Travel Agent or DIY Travel?

A friend asked the other day why didn’t I do family trip planning for people and my simple response was that it’s just not what I do. He wanted to do one-stop trip shopping, where he could go to one place (online) and say, “hey I want to go here on this date with this number of people. Just tell me how much it costs and what time I have to get on my flight.” I told him that this is basically the task of a travel agent. They will do it all for you – especially if you don’t have the time or motivation to do any of it yourself and are willing to fork over the extra loot for their services.I recently purchased an airline ticket through unconventional means for myself. I worked with a ticketing agent. In general, I do all of my travel planning online as I’m privy to many different resources that I like, which have worked well for me in the past. This time around, I chose to use an agent because I enrolled in a travel rewards program and in order to get credited rewards points, I needed to book my travel through the company. No problem. It saved me time, though not money per se. I paid the same amount for my flight, purchasing through the ticketing agent, as I would’ve if I had purchased on my own. However, I did get rewarded 5 points per dollar. So, in that sense, I guess I came out better.Generally speaking, do you use a travel agent or do you do all of your planning yourself? Are there times when you can say you’d definitely use a travel specialist, such as if you are doing a group trip or traveling to a foreign country or some place that you know nothing about?The internet has empowered the traveler to easily and quickly plan a trip if they know exactly where to go to get the services that they need. I think the availability of this information motivates travelers to bypass the travel agent and do all of the planning themselves. Review sites, price comparison sites and portals are a dime a dozen and honestly, I can’t tell you who has a leg up on who or what separates many of them. I have my personal preferences but I think it’s mainly because they were in the game first (or at least I’ve known them longer) and I have familiarity with them.However, travel agents offer so much more value than simply booking hotels and flights. The sheer convenience of having someone navigate everything and handle problems that may arise would seem like reason enough to use a specialist each and every time we travel. So why don’t we? If I had to take a stab at it, the main reason would be cost. For many people, saving money is a definitive motivation for doing things themselves. In addition, many avid travelers enjoy the process of trip planning, no matter how time-consuming it may be. The remedy to the latter point is to just start planning earlier or visit sites that have “last-minute” booking options.I have to admit that I am one of those who enjoys the hands-on process. On the flip side, I have no problem paying for convenience, especially if it’s to a foreign country or if I’m planning a group trip. Time is money and if it’s going to cost me too much time, then an agent would be the prudent way to go.The thought keeps running through my mind that as the sea of information expands, people just may go back to basics and revert to outsourcing tasks such as trip planning. Who knows? It’ll be interesting to see. However, there’s not much doubt that what they may lose in dollars, they’d gain back in time and peace of mind.

The Modern Dilemma – National Health Care

National health care is a hot issue all over the world at the moments, but in no country more so than in the United States. As health care is not provided free as a rule, there are major debates regarding affordability and value for money. Fewer and fewer people every year have insurance cover should anything happen to them and as a result society is beginning to deteriorate. Very few people would be able to afford expensive health care and thus fewer people are spending on it and prices rise to recoup lost costs and profits. The medical services suffer as a result.Companies used to provide healthcare as standard in every benefits package, but fewer are now offering it. Instead, they are finding ways around it, like using agency applicants rather than taking on individuals to fill job roles independently. Agency fees are generally lower than those charged by insurance companies to ensure that employees are sufficiently covered. However, as hazards in the workplace increase, the nation’s health is beginning to suffer and calls for a national health care system are growing in momentum and volume. A national health care system has already been implemented in the UK and has proved successful so there is a good model to base a US service on.Health costs in the USA are higher than anywhere else in the world at the moment, which does price it out of range for the average person on the street. However, as other national health care systems have proved, health care that is readily available as well as affordable can improve the economy and improve the nation’s health on the whole!Affording National Health CareIt is not a question of whether individuals could afford national health care because, by its nature, it is whether the government can. There are a number of ways that it could be funded. In most cases, the cost is actually funded via taxes. Nobody pays for individual care but there is a flat rate of tax added on to a bill at the end of the year. It could actually be taken straight from an individual’s pay packet every month so that it is not as noticeable for an individual.If it is deemed desirable to keep health insurance as it is now then it may be possible to offer a flat rate for individuals looking to take out the insurance for a national health care system, with the government subsidising it. This would make it more affordable and health care more widely available without adding a tax. However, what would happen if some individuals did not have national health care insurance? Would they be refused treatment? As a result of this question, there are a number of arguments that pick at the flaws. There is also nothing to say that the overall costs can be lowered.National health care does work if it is implemented correctly and it can dramatically improve the nation’s health as a whole, but there may be problems with initial implementation. As long as health care is made available for all at affordable rates, anything is worth a try!

Focusing on Medical Health Care Concerns

Almost half of the nearly 5 trillion dollars in medical and health care related activities can be accounted for in the US. It is obvious that our country has well trained professionals, outstanding technology and a vast array of medication designed to address health concerns. Yet, why is medical care so costly and problematic for so many individuals to receive?The Growth of Medical CareFor most of the worlds more developed countries the medical field is one of their largest industries. If you count the money generated by medication sales, diagnostics, nursing homes, hospitals, physicians, and other ancillary activities it is quite easy to see why the medical industry accounts for 10-20% of a country’s gross production.In the US alone there are nearly 800,000 medical doctors, more than 5000 hospitals and millions of health care workers. One of every dozen US citizens works in health care now and this number is expected to grow. Still there are not enough workers and facilities to handle the 20 million outpatients that are currently being seen every day. This staggering amount of outpatient visits does not include the average daily count of 4 -5 million hospitalized patients.The vast, complex health care industry in the United States is one that attracts people from around the globe. Switzerland and Germany both have large medical industries, but these countries run their health care differently from the US. Could it be possible that our nation’s health care will soon be undergoing a radical type of change?Answers are Difficult to FindIs the answer to the current health care dilemma as simple as nationalizing health care for all? Will this possibility only make the situation worse? How will the medical resources be allocated among the various segments of our society? These are only a few of the questions that are waiting to be answered.Controversial TopicToday medical health has become a controversial subject among many groups of citizens. There is talk of overhauling the medical system as we now know it. We are also hearing predictions that the government will try to restructure the nation’s health care system. Although much of this rhetoric has been publicized for a number of years it seems that people are becoming more polarized by the possible changes that are now constantly making headlines.The Senior Citizens Have their own ConcernsThe elderly population in the US is keeping a close eye on what is being proposed because health care and medication issues are of great concern to them. Medical and insurance coverage for people 65 and older have undergone many changes since the 1980s. Most senior citizens are very vocal about their displeasure with the way Medicare is addressing the problems, and they are also worried about what the future might hold. The costs of health care and medication needs are extremely high for senior citizens as a whole. Every year they are fearful of having their benefits cut even further, and now they have new worries regarding medical care.Groups at RiskIt has been just a few short weeks since Governor Sara Palin galvanized many citizens with her predictions and comments about “death panels” and nationalized health care. While there were many people who rallied around her statements, the mere possibility of such radical notions began sending shock waves through the nation. This was particularly unnerving to a large percentage of our elderly population. It was also causing concern among advocates for the poor and disabled. Even parents and caretakers of people with physical and mental challenges were becoming alarmed, and feeling threatened.Future Allocation of Health Care Resources?Could it be possible that Medical professionals would possibly agree to form commissions that would allocate health care resources to those they deemed most deserving? This thought was both frightening and “Orwellian” in prospect. A careful review showed that there was no written documentation that actually stated such possibilities, but this did not alleviate the fear and worry of many ordinary citizens. Just the idea that access to hospitalization or medication needs might one day be restricted was enough to generate small scale panic in many communities across the nation.Problems, Problems, ProblemsMedical concerns, health care and affordable medication plans are major sources of worry for everyone today. Insurance coverage is very expensive. There is a growing trend among companies to provide less employee and family benefits in order to cut costs. In some cases this is making it difficult for employees to participate in the insurance plans being offered by their employers. However a growing number of families are too cash strapped to afford health insurance premiums on their own. This is creating a “Catch 22″ type of environment with people unable to afford the cost of becoming sick as well as the cost of being insured.The Answer is CooperationIt is hard to know where the main problems are within the health industry. Some people want to find fault with the high paid physicians and medical specialists and others point the finger of blame at hospitals that seem to be pulling in billions of dollars annually, yet are constantly complaining having too little money. Malpractice lawyers, government regulations and insurance companies have also played a part in today’s health care woes. The answer is not going to be easy to find, and every group associated with the medical industry will need to step up to the plate and help out.