• The United States has a primarily private healthcare system where patients can purchase services from any provider they like.
• The issue with this system is that patients typically don’t know how much they will spend until after services are rendered.
• Patients are then sent a bill months later which can be hard to pay if they have already budgeted their money.
The cost of healthcare is a major concern not only in the United States, but around the world. In the United States, our healthcare system is primarily private, meaning that individuals can purchase services from any provider they like. However, the issue with this system is that patients typically do not know how much they will pay for services until after they have received them. This can present a major financial burden, as patients are then sent a bill months later that they may not have the money to pay.
When an individual visits the doctor’s office, they usually hand over their health insurance card and pay a copay. However, most patients don’t understand what a copay or coinsurance is and how it works. All they know is that they hand over a card, pay a nominal fee, and receive services. After services are rendered, the doctor’s office sends a claim to the health insurance company to be paid out, and the patient must pay the remainder if there is a balance. This is a major issue as not only do patients receive a surprise bill that has yet to be budgeted for, but healthcare providers are also having difficulty finding qualified staff to manage the paperwork associated with billing.
In order to alleviate some of the financial burden, many countries have adopted a socialized healthcare system where the government pays for healthcare services on a sliding scale. This system allows the government to subsidize healthcare services for the poor and the elderly, while still allowing the private market to operate.
It is important to recognize that access to healthcare is essential to long-term health. However, patients should not be faced with surprise bills that can be hard to pay if they have already budgeted their money. The United States should consider implementing policies to make healthcare more affordable and accessible to all.
• In late 2022, Hydro-Quebec proposed to stop selling cheap power to cryptocurrency miners.
• Manitoba announced plans to halt any new electric grid connections for cryptocurrency mining operations.
• British Columbia made headlines for its efforts to stop mining growth to assess the environmental impacts of cryptocurrency mining.
In May 2021, the Chinese government abruptly banned bitcoin mining, causing miners around the world to reconsider their operations. North America, in particular, became the leading hub of bitcoin mining activity, with the United States and Canada both taking a leading role in the industry. However, in late 2022, several Canadian provinces began to take action to limit miners’ ability to operate in their jurisdictions.
In November 2022, Hydro-Quebec, the state-run utility in Quebec, proposed that the Canada Energy Regulator suspend the allocation of 270 megawatts requested by cryptocurrency miners. This would effectively halt any new miners from connecting to the grid and operating in the province. While the 37 currently-operating mining facilities in the province would not be affected, the proposal would make it harder for new miners to set up shop.
In the same month, Manitoba announced plans to suspend any new electric grid connections for cryptocurrency mining operations for 18 months. This suspension was meant to allow for a review of the externalities from the mining industry’s energy demands. The announcement indicated that the 17 different operators who had requested new grid connections would be denied until the review was completed.
Finally, British Columbia made headlines in December 2022 for its efforts to stop mining growth and assess the environmental impacts of cryptocurrency mining. The province had already imposed a tax on miners in the summer of 2022, but now it was taking further steps to limit the industry’s growth.
These actions by Canadian provinces serve as a reminder of the potential risks associated with bitcoin mining. While the industry is extremely lucrative, it also faces numerous regulatory and environmental challenges. As provinces continue to grapple with the implications of bitcoin mining, miners must be prepared to face additional restrictions in the future.
• Bitcoin miners are essential for securing the Bitcoin network by proposing blocks of transactions and using intense computing power to complete the proof-of-work consensus algorithm.
• There is a concern that miner revenue will not be enough to offer adequate security in the future, post block subsidy.
• My view is that those who are worried about this are misunderstanding Bitcoin’s long-term game theory, incentive mechanisms, scalability and adoption potential.
The security budget of Bitcoin has been a topic of increasing attention in recent times. The worry is that the amount of miner revenue will not be sufficient to offer adequate security in the future, post block subsidy. Bitcoin miners play a critical role in keeping the network secure by proposing blocks of transactions to nodes which then validate, accept and update the Bitcoin ledger. They compete against each other to offer the new block and use powerful computing power to complete the proof-of-work consensus algorithm, winning the right to propose the new block. As a reward for their services, the winning miner receives a block reward which is composed of two components: the block subsidy and the transaction fees.
Presently, the block subsidy constitutes the lion’s share of total miner revenue. The block subsidy is the amount of new bitcoin released in each block (currently 6.25 bitcoin) and is reduced by half roughly every four years through the halving. Consequently, the fear is that the transaction fee portion of the miner rewards will not be raised enough to compensate for the loss of the block subsidy, leading to decreased security on the Bitcoin network and an increased likelihood of attacks as miners will no longer have the incentive to participate.
My opinion, however, is that most of the people who are anxious about this are not fully appreciating Bitcoin’s long-term game theory, incentive mechanisms, scalability, and adoption potential. A more open discussion should be held on this issue, instead of just being dismissed as a non-issue. There are people advocating for a miner tax, where a portion of the block reward would be dedicated to a security fund, and others advocating for increased adoption and usage of Bitcoin, which would lead to an increase in transaction fees.
At the end of the day, the Bitcoin network is secured by a combination of the block subsidy and transaction fees, so it is important to understand how the two components interact and how miners are incentivized to continue to secure the network. It is also important to understand how scalability and adoption could affect the security budget and the long-term sustainability of the network. It is clear that the debate around Bitcoin’s security budget is far from over, and it is up to the community to come together and find solutions.
• MicroStrategy plans to release Bitcoin Lightning Network applications and solutions by 2023.
• These solutions will include online content monetization, enterprise marketing, web paywalls, and internal corporate controls.
• MicroStrategy will be showcasing these solutions at their upcoming Bitcoin event in the first quarter of the year.
MicroStrategy, a software firm, is looking to branch out of regular software applications and into Bitcoin, leveraging their existing knowledge to provide enterprises with tooling for the Bitcoin and Lightning ecosystem. Executive chairman Michael Saylor spoke about the company’s plans in a Twitter Spaces room on Wednesday, mentioning that they want to make it possible for any enterprise to spin up Lightning infrastructure in an afternoon and onboard thousands of employees or customers.
Areas that MicroStrategy is exploring for Lightning services include online content monetization, enterprise marketing, web paywalls, and internal corporate controls. Every chief marketing officer should be able give away satoshis –– Bitcoin’s smaller denomination unit –– as incentive for customers to post reviews or give feedback. Saylor also said that they expect to show something from their efforts in the first quarter of the year, and that their upcoming Bitcoin event will feature a “Lightning for corporations” agenda to dive deeper into the company’s plans for the ecosystem.
MicroStrategy plans to release software applications and solutions powered by the Bitcoin Lightning Network in 2023, aiming to make it easier for enterprises to use Bitcoin and the Lightning Network in their operations. They are hoping to make the Lightning Network more accessible, and to drive greater adoption through their efforts. It will be interesting to see what they come up with in the months ahead, and how their solutions will be received.