Civility Required Here

There are plenty of blogs out there where partisans can throw red meat (or blue meat, as the case may be) to their base; blogs where the more outrageous the statements the more praised the writer will be. This is not one of those blogs.

Health care reform generates a great deal of passion and heat. The issues are personal and critical, moral and political, economic and ideological all at once. People have strong feelings and beliefs about America’s health care system. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that – unless it slips into the kind of ugly behavior we’re seeing across the country where vandalism and name-calling seems to be becoming increasingly acceptable.

Because while there’s nothing wrong with being passionate about one’s beliefs, there is something wrong in viewing the other side as less than human, labeling them as socialists or whiners or idiots or what-have-you. Name calling and stereotyping do nothing to shed light on a complex topic. It may make the writer feel better, but it diminishes the debate and the value of this blog.

I’ve let the arguments and venting run for the past few few weeks. First, because I don’t monitor the comments as closely as perhaps I should. Second, because I felt it reflected the anger, jubilation and passion readers feel about what’s happening with health care reform. And third, because I don’t want to stifle open conversations.  I was willing to let some inappropriate comments remain on the site because I didn’t want to stifle the conversation. I did remove some especially offensive comments, but frankly I should have removed more. The tone of the debate on the site has too often slid into an abyss that is neither appropriate nor welcome.

So, as reluctant as I play the role of censor, I’m going to impose a tighter rein on the discussion. Hopefully I won’t swing too far the other way as I truly enjoy the give-and-take that takes place on this blog. The articulate expression of views and perspectives that most commentators provide this blog most of the time is part of its appeal, at least to me.

I very much appreciate that you all take the time to read my posts and share your comments with the small community we’ve created here around the health care reform issue. And I hope you’ll continue to join in the discussion.  When you just have to vent, there’s plenty of other sites available to you. Knock yourself out. But when you’re writing here, please keep it civil.

Recommend Posts and Comments

This blog is run on software provided by (it’s very easy to use and I highly recommend it). They just added a new feature that might be interesting for readers: the ability to recommend posts and comments you think other readers might find interesting – or to warn your fellow readers away from them.

As a new feature, WordPress is still working out some of the kinks. For example, the ratings a post or comment receives does not yet appear on the home page of the blog. To see the recommendations – or to make one – you’ll first need to click on the title of a post. According to some of the forums, the WordPress folks are working on getting the recommendations to show on the home page, but it’s not all that easy so it could take some time.

Whether this function enhances the blog remains to be seen, but I figure it’s worth testing out. So please feel free to recommend – or warn against – what you read here, both the posts and the comments. We’ll see how things works out and if folks find it useful, we’ll keep it.

Thanks for reading.

Lloyd Baum

Lloyd Baum loved politics. I believe he spent time in Chicago, which might explain this passion. He loved public policy, especially health care reform, not surprising since he was a health insurance broker. You might disagree with Lloyd, but you couldn’t disregard his sincerity, his commitment and his desire to do the right thing. I’ve known Lloyd for close to 20 years and was consistently amazed at his willingness to get involved, to make a difference.

So it was with sadness that I received the following missive:

In Memoriam

On June 30, 2009, the National Association of Health Underwriters awarded the National Legislative Excellence Award to Lloyd Baum and the Legislative Committee of the Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters.

On July 2, 2009, Lloyd Baum passed away.

Having won our hearts and inspired our souls, Lloyd Baum, also earned our respect. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sonya, his family and many friends. Lloyd will be greatly missed and we all know, he will never be replaced.

From the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters, Thank you, Lloyd, This meeting is adjourned.

Lloyd was a good character in every sense of the word. He will indeed be missed.

Thank You and Happy New Year

My thanks to all of you who took the time to read this blog in 2007. It’s been a lot of fun creating it and I’m delighted, appreciative and, to be honest, surprised at how many folks stop by to visit.

Health care reform is an issue that generates tremendous passion — and it should. We’re not talking about what the next flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream should be. This debate is about something that impacts everyone’s lives, health and financial well being. 

There’s a natural tension in debates over issues like health care reform. Reasonable people can agree to disagree on how to fix what’s wrong and how to preserve what’s working in the current system. Passionate people can lose patience with the discussion, the seemingly endless negotiations and disagreement. What’s impressed me most about the feedback I’ve received on and about this blog is how readers have engaged in civil discourse without diminishing their passion. Yes, there’s been a few comments that descended to name calling and self-righteousness, but the overwhelming majority have been as thoughtful as they were fervent.

I hope all of you keep your passion and commitment alive in the year ahead. And that you all have a healthy and happy new year.

Look Mom. We Made the Post-Dispatch.

The last post, which dealt with health insurance commissions, was self-serving. This one is self-aggrandizement, pure and simple.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an article listing five “health care blogs gaining notice in the virtual world.” Don’t ask me how, or why, but this lil’ ol’ blog made the list along with the likes a blog affiliated with the prestigious journal, Health Affairs. Again, I don’t know how they found this blog, but it was gratifying to be included.

While we’re in Me Generation mode, please feel free to add a link from your web site to this one. It will help this blog rank higher in Google, Yahoo, MSN, Technorati and other search engines. That means folks searching for information and insight on health care reform will more easily find the perspective reflected here.

This blog started out as an experiment to see what blogging was all about. It’s turned into a whole lot more. My thanks to all of you who found it and made us almost-but-not-really-famous — at least among the readers of the Post-Dispatch in of St. Louis.

What This Blog Is About

Welcome to the Alan Katz Health Insurance Blog. My goal here is simply to provide a place to talk about what’s going on with health insurance and Insurance Neighborhood. And maybe a few other topics that appeal to me. 

The comments I’ll be posting here reflect my own perspective and opinions, so please don’t blame my current or former companies or colleagues. If you post a comment, I’m assuming they’ll  reflect your perspective and opinions, so I’ll do my best not to blame your current or former companies or colleagues.  Hopefully, over time, our combined comments will help make this blog a destination to hear the latest news, rumors and gossip concering health insurance.

Particularly, about California health insurance. And, to put an even finer point on it, Individual and Family health insurance (with a signifcant touch of Small Group thrown in for flavor). No doubt there’ll be comments posted here which go well beyond this relatively narrow scope, but, at least initially, that’s where the focus will be.

So please feel free to participate. Link your blog to this one. Post comments. Tell your friends. That sort of thing. Let’s see what happens.