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September 20, 2007

Comments

paperpusher666

Why not hire some of the health insurance workers to work in the new program? If they can keep track of the many changes that are put through in various plans annually, they ought to be able to keep up with one set of rules. They'd probably have a pay cut, but they wouldn't have to be unemployed. It would be the reverse of Circular A-76, which is the process for contracting out work normally done by federal employees.

Private health insurance doesn't necessarily disappear in countries that provide universal health care. In England, having private insurance is a way to jump the queue and have elective procedures performed sooner.

Richard

Barbara,

Enough with the liberal banter. Communism has already failed. I don't care if lazy, stupid people have insurance or not. Survival of the fittest! Human nature is not about being "nice." Human nature is about being selfish! Even a fetus in the womb of the mother is fighting the mother for survival, for nutrients. There is not enough wealth to go around. The clever ones, like me, will make a killing, the average and below average will get by or worse. That is nature. Pretending that human beings are kind and caring is a joke. Study history. We are more of "killer primate" than a "kind ape." Let's accept our human nature, and the triumph of pure killer Capitalism. Capitalism has succeeded because it best mirrors human nature. A few will win the spoils, and the rest will fight over the scraps. Stop pretending that you care, you don't! You are just massaging your status and ego that was built up by being Ms. Liberal- I care so much about the downtrodden. I don't lose any sleep thinking about those less fortunate. I can pretend, and tell women I do, but I don't, no one does! Why do men join "save the whales?" There is probably a hot girl working there that they want to get with. Human nature is "evil." No one wants to share, and sharing isn't natural. Anything you have to teach in Kindergarten is not "natural." You don't have to teach an infant to take, or to attack. Those are natural, human reactions. No one wants to share their hard work with the dumb masses, believe me. Those on the bottom usually belong there. There have always been the "rich" and the "poor." There always will be. Also, you can't compare America with Europe. There is no communal feeling here in America. We are too diverse now. In Ireland there is a collective sense of purpose. I ride the subway in Chicago, and feel no connection with those fellow passengers, none at all. No shared humanity, no shared language, nothing...America is all about Individualism. Now, we are supposed to care about all of the freaks that live here, I don't think so. That is the end result of Multiculturalism. You end up having to move into your own enclave. I'm sure that you live in your own protected little yuppie enclave where rich people give money to bums so that they can buy more drugs. So caring! I live in my world, and the other groups live in their worlds. That is o.k., that is tribalism, another hallmark of human nature. I want to be surrounded by people who are like me. I don't want to be surrounded by uneducated, obese morons. In light of these points I think you should drop the health care B.S. No one wants it. No one wants to tax the wealthy because everyone has the misguided notion that they can be wealthy, get it? Drop the charade. America is balkanizing by the minute, more by wealth than race. I know that the truth hurts, but it is still the truth nonetheless. I would always prefer the brutal truth than a charade or "fantasy" about what human beings are and will always be. Wouldn't you?

Richard

grennels

Shoot the health care insurance industry for the
mad dog it is.

Vote Kucinich. Screw the
Democratic Party. They have sold out.

Yes,Kucinich is a
Democrat. What else could he be and retain whatever feeble hope he might have of any national audience?

The two party system is a
hoax perpetrating the fiction that American voters have any voice whatsoever in their fate.

namvetted

Richard, no need to be bitter. Your life is worthless and there is no god. How sad to be you.

grennels

By the way, Richard, go sit in the corner and diddle yourself.

Hattie

Richard. You must be a superstud! Drool...

Tom M.

>>"Human nature is not about being 'nice.' Human nature is about being selfish!"

Then why isn't the rest of the industrialized world so brutally uncivilized? It isn't "human nature" that fosters your kind of greed, Richard; it's the twisted, dehumanized brainwashing -- er, "socialization " -- we receive here in America. You acknowledge this yourself when you observe, "[Y]ou can't compare America with Europe...America is all about Individualism." Of course, the proper clinical term here would be "extreme, pathological" individualism. But whatever else you call it, it's still propaganda. And it's still bullshit.

More broadly, the essentialist claim that "it's human nature; it's inevitable" is one of the most common and devious forms of propaganda out there, insofar as such statements cleverly seek to disarm dissent before it can get off the ground.

It's obviously too late to warn you away from this noxious Kool Aid. Have fun in your "Lord of the Flies" hell world. Just don't try to force it on the rest of us. We don't want to live there.

Richard

Hey, don't shoot the messenger. We all live in the same world, and it is a brutal one. Human beings are selfish by nature. It's all about evolution. Yes, some more enlightened societies have tried to temper and control the nastier aspects of human nature, but it wasn't always so. Underneath the veneer of civilization lurks the beast, and if you are honest with yourself, you will admit that it lurks in all of us, especially males. Women, via evolution seem to have a more caring DNA chip that males do not have. I have just grown tired of the "charade" that people care. Read Dale Carnegie, the only thing people care about is themselves! We have evolved from those that were vicious and cruel and the kind ones likely didn't reproduce as often. Sharpen your teeth! To quote "The Most Dangerous Game," an excellent story for our times: there are two kinds of people in the world, the hunters and huntees. Once we can admit the dark truths about ourselves then we can start to make progress. But this pretending to care about strangers is making me nauseous. It is like an alcoholic that has to admit to his problem, people have to admit how we really are. Global systems that are predicated on a "false" view of human beings has and will continue to "fail." Capitalism, though cruel, especially in the American form, is most in tune with our nature. I am not saying it is a plesant truth, but it is the truth nonetheless. Let's all admit the truth, and stop the whining and b.s. You are all optimists and dreamers, which is amusing. I am a realist, and I live in the real America. You can whine and cry for the next twenty years, but those in power will never give it up easily. Start building your wealth, and best your fellow man. That has been the game for a million years, and it will be the game for a million more. Go read some books on Evolutionary Psychology and get a "real" education.

Richard

Tom M.

Richard,

Two more points I neglected:

1) >>"There is no communal feeling here in America."

Because people and "philosophies" like yours have largely eroded it. Divide and conquer! Great way to subjugate the masses.

However, survey after survey of Americans has revealed that a restored sense of collectivity is widely wanted and missed. We are seeing signs of such a restoration now. Solidarity, anyone?

2) Ultimately, we can *choose* our beliefs and behaviors. Our big, evolved brains enable us *not* to be selfish assholes (well, most of us)....

Tom M.

Richard,

One last comment. Your understanding of psychology and history is simplistic. Given that your key sources for the former seem to be Dale Carnegie (!) and the unempirical speculations of evolutionary psychologists (who, incidentally, have theorized a prominent role for empathy and community in human survival), that's not so surprising.

You also seem to assume the rest of us share your emotional deficits. We don't. For the sake of those around you, you may want to Google the term "sociopath" and get some help.

jacqui, Australia

Richard,

While I, unfortunately, cannot disagree with you arguments, you and everyone of your ilk, every last greedy, grasping, self-centered one of you, are the reasons why many people on this planet will be dead in our lifetime. You take, believe it is your right to take, whatever you want regardless of the consequences. You continue to take even when the consequences of your actions are obvious. It is my sincere wish that you, and everyone like you, are among the first to die from the consequences of human greed and selfishness. Of course, that will not happen. The poorest, the least deserving of it, will be the first to suffer the consequences.

You are truly a worthless, miserable example of a human being.

That an estimated 18,000 Americans die every year because they can’t afford or can’t qualify for health insurance should be a national scandal - especially in a first world country that considers itself an example of democracy and freedom to the rest of the world. That, of course, is arguable anyway other issues considered.

What a shining example the USA, and Americans like you, have become to us in the rest of the world of what NOT to become…


Richard

Jacqui,

Oh yes, the Australians, what a noble lot. Wasn't Australia one big prison? Didn't the male prisoners constantly rape the female prisoners, and this evolved into our friendly Australia, which we all know and love. How is your experiment in multiculturalism going?

I am not a "sociopath" because I care about my family and don't care about strangers. "Blut ist dicker als Wasser!" I have never broken a law or commited a crime in my life (excluding traffic tickets). What I do is legal and respected.

Tom,

Maybe if you went out and looked for work instead of blogging, you might accrue a little wealth of your own. I don't need to work. I can philosophize now. I have already won "the game." For the record, I started out as a nice young man, sensitive, kind, until I found out that "nice guys finish last." I decided to get rid of that side of myself and let another harder, aggresive part come out. Presto, women suddenly found me attractive, men respected me, etc.

There is no saving the environment. Human beings will use and use till it is all gone. This is happening, and will continue to happen. I am facing reality. The only way Americans will give up gas consumption is to take away their cars by gunpoint. Give me a break! Everyone wants to get their own. Wake up people.

Think back to when you were a kid on the playground. You were a nice, sensitive guy and got beat up or picked on until you made a bloody example of the bully. I taught my son boxing, and I told him the first kid who gives you crap, I want you to make a bloody example of him, and I will deal with the school.

Next time you speak to someone, look to see if they are really listening to you, or are they just thinking of the next thing to say. No one cares about you! My philosophy clearly explains human behavior in society and in historical context. Your theory of human beings is naive, dangerous (to your own well being), and a pipe dream. Wake up, take the "red" pill. Read the following books and try to understand them:
Heart of Darkness
Lord of the Flies
Candide
Gullivers Travels

What are these great minds trying to tell you? Are they telling you that people are "caring" and "sharing", or are they telling you that "man is a beast to man." Maybe Tom is a new evolved, sensitive kind of human. You have adapted to our times of peace and prosperity.

Richard (Gute Nacht!)

Tom M.

Richard,

I have a job. (I need two of them, in fact, thanks to the economic depredations of your rape-and-pillage brethren. And there are a lot of people like me -- more of them every day. Given the historical failure of highly unequal societies, I'd say it's *your* P.O.V. that's dangerous, for all of us.)

The works you cite -- yes, I have read them -- describe only one aspect of human nature. They are *cautionary tales,* Richard. You're not supposed to use them as a model for living. (A hint for the irony impaired.)

chris

Ahhh, the cry is loud and long for Government Healthcare.

The supporters repeat the same silliness every time they talk about Government Healthcare.

They claim it will be less expensive because the Government will handle everything -- cutting out that greedy middleman.

Here's a few interesting facts.

Medicare expenses reached $260 billion for the last reported year.

Roughly 44 million citizens received Medicare benefits.

In addition, MedicAID expenses hit roughly $305 billion in the last reported year. About 58 million people -- 20% of the population -- received Medicaid benefits in the last reported year.

Adding the expenses of the two programs together equals $565 Billion.

The total enrollment in the two programs was 102 million.

Thus, the bill for providing some level of medical coverage to one-third of the population was $565 Billion.

To provide that same level -- insufficient -- of healthcare to the entire population, we would spend $1.7 TRILLION.

You can be sure the Medicaid coverage does not match the level of quality expected by people dreaming of 100% Government Healtcare.

You can be sure that Medicare is not good enough to satisfy the proponents of Government Healthcare.

Therefore, $1.7 TRILLION per year won't cover the bills.

In addition to the outright operating expenses that would easily top $2 TRILLION annually, there is the lawsuit issue.

Medicaid doctors are sued with great success. Thus awards from lawsuits will boost the total expense of Government Healthcare to unimagined levels.

Tom M.

Richard never really addressed the fundamental flaw of his argument -- denying the possibility of a more decent society, he omits the reality that more decent societies *exist*. The real question is: can Americans overcome their ingrained hyperindividualism, and their I-too-will-be-rich magical thinking, to create one? Are we *really* greedier than Europeans?

JD

"Survival of the fittest!"
Man, that's pretty pathetic and sad...
Yes, why even bother to become more civilised...?
We should just exterminate the poors, right?
Then, people with a low IQ are too much of a burden, let's get rid of them!
How much is your IQ richard? Maybe you are not intelligent enough to stay among us... Maybe you should leave us alone and go live your selfish life alone somewhere else...

barbsright

Jacqui, are Redback (i think that is their name) spiders as poisonous as I have read. I would not mind moving to 'Oz' except for all the poisonous creatures. Richard, I agree with you about human nature. I was part of a school reform group and met at least one very selfish man whose motivations changed how I viewed the average American. The truth is that most people do not realize 'it is better to be lucky rather then smart.' Most successful people want to believe their hard work made them successful, so they can ignore their less successful human beings. As Woody Allen supposedly said: "80% of success is just showing up!" Truth is a single payer plan is what Medicare is so we could just expand Medicare to cover everyone, and just have the insurance companies process claims. It would be more efficient. But the real problem is that a lot of medical treatments turn out to be poor long term investments. I have met three people who were treated for cancer , one a physician, they, I am sad to say, all died. This is what is bankrupting our country.

roger

would you listen you yourselves. you cite woody allen and dale carngie to illuminate the true nature of the human soul. try reading primo levi or solzhenitsyn or eugenia ginzburg and get back with me when you have something valid to share. it is no wonder that we need an educated, sophisticated ruling class to shape the quality of our societal relations and introduce a degree of perspective.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E01E4DE1F38F931A25754C0A967948260

Thomas Brown

My, my, Richard. Quite the feisty one, aren't we? I'm sure you will be delicious... I've already ordered some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

chris

Barbara writes:

"An estimated 18,000 Americans die every year because they can’t afford or can’t qualify for health insurance. That’s the 9/11 carnage multiplied by three-- every year."

First, let's note that roughly 3,000 people died on 9/11. In addition, Barb claims 18,000 people died for some absurd reason relating to healthcare coverage. But she claims 18,000 divided by 3,000 equal 3. Proving once again that yet another woman can't perform simple mathematics -- and neither can the proofreader.

Next, were there any deaths on 9/11 resulting from lack of healthcare coverage? Or did 3,000 people die in a catastrophic attack?

Thus, why link healthcare coverage with an act of war? Why? Dramatic impact. In other words, cheap shot.

Second. She claims 18,000 people died "because they can’t afford or can’t qualify for health insurance."

About 20% of adult Americans smoke cigarettes. Smoking is more common among the less affluent. The smarter people have read the warning labels and accepted the advice of the Surgeon General: Smoking causes cancer, emphysema and heart disease.

How many of the 18,000 are smokers? Plenty. Anyone who smokes has found enough money to support cigarette purchases. At today's prices, anyone who smokes a pack a day can afford some healthcare coverage.

Meanwhile, about 45,000 people die in motor vehicle accidents EVERY YEAR. Alcohol is involved in about 17,000 of those fatalities. Driver error is a huge contributor to roadway fatalities.

Should we ban cars? Or prevent some people from driving?

Okay, that's not equivalent to the question of who among us should receive total healthcare coverage. But the question of self-destruction surfaces.

Many life insurance policies are voided if the insured commits suicide. Of those policies that will compensate the survivors, all include a minimum two-year moratorium on pay-outs for suicides.

Property & Casualty insurance companies do not compensate for losses due to floods. That job goes to the federal government. And, as we have seen in the aftermath of Katrina, the federal government is unable to respond to catastrophes of Katrina's magnitude.

Let's see. Where else has the federal government shown its inability to serve the entire US population?

The Post Office. The phrase "Going Postal" does not suggest speedy delivery of mail.

Is there any aspect of US Post Office Service that is better than the alternatives -- when there are alternatives? No. FedEx, DHL, UPS, Airborne Express all kicked the ass of the Post Office.

The only advantage of the Post Office is its willingness and ability to deliver mail to people living miles from the nearest town.

How about Social Security? The SSA handles the routine delivery of SS old-age checks reasonably well. But try your luck obtaining SS disability payments. Try applying and receiving benefits from other programs.

Does any recipient praise the generosity of the SS system? Is anyone satisfied with the amount of his/her check? No.

How about schools? Well, schools are not managed and run by the federal government. No. They are basically under the control of states and municipalities.

How are they doing? The answer depends on the location of the school and the students who attend. Funding is not the variable that determines the outcome for students.

In general, suburban schools are far, far better than their urban counterparts. Meanwhile, the per-capita expenditures at suburban schools is less than outlays at urban schools.

This situation is a little like comparing the health and well being of people who smoke with those who don't.

We do have a few federal universities, otherwise known at West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy. As educational institutions go, they are successful because they are selective about whom they admit.

The question boils down to whether taxpayers should foot the healthcare bill for people who willingly and knowingly put their health at extreme risk by smoking, drinking, drug use and engaging in dangerous sex.

Do people who cannot "afford" healthcare have a right to create enormous healthcare burdens through their health-damaging activities AND expect others to pay the price of their misbehavior?

Additionally, in the vast and heavenly world envisioned by those who believe Government Healthcare is the answer -- where will we draw the line for treatments and services?

Fran Taylor

I love these folks who argue against single-payer universal health care. It's so easy to make them look really stupid. Let's take our chris here. Replace the word 'healthcare' with the word 'police' in his rant and you see how ridiculous this is. I suppose we need to get rid of those commie pinko cops and firemen next. How dare they provide equitable service to all, regardless of income! How Unamerican! I'm not saying there is anything wrong with Capitalism, but you sure can't solve your problems by wrapping a free market around them.

chris

On another note -- education:

There are plenty of less expensive colleges and universities to attend -- if cost is a major concern.

Try Delaware State University. Tuition is $6,000 a year. A dorm room is $5,600 for the year. And the meal plan costs $3,000 for the year.

Thus, the total is less than $15,000 a year. That's if you pay full retail, which no one does.

It's probably worth observing that Delaware State is a black school.

What forces and conditions lead to the existence of a black university in the US today? Seems a bit racist to me.

Dawn

Dennis Kucinich has been saying the right things for a very long time. Yet, he's a bit scary in his zealous ways. It is a shame we can't separate the message from the messenger and figure out how to make major changes. Instead we continue to be apathetic and hide our heads in the sands of materialism. I keep seeing that lab experiment where frogs sit in a beaker of comfortable water atop a bunsen burner flame that slowly cooks him....we Americans are such frogs!

It looks like the true heroes of our country are the activists, the few lone voices who speak out and offer alternatives to injustices and put their bodies between us and those who want to grab all of our rights. And yes, I'm idealist enough to think that good health is one of those inalienable rights along with free education and rights to privacy and free speech and equality. Not to mention clean air and water and....

Right now I also think affordable housing should be an inalienable right! But that's another story....

Dawn

anonymous

Inequity rules!

True story. My friend and I both went to college. We are both from broke families. I went to MIT and she went to U. Mass. Amherst. We compared our benefits and expenses, and I ended up paying a lot less to go to MIT than she did to go to U.Mass. Yes, we were both in college at the same time. Go figure.

chris

Fran Taylor, you wrote:

"I love these folks who argue against single-payer universal health care. It's so easy to make them look really stupid."

And Franny takes her best shot:

"Let's take our chris here. Replace the word 'healthcare' with the word 'police' in his rant and you see how ridiculous this is."

Let's examine this bizarre claim. I think most police departments -- which are state, city and local, not federal -- do a reasonable job. Many disagree. Is every criminal caught? No. Are there unsolved major crimes? Yes. Does police brutality occur? Yes.

If the level of healthcare offered to every American by Government Healthcare equaled the crime-fighting success of the police, would our healthcare needs be met fully? Not a chance.

She reels:

"I suppose we need to get rid of those commie pinko cops and firemen next."

In this country we have private police and fire departments. They meet specific needs not addressed by municipal police and fire organizations.

Those guys with guns who transport money to and from banks in armored cars are not members of the local police force. But they are licensed to shoot robbers.

Meanwhile, many towns don't employ firemen. Many towns rely on volunteers, many of whom are known to hang around the bar next to the firehouse while waiting for emergency calls. They are great guys, however, and perform a heroic service. But they are private citizens serving the public for free.

Franny goes into the deep end of the pool:

"How dare they provide equitable service to all, regardless of income!"

The performance of this equitable service is distributed inversely according to neighborhood income. Less money, more crime and cops. Less money, more fires and firemen.

The delivery of police and fire services moves in tandem with healthcare needs, which rise as income falls.

She struggles:

"I'm not saying there is anything wrong with Capitalism, but you sure can't solve your problems by wrapping a free market around them."

Really? Do you even one example of a communist nation that offers the quality of life you seek?


roger

why do we want the govt to provide universal health care. the govt already provides affordable housing and we see what happens in public housing projects:

http://youaintready-musingsandrantings.blogspot.com/2007/09/dunbar-village.html

dont tell me this is an isolated incident.

i might remind you that the expense for fraud alone for the katrina recovery effort was in excess of 4 billion dollars. wait until all americans are required to have purchased health insurance as a prerequisite to gaining employment which is part of the health care proposal from senator clinton who is seeking the democratic nomination. i would argue against the single payor system because the govt cannot deliver the care.

thomasgwilliams

a universal single payer health system does not do away with PRIVATE health care it does get rid of donations to maintain the repugnant party it does get rid of denial of care and it extends life protections without regard to wealth and political affiliation, cause when those who get health care for life at taxpayers expense support a system that denies the same to everyone else then you have to wonder why ???? and then hold your nose on the GOLF course as a health insurance company executive rides by at 10 am on his or her way to the 4 hour paid lunch before the 2pm-2:01pm blanket denial meeting of all claims then its time for the company two 1hour 59min afternoon break, then you know something is rotten in denmark and america.

chris

Dawn writes:

"And yes, I'm idealist enough to think that good health is one of those inalienable rights..."

People who don't smoke, don't drink and don't consume illicit drugs have fewer health problems than those who do. People who eat a healthy diet and get some regular exercise are healthier than those who eat junk and live sedentary lives.

Good health is a product of a little knowledge and a healthy lifestyle. Obviously healthful living does not prevent or cure all medical maladies. But if the entire population were living right -- which is within every person's power -- health statistics would jump far into the good zone.

You fantasized:

"...along with free education..."

Let me know when all those teachers who staff the classrooms offer to work for free, with no healthcare benefits and no pension benefits. The same for those janitors, lunchroom workers, principals and other administrators.

Let me know when you find a builder to construct those school buildings for free, and let me know when you find a source of free energy to heat and cool them. Are there any textbook makers willing to supply all students in the US with books for free?

You rolled on:

"...and rights to privacy...

Oh. And you believe that it's possible to maintain personal privacy even though you want Government Healthcare. A nationwide healthcare plan requires a database including EVERY person in the country. You are out of your mind if you think the government can protect a database like that.

You freely spoke:

"...and free speech..."

You have free speech. Do you even know what the expression means?

You gabbled:

"...and equality."

Human beings are not equal. Smarter, dumber; Stronger, weaker; Taller, shorter.

What you really mean is that you want the capable people to support the less capable people. It's a one-way street, though you won't admit it.

You went off the deep end:

"Not to mention clean air and water and..."

If all the developing nations of the world enjoyed air and water as clean as ours, we'd have minor pollution problems on this planet.

And in a final flash of communistic dreaming and wishing:

"Right now I also think affordable housing should be an inalienable right..."

A right? We tried it. It was called Public Housing. For the most part, it was a total disaster.

If you want more abudand housing, the solution is simple: remove the ridiculous impediments to building. Builders build. That's what they do. Meanwhile, housing is expensive because construction is mired in regulations.

However, if you are looking for a cheap house, check Iowa and all the states around it. There are plenty of spacious homes in that region that are prices well below $100,000. You can find excellent homes for $25,000. What are you waiting for?

roger

no it doesnt eliminate private insurance. in its present form it would require you to purchase either private insurance or govt coverage.

http://ezraklein.typepad.com/blog/2007/09/the-hillary-pla.html

chris

thomasgwilliams, you blathered:

"a universal single payer health system does not do away with PRIVATE health care it does get rid of donations to maintain the repugnant party..."

You are hallucinating.

Further hallucinating:

"...it does get rid of denial of care and it extends life protections without regard to wealth and political affiliation..."

There is NO government program in the history of government that has met the needs of everyone. Every bureaucracy falls short of serving its entire market. Healthcare, because it is more complex than any other need, falls shorter when administered on a large scale.

As always, the best practitioners will enter private practice. Government Healthcare will not match the pay of Private Enterprise. Thus, Government Healthcare, as Medicaid proves, will never match private care.

Your hallucination extended:

"...cause when those who get health care for life at taxpayers expense support a system that denies the same to everyone else then you have to wonder why ????"

Wonder "why" what? Now you are hallucinating and rambling.

And more hallucinating:

"...and then hold your nose on the GOLF course as a health insurance company executive rides by at 10 am on his or her way to the 4 hour paid lunch before the 2pm-2:01pm blanket denial meeting of all claims then its time for the company two 1hour 59min afternoon break, then you know something is rotten in denmark and america."

Who are these executives playing golf on weekday afternoons? You have been duped by urban mythmakers. And how would you know what is discussed among the members of a foursome?

Lots of people play weekday golf. When it's business, it's the salesguys who tee it up.

Fran

chris attempts to save face here.

chris apparently thinks they can tell what sex a person is via telekinesis or something.

Let me reiterate that I have no problem with capitalism.

There are no communist nations. They don't exist. What most people call communism is really just violent repression. China is in fact a much more capitalistic country than we are. If you don't believe me, ask the companies that are all moving there. Why would capitalist companies move to a communist nation? Put away your straw man.

Are you saying that you pay for your cops and firemen? Did you pay your police bill last year? Oh, no, they take it out of your taxes. Even if the firemen are volunteers, the equipment, fuel, etc. are not volunteeered, you paid for it. You don't get to choose to not have police protection. What a communist country this is!

All those rapists and murderers that the police dealt with last year, and that idiot who burned down his house with a candle, and it's all coming out of your tax bill!!! This communist police and fire state is costing you real money!!! Isn't it outrageous! People who get robbed more often should be denied police coverage, because it's really costing us.

My point is that as a society, we create mechanisms to solve our problems. Some of them involve communist ideals, like the fire and police departments, and some involve capitalistic ideals, like the grocery store and the car dealer. Some things fit better into one system than the other. We don't buy police protection, and we don't all get cars for free.

Talk about bureaucracy! How big are the insurance companies? Apparently too big to get rid of. And what do they do? They take our money and turn it around to the health care providers. What is the value added? What do they contribute? How much do they skim off in the process? Billions and billions! And what do we get in return? Arbitrary decisions about life and death. If you don't think the govenment could do a better job, why don't you...

Ask George W. Bush and the members of Congress about THEIR health insurance. Single-payer, government-run, govenment-paid. Why can't the rest of us have that, too? The government already manages health care for a lot of people, and it already does it more efficiently than our greed-mongering insurance companies. If you don't agree with that, then you should call the president and tell him to stop freeloading and go out and get his own health insurance.

roger

"There are no communist nations."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_state

that would be news to solzenitzen.

normanx

One very big problem is that HUGE pension funds (like CALPERS) are invested in these insurance businesses. Until they divest, there will be no reason for the insurance business to change. I think we need the approach that was taken with South Africa and divest of businesses that are associated with the health apartheid against the citizens of the United States.

Fran

Indeed, there is no more Soviet Union. Thanks for proving my point. Communism doesn't work. Neither does Capitalism, by itself.

My point is, which social institutions should be based on the capitalist model, and which should be based on the socialist model. Clearly we Americans have decided on the socialist model for our police, fire, and many other public services. We have decided on the capitalist model for distributing food amd other material goods.

Up until this point we have used the capitalist model for health care. The rest of the world has been wrestling with this problem, too, and they seem to have much better results with the communist model. These other countries already have our Coca Cola and our Television, they could have our insurance, too, if they wanted it, but they don't.

Economists tell us that capitalism works best where there is a free market. Health care is not a free market. It operates under the Hippocratic Oath, which really messes up the free market, to the point where no tinkering can make it right. If you have to tinker with a market to make it free, it isn't free.

When you have a system that won't conform to a free market, what do you do? You manage it in a socialist manner by having the government run it. Just like all the other social services we have today.

Fran

Mr. Solzhenitsyn used to live in Vermont, but now that there is no more Soviet Union, he has moved back home. It is indeed great news to him!

Fran

I know I've said a lot, but I'd like to add that normanx's idea is a very good one.

Larry In Lethbridge

I think one reason why Osama Bin Laden hates the USA and despises America is that he thinks many are made in the same mold as our Chris. Loud, opinionated, narrowminded, quick to maliciously criticize people with differing opinions etc..

I mean here we are a blog designed to evoke discussion and this little runt jumps in like a juvenile in need of attention and carries on like a complete idiot. Unable to secure a position in politics due to these inadequacies , he uses this forum to fulfil his political aspirations.

Chris, you are giving your fellow Americans a bad rap buddy. No need to be a BMOC here, as your grandstanding seems to only be benefiting you. Your behaviour is giving Bin Laden more ammunition everyday.

chris

fran wrote:

"chris apparently thinks they can tell what sex a person is via telekinesis or something."

Fran, it wasn't your name that led me to think you were female. It was the nature of your whining.

In your best The-Earth-is-Flat tones, you said:

"There are no communist nations."

Yeah. Sure. Okey dokey.

Like those people who claim we never landed on the Moon, you said:

"They don't exist."

And:

"What most people call communism is really just violent repression."

So if you take away the violent repression, does the state still own the means of production in Cuba, North Korea and a few others places, soon to include Venezuela? Or not?

Here's a whopper for the Dumb Statements by Economist's Hall of Fame:

"China is in fact a much more capitalistic country than we are."

While I agree the Chinese economy is evolving from communism to capitalism, the government is in charge and there are literally billions of problems unsolved by the all-embracing Central Planners.

Next the Amazing Fran attempts to perform magic never before seen on Earth when he says:

"If you don't believe me, ask the companies that are all moving there."

Name ONE company that has "moved to China." One.

If you think building a manufacturing facility in China means "the company has moved to China" you are out of your mind. You obviously don't know a thing about the financing arrangements of factory deals in China or the guarantees the Chinese government gives large multinational companies willing to manufacture goods in China.

Anyway, GM is still headquartered in Detroit. If the idiots in the UAW want to keep their jobs, they will recognize they are competing with the Chinese government, not GM management. The amount of labor moved to other countries is in the hands of the union workers. No one else.

And going further into your delusional world:

"Why would capitalist companies move to a communist nation?"

Answer. They don't. Some US companies have established operations in China -- because China has finally offered the security needed before capitalists are willing to invest.

Are there any US companies with operations in Cuba or North Korea? How about South Korea, Europe, South America, former Soviet republics, former Eastern European states?

What about US operations in Africa? Any there?

And now into your fantasy land of municipal financing:

"Are you saying that you pay for your cops and firemen?"

Absolutely. Via state and city taxes. And the bill is increasing because its contract time for the cops.

You rattled:

"Did you pay your police
bill last year?"

Yes.

Did those who were caught and convicted of committing violent crimes repay their victims and cover the medical bills of the people they injured? Did they compensate the families of people they murdered?

Has OJ Simpson paid the judgment against him for murdering his ex-wife and Ron Goldman? No.

That's getting away from the point, which is this: government services, with the possible exception of fire departments, ALWAYS fall short of meeting their goals.

You wrongly stated:

"Even if the firemen are volunteers, the equipment, fuel, etc. are not volunteeered, you paid for it."

Many volunteer fire departments depend on donations. I am not sure of the amount of federal, state, and city funds that are awarded to volunteer fire departments, but local residents are well aware of the value of donations to the firehouse. These days, with money flowing to municipalities under the banner of Homeland Security, the local volunteer firehouse is likely to receive a slice.

You blathered again:

"You don't get to choose to not have police protection."

Really? Go visit rural Montana and other sparsely populated regions and tell me how often you see a cop car on patrol.

You then illogically connected dots:

"What a communist country this is!"

You are one of those nitwits who doesn't know the difference between "compare" and "contrast".

Public safety is a concept common to both capitalists and communists. However, given the dilapidation and ricketiness of most structures in communist nations, the lack of restraints against smoking and the absence of sound building codes, you can be sure the destruction due to fires is far greater in communist countries than capitalist counterparts.

In bug-eyed amazement you say:

"All those rapists and murderers that the police dealt with last year, and that idiot who burned down his house with a candle, and it's all coming out of your tax bill!!!"

The local, city, state and federal police forces of the US solve many crimes. However, a huge percentage of crimes are never solved. Murders, rapes, arson, fraud, extortion, drug-dealing and on and on and on and on. Never solved.

However, it appears the success-rate of today's police is high enough to satisfy your expectations for a Government Healthcare plan.

You ranted:

"This communist police and fire state is costing you real money!!!"

Without fire protection, homeowners could net get fire insurance. Without fire insurance, banks would charge much higher rates for mortgage loans and expect much higher downpayments. Otherwise the bank would take the hit if a fire burned down the house.

Insurance companies to not offer flood insurance. But the federal government does. And it limits the maximum payout to $250,000.

Meanwhile, most residents of the flooded New Orleans areas did not have federal flood insurance. Should people who willingly live below sea-level in a flood zone receive free money from tax-payers for their obliviousness to the painfully obvious risks?

Crazily, you zip into orbit:

"People who get robbed more often should be denied police coverage, because it's really costing us."

Who said that? I said that it is a simple fact that poorer neighborhoods are the sites of far more crime than more prosperous neighborhoods.

You claim to have a point, but don't, when you state:

"My point is that as a society, we create mechanisms to solve our problems."

Solve our problems? Very few problems are "solved" except in math class. But we tackle them. Fire departments to not "solve" the fire problem. Fire departments simply limit the damage.

Meanwhile, strict building codes and strict fire safety codes PREVENT fires and minimize their danger.

You whizzed around:

"Some of them involve communist ideals, like the fire and police departments"

You really know nothing about communism and capitalism. You've got to look at the role of government in each setting. The differences are many.

You spun on a little more:

"...and some involve capitalistic ideals, like the grocery store and the car dealer."

As yet the US government has not gotten into the grocery business or the car dealership business. However, the government does operate programs that supply free food to anyone who needs it.

You got fictional when saying:

"Some things fit better into one system than the other. We don't buy police protection, and we don't all get cars for free."

We absolutely pay for cops and cars, and cop-cars.


More lunacy:

"Talk about bureaucracy! How big are the insurance companies?"

All sizes. What of it?

More madness:

"Apparently too big to get rid of."

Insurance companies take every possible step to improve their efficiency. Here again, it's clear you know nothing about how insurance works and why you need it.

You wondered:

"And what do they do?"

They protect you from loss and make it possible for people to obtain goods with borrowed money.

You raved:

"They take our money and turn it around to the health care providers."

Yes, doctors and other healthcare providers are paid from insurance proceeds. That's part of the plan.

YOu wondered:

"What is the value added?"

Well, try living with no insurance and see how things go when calamity strikes.

You wondered:

"What do they contribute?"

I gather you are relatively penniless.

You wondered:

"How much do they skim off in the process? Billions and billions!"

Skim off? The financial statements of many many insurance companies are freely available. Of course they won't mean anything to you because obviously you lack the knowledge to read an income statement, balance sheet or cash flow statement. But that's your problem.

You wondered:

"And what do we get in return?"

Pay-outs according to the terms of your policy.

You claimed:

"Arbitrary decisions about life and death. If you don't think the govenment could do a better job, why don't you..."

The government do a better job? Who is the government? We have Medicaid to serve the poor. It's a fact that some of the worst doctors in the country serve the Medicaid patients.

Do you have any real experience with government agencies? Or are you just floating along in your communist euphoria?

You said:

"Ask George W. Bush and the members of Congress about THEIR health insurance. Single-payer, government-run, govenment-paid. Why can't the rest of us have that, too?"

I have no idea of the quality of the healthcare plan enjoyed by Congress. But I did notice that a few members of Congress recently died of diseases recently. Meanwhile, the president of the US will get the best care available because his health is more important to the nation than yours or mine.

YOu muddled along:

"The government already manages health care for a lot of people, and it already does it more efficiently than our greed-mongering insurance companies."

Is it news to you that Medicare and Medicaid exist and that people have many many complaints about the extent and quality of their benefits?

About 100 million Americans are covered by the combination of Medicare and Medicaid. The total bill for covering one-third of the US population is $565 BILLION. Therefore, to cover the entire population would cost 3 times that amount, or about $1.7 TRILLION. But those programs would never approach the quality of care given to the president or Congress simply because there are not enough top-notch doctors and top-notch facilities to match the care received by our top dogs.

You finally ended with:

"If you don't agree with that, then you should call the president and tell him to stop freeloading and go out and get his own health insurance."

All former presidents get free healthcare for life.

However, if you want to know how much it would cost the nation to provide everyone with the level of healthcare given to the president, it should be easy to calculate the number.

After you get the figure for his healthcare, multiply it by 300 million (the US population) to determine the cost for the entire country. The number will go well into the TRILLIONS of Dollars. I don't think the nation can afford it.


chris

Fran, you wrote:

"These other countries already have our Coca Cola and our Television, they could have our insurance, too, if they wanted it, but they don't."

Fran, you really don't know anything. In fact, US insurance companies are global operations. AFLAC, with its quacking ducks, is huge in Japan.

buena

Barbara, your blog piece is brilliant. I'll forward it widely.

Fran

Here I go again...

To stretch an analogy, think of our society as a living being. Money is its blood. It moves the value from one place to another. When there is a problem with the flow, the money starts to pool in one spot. In living beings, this is a REALLY BAD sign, when the blood starts to pool. The last time this country had so much pooled-up money (in the hands of the rich) was just before the Great Depression, and I think it's fair to say that the patient lost some blood in that incident.

Right now in the health care business we have a constriction of the flow because our health care professionals are sworn to protect their patients, not to worship the dollar. So the money pools upstream, in the insurance companies.

If we get rid of the insurance companies, alas, we will not be able to hire them all as claims processors in the new system, because it will be so much more efficient (no arguing about payments).

roger

your analogy fails entirely.

Fran

chris,

put away your bad attitude and hair splitting nonsense.

Yes, I look at how much money the insurance companies make, and how much they pay their leaders. I think they are very good business people, they make a lot of money and they pay themselves handsomely. Your profits are my skimming. It just depends on whether you're on the giving or the receiving end.

Personally I would not invest my money in an insurance company unless they were the stingiest, most arrogant bastards around. Anything less would be a waste of my money and a breach of their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders.

I work in the health care IT field, I know where the money is going, my software moves it around.

How can you calculate how much it would cost to insure everyone based on how much it cost us to treat Nixon's phebitis? Come on, mr. capitalist, pull out your spreadsheet. Insurance actuarials are some of the most gifted mathematicians, don't pretend that their work is child's play.

Now suppose we actually did have single payer health care. How would that be different than what we have? You would go to the doctor, just as you do now.

If you say that the waiting lists are longer in other countries, go ahead and try to get an appointment with an allergist in Boston. You'll be sneezing for months before you see the doctor.

Okay, so after you see the doctor, you won't get a bill. The bill will be sent to the government, where some underpaid slob will open it and punch it into the computer. Except instead of pressing the 'deny' button, they press the 'pay' button, the government cuts a check for the doctor, and that's the end of it.

Up to this point with insurance, it's the same thing, but we're just getting started. They send you a rejection letter or pay for only part of it, you protest, you get your doctor involved with all the paperwork, your heath suffers, etc. Of course the insurance company loves the flurry of paperwork because it's more clerical work which means more overhead which means more profits. The insurance companies love car accidents because there are multiple insurance companies involved and they can spend months arguing about who pays for what, and guess who pays the bill for all their shuffling? You do.

And all of those poor people you sneer at who can't pay their medical bills, who pays for it? You already do! When the hospital can't collect a bill, it just raises everyone else's bill. I don't know about you, but I would rather pay for people to get an appointment and go to the doctor ahead of time instead of 'going to the emergency room', as our president so charitably suggested they do.

Fran

roger, you startle me with the width and breadth of your intellect. What don't you share some of it with us instead of just sniping?

chris

fran, you wrote:

"I work in the health care IT field, I know where the money is going, my software moves it around."

That's another way of saying you have no idea what all those numbers on the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements mean.

You wrote:

"Insurance actuarials are some of the most gifted mathematicians, don't pretend that their work is child's play."

Actuarial science is the statistics side of math. Big deal. Actuaries are intelligent people who studied a rather dry subject. I am not overwhelmed. Actuarial studies are no more difficult, actually, less difficult than engineering, which I studied as an undergrad.

That aside, you seem to suggest that mortality and disease would lessen if the federal government controlled healthcare.

The sillier part of your argument is the part that depends on your complete and willful ignorance of every bureaucracy that overweights every government agency.

An even sillier aspect of your paean to Government Healthcare is you willful ignorance of our national experience with Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare is pretty good. But miles from meeting every demand from every beneficiary.

Medicaid is, by any and every account, lacking. Moreover, Medicaid doctors lose medical malpractice lawsuits as fast as they're filed.

Medicaid costs over $300 Billion a year to serve about 60 million people, or 20% of the population.

The doctors lose the suits because they commit medical errors. And juries just love giving money to people in medical malpractice suits, especially when a big bad insurnace company has to fork over the dough, or the GOVERNMENT has to pay.

If we expand Medicaid to cover 100% of the population, what will medical malpractice lawsuits add to the cost of service?

Then, what will it take to improve the inferior Medicaid service to the levels you dreamers have in mind?

Do you understand that every government -- town, city, state, federal -- creates paper-shuffling positions to keep people employed?

Those government jobs may offer paychecks that are somewhat less than non-government jobs, but they generally include vastly more comprehensive healthcare benefits. Thus, your goofy suggestion of efficiency goes out the window when the expenditures for so many unneeded employees are totaled.

Anyway, you've made many claims here about many matters. But you have provided ZERO support for any of them. I know facts are inconvenient, but it's the absolute absence of fact that keeps your fantasies from advancing beyond the dream stage.

As long as we can sue the pants off doctors, we will never have Government Healthcare in the US.

Take notice that in the countries offering what you think you want, you cannot sue if the doctor leaves a sponge in your belly after removing your appendix.

Lawyers like John Edwards would never go for a society in which doctors were untouchable.

Meanwhile, as for waiting times, they vary. If you need immediate care, you will get it. If not, you may wait. So what?


Fran

I think there is some sort of conception out there that people who want a single-payer health system are communists in every sense of the word.

Get it straight: I don't want free groceries, free insurance, free Brittany Spears music, or any of that. I think that everyone who is able should be making some sort of a contribution, either working at a job or at making a family. I'm a happy consumer and I have no problem taking part in our capitalist society. It's just that the health care situation is a total mess and more of the same is not going to make it any better.

My employer pays much of my and my wife's health insurance, but not all, and I pay the rest. The total is shocking, it's as much as the all the taxes combined (nb I live in New Hampshire). My wife and I have both had significant health issues costing many thousands, but the total cost to the insurance company has not come close to the amount I have paid in premiums. You can't tell me that a single payer health system will be as big as the rest of government combined.

True story: the hospital screwed up and billed us for something that they should have billed the insurance company for. We got the bill in the mail. We made a mighty stink and the hospital 'fessed up and billed the insurance company. The insurance company paid 75% of the bill and the hospital called it even. We have the paperwork to prove it. Next time you get a bill, offer to pay 75% of it and see how you get treated. Don't even start to tell me that the insurance companies play fair.

The true capitalist does the thing that costs the least and has the highest rate of return. Our current system sucks at this, unless you're an insurance company.

Yes, I live in New Hampshire and I'm a Live Free Or Die kind of guy. I shook Meldrim Thompson's hand once. Insurance companies, stop taking my hard-earned money away from me.

Fran

Chris,

You gotta get me some of you're taking. The visual effects must be very interesting, you're seeing things that aren't there.

Larry in Lethbridge

Do you all sense Chris is near a meltdown ? I see telltale signs. I feel he fears Osama is gonna get him. I'll bet Bin Laden can get his Internet address easily and finding him will take 3 minutes.

Fran

So I can't sue the doctor that leaves a sponge in me. You are saying that the appropriate response to a medical error is to have a lawsuit, and lavish lots of money on lawyers for a legal procedure that does nothing to alleviate the problem? Lawsuits do not undo the thing that they were brought for. In the end a lot of money changes hands but the sponge is still there.

There are other ways to get people to do a good job than to threaten them with a lawsuit if they screw up. Doctors in particular have a strict code of ethics and any doctor who did this sort of thing would not be a doctor for long in any reasonable society.

This situation is like a perverse lottery: if you are the unlucky bloke with the sponge, you just might spend the rest of your life on easy street if you win that lawsuit and collect punitive damages, or it might kill you.

Why not just patch the poor bloke up and see to it that he has a comfortable existence? You don't need a lawsuit to figure out that it's the right thing to do.

If it were a really free market I could pick a doctor based on their performance, like I pick a car dealer or a grocery store. But it's not a free market, the insurance companies control it, and they tell me what doctors I can go to. Stop pretending that this is a free market.

For all of you who say that you can't do this or you can't do that in a single-payer system, sit down and think if it makes any sense anyway. Look. We don't have a single-payer system. If we get one, we're going to make it ourselves. We don't have to slavishly copy other countries, we can learn from them, we can use our own experiences, and we can forge something that works. We've been solving problems like this as a country all along. We overcame our civil war, we beat the Nazis, we beat the Russians, we went to the moon. Last time the rich people f*cked us this bad was in the '20's and we recovered from that. We can figure out health care.

I think it's patently unpatriotic to say that we are too stupid or too lazy to do anything about this.

chris

Fran, you wrote:

"My employer pays much of my and my wife's health insurance, but not all, and I pay the rest. The total is shocking, it's as much as the all the taxes combined..."

Many people suffer from chronic problems. Thus, you should have no difficulty extrapolating the high costs you and others incur and how those costs pump up the bill you want to share with every other taxpayer.

You wrote:

"My wife and I have both had significant health issues costing many thousands, but the total cost to the insurance company has not come close to the amount I have paid in premiums."

If your statement is true, and I doubt that it is, why do you carry health insurance? By your estimates you would spend less by making direct payments to your healthcare providers.

Meanwhile, if your bills are as high as you say they are, you should qualify for the tax deduction for medical expenses, which would lower your net cost.

You declared:

"You can't tell me that a single payer health system will be as big as the rest of government combined."

I can tell you anything, but you will probably ignore the reality.

You can easily estimate the number of healthcare professionals working in the US now and add the number of employees working for healthcare insurers.

The combined figure will fall far short of the number of people who would populate healthcare if we were to enact Government Healthcare.

You show ZERO willingness to compare government bureaucracies with private competitors.

The Post Office versus FedEx or UPS.

Public School versus Private School.

Amtrak versus Commercial Bus Service.

Medical marijuana versus illegal weed.

Government housing versus private housing.

The government is a lousy operator compared with the private alternative, if it exists.

Meanwhile, your Government Healthcare system would suffer tremendous abuse from fraudsters.

We in New York City have lots of experience with Medicaid Mills and the opportunity to submit phony bills. If you think you can minimize fraud, you must know you will need lots of investigators.

Government programs are always ripped off in every direction.

Like you said, your underpaid government bureaucrat will push the "paid" button without thinking twice. After all, it won't affect his job if the bill is phony.


chris

Fran, you wrote:

"You gotta get me some of you're taking. The visual effects must be very interesting, you're seeing things that aren't there."

Wrong. What's obvious to me is beyond your comprehension.

You said US healthcare companies don't operate in other countries. You're simply wrong. They do. But, rather than admit the truth, you keep the blinders on.

Like I said, see AFLAC, one of the most visible insurers in the US. AFLAC is BIG in Japan. That's an easy one.


chris

Fran, you wrote:

"You are saying that the APPROPRIATE response to a medical error is to have a lawsuit, and lavish lots of money on lawyers for a legal procedure that does nothing to alleviate the problem?"

You described the response in terms of "appropriateness".

I did not say the realities of lawsuits are "appropriate." Some are. Some are not.

However, medical malpractice lawsuits are a reality. As far as I can tell, they are completely Constitutional, which means there is nothing lawmakers can do to end the practice.

Establishing some limits on awards is possible and has happened. But medical malpractice lawsuits will never disappear. Don't waste your effort attacking me because patients sue doctors.

chris

Fran, you wrote:

"There are other ways to get people to do a good job than to threaten them with a lawsuit if they screw up."

Oh. Well, malpractice insurance for many doctors is $100,000 a year. Check the numbers for OB/GYN docs. They get sued every day.

You naively piped up:

"Doctors in particular have a strict code of ethics and any doctor who did this sort of thing would not be a doctor for long in any reasonable society."

There are doctors who lose their medical licenses permanently. But no matter what you believe, a few mistakes won't cost a doctor his career. Even fatal mistakes.

You might recall a woman named Olivia Goldsmith. She wrote a novel titled "The First Wives Club." She made a couple of million bucks off that one. It became a movie and she got a lot of the rewards.

However, the succes of her book and the movie did not improve her looks. Therefore, she went to a plastic surgeon who promised to convert her from a pork chop into a sex goddess.

Instead, she died on the operating table.

Maybe her doctor was permanently barred from practicing his specialty. But I doubt it.

chris

Fran, you wrote:

"If it were a really free market I could pick a doctor based on their performance, like I pick a car dealer or a grocery store."

First, you can check a doctor's record and weigh his performance. However, I can't think of any comparisons between doctors and car dealers or doctors and grocery stores. Totally ridiculous.

You wrote:

"But it's not a free market, the insurance companies control it, and they tell me what doctors I can go to."

Every insurer gives a huge phone book listing all the doctors to every policy holder. You can choose any of the doctors on the huge list. Since you are in New Hampshire, perhaps you live a long way from the doctors you would prefer. But that's your decision.

You wrote:

"Stop pretending that this is a free market."

Your statement suggests that medical costs are high because our system is flawed AND that Government Healthcare would cost us less.

This is pure nonsense. Our healthcare system is ripe for improvements. But the last thing we need in this country is the ultimate incentive for illegal aliens to sneak in to give birth to children who would be citizens.

You are supporting an idea that would attract millions -- and there's nothing we can do about it. It's obvious we can't stop illegal aliens from entering. If we give them the added incentive of free healthcare, the steady stream would become a flood.

Fran

chris, you are such the realist. We should all just stop thinking and accept things for the way that they are.

I haven't heard anybody come up with a single-payer system that will work. They all have problems, as you so helpfully point out to us.

What I am saying is that we can figure out something better. We shouldn't do what I say or what Hillary says. We should make a serious attempt to sweat all the details and figure out a way to make it work. We did not solve any of our hard problems with an overnight edict. There isn't a single person who can explain all the technology behind a moon mission but we managed to do it anyway. It was a collaborative effort involving years and thousands of people. Other countries are doing working on this. We can learn from them. They can learn from us. The current clusterf*ck is costing us so much money that we have to do something different or it's going to sink us in the long term. The percentage of GDP going to health care in this country is just crazy.

I haven't even heard an objective, to set expectations and give us a goal to shoot for. We don't even have that. Is it to provide for all? For those who can pay for it? For those who can be cured? For those who want it?

I mean, if you made a 'Consumer Reports' rating page of the American health care system compared to others, it would be down there with the Yugos and the WaterWorlds.

If I were a big international company looking for a home, I'd look at the US and say, "screw them. If I set up shop there, I'd have to pay for everyone's health insurance!" and I'd go to another country where I don't have to do that. Just like companies are doing right now. Of course, that's also due to the tanking dollar, but that's another issue.

Charles  Watkins

You might note that most states have "high risk" pools which provide insurance for those the private companies will not carry. One little problem: the cost of such a policy is normally set at double the cost of the highest cost private policy and the deductibles are ten times as high.

Terry

My brother in law was in a horrific accident recently in which his friend died. He was in the hospital for four months and in a rehabilitation center for another couple of months.

My friend’s son requires a $1000 dollars a week of drugs to combat a serious illness.

The cost of all this $0.

Living with Canada’s Medicare system?

Priceless.

Richard

Hi all,

I have to admit that I was just playing "Devil's Advocate" to get the discussion going. I do think human nature is "dark", but I am solidly middle class and struggling like the rest of you. I am not rich. I do think that you need universal health care. So no one has to try to track me down (Chianti). I was just trying to put myself in the shoes of the rich, and was having a little fun. Yes, life is brutal, and people are selfish, but we must try to tame these nastier elements of human nature in order to have a more just society. In this way, Europe is much better. Good luck and keep fighting the good fight.

Gruesse aus Deutschland!

Richard von Lowenherz

Jo

Well, I haven't looked at the comments for a while now, but I see Chris is still here, soldiering away in his lonely quest to win Barbara's heart by sheer perseverance. And I see he has been joined by Richard! At first I thought Richard was a tongue-in-cheek parody of Chris, but now I'm not so sure because he keeps answering in character.

buena

But you're all missing the real point, which Barbara makes clear. Forget the health insurance. Give us health care. Why do we need the profit-consious insurance middleman?

If I didn't have to pay over $800 a month for health insurance, that money could go toward a hell of a lot of actual health care. And, god forbid, more goods and services to keep our economy strong.

Tom M.

Chris,

You bloviated:

"If we expand Medicaid to cover 100% of the population..."

Of course, no one has actually proposed this. What's been proposed is Medi*care* for everyone.

You then drooled:

"Medicare is pretty good. But miles from meeting every demand from every beneficiary."

Yes, so unlike the current system -- which, for nearly 50 million Americans (and counting), has failed utterly. This doesn't begin to count the scores who have found that their expensive insurance policies are effectively worthless. Indeed, your Pollyannaish description of the industry is a laughable whitewash. Today's health insurance companies are not in the business of providing a safety net. Rather, they are consciously designed and managed to take the largest possible sum of your money while returning, ideally, nothing. In the old days, this was called "fraud."

By the way, if you'd spent more time on research and less time thinking up sophomoric insults, you would have discovered that the reported satisfaction levels for such major government programs as Social Security and Medicare are spectacularly high. I'm sure they're the envy of such market marvels as car dealers, cell phone providers, airlines, telemarketers, computer customer service departments and, of course, our friends the insurance companies.

Tom M.

Richard,

lol. I fell for it hook, line and sinker, too. Damnation. :)

chris

Tom M., you wrote:

"What's been proposed is Medi*care* for everyone."

Hey. That will solve everyting in one shot. Particularly the question of pregnancy and childbirth and post-natal care. I know those medical issues are at the top of Medicare's priority list.

At least 50% of the population will feel well served by a system that excludes them.

chris

Tom M., you wrote:

"This doesn't begin to count the scores who have found that their expensive insurance policies are effectively worthless."

Scores? Scores? There are 300 million Americans. "Scores" are groups of 20. If you meant that there are groups of 20 whose policies were inadequate, I'd say you were touting the success of the existing system.

You should take your own advice about research and do a little.

chris

Tom M., you wrote:

"You bloviated:...

"If we expand Medicaid to cover 100% of the population..."

Of course, no one has actually proposed this."

Of course no one has proposed that we expand Medicaid to incluce the entire population. Who would expand a program where fraud runs rampant and medical services are routinely inferior?

Who would focus national attention on the real face of universal Government Healthcare plan?

Medicaid is obviously the ultimate form a national plan would assume. Thus, the reality check has been completed.

The current annual bill for the inferior coverage of Medicaid is $300 billion. The program covers 20% of all Americans. Thus, in the simplest terms, covering the entire population via this inferior program would cost $1.6 TRILLION.

Or about $5,000 per person served.

But this inferior program would undergo a vast restructuring before its coverage would satisfy constituents. Would that lead to an initial doubling of the annual bill?

Or, we can assess the Medicare model. That program is more expensive than Medicaid by every measure. Roughly $330 billion in 2005. It served around 45 million Americans.

In other words, about $7,500 per person served.

However, Medicare does not cover pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal care.

That aside, expenditures of $7,500 per American equals $7,500 times 300 million, which totals $2.25 TRILLION.

$2.25 Trillion would have been the bill for 2005.

Healthcare costs are rising far faster than the rate of inflation. No government plan can change these facts.

Furthermore, due to our citizenship laws, this plan would become the giveaway of the century to every person who ever thought of sneaking into the US. We would face a flood of illegal immigrants racing into the US to give birth to US citizens eligible for FREE LIFETIME HEALTHCARE.


gaby

My sister had a freak accident (not car accident related) in which she fell so unfortunately that she broke her arm in two places and hit her head so hard she lost consciousness. Well, there was an ambulance ride, two surgeries, x-rays, prescriptions, etc etc. Between the deductible, copays, and insurance companies refusal to pay for some of the items, she was stuck with a huge bill - despite having insurance. I wondered what on earth is the point of having insurance when you are not properly covered for anything? She would have been better off not having insurance at all and filing for bankruptcy or medical hardship.

doog

Richard, for the love of God, get an enema.

M

Hi Barbara, I agree with you. But my concern about the 2 to 3 million employees of insurance companies is that they are also voters. (Although, like the rest of the country, maybe only 30% of them will actually vote next year.) But this issue about employment for the hangers-on to the healthcare industry is genuine. American employment has been hollowed out over the last generation; so much so that many regions are reliant on the health industry to maintain middle class standards of living. My own East Coast city is a center for healthcare and its related industries. So I think this issue about displaced insurance employees is a valid concern for the transition to a humane system of healthcare in America.

But I have another fear that I think is more serious--can our current infrastructure (the number and quality of facilities and staff) handle the demand for services when the restricted population suddenly gains access to care? I think our system is not up to this challenge. As it is, there is already a national shortage of nurses and OB/GYNs. Can our universities pump out enough qualified staff in time to meet increased demand? We need an American NHS, but we need it to be successful during the transition. I think we need community involvement to promote the quality of healthcare services, but just as only a small portion of our population actually votes, I am uncertain about how regular people will support this effort for NHS. Most people will be glad to not have our jobs tied in with our healthcare, but when the reality of our dysfunctional system becomes more blazingly apparent, I think most people will only get involved at the level of disappointed consumers. And that in itself could deep-six NHS even if the plan gets through our electoral system.

Once again Barbara, thanks for your writings and your activism.

John

The New Deal made America safe for capitalism.

Courtney

I've found myself surprised that Kucinich is actually a perfect match for me, candidate-wise. I'm not quite sure what to do now, knowing that he has little to know chance of getting the nomination and yet, my heart rests with him, even with the whole vegan thing...

Tysyacha

I would GLADLY pay health insurance premiums if I could find a company that does not list "cerebral palsy" as a pre-existing condition. I've got it, and it's here to stay, so I guess I'll have to pay out of my own pocket if I want a physician's checkup, dentist appointment et al. I consider myself very lucky that I can afford to, so far, but my luck could run out someday.

My friends at work who have disabilities are covered by Medicaid. They and I all have jobs, but if we make too much money, we lose our services and supports or have them reduced.

Would it cost insurance companies that much more money to treat individuals on an individual basis instead of denying them coverage in a "blanket" sense because of conditions they already have? I'm pretty healthy, and yet I do have CP.

Insurance companies would MAKE more money off of me than they would lose paying for my medical claims.

By the way, my job pays a good salary, but it's a year-to-year deal with no benefits. I love it, though. Wouldn't quit for the world. Or Medicaid! ;)

Conservative Observer

Tysyacha,

You have cerebral palsy ? No problem. Just hop on any flight enroute to any International airport in Canada, and once on CDN soil, declare to the Customs officers you wish to claim refugee status. After this takes place, it is encumbent on you to make the authorities know the hardships you face in the US and that you would like to take advantage of Canada's generosity and be granted asylum. Usually people from more obvious nations take advantage of Canada, but we need to look after our American brethren now this crisis looms large.

Heck , if you are really persuasive, you can immediately get free housing, a monthly allowance and a slew of other benefits including furniture, clothing, food, entertainment vouchers (yes it's true).

Health care treatment is always assumed as part of one's landing package, so you need not worry about inquiring. You have full access to any health service any other taxpayer or resident has, so don't worry about discrimination.

Hope to have you aboard soon.

CanadaKat

What is the issue folks? I mean, really...

Socialized medicare - I've got it and I love it.

A few things you should know about our Canadian version of it...

-it is not free. Each individual pays for it. Twice actually. Once to the province you reside in and once to the federal government. Even the unemployed pay for it - their welfare or other benefits adjusted accordingly.

-Doctor's rarely, if ever, face lawsuits here so that's a ridiculous argument (I think Chris mentioned this a few postings back).

-Everyone gets to communicate directly with their caregiver regarding the care they need - no non-medical middleman making the decision (how ridiculous is that?)

-it has not prevented us from producing some of the best caregivers, care, and medical technology in the world.

-it in no way seems to cramp the capitalist ambitions of med tech companies, private developers etc. who do quite fine, thank you, selling to healthcare providers.

Oh, and...it serves a capitalist world (which we all must function in)quite well too - by helping to ensure that as many as possible are productive worker bees.

Okay, would someone please explain to me the outright hostility, evident in the postings from those vehemently opposing any form of providing this type of care?

I mean, I just don't get the apparent lack of caring (that's my right brain talking) or the apparent refusal to admit the benefit it provides by making sure we are all fit and able to work - the country actually spends less on unemployment, disability income plans etc. (left brain talking).

And to Chris, who a few postings back made a non sensical assertion that 'universal' health care would cost you so much more...please, please, provide your sources. Everything I have read says otherwise. I suspect you're just blowing hot air.

CanadaKat

Chris-you wrote:
"Of course no one has proposed that we expand Medicaid to incluce the entire population. Who would expand a program where fraud runs rampant and medical services are routinely inferior?"

Exactly one of the reasons why the US should revamp the entire system.

And...
"Healthcare costs are rising far faster than the rate of inflation. No government plan can change these facts."

Yeah Yeah, just like every other cost of living expense (too bad wages aren't). And, it means that what I have to pay, via taxes, into my healthcare services increases too. So what - what I (and my entire family) get in return far outweighs anything I have to pay.

Honestly, folks, it really is worth a look. There may actually be some things (not all - I don't like too much big government either) that a government should help provide.

We've long outgrown the days when 'government providing for security of the state' simply meant self-defense.

Jonathan

The reason to change the Health care system is not for some altruistic rationale, but because it will be good for American business. The current system is so deeply entrenched in the reimbursement game that it functions at minimal efficiency. The whole system is organized around reimbursements. Providers are organized in ways to maximize reimbursements and pyers are organized to minimize reimbursements. Health care should be organized around providing healthcare, not around the money flows associated with health care. The best way to create competition in the health care sector is to have a single payer system. Then providers can compete for business based on their health care service and outcomes, not on the contractual arrangements that lock in numbers of patients.

Larry In Lethbridge

I guess a primary reason why some people vehemently oppose universal healthcare is that under the USA's present set up, too many greedy bastards would have to make a living elsewhere if this took hold.

I have never seen such blatant disregard for people's welfare in such a civilized society like we are seeing in the USA.
I don't know why this tried and tested system is receiving such opposition from so many. Fat cat docs like Prem Reddy may need to actually resume practicing medicine.Go figure.

Too bad so many people receive such substandard care while paying big bucks for the honor. Massive overhaul is needed and those that think reforms are not neccessary severely need their heads closely examined.

I cannot believe honest hardworking Americans can be ripped off so badly, and take it for so long.

roger

i guess i missed the part where the population now had an individual mandate to the govt to either have health insurance or purchase health insuarance as a prerequisite to being permitted to be employed as being a tried and tested system.


http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1662655,00.html

roger

how did the govt get the authority to require a healthy 26 year old male who is strong as an ox who is applying for employment to frame houses to purchase health insurance at an inflated price now that health insurance is required. what is the proper role of govt.

chris

CanadaKat, you wrote:

"-Doctor's rarely, if ever, face lawsuits here so that's a ridiculous argument (I think Chris mentioned this a few postings back)."

What connections exist between medical malpractice lawsuits in the US and similar suits in Canada?

Answer: NONE

Assess this fact however you like, but if you think medical malpractice lawsuits would end because the federal government managed healthcare, you would be as wrong as it is possible to be.

We have Medicaid -- medical coverage for the poor -- a government program that serves citizens from birth to death. Its biggest single expense outside of the operating costs of providing medical service is monetary awards for the medical malpractice lawsuits it loses every day.

Medicaid serves 20% of the US population. Its quality of care is universally rated subpar. The cost of the program is roughly $5,000 a year per person (Medicaid serves about 60 million Americans).

In other words, $5,000 a year per person falls far short of the funding needed to offer top-notch care.

Next up is Medicare, our national program for everyone over 65. It serves about 40 million people at a cost of about $7,500 per person.

But that's not enough either. Furthermore, Medicare does not cover pregnancy, child birth and post natal care.

You wrote:

"And to Chris, who a few postings back made a non sensical assertion that 'universal' health care would cost you so much more...please, please, provide your sources. Everything I have read says otherwise."

Perhaps you are mathematically challenged.

If we extrapolate the cost of the substandard medical care to the entire US population, we get a total figure of $5,000 times 300 million, or $1.5 TRILLION.

If we extrapolate the cost of Medicare, we get $7,500 times 300 million, or $2.25 TRILLION.

The $2.25 trillion is not enough to cover our nation's healthcare bills based on peoples' expectations of service quality and availability. The $2.25 trillion is about 50% more than we already spend -- and it's not enough.

It's interesting to me that no one examines our existing national health programs and extrapolates their costs to the entire population. Clearly it isn't done because the resulting estimates are shockingly high.

Justin K.


Wow, Chris completely took over this blog with his over done dribble. So much so that I could only read about half of the comments before my eyes refused to focus anymore. He most likely spouted off a bunch of junk about every one not understanding basic economics. Then telling every one to by an economics book. No I don't believe that the present government can help. Because the government has failed us time and time again. Proving that the government is grossly incapable of protecting it's people. Chris might have also said that every thing people are saying here defies the laws of economics. But it does not take a math major to see that this topic is not about economics or math. It's about life. People need help! IF you want to bring money in to the picture then lets find a way to make medical cost lower. How much dose it cost to do a blood test? And lets find a way to cut that cost in half. And do that to every aspect of the medical industry. If your about to ask me how I think this should be done, don't ! I majored in photography. Not math. Just remember. We are talking about people, and are people dyeing.

Justin K.

oops, let me try that last part once more.

Just remember. We are talking about people, AND PEOPLE ARE DYEING.

Larry In Lethbridge

Justin,
Yes Chris did try to "overtake" this blog, and wrote a whole bunch of stuff basically to argue with anyone with an opposing viewpoint or alternative stance.I think this tool gets off reading his drivel at others blogs.

I think what Canada Kat wrote was certainly the most logical, and proves that she is not only much smarter than Chris, but socially adaptable and therefore much easier to read. She sure put this dipstick in his place with solid fact, delivered graciously and intelligently, without malice.
Don't pout too much Chris. You simply got outperformed by a humble CDN with solid skills who knew what she was talking about.

You lose pal.

Mark

This is a macho country and you have phrased the problem correctly. Thank you! It's too bad that Clinton, Obama, Edwards (and Dodd)couldn't have colluded to actually adopt Kucinich's plan, rather than wimp out on us and do the equivalent of baking cookies. In fact, we could call them the COEDs:
C linton
O bama
E dwards
D odd.

Apologies to real COEDs, of course.

chris

ttt

john

bop

ken

AMEN SISTER!

I just retired from medical practice and have been telling folks for decades that corruption is the problem.

In 1985 insurers required 3% of our healthcare dollar to run their business. Around that time the insurance CEO's discovered that almost 12% of the GDP was flowing through their hands in premiums. For some reason they soon impeded the flow - suddenly creating HMO's - each one a thick layer of minions hired to say no to insurance claims. Golly, imagine that - now these same insurance companies keep 30% or more of all the premiums. And for some reason, almost as soon as the CEO's began waylaying our helathcare dollars, their individual retirement plans approached the $1 billion mark. For one guy!
Meanwhile pharmacy profits - profits that rest almost entirely on the USA portion of sales of internationally sold drugs - have gone through the ceiling year after year. This, too, paid out of the healthcare premium dollar.

And on another front, Pfizer sells pseudoephedrine in bulk thereby making huge profits from the crystal meth disaster while the White House has been protecting this practice with every incumbent clear back to and including Reagan. And then our pols have the gall to call for us to beef up the DEA to combat a drug problem they are faclitating. Sheesh! Or should we say baksheesh?

healthcare system - an acronym for corruption on the largest scale ever seen - it even exceeds war profiteers of the past and Ike's fearsome military-industrial copmplex.

Amen - the solution to healthcare costs today is for the media to quit cowering and highlight the corruption.

john

c

roger

well ken i was following your corruption argument right up to the point in which you state (not imply, not suggest, not insinuate) that pfizer is supporting meth production and the white house is providing cover for this practice. reminds me of the loonies who insist that aids was infused into the black communities in an attempt to decimate the black population. do you have any verification of any kind to support such moonbattery.

paul

ringo

Justin K.

ringo?

As in ringo starr?

Larry In Lethbridge

Ken,
I have to agree with old Rog, about such moonbattery.

The meth epidemic was brought on by the DEA as they were halting the free flow of other drugs, such as coca leaf and poppy plant derivatives .

Pfizer aren't to blame. The mixologists can take $100.00 bucks worth cold medicine and turn it into a $10,000 payday. Giddy up

barbsright

Oprah had Michael Moore on her show Thursday 9/27/2007. He had a debate with the women who is the mouthpiece for the health insurance companies. Very interesting. Roger, your comment on 9/27/2007 ignores the reality we live in. To understand human nature is to overcome it. There are ways to make a better world, but they require understanding humankinds baser instincts so the instincts can be neutralized. Oh, and Woody Allen is RIGHT!!!!!

roger

woody allen and dale carngie and oprah winfrey and michael moore. be still my heart. i hope and pray that at some point in mortality i will have sufficient diligence to exhume the breadth and depth of such wisdom and genius.

Laura

Roger,

Reading your comments and being in possession of a Psy.D. I have to ask - did you wet the bed as a child, have you ever tortured an animal, and do you like to play with fire? You may want to seek treatment for sociopathy, not that much can be done . . .

Larry inLethbridge

Re Roger wetting the bed :

Looks like he might have.Chris definitely wet his, and may still do so.

Two gems of the blogosphere.

roger

the original question was how to make available health care to 300 million people. is the best approach a govt solution as is being presently advanced by senator clinton which would require all persons who seek employment to either have govt health coverage or purchase private health insurance. is the best solution to reform our present delivery system in an attempt to control prices for both premiums and direct care expenses. is the best solution a hybrid plan. is a socialist solution appropriate. these are contemplative questions. forgive me for failing to seek out oprah or woody for answers. i guess i dont see this enterprise as the actions of a sociopath.

corvid

If we ever get to the point where we have a decent, single-payer health care system, can anyone name one good reason why we shouldn't have a Nuremburg-style trial set up for those in the private health insurance industry today who are responsible for those 18,000 deaths a year caused by their deliberate actions to deny care?

Chris S.

"I cannot believe honest hard working Americans can be ripped off so badly, and take it for so long."
Well Larry it's sad that many of these hard working Americans have been brainwashed into thinking they can "git rich quick" if they can just find the right magic bullet. Furthermore they've been bullied into not standing up for their rights and excepting all the hog wash spat out by the US insurance companies. They consistently vote for politicians and policies that aren't good for them. The mass delusion is very sad.

Chris S.

I would further like to ask if the US health care system is so great why aren't Canada and Europe dropping theirs and adopting ours? Medicine and for-profit enterprise don't mix well. Getting health care can't be likened to buying soup or appliances. That type of thinking is idiotic.

brian

First off, I'm certain Richard was being sarcastic, that's the only way I can possibly cope with this varietal of Vincent Galloish political commentary.

But if he was being serious, should Richards "it's reality" world dig it's roots in much more, my only fear is that Glaxo Smith and Kline will invent a drug to block suicide fantasies, which would really be consolation.

Hobbes said, life was "nasty, brutish and short," to justify, of course, why idiots need to be led. Hobbes could not have predicted that life would ever become "nasty, brutish and excruciatingly long." Which is why I'm quite indifferent to having health insurance, residing in Texas adds to the scoop and rebound of my shrug.

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