September 24, 2009

Health Care

So, in the states, there has been a lot of talk about health insurance and all of the possible health care plans. I’m afraid I’ve not kept up with them hardly at all, nor do I have any expert knowledge in the subject. I do, however, have a few thoughts and reflections based off of our recent experience that I think our applicable. No answers, I’m afraid, but some points for discussion.

First, I should share some of our experiences. I finished my Master’s degree this past May, and we had student health insurance during this time. It was great. The challenge came when it expired mid-August, and my new job’s insurance didn’t start until after I was employed for a month, at the end of October. Hence, we’d have a month and a half without insurance: a situation I wanted to avoid if at all possible. Comprehensive coverage didn’t matter, all I wanted was some sort of catastrophic major medical insurance.

This was surprisingly hard to find, especially since I was looking at rather the last minute. (I was hired at the beginning of August, after all.) It turned out that trying to find insurance while we were in Ithaca presented us with only two options. Two? One would expect that, like car insurance, one could choose from a variety of providers. But we could only choose from two. The situation is even worse here in North Dakota: Blue Cross Blue Shield provides somewhere around 90% of health insurance in the state.

To compound the issue, Rita’s diabetes disqualified her from many plans. Even though she keeps awful good care of herself, the insurance companies view it as equivalent to something like HIV. To some degree, I understand: diabetic supplies are a constant expense. But I’m okay paying for constant expenses, it’s the unexpected gargantuan expenses that I want insurance to cover me for.

Nonetheless, I attempted in mid-August to apply for a month and a half of health insurance while we were in Ithaca. I had three options:

  1. GHI sold a catastrophic-style plan, but only had plans that began on the first of the month. That wasn’t helpful when we were looking for coverage nearly immediately. Besides, we particularly wanted coverage while we were traveling.
  2. Blue Cross/Excellus had a plan, but insisted on getting the paperwork done via snail mail. Again, the time frame just wasn’t going to work out.
  3. HealthNY is a state-sponsored program for low-income folks, but would not cover out-of-state services and, again, wouldn’t start until the beginning of the month. Not only that, but, being a able-bodied individual, I’d rather save tax dollars for those who actually have a real need. Why should I take from the poor?

I didn’t think this would be difficult! And it took many, many hours on the phone and researching trying to figure this out.

In the end, we were able to apply with Blue Cross Blue Shield in North Dakota. We thought everything went swimmingly. Until, last week, I received the cards indicating my acceptance…but nothing for Rita.

What happened?

I called, and found out that, indeed, she was rejected for medical reasons. Our only recourse was to apply for a state-sponsored plan. We’re still waiting to find out if that works—and, frankly, seeing as my work insurance starts in a week, I don’t care much any more.

This system is definitely broken.

I have a few thoughts about what could improve.

  1. Why isn’t this just insurance? Health insurance is an odd beast. It has come to function much less as insurance—i.e. financial help in times of extreme need—and much more of a discount plan, with copays and the like. This functions not only to complicate the insurance, but also to make qualifying that much more difficult.
  2. Denied? I suppose one could be rejected for car insurance, but it certainly doesn’t happen often. Why? High-risk applicants are simply charged more. I don’t see why this would be a bad model for health insurance.
  3. Complications. I have a Master’s degree in engineering, for crying out loud. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I can usually figure most things out eventually. But health insurance? I spent on the order of two full days trying to find out what options we have. That’s completely crazy, and was only possible because I was unemployed at the time.
  4. Competition. I add this with a bit of hesitation. I certainly think that given more companies offering insurance in either New York or North Dakota, we would have had a simpler time. I realize that competition isn’t a panacea to all problems, but different companies focusing on different markets would have been very valuable in this instance.

Those of you paying attention to the current health-care discussions in the United States right now notice one thing that I didn’t put on the list: universal health care. I have what I think is a good reason for that, though it’s perhaps not what you expect.

I should be forthright: I do tend to favor as little government as possible. But that’s honestly not my primary concern.

My concern is one for the character of people. One thesaurus lists synonyms such as integrity, honor, moral strength, uprightness, fortitude, strength, backbone, and resolve. In my mind, these are some of the most important qualities to nurture in people. (Perhaps the most important qualities, if you attempt to be a secular society.) Character, however, is built not out of having others take care of you, but rather learning how to take care of you and yours through sometimes difficult situations. It isn’t easy, but—as with many difficult things—it is worth it in the end.

Thus, it seems to me that having equal health care available to all demotes rather than promotes the character of our people.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I want health care to be cheaper—definitely. I want it to be more available to more people. I don’t want to worry about health care any more than you do. But I want to have a good character—and want people around me to have a good character—even more. And I believe that a strong sense of personal responsibility and a minimized reliance on “someone else” to take care of us is vital for this.

I think this is what I would propose, in addition to the points I raised before:

Despite my dislike of government intervention, why don’t we simply have the government pay for the large capital costs of health care, such as hospitals and equipment and research. This could be completely government sponsored, similar to our roads. Then, paying for doctor’s visits and other care could be done directly out-of-pocket at a much reduced cost. Is it enough? I have no idea. But it preserves the mental model of “I am responsible of providing for me and mine; I need to be a mature person of character.” rather than “Why doesn’t the world take care of me?”

Responsibility. Character. Integrity. A nation built on these will assuredly outlast a physically healthy nation who is morally bereft.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / David / Public Policy]

September 15, 2009

How We are Today

Since we just moved, I am sure you would like to hear more about how we are doing now that we are in West Fargo, instead of seeing photos from weeks ago, as nice as they are. So, here is a little post to share how we are doing today.


You have seen the photos of our apartment, and if you haven’t check about 5 posts back. I still love it here. I am amazed at how much God has provided for us in this apartment. I love the space. We have: room and light for plants, our books almost all on one wall, ‘office’ space for both our desks, a kitchen with room for the table in the same area, a guest room that will fit guests, and a bed room where we are not tripping over each other!

We are also just a bike ride away from the grocery store, hardware store, library, department stores, pet store. Everything we need is close enough that it’s ok if David takes the car to work and I need to get some food. It is great!


David is enjoying his work. His only frustration is that he doesn’t know everything yet. That he is still learning and not being as productive as he wishes.

My perspective of David’s work: he is so much more relaxed!! After being married for 5 years and having him come home stressed so often, it is so nice that he comes home tired, but not stressed. Such a difference!

He enjoys going to work and enjoys the people that he works with. God is so good!

My work. I started carving again last week. Slowly. I’ve been on a break since May because of trouble with my thumb. The trouble hasn’t gone away, so I will take is more slowly but keep carving.

I’ve also been balancing my carving time with keeping the apartment nice. By the time we left the trailer in NY it was always a mess. Even when I cleaned it was still a mess. I hope to keep on top of it better now that we are starting over.


David did a bit of church research on the internet before we came to Fargo, and while he was here for his interview he visited the top churches on his list.

For the past two weeks we have been attending Bethel Evangelical Free Church and we really like it. This past Sunday we joined a Sunday school and we really look forward to getting to know the others in the class.

David has left the past two weeks almost overwhelmed with peace and gladness for the work he sees God doing in this church. We are really glad we can be apart of it.

We hope to join a Growth Group soon. I will be going to the Ladies Bible study on Thursday morning and David hopes to join the orchestra tomorrow night.


I am still on the hunt for a dog, but because I will be taking a road trip to Montana in a few weeks, we are waiting until I get back to do serious hunting.

God is so good. We have hit a few snags of course. The apartment is heavy with stale smoke smells that give me a headache, as well as the smoke the comes in the window from the neighbours. I have been a bit needy here and there, but all in all, it is very good to be here. God is So good to us, we are glad to be here!

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

September 14, 2009

More Photos

I thought you might enjoy seeing a few more photos of our trip to NB and PEI. If not, I am enjoying looking at them, so I’ll share them anyway. Most of them are taken by my sisters, who are the better photographers by far!

Grammie and Me

As always, when we make it out to New Brunswick, I take time to see Grammie. The two years before David and I were married, and the 5 months we were in Canada after we were married we became quite close to Grammie. I miss her a lot and am glad whenever we can visit. David and I took Saturday afternoon to spend with her. It was a nice relaxing afternoon, after driving 15 hours to get there!

Debbie and Lincoln

Debbie and Lincoln enjoying the beach.

Canada Games

The Canada Games were being held on PEI while we were there. Some of the family went to enjoy a few games. Including watching the New Brunswick girl basketball.


More from Siblings Night out. The Brothers at the harbour.


Sisters at the Harbour.

Mc Donald's

While we had the Siblings night out, Opa and Oma took the grand kids to Mc Donald’s for supper.

Keturah as Anne

Keturah as Anne. Ah yes, the tempting hat and braids! Who doesn’t enjoying seeing how pretty of and Anne they would make?

Pizza in the Jail house

Pizza at the old jail house.

North Shore

One day Dad, Julia, Richard, David and I took a drive to the North Point to see the wind mills and the light houses. Now I have been to both ends of the Island. I went to East Point in 2000 with two of my girlfriends.

North Point Rock

North Point Rock.

David's Game face

David’s Game face. Sorry if you can’t see it well, it’s quite the face.

Roller Coaster

We were the only 4 who wanted to go on the Roller Coaster. Here we wait patiently for our turn.

Going Down

The ride down! Yes, being good roller coaster girls, we made use of our lungs and loved every minute of it!

Bumper Boats Another Bumper boat photo, with the park in the back ground.

Rita's Bathroom

Rita is a rare name to find on anything personalized. It was great to see that Cora (the breakfast restaurant) had a bathroom just for me!


One more of the family. I like this one because we are not yet all posed. A little mixed up, just like us.

Nova Scotia

David and I took two nephews and a dog back to New Brunswick with us, while part of the family went to the Anne of Green Gables play. While we were on the way, we thought we’d jump down to Nova Scotia, because we could.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

September 07, 2009

PEI Trip

This year marks my Mom’s 60th birthday, and when Dad asked her how she wanted to celebrate, she said she wanted the family to be together for a full week. So to Prince Edward Island we went!

Family 3

It was a great week. Rather chaotic with 6 kids 8 years old and younger, and a young puppy, but so good too.

Here are some photos to give you a glimpse of the week.

Heading out

Heading Out

Preparing food

Preparing Food

Lincoln and Molly

Lincoln and Molly

Ocean Play

Ocean Play!! (Every day!)

Siblings Night Out

Siblings Night Out

Siblings Night Out 2

Siblings Night Out 3

Me and my siblings.

Breakfast at Cora's

Breakfast at Cora’s, our first time! It was Delicious!


Go-Karting at SandSpit

passing me

David passing me… Not surprised, I was a little nervous.

Bumper Boats

Bumper Boats!

David and Sisters

David and his sisters-in-law.

Ladies Day Out

Result of Ladies day out.

Beach Walk

Beach Walking


Dick VanOord Family

Family 2

Thanks Mom and Dad! It was a GREAT week. We Love you!

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

September 06, 2009

Moving in:

So, what to say about our move to Fargo? It has been amazing how much God has been working in us, especially me. I can’t even say that God has given me peace about this move, because it’s been more than that. It’s been a “Rightness” to it. So much so that I have been eager to get going. Ithaca has been great, but it was time to move, and because it was time to move, I just wanted to get going.

Fargo is just an hour away from David’s parents. Just about the right distance to finally settle for a while, instead of moving every two years. I am so glad to be able to settle. I am tired of moving, and so is David.

We had a bit of a frustrating mix-up in trying to get an apartment in order. Long story short, after expressing a money order to reserve an apartment, and calling most days on our vacation, we came back to Ithaca only to find out that they rented the apartment from under us. Yes, frustrating, but a God thing. We called the next apartment on our list and the doors opened up wide. Within a half day (verses the week and a half of trying to work things out with the other apartment) we had our apartment reserved and paperwork done. So glad!

Now that we are here, I think I understand why God didn’t let the other apartment work out. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with our new home! And I can call it home so quickly too! There is room here! There is a great little park for kids, and a fenced in area for dogs to play. The rooms are roomy and allow room for us to grow with out feeling squeezed. Enough room “to swing the cat” or dog, as we hope to have some day soon.

The apartments are private entry, which makes the groups of apartments feel a lot more like a community. There are no hallways to sneak down, but coming and going in view of everyone. The kids play together all over the place. I can some people would find it annoying, but I like it a lot. It makes me so happy to see them!

Speaking of hallways, the little one we do have here is wide enough that I’m not constantly running into walls and door jams. It is great!

We have a great sized guest room, and if you give me another week, I hope it will be set up for company, so if you are in the West Fargo area and need a place to stay, look us up!

In Christ,


PS note: The above what written two days ago, I wanted to add another delight before posting.

One of my most favorite things in the world is biking in Holland (yes, the Netherlands). It is so flat there that you can bike for hours and still feel great! At least that has been my experience. Well guess what? Fargo is as flat as Holland! Minus the dikes even.

Yesterday David cleaned up my bike real nicely and we went for a ride to Walmart. It was so enjoyable that I begged David for another short ride tonight. Imagine that! Me, begging to bike! Me, who would rather walk my bike in Sioux Center, Iowa because the small rolling hills were too much for me. Me, who has a really great bike and didn’t touch it once while in Ithaca! (Those hills looked nasty!) I am begging David to bike with me and I love it! (Thank you God for many blessings!)

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

September 04, 2009

A New Home!

Hello to you all! In case you were wondering what has happened with David’s job hunt. Well, he found a company in Moorhead, Minnesota and pursued a job with them. They liked him well enough that he is at work already as of this past Monday!

David and I are now living in West Fargo, North Dakota. It has been such a CRAZY past month and a half. First with David trying to find a job, then waiting to see if he would get the job, then the mad rush to pack up our belongings before a week with my family on Prince Edward Island for my mom’s birthday. Then, 4 days to finish the packing and load the truck .

We moved last weekend and I have been busy setting up home while David has been getting to know his new job. It has been going well!

Here are a few photos of our new apartment. I LOVE it! I can’t say enough about how Good God is and how he is providing for us in ways we never realized! Wonderful!

Wall of Books!

Wall of Books that I love so much!

Living Room

Living room with office space.


Oh so roomy Kitchen!

Dinning Area

Dinning Area in the kitchen that makes the kitchen much bigger.

Future Guest Room

Future guest room, work room and current storage room.


Roomy Bathroom




Rest of Bedroom, with room to spare!

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

© 2005-2007 David and Rita Hjelle