Weekly Thoughts April 2010

I have recently been battling with bronchitis / cold / chest infection etc issues for two weeks now.  Twice I went to the ‘cheap packet doctors’ – as one pharmacist I know calls them because you go to this place where you can see one of many doctors at short notice and they push you through at 5 minutes a patient and you only pay R250 which will include generic medicine from the chemist across the road which gets R70 out of each R250 and they provide you with cheap generics.  What a business model.  I discussed it with the pharmacists in question who owns the chemist in question.  He doesn’t like the medical model but the business works for him.

I did this because at short notice it’s not always possible to get into my regular GP.  When I finally got to my own GP this week, who charges more and sends you for better medicines, he looked me over more thoroughly, took more time, diagnosed better, and prescribed better medicines and treatment program.  I have immediately begun to feel that I am beginning to recover.

But here’s my point:  It’s the old story of paying cheap and paying twice.  [In my case three times]  I mustn’t do this again with my health.  One must go to a good person, and pay for good treatment as you pay less in the end.

It made me think further about some people I have watched who have managed their own financial planning and investment fund choices vs. listening to decent practitioners.  Maybe I’ll write about examples in a Mailshot one month.  I have a very good example of this from a good colleague who practices in Cape Town.

The volcanic ash and travel thing: (Here’s the mountain’s name: Eyjafjallajokull – deal with that!!) I was having a couple of discussions this week around the frightening picture if you begin to play out all the consequences.  Such as, besides the obvious of 100 000 flights and 6 million passengers, masses of flowers being thrown away after sitting at an airport in South Africa, or Kenya – where there are massive flower farms – because they couldn’t get flown into Europe.

But did you know that many short-term insurance policies contain exclusions on so-called ‘acts of God’.  The simplest definition of the phrase is a natural catastrophe such as hurricane, earthquake or volcanic eruption.  It’s a legal term usually reserved for property damage.  “After the flood, Mr. Joe Average is dismayed to discover that his house was not insured against ‘acts of God’.”

South African insurers are familiar with severe storms, hurricanes and floods – even the occasional earth tremor – but have thankfully been spared from volcanic eruptions.  Although did you know that there is a dormant – no, sorry, extinct – one in the Pilanesburg?!!

The electricity increase thing. This month is the first of the next three 25-odd % annual increases over the next three years.  My take on this is that many of us might have to actually do something this time about reduced consumption in order to save because we are going to battle to cope with the picture after three years.  You see, 25% on the previous 25% on the initial 25%…… you double the initial figure after three years.  So what can we do? : Reduce your geyser’s temperature, less use of heaters, smaller baths/shorter showers, less hot water in the washing machine, don’t iron clothes that are for around the house and the hardware store… anything that is a heating function should be reduced.  This is going to be inflationary across the economy.  This means that shops put up their prices because the aircon cost more to run.  So your domestic electricity costs more and all other services and good will pass the increased cost on to you the consumer.  But hey, life’s not all bad!!