Safer Driving on Cloister Streets…and Maybe Save Money

PoliceI had someone drive into the side of my car as I was driving on a street at The Cloister. She was simply backing out of her driveway and did not notice my car as I turned onto her street and drove past her driveway.

Some Cloister residents are advanced in age. Data shows that the elderly have more automobile accidents than a younger population. Bonney and I recently completed the AARP Safe Driving Course for Seniors and we get additional discounts on our USAA auto insurance for the following three years. We retake the course every three years to continue receiving these insurance discounts. Many insurance companies give special discounts to seniors who take a safe driver course sponsored by AARP.

I have found that USAA offers lower cost and better service for my auto and home insurance than other companies. USAA caters exclusively to military veterans and their families. Those of you who are veterans, or a family member of a veteran, perhaps a veteran grandfather from WW 2 or Korea, may want to consider insurance, investments and banking with USAA. You can find them at or call 1-800-531-USAA (or 1-800-531-8722). I have been a satisfied USAA member for 48 years.USAAScreenShot

Here are a few hints to keep in mind if you ever get involved in any fender-bender, wherever it happens, and whether it’s your fault or not…..

1. Calm Down and Stay in Your Car

If your vehicle is still operable and you don’t have any serious injuries after the car accident, it’s a good idea to drive your vehicle to the side of the road to avoid another crash.  You may be in shock and unaware of any injuries.

2. Report the Car Accident

Call the police and 911  – or your emergency assistance equivalent.

Stay at the scene of the accident until the police have questioned and reviewed the incident getting your description of what happened. Be prepared to wait a bit for the emergency authorities to arrive.

Be very cautious about your health as not all injuries can be seen. If you or your passengers are not feeling right then call for an ambulance right away.

3. Emergency Preparedness Kit

Do you travel with the essential emergency tools that could keep yourself well in case of a car crash.

Basic Emergency Preparedness Kit

  • cell phone
  • disposable camera
  • pen and paper
  • medical information card – detailing insurance numbers, allergies and conditions that may require special attention if you are not conscious.
  • contact names and numbers: emergency numbers and relatives contacts
  • first aid kit

4. Exchange Car Insurance and Driver Details

After an accident, always exchange driver details and take some accident notes. Be sure to use your pen and paper (from your emergency kit) to gather the following:

  • name
  • address
  • phone numbers
  • driver license
  • license plate number
  • insurance company and policy number

5. Locate Any Witnesses

Did someone see the accident happen? Get their name and number just in case you need a witness for the accident. It’s good to know someone can speak up for you in case of a dispute.

6. Don’t Admit Fault

Don’t assign blame or admit fault or liability, even if you think you made the mistake. Let the police and insurance companies do their jobs and use their tools to come to a conclusion. You don’t want to admit to something in a state of shock or sadness.

7. Don’t Share Injury Concerns

If someone asks, “How are you doing?” keep a low profile by saying, “I’m shaken up”. The truth of the matter is you don’t know what is or isn’t wrong with you at this early stage. Besides, you don’t want to make statements while in shock and later have to refute them after seeking the advice of a medical professional.

8. Know What Your Car Insurance and Health Insurance Covers

Knowing your car and health insurance details could save you a lot of grief when dealing with a car accident scenario. It’s always better to know BEFORE an accident that you’re fully covered for ambulance trips, tow trucks, or rental cars.

9. Photograph and Document the Accident

Be sure to carry a disposable camera in your emergency kit to photograph the damage to all vehicles. If your cell phone has a built-in camera – then you’re good to go. Take photographs of the damage to your car, the other driver’s car, and the entire accident scene to give perspective of the event. Take wide shots of tire skid markings to show vehicle travel paths. Photographs showing the entire accident can help you make your case to claims adjusters if there is a dispute.

10. Seek Medical Attention

As small as an injury might seem at the time, get all health concerns documented sooner rather than later. Many injuries will start off as minor pains (like whiplash) which if not taken care of properly could get worse over a few short days. Besides, getting a doctor to document EVERYTHING sooner can only help any insurance claims you need to make later.

11. Report Accident To Your Insurance Company

Call your insurance company to report the accident – even if the damage seems minor or the other driver wants to settle without making an insurance claim. Seemingly small fender-bender car accidents can reveal major damage later on – like a bent car frame – so get your insurance company in the know sooner or you might be without coverage when you really need it.

12. Remove Belongings from Car

Don’t forget to remove your valuables from your vehicle before it’s towed. Rescue any driving gadgets, insurance papers, repair reports, receipts, purse, wallet, or music before leaving your keys with the tow operator.

14. Be Thankful

People are priceless. Try the best you can to be thankful for what you have today, not for what you lost.


Why America Pays Too Much For Health Care

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act yet most of our healthcare cost increases are out of our hands….and here’s why.



From Tennessean Sunday, March 24,2013

HealthCostBlindfoldHealth care is broken partly because no one knows what anything costs. Everyone
agrees we should fix that. Why is that so hard?
It’s hard because most health care business mod­els rely heavily on a lack of transparency. Let’s look at the models for insurers and hospital systems.

An insurer’s business model can be boiled down to this:

1. Negotiate discount­ed prices with providers.

2. Insure people, col­lect premiums.

3. Pay claims to pro­viders at the discounted prices, and keep the dif­ference.

Since that is the busi­ness, here is how you win financially:

1. Negotiate the lowest prices with providers.

2. Offer the lowest premiums so you can attract the most insured people.

3. Enjoy the virtuous cycle that ensues. What virtuous cycle? The more people you insure, the lower the prices you can get from providers. If you can get the lowest prices, you can offer the lowest premi­ums. Offering the lowest premiums will win you the most
insured people, and so you can continue to negotiate the lowest prices from

And so on.

The typical hospital system business model can be boiled down to this:

1. Negotiate prices with insurers to be “in­network.”

2. Get paid at those prices on patient claims submitted to insurers.

3. Pay your doctors, midlevels, nurses and facility/equipment costs, and keep the difference.

Since this is the busi­ness, here is how you win financially:

1. Negotiate the high­est prices with insurers.

2. See as many patients as possible.

3. Submit as many claims as possible for each patient. It’s a lot easier to do more tests/procedures per patient than to attract more patients. As such, your contracted prices for tests and procedures are really important.

Fortunately, as a hospi­tal system, your size gives you leverage when negotiating with insurers. The insurers need you in their network more than they need a given imag­ing center. As a result, you’re able to negotiate prices that are a lot high­er and still be in-network.

What if prices were perfectly transparent?

Insurer view:

If prices were transparent, insur­ance negotiated the lowest prices would start to lose their primary advantage. This is because that pric­ing information would give medical providers and other insurance com­panies more power when negotiating and compet­ing with them.

Hospital view:

If prices were transparent, it would be difficult for hospitals to justify the high prices they charge for things available else­where for a fraction of the price. In other words, if everyone knew that “Procedure ABC” costs $3,800 at the hospital and $600 for the same quality procedure at a standa­lone facility next door, the hospital would lose a lot of business.

Times are changing

Our broken system is, in part, a reflection of these dynamics. Things are changing, though, and we are working to­ward a world where health care prices are more transparent.

What is causing this change?

  • Growth of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and patients asking about price.
  • Transparency start­ups like Healthcare Blue Book and Change:Health­care.
  • Hardworking indi­viduals at the insurers and hospitals.

That’s right, the in­surers and hospitals are working on transparency, too. They want a better health care system as much as anyone, but they can’t afford to inflict huge damage on their own business models by making prices transpar­ent overnight. As such, they are doing so with all deliberate speed as they develop other compet­itive advantages to re­place the loss of this one.

This is great news, as price transparency will lead to a better-function­ing and
lower-cost sys­tem with happier provid­ers and patients.

Now, here’s some history to put things in perspective…….

Cost of Hospital Care

HealthHospitalIn the United States the traditional hospital was a non-profit hospital, usually sponsored by a religious denomination. One of the earliest of these “almshouses” in what would become the United States was started by William Penn in Philadelphia in 1713. These hospitals are tax-exempt due to their charitable purpose, but provide only a minimum of charitable medical care. They are supplemented by large public hospitals in major cities and research hospitals often affiliated with a medical school. The largest public hospital system in America is the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, which includes Bellevue Hospital, the oldest U.S. hospital, affiliated with New York University Medical School. In the late twentieth century, chains of for-profit hospitals arose in the United States. For profit or investor-owned hospitals, are investor-owned chains of hospitals which have been established particularly in the United States during the late twentieth century. In contrast to the traditional and more common non-profit hospitals, they attempt to garner a profit for their shareholders. The three largest such firms are Hospital Corporation of America, Tenet (formerly NME), and HealthSouth. HealthSouth, as the third-largest U.S. national chain, is also the leading provider of rehabilitation services. The Canadian Medical Journal has this to say about For-profit hospitals . For profit hospitals are responsible for the major increase in healthcare costs.

 Cost of Doctor Care

HealthDoctorIn the modern world, England’s Royal College of Physicians –a state-approved licensing agency – has long been the model medical monopoly,exercising iron control over its members’ economic conduct. But this Guild-like system wasn’t salable in laissez-faire America.In 1765, John Morgan tried to start an inter-colonial medical licensing agency in Philadelphia, based on the RCP. He failed, thanks to bitter infighting among the doctors, but did begin the first American medical school, where he established the “regular mode of practice” as the dominant orthodoxy. Those who innovated were to be punished. After the Revolution, said historian Jeffrey Lionel Berlant, “a license amounted to little more than a honorific title.” In Connecticut and Massachusetts, for example, unlicensed practitioners were prohibited from suing for fees. And in the free-market 1830s, one state after another repealed penalties against unlicensed practice. By the mid-19th century, there were virtually no government barriers to entry. As economist Reuben A. Kessel  noted, “Medical schools were easy to start, easy to get into, and provided, as might be expected in a free market, a varied menu of medical training that covered the complete quality spectrum.” Many were “organized as profit-making institutions,” and some “were owned by the faculty.”  From time to time, doctors attempted to issue tables of approved fees – with price cutting called unprofessional – but they failed, because price-fixing cannot long survive in a competitive environment. Organized medicine’s lobbying against new doctors and new therapies began to be effective in the middle of the century, however. The official reason was the need to battle “quackery.” But as historian Ronald Hamowy has demonstrated in his study of state medical society journals, doctors were actually worried about competition lowering their incomes. The American Medical Association was formed in 1847 to raise doctors’ incomes. Nothing wrong with that, if it had sought to do it through the market. Instead, its strategy, designed by Nathan Smith Davis, was the establishment of state licensing boards run by medical societies. He attacked medical school owners and professors who “swell” the number of “successful candidates” for “pecuniary gain,” fueled by the “competition of rival institutions.” These men advance “their own personal interests in direct collision” with “their regard for the honor and welfare of the profession to which they belong.” The answer? “A board of examination, to sit in judgment” to restrict entry and competition, which he did not point out could only have a pecuniary motive. As philosopher William James told the Massachusetts legislature in 1898: “our orthodox medical brethren” exhibit “the fiercely partisan attitude of a powerful trade union, they demand legislation against the competition of the ‘scabs.'” And by 1900, every state had strict medical licensure laws. The Flexner Report of 1910 further restricted entry into the profession, as legislatures closed non-AMA-approved medical schools. In 1906, there were 163 medical schools; in 1920, 85; in 1930, 76; and in 1944, 69. The relative number of physicians dropped 25%, but AMA membership zoomed almost 900%. During the great depression, as Milton Friedman notes, the AMA ordered the remaining medical schools to admit fewer students, and every school followed instructions. If they didn’t, they risked losing their AMA accreditation. Today, with increasing government intervention in medicine – often at the AMA’s behest – the organization exercises somewhat less direct policy control. But it still has tremendous influence on hospitals, medical schools, and licensing boards. It limits the number of medical schools, and admission to them, and makes sure the right to practice is legally restricted. The two are linked: to get a license, one must graduate from an AMA-approved program. And there is a related AMA effort to stop the immigration of foreign physicians. The AMA also limits the number of hospitals certified for internships And licensure boards will accept only AMA-approved internships.The licensure boards – who invariably represent medical societies – can revoke licenses for a variety of reasons, including “unprofessional conduct,” a term undefined in law. In the past, it has included such practices as price advertising. Medical licensure is a grant of government privilege. Like all such interventions, it harms consumers and would-be competitors. It is a cartelizing device incompatible with the free market. It ought to be abolished

Cost of Prescription Drugs

HealthPharmaCongressman Ron Paul responded to efforts by the pharmaceutical industry to block changes that would lower the cost of medicine for millions of Americans. Paul strongly supports changes to FDA regulations that would allow prescription drugs to be reimported from foreign countries, where widely-used drugs often sell for much less than in the U.S. Paul, a medical doctor for nearly 40 years, is an advocate of innovative market-based solutions to rising drug costs. He is a member of the House Caucus for Affordable Pharmaceuticals, which seeks to eliminate rules and regulations that benefit drug companies at the expense of consumers. “Drug reimportation is critical to lowering prices,” Paul stated. “Reimportation allows American consumers, particularly seniors, to benefit from worldwide price competition.

The Medicare D Rx program is prohibited by Congress from negotiating lower prices for drugs. It’s outrageous that the FDA does not permit U.S. citizens to reimport drugs that sell for 30 to 300 percent less outside our borders. The pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to profit by this government-enforced price fixing. How much longer should American consumers be expected to pay much higher prices for identical drugs available in Europe, Canada, and Mexico for a fraction of the cost?”

The Affordable Care Act, in a small way, attacks the financial interests of hospitals Physicians and Pharma companies and benefits the American worker and retired people. Congress pulled the teeth out of many  parts of the origional healthcare proposal. But it’s better than nothing.

The only thing that each of us can do is to support Obamacare.

The Crowd Filled the Room at The Cloister Neighborhood Covered Dish Supper

covered dish supperTuesday, March 12 the crowd filled the room at the Cloister Neighborhood Covered Dish Supper. They had to set up an additional table in a corner of the large meeting room. I didn’t do a count but attendance may have reached 80-100 people.

We sat at a table #2 with Diane, Virginia, Erika, and Ricky. Table 2, for a change, was the second table called up to the food line. Most of the dishes were excellent, fortunately we can take what we want and leave the rest, and a desert table of unmatched selection and quality. The Covered Dish Committee made a good change when they moved the main meat choices toward the end of the food line rather that right in front. Some meat choices were left for those unlucky who are called up last.

When Bonney and I started coming to these affairs several years ago we became discouraged because there never seemed to be enough food for people at tables called up last. It was mostly our luck to sit at a table among the last to be called to the food line. We have since decided that whatever dishes we would bring would be enough to feed six to eight people. And since there was two of us we would bring two containers of food. That probably doesn’t make much of a difference in the total amount of food available but it makes us feel better.

neighborWe had 5 newcomers whose names I failed to write down and absolutely cannot remember. These newcomers once again prove that The Cloister at Saint Henry is one of the greatest secrets in Nashville. Anyone who has visited a Cloister resident, or had any other reason to visit the Cloister, eventually  decides that this is the place to move, and live among a congenial group of neighbors.

Locating for Retirement

Most of us have done what this news piece suggests……RetirementLocating0001

  1. No state tax except the Hall Tax.
  2. The HOA Board has done a good job holding down Monthly Association Fee
  3. Many Realtors suggest making home improvements before selling. The problem is that the seller cannot recover the cost of major improvements in increased selling price of the Condo. Most buyers want to redo what they buy anyway.

Congratulations! I think all of us made a fine decision by moving to The Cloister at Saint Henry

Finding A Good Home Repair or Cleaning Service


Question: How do I find a good orthopedic surgeon?

  • Answer: Ask a Physical Therapist who the best doctors are?

Question: How do I find about a good general practice MD?

  • Answer: It’s nearly impossible except if a friend refers you. The GP’s I have dealt with over the last few years are trying to hold their earnings by using medical tech’s who may have had  training and some experience. If I’m lucky, a MD may spend 5 minutes during a visit. My best experiences are with Nurse Practitioners, they spend the time, and actually are willing to do “hands on” medical care.

Question: How do I find good repair and other services for your home?

  • Answer: Now that is the most difficult…

Tips about hiring…..

If you have time and it is not an emergency research potential hires and speak with past clients. Get at least three estimates..

Inquire about costs. Expect to pay up to $100 for a typical service call. Additional parts and labor charges will apply if you hire the company for a repair, but many companies will deduct the service charge.

Is the work under warranty?

If your furnace has just died in sub-zero temperatures or your air conditioner has gone kaput on a sweltering day, you’ll probably be glad to hire the first repairman who can come to your house that day.

If you’re planning a major or costly upgrade to your home’s heating, air conditioning or air ducts, it’s worth the time to research and interview several companies before hiring one. Ensure that the project’s overall scope, details and completion dates are thoroughly documented.

Payment schedule: On a big job, especially when installing new equipment, you may need to make a deposit and make progress payments or planned payments to satisfy the bill. Never, ever, make full payment in advance. Don’t give full payment if you have not received delivery of goods or total completion of services promised.

Service contracts are almost never justified except in the case of a new, expensive automobile where an extended warranty may save considerable money in the event of car problems.

If you’ve got a major leak on Christmas Day, you may be glad just to find a plumber who will fix it.

If you’re planning a costly renovation, take the time to interview more than one plumber before picking one.

Estimates: Get at least three written estimates from three different plumbers. Documentation is often the best ammunition should things go wrong.

On a big job, especially a planned remodeling, the service provider may want the customer to pay 10 to 15 percent of the cost up front and 50 percent paid before the job is completed – especially if expensive materials need to be purchased for the project.

Where the company is located: Be cautious of contractors who give you a post office box with no street address or use only an answering service.

Handyman hiring tips

1. Define the project. Start by compiling a list of the home repairs you would like completed. Remember, a handyman is best utilized for small jobs such as installing light fixtures, patching drywall and interior painting. If the job requires pulling a permit, or moving plumbing or electrical wiring, you should consider hiring a contractor.

Inspect the work. Inspect the completed work before making payment. Make sure that everything has been done to your satisfaction and at the agreed upon price. Most handymen will be happy to explain the finished work because they want you to be satisfied.

Home Cleaning Service

You don’t have to be wealthy to hire a cleaning service. Many busy families arrange for a service to come in once a week, once a month or something in between. Have the prospective cleaner meet you at your home so you can walk from room to room asking what type of cleaning they will do and with what products. Most cleaning companies provide their own products, but if there are special products you prefer that they use this may cost extra. It’s preferable to use the same person every time if the experience is satisfactory as different cleaners are likely to clean in different ways.

Finally, trust is extremely important. Unlike most other service providers, house cleaners typically come to your home while you’re at work so you need to feel comfortable allowing them access to your home.

There are two actions we can always take.

  1. Use Yelp
  2. Get a referral from a neighbor

Here is an opportunity where we all can help each other. Take the survey below and I will consolidate the results and send a copy to you

Why I Don’t Cancel My Regular Telephone Service

My wife and I each have a cell phone. I usually carry mine with a lanyard on my neck. We have considered cancelling our regular phone service but our regular phone service has great advantages.

AT&TDect6.0WirelessPhoneWe use a wireless phone set with a main station connected to a telephone service and three additional handsets located in various rooms throughout the house. Each remote handset is simply plugged into an electric outlet with no additional connections required(wireless). This allows each of us…


  1. To be within steps of a telephone making it easy for either of us to answer a call.
  2. Each of us can be on a separate handset when we are talking to a family member. (like a conference call without a hassle, simply pick up the handset)

Over the last 6 years I changed from AT&T after they raised my service charge from $40 to $80, I switched to Vonage at $25/month, I now pay $36.25/month.

This offer came in the Sunday Tennessean…….AT&T Landline offer0001
That’s a great offer for anyone who has a home phone and is paying too much for home phone service. Plug the device in an electric outlet and plug your phone into the device. I use Vonage because I already pay for internet service but this service does not require internet service.
This may be worth looking into for those using landline home phone services from AT&T.