don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t even begin to start giving me a more favorable opinion of them. If anything, it makes me more upset that they understand the problem, but still choose to do nothing to resolve it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Verizon Part IV – Disappointment, no Surprise


According to this message, left on March 5th, I was supposed to have received further communication from Verizon Wireless about the complaint I filed with the BBB about their mandatory data service fees for non-smart-phones/data-not-required-to-actually-use-phones. (See the FaceBook page for more info…) Today is day 14, business day 10, and while there may be 45 minutes left of today, I think it’s a safe bet that I won’t be receiving another call in time. Looks like I’ll have to be getting back to the BBB to follow up. Since it is Friday night, I’ll wait until Monday. I suppose there’s a chance I’ll get a call tomorrow, but I won’t hold my breath.

Besides, what are they going to tell me? “I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is, so deal with it.” That seems to be the only message others on the web are getting for their similar efforts.

As a slight correction/clarification to my previous post about Verizon, the message states ‘about 10 days’, and not within ten business days. I did not mention the ‘business’ part before, but in my head I had really made the assumption. Either way, today is at or beyond that limit.

Addendum to Healthcare: An Additional Solution


As was correctly pointed out to me, in my haste to publish my original rant about the cost of healthcare, I failed to address a major contributor to the overall rising cost of healthcare (in America, at least): The effect of malpractice suits. To be more fair to the doctors who render services to the ill and infirm (I may have come across too negatively in the original post), a significant portion of a doctor’s pay goes to pay for malpractice insurance.

On one hand, that cost is justifiable, and really practical, given that something MAY happen. Even if you never get in a car accident in your life, it’s still a good idea to have auto insurance just in case. The same is true for doctors; they may be the best at what they do, but they are still human and may at one time or another make some mistake.

On the other hand, the cost of that insurance is extremely high. This is not necessarily the fault of insurance companies (though they could sacrifice a small portion of the bottom line to help), but rather the ‘victims’ of physician errors who endure ‘pain and suffering’ as a result. These patients are the ones who recoup their lost wages due to incapacitation and the costs to remedy the situation, but then also take additional monies above and beyond those costs at a frivolous and exorbitant level.

There’s nothing wrong with getting back money that was lost, but just taking more because of the hassle involved is a bit much. In many simple civil suits (small claims), a judge will not award more money than what was reasonably made unavailable to a plaintiff. Just watch Judge Judy or The People’s Court and you’ll learn that almost immediately! However, for other cases such as malpractice suits, punitive damages for can be awarded, and that’s where it begins to affect the rest of us.

When a doctor gets sued for millions of dollars (and they lose), where do you suppose that money comes from? Doctors make a lot more than a lot of folks, but not necessarily that much, so that’s not all going to come out of their pocket. Instead, they enlist the help up insurance companies by buying up malpractice insurance up front. In order to be able to afford this insurance, physicians and hospitals will charge a little more for their services. That ends up costing us (or our own insurance) more in the end.

And if doctors don’t lose the suit? They still end up paying! According to a report (pdf) by the American Medical Association, while “more than 60 percent of liability claims against physicians are dropped, withdrawn or dismissed without payment,” it costs “an average of more than $22,000 to defend” that case. And while “physicians are found not negligent in over 90 percent of cases that actually go to trial … more than $110,000 per case is spent on defending those claims.” Wow. Hopefully a doctor facing these numbers personally is decent enough at their job so as to avoid doing this multiple times in a year (ever). So what’s to stop greedy, disgruntled patients from starting the litigation process? Not much, if they can find a lawyer willing to help them get that ball rolling.

Let’s go back for a second to when doctors end up being liable for whatever damage was done. If patient is out of work as a result of some shoddy medical care for a month and is therefore out of a few thousand dollars in pay. The doctor (malpractice insurance) will pay out a few thousand dollars. If this patient is also mentally distraught and decides they want additional punitive damages awarded, how much additional money will that be? According to one report, in 1999 the average payout for medical liability cases was around $1,000,000. Some states have set limits on how much money can be awarded for such a reason, but not all. As that average gets higher and higher, so do the insurance premiums physicians have to pay so the insurance companies will be able to afford it.

In California however, they seem to have gotten it right. In 1975, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) was enacted, which limited the total amount of non-monetary damages that can be awarded to $250,000 (1/4 the national average payout). Since then, California has stood out among other states as a leader in this kind of tort reform. According to the previously mentioned AMA report (pdf), the premiums paid by doctors for malpractice insurance increased more than 1,000% (that’s over 11x the original amount) nationwide in the 40 years from 1976 (the year after California’s reform) to 2007. That’s the national average, but in CA alone, the increase was less than 1/3 of that, or roughly 300% (4x original), during the same time frame. Keep in mind that the 1,000% increase also includes the very low California numbers, so if you take them out, the increase nationally is even higher. Remember, those increased costs for the doctors translate to increased costs for patients.

Real national healthcare reform could start just like it did nearly half a century ago in California, and we’d probably all be a lot better off as a result. If the federal government steps in and actually takes over the process, this cost will not be changed or reduced. People will still be able to sue for as much as they can squeeze out.

If anyone else has any good ideas or another point that I missed, please feel free to let me know!

Update: Just saw a commercial released by AHIP. Sound familiar?

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to drive – Lesson 2: Open Lane Takers

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Welcome to the second installment of the ‘how to drive’ lessons. In this edition, we’ll cover Open Lane Takers (OLTs) – those who leave their lane in a multi-lane roadway to enter another lane with fewer or no other cars ahead of them. Before we begin, I’d like to clarify a few differences from one OLT to another. There are three major groups to define here, and they are:

  1. Necessary OLTs (NOLTs)
    1. Fast OLTs (NFOLTs)
    2. Slow OLTs  (NSOLTs)
  2. Unnecessary OLTs (UOLTs)
    1. Fast OLTs (UFOLTs)
    2. Slow OLTs  (USOLTs)

*Fast here refers to travelling significantly above the speed limit or overall flow of traffic. Slow refers to travelling significantly below the speed limit or overall flow of traffic.

The first group is really not the cause of the issue we will discuss here, but I make this listing because I want to make clear the distinctions between all types.

Group 1 – NOLTs – are those that change lanes to an open lane because they need to. Most likely, this is because they need to make a turn in a relatively short distance, or their final destination is coming up. These may also actually be subcategorized into Fast and Slow (NFOLT/NSOLT) based on how they drive, but given that they have a need to change lanes, we can group them together.

Group 2 – UOLTs – are those that change lanes to avoid traffic, get ahead of it, or just because they feel like it. In this case, the subdivision of Fast and Slow (UFOLT/USOLT) becomes an important one. Here the individual reason for changing lanes is essentially arbitrary. While there are possible reasons to do so listed above, they are based on preference, not compulsion. That lack of need reduces any traffic impedance to simply an annoyance, which can lead to road rage, which can lead to accidents, injury, and death. I’m stretching a bit, and I don’t mean to say that UOLTs will cause people to die; it’s merely a slight possibility, but a possibility nonetheless. A bigger issue with UOLTs mucking up traffic is that they often don’t know they are causing an issue, either because they are in their own little driving bubble and don’t take notice of other drivers, or worse, they aren’t even paying attention to their own driving adequately.

UFOLTs are the drivers that want to be in the lead, or are just fast in general, and can’t be behind someone else. You know the type; they are those that change lanes constantly and, if they can’t change, they ride up on other’s bumpers. This may sound similar to non-OLT ‘fast drivers’, but be sure there is a difference. These drivers may accelerate quickly or reach a high speed while on the open road, but their driving is generally not erratic or volatile, and they typically go with the flow of traffic. UFOLTs swerve and change lanes frequently, especially in heavier traffic and in doing so can cause others around them to become anxious or even develop or bring about some road rage because of that anxiety. For those being tailgated who have a tendency to get aggressive in their vehicles, they may retaliate against the UFOLT by hitting their brakes or changing lanes to keep the UFOLT from advancing.

While the UFOLT may elicit some aggressive behavior in others, there’s a good chance that they are also easily aggravated. So in turn, we get a snowballing effect, wherein the UFOLT causes another driver to retaliate, to which the raging UFOLT will make a reprisal. This is not good for anyone - not the drivers involved, not the non-involved drivers who just happen to be on the road at the same time, not any pedestrians next to the road, or for property owners who have some investment made at the street. It’s unsafe, careless, and unnecessary. (There is more to be said about road rage in general, but that is for Lesson  #4 – Road Rage). For now, just realize that it’s a bad idea. Even backing down from the more serious repercussions just outlined, there is also the threat of legal fallout if you get pulled over for your reckless driving. (I will discuss traffic laws later in Lesson #3 – Traffic Laws)

On to USOLTs, these are the drivers that may be behind someone, whether or not that person is going above, at, or below the speed limit, and they do not want to be behind them (or anyone). Sometimes these drivers just like to be able to see the road ahead and be better prepared for any potential disruptions to traffic, which is a fair enough reason to do so. These are also the drivers, however, that when approaching a stop light, will change lanes to be at the head of the pack, even if there was only one person ahead of them in their lane to begin with. To be fair, UFOLTs do this as well, but the impact to other drivers is negligible, as we’ll see shortly. In general, these lane changes may or may not pose much of a threat to the normal flow of traffic, but when the driver making the lane change is a USOLT, they end up breaking down the system.

Faster moving traffic (normal flow/speed limit) will build up behind this person, and depending on the density of the flow, may end up being stuck behind them. which is particularly frustrating when the slower speed is far below the posted limit. In the case of the stop light example above, when the USOLT ends up ultimately being passed by the person in the lane position they vacated by changing lanes, it leaves others around wondering why in the heck they even changed. If they moved to get ahead (and then did so) this would be less confusing and thus more acceptable by other drivers. In a similar scenario, a USOLT changing lanes from behind another driver between intersections, but not advancing (consider the USOLT pacing themselves with the person they were behind). This is even worse, since then there are no outlets for faster moving traffic to move ahead. As with UFOLTs, this all can lead to road rage, etc, etc.

If your find yourself being a UOLT, stop and think about what consequences there are for yourself and others before you take an open lane, because it’s not just you out there. Along with not taking an open lane, also move out of the way of faster moving traffic, but also don’t be such an aggressive driver that you cause more problems for others. Is it really going to benefit you more to take an open lane than it will hinder another driver? If not, then don’t do it.

If you find yourself being affected by a UOLT, realize that they might not even know they’re doing it, and unfortunately, you’ll have to just deal with them. If you are a fast driver, but there is a UFOLT coming up behind you, check the following things about the situation:

- Do you need to be in the lane you’re in at the moment?

- Is there nobody in front of you?

- Is there room to pass around you to the side

- Is there traffic in the next lane that is preventing the faster driver from changing lanes already?

If so, consider changing lanes (signaling ahead of time) to allow that person to pass. Also, while they are passing, slow down just a little so as not to pace them and actually allow them to pass. This will help reduce stress and risk of accident as a result of the UFOLT being on the road. If you get stuck behind a USOLT, don’t antagonize them, as it will likely do you no good and will possibly exacerbate whatever stress you or they may already be under.

These suggestions assume practical, safe conditions, of course, but hopefully the spirit of the message is still tangible. Happy driving!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Verizon Part III

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The plot thickens! A concerned consumer at the FaceBook group created in response to Verizon’s mandatory data plans has identified some very interesting information regarding this new policy. According to Verizon’s own Code of Conduct (.pdf) found at the VZW ‘about us’ site, they are not allowed to do this due to certain anti-trust laws being in place. Here’s an excerpt [some parts removed for brevity, but otherwise unchanged]:


4.6.1 Avoiding Violations of the Antitrust Laws

The antitrust laws limit the circumstances in which certain business or marketing decisions are permissible. Before engaging in any of the conduct described below, consult the Legal Department for guidance:

- Tying. Tying occurs when a company forces a customer who wants one product to buy a second product also, as a condition of buying the desired product.

This specifically identifies ‘tying’ (info: 1, 2, 3) in a nice condensed, simplified form. There is more information out there if you prefer to look it up, but this is enough to get the gist. For those who say that Verizon isn’t doing anything illegal, it may be time to change that tune.


On a side note, I received a notice that there would be a response to my complaint to the BBB (from Part II) within 10 days. That was on March 5th, today is March 12th. That’s been 5 business days so far, so there’s 5 to go, and I’ve yet to hear anything else from them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to drive – Lesson 1: Bad Left-Turn Makers

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Welcome to the first of (possibly) as series on learning how to drive. This (these) lesson(s) will be designed to help the uneducated driver successfully maneuver their vehicle on the road without pissing off everyone else around them.

To start off, everyone has got some gripe about other drivers, but I want to bring to everyone’s attention one of my biggest: Bad Left-Turn Makers (BLTM from here on in). This may be you, and the worst part of that fact is, if it is, you probably don’t even know it! The situation comes from drivers who (for some god-knows reason) pull as far to the right in the left-turn lane while waiting for the intersection to clear or for the arrow to turn green.

What this does is cause a few different things to happen. First, if there are other cars waiting in the opposite turn lane (the one facing the Bad Left-Turn Maker) the BLTM will be less able to see oncoming traffic, which leads to a higher risk of an accident, and likely causes the BLTM to miss a few prime opportunities to make a turn when an opening appears. The first aspect just mentioned can be a very serious safety risk, while the other piece is just annoying. It also causes the same problems as listed above for the BLTM for the opposite driver!

BLTMs also can cause problems for other cars not in the left-turn lane. For those travelling in the opposite direction can be surprised by the BLTM when they suddenly appear from behind the left-turn drivers travelling in their direction. As before, this is annoying and unsafe. Those traveling in the same direction may also experience this to a lesser degree, but worse, they may have to adjust their position in their own lane to avoid a collision with the BLTM. This is somewhat less of an issue except for those BLTMs that actually rest on the line dividing the left-turn lane from the straight-through lane.

To avoid all these issues, only one thing needs to be done by a driver. If the potential BLTM instead takes the left-most position within their lane (prudently so as not to be in the way of oncoming traffic), all the above issues will be moot. In the event there is a median at the given intersection, this should be very easy to accomplish without being a hindrance to opposing traffic (assuming the driver can avoid travelling off the road).

If you think you may be a BLTM, try out this tip (stay to the left!) and see if you notice a difference. If you are unsure, also try it, because it can’t hurt.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


No comments:

Rantomness is now syndicated! Sort of…

Each site offers certain advantages over the others, so feel free to follow whichever you like best. :-)


Check them out at:

Blogspot Blog

WordPress Blog

TypePad Blog


This is nothing but shameless self promotion. :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cox Communications gets the final word…

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I guess they got me. After first politely explaining that they wouldn’t be able to remove me from their mailing list (“As you may know, our policy is not to remove addresses from our mailing lists for the reasons listed below.”), I was somehow able to persuade them to stop?!? (Read my response) I may be misinterpreting the message, but either way, I’m done complaining to them.

For those of you who I’ve spoken to about this who are paying customers and still receive the flyers, good luck. ;-)

Below your will find their final notice. I won’t be responding, so it appears the Cox Saga is over.

Dear <NAME>:

Thank you for your response.

We appreciate your feedback. We have sent your request to remove your address from our mailing list to our Marketing Department for review.

Thank you again for contacting us via e-mail. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.


E-Care Specialist
Cox Communications - Arizona

Next time, try Live Chat! Cox I-mail is the fastest, easiest way to receive answers to your quick questions from a live Cox Agent.

Look for "Live Chat"! Available Monday through Friday, 8am - 7pm

For additional information regarding your Cox Communication services, please visit:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Response from Cox Communications

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Cox responded very quickly to the email I sent them. However, it’s a rather ridiculous response. See their letter and my repsonse below!

Dear <NAME>:
Thank you for your recent e-mail to Cox Communications regarding the advertising material you have received.
We regret any inconvenience our marketing material may be causing you. As you may know, our policy is not to remove addresses from our mailing lists for the reasons listed below.
1. If we removed an address from our mailing list, customers and non-customers would not receive important notifications of new service and product launches.
2. Residents would not receive information on our many special offers.
3. If the current resident moves, the new resident would not receive any information from us about our products, services, and special offers.
We will, however, be happy to forward your request to our marketing department for review.
Thank you again for contacting us via e-mail. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
E-Care Specialist
Cox Communications - Arizona

Next time, try Live Chat! Cox I-mail is the fastest, easiest way to receive answers to your quick questions from a live Cox Agent.
Look for "Live Chat"! Available Monday through Friday, 8am - 7pm
For additional information regarding your Cox Communication services, please visit:

But here’s the problem. Apparently, they either didn’t understand or didn’t want to hear that they are wasting their customer’s money. Sorry for those this applies to. I will be replying to this, but not fighting very hard, since it’s only a very minor inconvenience to me, but maybe one of you out there feels it’s worth it.

Thank you for the very timely response. I understand the points outlined below, but apparently I failed to completely express all of mine.
For your first point, with the knowledge that your customer base is potentially increased by direct mail marketing, I can accept that the mailing won't stop completely. Unfortunately, the issue is not that I receive ANY, but that I receive TOO MANY. 2-3 times per week (or more) is ridiculous! Simply cutting back to once to twice per month would satisfy me, and as originally explained this would additionally reduce unnecessary capital expenditure.
Also to respond directly to your second bullet point, receiving your information as frequently as I am, very often I am getting duplicated offers, which is a further annoyance to me and additional cost to your company. If the marketing materials were not so repetitive and monotonous, I would probably more likely to take notice of it. Seeing the same flyer in my mail box day in and day out leads me to toss it before I really look at it.
To address point #3, if I move, I'm pretty sure that information is publicly available through the post office. Alternatively, when someone moves into my home, their change of address would also be registered, so this whole point is moot. Furthermore, if the frequency at which your mailings are sent was diminished - as opposed to a complete halt - this wouldn't even need to be considered.
The bottom line is, I’m glad I am not a Cox customer, as it seems your company does not mind spending excessive amounts of customer-provided funds to market your company’s services.
I hope this helps clarify what was previously inadequately explained.
Thank you.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Letter to Cox Communications

No comments:
To Whom it May Concern:

I am delighted to see that your company is doing well financially. Enough so that you have the capital available to continually advertise your services to my household, both through direct mailings and by sending someone door-to-door through my neighborhood to spread the good word and leave a flyer on my doorknob. The company must be doing well, since I am surprised when I don’t see at least two adverts arrive in a one-week period. The marketing budget you follow must be grand.

However, despite your apparent current success, I must admit that this is not the best use of the additional income you are accruing. I neither use nor plan to use any of the services you provide, be it telephone, cable television, or broadband internet. Your television advertising stating I can save money over my current setup is completely misguided, as I currently do not pay anything for my broadcast TV setup or free wi-fi connection (you can get them darn near anywhere, nowadays). You may be right about my phone service, but with a cell phone that I can use anywhere to make calls AND send/receive text messages, why would I switch?

So, for my benefit, please do not send any more marketing literature; I will surely not read it, as is usually the case. For the benefit of your company’s bottom line, stop spending the money to send these advertisements that I will not pay any attention to. For the benefit of your current paying customers, stop taking their money in order to fund the distribution of your flyers that I will throw in the recycle bin without taking any note of. For the benefit of the whole planet, stop sending me special offers printed on paper that comes needlessly from felled trees because – if my point hasn’t been made clear enough for you yet – I will not subscribe to your services and I do not care what spectacular deals you have switched up over the past few days to sway me.
Thank you for your consideration,



I sincerely hope that by giving you all my personal information through your email web form, I am not signing up to be inundated further by your incessant advertising. If this is the case, we will definitely have further issues to discuss, most likely moderated by a third party, such as the Better Business Bureau.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Verizon Part II

No comments:
In continuing to follow this Verizon story, I’ve seen a few people suggest going to your local VZW retailer and threaten to leave them if they refuse to cooperate, send a letter to your congressperson, send a letter to VZW’s corporate offices, and complain about them to the FCC/BBB. I chose the last option and visited the BBB website to file a complaint. Turns out, this is a very convenient system, and if need be, I will likely use this outlet in the future for any other business under the BBB’s umbrella.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from ‘1511’ on my cell phone. I was working at the time and therefore unable to answer. A message was left, however, so curious, I retrieved it as quickly as possible. Turns out it was Verizon calling to say they received notification of my complaint and would be reviewing my case and that I should be receiving a ‘real’ response to said complaint within 10 business days.

Now, there was no more to it than that – no confirmation of the actual subject matter of the complaint, nor any possible resolution at this time. Despite this, I was actually relatively optimistic about the whole situation, since they at least made contact. Does this help settle me about the fact that they may actually change the policy? No, not really. So for now, we’ll just have to wait and see what they end up coming up with.

Update: Finally a news story about this! It's a small local news outlet, but it's a start! Perhaps a call needs to be made to my local station, since it seems they haven't heard yet.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Healthcare News!

No comments:
Apparently the folks at CNN read this blog. Well, maybe not, but they just aired a story about the cost (and the root of the cost) of healthcare, which mirrors the statements in my earlier healthcare post. The point being made is that the cost is not the insurance companies, but the goods provided by hospitals. Whoodathunkit?