Discuss the Headline News and Other Topics of Interest

The news every day is compelling.  There is a tragedy, event, disaster, opinion, etc. that we hear about and keep up to date with on the television, newspapers, and internet.  It is good for everybody to express their thoughts, reactions, feelings, opinions, advise, guidance about the news of the day.  Posting on online forums is a great way to share with others.You can discuss news with people all over the world.  From people where the news is happening to people that want more information, forums discussions about news keeps you informed and gives you an outlet to discuss the topics.Ever feel like the news that your watch and read about are reported incorrectly, inappropriately, biased or apathetically?  Get a chance to express yourself online to others with the same concerns or different perspectives.  Sign up on a news forum and express yourself.Signing up and posting are free most of the time so if you have time and want to express yourself about the news that you just read about or watch on television to begin your day, sign in and enter a response.You can also respond to others that post on the forum.  Remember to be respectable and keep your responses focused around the topic that is being discussions.  Reading other’s opinions on news of the day is also helpful in getting different points of view about the topics, helps with focusing your own opinions about the news and give you different ideas that help with clarifying your interpretations about the news.Remember to find a news forum or forums to post on and express yourself on them. 

Funding Your Own Healthcare

IntroductionMore folks including both individual adults and families are on their own to provide funding for healthcare. There is a growing trend of being your own freelance business owner, being a contract employee or being employed by a business that does not offer a health insurance benefit. Many people make the mistake of buying price instead of value in a healthcare funding plan. This article provides an overview of options for funding healthcare with both advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.How Much does Healthcare Cost?Understanding what healthcare costs is important to deciding the best strategy for funding your own healthcare needs. Buying based only on price and not value (price vs. benefits) is a common and very grave mistake. Some examples of what healthcare can cost will help illuminate the importance of value and risk transfer (insurance) in funding your own healthcare.Routine Care: Having an ongoing relationship with a medical doctor is important value and can help you avoid much more costly illness and improve your overall health outcome. I am an example of the benefits of routine medical care with the goals of avoiding cardiovascular disease, diabetes and managing my sinus allergies. My recent doctor visit including blood test = $248 Well Baby Check (price from local pediatrician) = $160 Annual Physical = $500? Cost depends on how elaborate a physical you get.Rx Drug: Prescription drugs are approximately 10% of total healthcare spending [1]. Prescription drugs can be a large component of treating a major or chronic illness. These are drugs that I take with the list prices from my local drug store. OTC Claratin (equivalent house brand) = $10 / month Crestor = $137.99 / month Astelin = $115.99 / month An example of a more expensive medicine that my wife takes regularly for her chronic migraines: Topamax (generic equivalent) = $566.99 / monthDiagnostic Tests: Diagnostic tests are an important part of most disease identification, management and treatment and are a large component of healthcare costs. My recent blood test (three panels) = $152 X-Rays = $100+ Mammogram = $150+ MRI = $1000+; a complex MRI can cost several thousand dollarsEmergency Care: ER Visit = $1000+; this is based on my experience – I have never had an ER visit that was less than a $1000 in billed costsHospital Admission About 30% of healthcare costs are for in-patient hospitalization. The average length of a hospital stay is five days [2] with costs highly dependent on treatment. Heart Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) – Example from one of my clients = $45,000 including an ER admission and then three days in the hospitalMajor Illness: Cancer (Lymphoma) – My brother over two years of treatment = $500,000+; It is hard to tell the actual total but when I called to see if my brother was close to exceeding his $1 million lifetime limit the expectation was at least $500,000 in paid benefits to complete his cancer treatment.Chronic Illness: A chronic illness is defined by a medical condition lasting a year or more that requires ongoing treatment. Examples are Diabetes, Asthma, hypertension and Depression. Approximately half of all Americans have some kind of chronic aliment [2]. Type 2 Diabetes – Average Annual Cost = $5949 [3] Asthma – Average Annual Cost = $3192 [4]Put all of this in a gigantic pile and the average cost of healthcare in Texas according to the Texas Department of Insurance in 2006 was $7110 per person. That is $593 per month per person. Admittedly that includes a lot of unhealthy and high healthcare uses but it provides some perspective on what healthcare costs. If you have not had a close relative, family or friend with a serious illness or injury, it is hard to imagine the high cost of healthcare. Value in funding healthcare is more than helping with the cost of routine care. Value to me means grappling with the risk of a major illness or injury.Choices for Funding HealthcareCash – Just buy it when you need it and pay what it costs out-of-pocket. The big disadvantage of the “Cash” or what I call the “If we are Lucky Plan…” is that you have no protection of the risk for a major illness or injury. We have over 24% of Texans uninsured for healthcare with a fourth of the uninsured on the “Cash” plan by choice — about 6% of the entire population.Advantages:
No Monthly Premium / Fees
Ask for Cash discount from healthcare providers
Available to allDisadvantages:
No financial protection from the risk of a major illness or injury
Difficulty in accessing cares without insurance; some healthcare providers may require advance payment
You pay the whole bill for medical treatmentDiscount Health Card – Buy it when you need it and pay less with an “Affordable Healthcare” discount card. Essentially, you access contracted network rates without a Health Insurance policy for an annual or monthly fee. I look at this plan as a variation of the “Cash” plan since you have no protection of the risk for a major illness or injury. “The FTC and many states have found that although some medical discount plans provide legitimate discounts that benefit their members, many take consumers’ money and offer very little in return.” – Federal Trade CommissionAdvantages:
Low Monthly Fee
Discounted care from some healthcare providers
Normally available to all applicantsDisadvantages:
No financial protection from the risk of a major illness or injury
Difficulty in accessing care without insurance; Some healthcare providers may require advance payment
After any offered discount, you still pay the whole bill for medical treatmentLimited Benefit Plan – Pay a monthly premium for a defined-benefit insurance policy. Also often marketed as “Affordable Healthcare,” these mini-med health insurance plans typically offer a set payment amount for a specific healthcare treatment and a maximum benefit limit under $100,000. These plans don’t meet the “my brother test” – would this type of plan coped with the healthcare costs of my brother’s lymphoma? – No, so I won’t sell them. The healthcare discount cards and limited benefit plans are aggressively marketed on the internet. Just Google “affordable healthcare” or “low-cost health insurance” and you will see bunches. There just is no free lunch in health insurance. If the plan is cheap, then the benefits are limited.Advantages:
Less expensive monthly premium
Discounted care from some healthcare providers
Limited insured benefit payments for medical procedures
Improves access to care
Few enrollment restrictionsDisadvantages:
Incomplete financial protection from the risk of a major illness or injury
Due to benefit limitations, some healthcare providers may require advance payment
After any offered discount and benefit payment, you pay the remaining balance of the bill for medical treatmentMajor Medical Policy – This is your “Traditional Medical Insurance” policy for individuals and families. You pay a monthly premium for an insurance policy covering a wide range of healthcare risks with a substantial benefit limit, often $1 million or more. Most Major Medical Insurance policies now sold use a network concept called a “PPO” or Preferred Provider Option. Most plans feature co-pays for doctor visits and prescription drug purchases which reduce the out-of-pocket cost of these routine healthcare expenses.Advantages:
Protection from the financial risks of a major illness or injury
Provider discounts if “in network”
Improves access to healthcare providers and treatments
Encourages preventive health treatments
Reduced out-of-pocket costs for routine healthcareDisadvantages:
High monthly premium costs
Applicants must qualify based on health screenings
Generally, no maternity coverage
Must use “in network” providers for lowest out-of-pocket costsHigh Deductible Health Plan (with optional Health Savings Account) – This is a “Major Medical Policy” to grapple with a major illness but only after an annual deductible is exceeded. An optional tax-advantage savings account (H.S.A., “Health Saving Account”) is available to set money aside for healthcare costs prior to reaching the deductible. A family insurance plan that qualifies as a prerequisite for a Health Savings Account in 2009 can have a deductible of no less than $2400 and no more than $11,900.Advantages:
Protection from the financial risks of a major illness or injury
Provider discounts if “in network”
Improves access to healthcare providers and treatments
Access to optional Health Savings Account to save toward future medical bills with a tax advantageDisadvantages:
Monthly premium costs (lower than Major Medical Plans but still substantial)
Applicants must qualify based on health screenings
Generally, no maternity coverage
Requires making more choices on healthcare
Larger deductible and no expensive reducing co-paysAdditional Advantage of Optional Health Savings Account:
Reduced taxable income by amount saved in H.S.A. account
Use it or keep it — any funds not used are retained for future medical expenses
Funds saved are available for broad range of healthcare expenses while retaining the tax advantage

Electronics and Semiconductor Patents – An Evolution Scenario

In recent years, there has been an extensive boost in technological concepts related to electronics and electrical domain. Electronic engineering is a constantly changing and widening branch of technology. Electronics and semiconductor engineering is one of the largest and fastest growing industries. This growth has entailed a wide range of patent filing, all through. Electronics and semiconductors covers a wide range of applications we use daily, such as Television, Radio, computers, telecommunication etc, which make our life easier and enjoyable. It helps us see, hear and communicate over enormous distances and accomplish tasks faster.Electronics plays a major role in industries like oil, energy, agriculture and many other important sectors of economy. Electronics and semiconductor patents form a subclass of electrical patents. The electrical patenting class is broadly classified into many subclasses based on the area. Some subclasses include Digital Electronics, Analog Electronics, Micro Electronics, Fuzzy Electronics, Application Specific Integrated Circuit Design, Semiconductors and Semiconductor devices, etc.Patents are further classified based on the development of their active elements involving the design and testing of electronic circuits that use the electronic properties of components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, microcontrollers, microprocessors and transistors to achieve a particular functionality. For example, 326 is the generic class for patents related to electronic digital logic devices, circuitry and sub combinations thereof, wherein non-arithmetical operations are performed upon discrete electrical signals representing a value normally described by numerical digits. It further has subclass 12 for redundant logic having a flip flop and subclass 37 for a multifunctional or programmable logic having a flip flop.Integrated circuits and processing architectures are other categories protected by patents. Different aspects of these technologies such as architecture, applications or designs are protected by employing different intellectual property laws. As an invention, hardware architecture and their applications are protected as utility patents while Integrated circuit designs are protected as design patents. Hence, both design concepts and hardware are protected by patents. In discharging its patent-related duties, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examines patent applications and grants patents after establishing the patenting class and patentability of an invention. The claims of a patent serve as a guide in patent prosecution and infringement law suits.There has been a steady growth in electrical, electronics and semiconductor patents being filed and granted by U.S. patent office since 1996. About 8, 16,349 electrical patents are being granted till December 31st 2004 and every year approximately 60,000 electrical patents are granted. U.S. Patent office has approximately granted 3, 70,000 semiconductor patents, 19,279 global positioning system patents, 75,109 electronics and communication patents.Since its inception, the patent system has attempted to balance the tension between 2 competing objectives. On one hand, the law rewards technical innovation by granting exclusive rights to individuals for worthy inventions. On the other hand, it also seeks to increase the welfare of the society as a whole by providing it with the benefits of innovation. Electronics and semiconductor patents provide public with valuable information about how to use and implement new technology once it enters public domain.One way to trace the development of electronics and semiconductor technology is to follow the development of its active elements, the switches and valves of electronics systems. A more recent trend in circuit design is to build custom integrated circuits that include as much circuitry as possible, often combining both analog and digital circuitry on a single substrate. This area is known as application specific integrated circuits (ASIC); the designers work with relatively small prefabricated circuits commonly called macro cells. In recent years there has been an increase in patent filing because in many industries and product development companies a division of innovative labor is emerging, resulting in the licensing of existing and prospective technologies. Hewlett Packard, Sanyo and Sony are some of the leading electronic companies in the world with a growing patent portfolio over the years.