Thursday, November 20, 2014

Healthcare in the United States


In the news: Another high profile case of a Canadian getting a huge bill in the States and not being covered.

They were on vacation and were caught off guard with a baby that came 9 weeks early.

They had proper travel insurance, but it Blue Cross, an American insurance company, decided that they're not covered due to preexisting conditions.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens all the time.

I had my own expensive lesson in 2001 when I moved down for a new job, and had a medical emergency in the short time gap before my employer health insurance took effect.

Citizens of (every country except the United States) may be shocked to realize that a huge number of Americans must pay for emergency care out of pocket, bankrupting about 2 million people per year.

Not realizing the scale of the costs involved, and thinking that my Canadian government coverage applied (it did, but only for a tiny fraction) I went to the hospital and was treated.

I received random bills for months afterwards, thinking each time that would be the last. Each single item and service, down to OTC painkillers like Tylenol, were billed and invoiced separately from different providers.

All said and done, my 25-year-old just-out-of-college self learned a very difficult $5,000 lesson about the worst health care system in the civilized world.

Canadians: Take extra care to make sure you are very well insured before you step foot into the US -- even if it's just for a connecting flight.

You never know what might happen...

Note: I've written previously about private healthcare, and the US healthcare system (twice, actually).

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Direct brain interface between humans


Check out the following article:
UW study shows direct brain interface between humans

This is really cool stuff.

I first remember this technology concept from the original 1987 movie Robocop.

It's also been featured more recently in movies like Iron Man and Avatar.

I've always been interested in BCI (Brain–computer interface) advancement, and the last decade or so has seen some amazing progress.

Perhaps my prediction of BCI going mainstream by 2025 will come true after all...

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Feature suggestion for Facebook

A million dollars isn't cool, but do you know what would be cool? If you could target posts to your friends the same way you with Facebook ads.

When you "boost your post" from a Facebook Page, you can target your audience by Location, Age, Gender, and Interests.

The interface looks like this:

I think it would be really interesting if you do something similar when you created a personal post.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why make a profit?


Many have criticized Amazon.com for being unprofitable since inception.

If you ask me, they're just being ultra-efficient.

Take a look at this chart:

Amazon's revenue has grown exponentially, but they've always kept their net profit/loss pretty close to zero.

You see, the taxation system in most countries is actually a bit paradoxical.

The purpose of a corporation (as defined by law) is to generate a profit, but that is also what is taxed. So if you make a profit, you lose a good chunk of it to taxes.

On the other hand, if you re-invest those would-be-profits back into your business for growth, you get to keep it all.

Meanwhile, massively profitable companies like Apple and Google end up engaging in complicated IP licensing schemes in tax havens to lower their taxes.

Of course, a flat tax could put an end to some of these complex games...