What if it was you?

April 23, 2009

I make no apologies for universal health care. Don’t go get all “you commie-pinko loving swine” on me; if you haven’t studied the health care proposal, then you don’t know it other than when you read/hear the word “universal”, you see/hear the word “socialism”.

Seeing someone denied health care is difficult. Oh sure, hospitals can’t turn away people who are in a life-or-death situation, but what about improving their quality of life? What about physical or occupational therapies that will enhance their daily life? I’ve seen what can happen when these are denied:  to an elderly family member, to a co-worker, and to a friend. Devastating consequences in 2 out of the 3, one resulting in death.

Call me a socialist – it puts me in good company with the Norwegians and Swedes.

Fact: The Deep South and Appalachia has the highest rate of cancer deaths in the country.

Fact: These are the poorest states.

Conclusion: Poor nutrition and lack of access to quality health care.

They’ve tried to kill the middle class for years – isn’t it time you got something out of it…like affordable health care?

Government healthcare, oh my!

Government healthcare, oh my!



  1. But while there will be equal coverage, there won’t be equal access. There was an op-ed piece in the LA Times written by Michael Tanner and Michael Cannon, both from the CATO Institute, during the campaign last year: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-tanner5apr05,0,2227144.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

    The wait for heart surgery in Sweden can be as long as 25 weeks. When dad had his heart attack a few years ago, he wouldn’t have made it 25 weeks. Socialism or not, I despise government-run health care.

    The WHO ranked Italy’s health care system number two, behind France. But if it’s so great, why did PM Silvio Berlusconi come to America for his heart surgery in ’06? Because Italians aren’t happy with their system. 90% of the French purchase supplemental private insurance to pay for what the state-run system doesn’t cover. The government (at least in ’07) is looking toward broad taxes on earned and unearned income to pay for the health care. Circulatory disease and cancer are the two main causes of death in Norway, whose system is funded by taxes (as of 2005).

    The fact is no system is perfect. I prefer the one we have now. I don’t want to be put on a waiting list for major operations. I don’t think my tax dollars should pay for programs for people who aren’t working and won’t try to find work.

    You ask “what if it was you?” If it was me, I’d stick with the system we have now.

    • While I’m familiar w/ the Cato Institute and Michael Tanner, I’m not familiar w/ Michael Canon. Cato & Tanner will always favor business over the individual. After all, they’re proponents of Social Security privatization. Tanner supported McCain’s health care plan which would have left people with pre-existing conditions at a grave disadvantage (no pun intended), which I take just a tad personally.

      About 15 years ago, I sat in the State Farm office answering questions on a health insurance application. At the time, I had undergone 2 breast tumor biopsies. It didn’t matter that they were benign and removed; I would not be covered for mammograms or breast cancer. There was no time frame given (like after 5 years of a non-occurrence). Seeing as how the insurance was going to cost us quite a bit, it was unfathomable to me that an insurance company could cavalierly say, “Nope. Can’t do it.” But they could & did.

      Did Berlusconi have something done other than a pacemaker implantation? That’s not open-heart – unless they’ve changed the procedure. It’s done under local not general anesthesia.

      I don’t know why he chose the Cleveland Clinic to have it done. In dissatisfaction with health care, the US was ranked right behind Italy, so it’s puzzling why he’d come here (and how Tanner has this information). But, he’s a billionaire and can go wherever he wants. I’d choose most American hospitals over Italian ones as well. But, if given a real choice, I’d go elsewhere.

      All countries who rank higher than the US in health care systems provide universal access to its people and have better outcomes. Wait time in Sweden is the only drawback in their system. They still have the best treatment outcomes, but Norway and Finland fare better on the wait times. 25 weeks would be extreme, and I wouldn’t want a family member in that situation either.

      33% of US businesses did not offer any health coverage. Any. Not co-pay. Nothing. Yet, our government spent $100 billion on uninsured people.

      You mention people who aren’t working and aren’t trying to find work. They’re already covered through the various forms of medicaid.

      These are the people who’re truly affected: Over 80% of uninsured people come from working households. 40% of uninsured are in households that make at least $50,000 per year. Avoidable deaths in uninsured adults are approximately 18,000 a year.

      It goes without saying that there would have to be safeguards and oversights in place. But, it can be done. This is not a new idea for this country…citizens have been asking for this since the early 1900s. Before the corporations had their fingers in everything.

      • But what’s good for the business is usually good for the individual. Remember, not all businesses are evil. Most are benign. Most offer some form of insurance if you want it.

        If someone’s making $50,000/year and they don’t have insurance, that’s their fault. They can surely afford it. And if not, there are state insurance programs, such as TennCare in TN and PeachCare in GA, that they can sign up for. It’s not like there are no other options out there.

        As for State Farm, I think it’s terrible that happened. Like I said before, no system is perfect. But what do you think the government will do when it becomes more cost effective to deny certain people coverage? That’s a very real risk.

        Or what about when they tell us what we can and can’t eat, like when England banned a commercial for eggs because it breached health guidelines? “Eating eggs every day goes against what is now the generally accepted advice of a varied diet. We therefore could not approve the ads for broadcast.”

        There’s a 2007 video explaining why so many people are uninsured @ http://www.freemarketcure.com/uninsuredinamerica.php There’s also a better breakdown of the uninsured by age, poverty level, job, etc @ http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/05/uninsured-cps/index.htm

        Privatization of SS sounds like a good idea to me. Currently some retirees are collecting twice what they paid into the system. Unless the retirement age is raised or eligibility requirements are changed, SS will run out of money and I’ll have nothing to retire on unless I save it myself.

        Personally, I just don’t understand since there are already state sponsored insurance programs that I pay for, why should I have to pay for a federally sponsored program as well? Especially when the majority of the uninsured are eligible for state sponsored coverage.

      • I don’t consider businesses evil; however, in right-to-work states, workers have virtually no say. Let me correct that, they have a say, but there is no law to back them, only the employer.

        In AZ, the median income for a family of 4 is $61,100. In TN, the median income for a family of 4 is $57,000. The annual premium of health insurance to cover that family of 4 is $12,700. That’s an ideal family of 4, where there are no extenuating circumstances. That takes quite a chunk out of the $50,000, not even taking taxes into consideration. Mortgage/rent, utilities, car payment, clothes, food…not allowing for emergencies. $50,000 may sound like a lot, but it isn’t – not when you’re supporting more than yourself. These are people who do not qualify for state programs. I have a friend whose husband was in a boating accident last year. He wound up being hospitalized. No insurance. The social worker tried to get them on the state insurance program – they made too much money – yet they cannot afford health insurance. And they are far from living an extravagant life. The majority of uninsured people are not eligible for their state’s insurance program. 80% of uninsured people in this country do not qualify.

        BCBS of NC lost a $128 million class action suit – for underpaying physicians. There are already people who are turned away from physician’s offices because of doctor’s refusals to deal with certain insurance companies. The physician that I see will not take Pacificare patients because some anonymous voice on the other end of the line will refuse a different drug that would be more effective for a patient, or a similar scenario. The major insurance players are already putting out misleading statements in the hopes that the majority of people will not research for facts. It’s the private insurer’s who’ll be turning away those with pre-existing conditions and who’ll be denied care and left to either get well or die on their own. They’ll have to operate in that manner in order to make a profit.

        Privatizing Social Security raises the cost of retirement, forces the worker to pay account management fees, pay insurance premiums to obtain the same level of insurance coverage that is provided by Social Security, labor market risks that adversely affect women and – less savings accumulated for each dollar invested. Women’s lifetime earnings are lower and their savings less because of employment wages. Social Security pays higher benefits to those who’ve made less in their lifetime than to those who’ve made more. (Yes, now it makes sense as to those who were/are so vociferously crying for privatization)

      • Then let’s fix the problem at the state level. We don’t need to create another bureaucratic nightmare that is sure to emerge from a federal insurance program. The feds aren’t the answer. The feds are more of the problem than any other factor. Instead of ignoring the current problem and creating another one, we should fix the one we have now. I know someone who was denied TennCare because the car she drove was too new, but her parents bought it for her. She wasn’t working and had no source of income. That’s a problem that needs to be addressed, not ignored.

        $50,000-$12,700 still leaves $37,300. That’s still a good chunk of change. A family of four could easily live off that if they stuck to a budget. As a matter of fact I know a family of four that lives off less than that and they live pretty darn good. I work with one of them so she’s about to lose her job. So they’re going to have to do some major scaling back on their budget, but that’s part of life.

        Fewer than 50% of those eligible for state coverage don’t enroll. So that 80% is a somewhat inflated number.

        And at least if SS is privatized I’ll have something to retire on. When the baby boomers retire, SS will go from having a surplus to running a deficit. By the time I retire, all I’ll have to rely on will be my savings anyway.

  2. 80% is from a 2007 government report. How has that been inflated?

    • Sorry, I was still asleep when I wrote that. What I meant to say was that 80% is higher than the numbers I’ve seen (I’ve seen everywhere from 30% to as high as 70%). And when only half of those that are eligible enroll, you’ve got a problem at the state level.

      And the uninsured get emergency care. Emergency physicians lost over $4.2 billion dollars in 2007 (or maybe 2005, I can’t remember) because of uninsured patients who either couldn’t afford to pay or refused to pay.

      First, we need to make sure that those that are eligible get enrolled. Second, we need to cut the bureaucratic red tape keeping those who are in real need from getting coverage. If we do that, there won’t be one real argument in favor of a federally sponsored insurance plan.

      For every problem, there’s a solution at the state level. Our dependence on the federal government has grown exponentially out of control. I don’t think that my tax dollars should go to sponsor programs that reward irresponsible behavior and laziness (such as welfare, food stamps, etc) and that’s what a federal insurance plan will do. I’m not saying these programs are bad, just that they’re too easily taken advantage of.

      One of my favorite quotes from Common Sense was “…security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.” National security, along with commerce with other nations, should be the federal governments only priorities. Let the states handle their own problems.

      • I’m on my way to traffic court – the one where I got the speeding ticket for going 37in a 25, only in reality it was a 35 mph zone. I don’t have much time – it’s right up the street, but I need to leave in a few. Anyway, I hope that you’re sitting down, because I agree with you about it being handled on the state level – to an extent.

        And, we’re going to have to talk about the $50,000 (pre-tax) being more than enough for a family of 4 to live on. 🙂

  3. $50,000 – 19% tax (give or take) = $40,500 – $12,700 = $27,800/52 = around $535 per week. If a family of four can’t live modestly off $535/week, they either need to move to a lower cost community or redo their budget.

    Good luck with your ticket. Maybe the cop won’t show up and it’ll get thrown out. I’m glad you agree that the problems should be handled at the state level, but I’m curious about to what extent.

  4. Forgot to mention, I found a place where that family of 4 can get BCBS for as low as $223.50/month. $2682/year. Anybody paying $12,700/year for insurance is nuts. Oh, and that $2682 is less than the French pay for their government insurance. I think they pay around $3500, if I’m remembering my stats correctly. Anyway, http://www.ehealthinsurance.com quoted a family of 4 (that I made up) anywhere from $157/month (humana one) to 395 (Aetna). I believe that would be affordable for a family of 4 making $50,000 pre-tax.

    • Unfortunately I lost in court. I can appeal, but if I did that, I’d want a lawyer and I can’t afford that. Obscure law, lesson learned. But, I told the truth and pointed out where the other side had made an error (that might have been a no-no).

      I make good money, but I overhear people at work talk about not understanding how others are losing their homes, and I wonder what they would think if they knew that I was in the process of losing mine. Would they think that I’m not managing my money properly? We’ve done everything that they recommended in a crisis budgeting class that we took (we’d made those cuts long before we went to the class). I’m penalized on my income because I’m single – over $8,000 is withheld from my pay each year. The state takes another grand. After going through the last year like this, I’ve only recently implied a tiny bit of this to a couple of close friends. I’m going to be okay, even if the house goes into foreclosure. I have a job, I have insurance, and I have my health. But I’m not a family of 4. I understand where you’re coming from, I really do. But the way it looks on paper is not usually how it plays out in life. If it did, you wouldn’t have drug companies slashing prices/giving away certain medicines.

      The drugs that Mom needed when she first came out here ran around $1,000 a month. Medicare did not cover them, her BCBS supplemental did not cover them. If she hadn’t had money from the settlement, we’d have needed to find another option.

      Another unexpected event: My vehicle needs about $3,000 work on it. It’s a choice: make my house payments or get it fixed. I’m choosing the house payments, and keeping my fingers crossed.

      Another factor in budgets is where you live. Nothing against Wyoming – I’d love to visit, but don’t want to live there. However, it costs less to live in Wyoming. So it’s not just a state here or there, it’s all across this nation. Here’s a link that I hope works that goes into more detail about the cost of living, budgets, etc. Once that page comes up, click on “What we need to get by – A basic standard of living…” I think it’s from last year, so it should be pretty accurate.

      I thought my father was crazy when he was talking several years ago about a severe financial crisis…he was crazy anyway, so I was going with the odds. John even suggested that we sell the house a couple of years ago, but noooooo…I wanted to hang on and sell only when it was time to retire and use that to help pad whatever savings I have from the state retirement system. *rolling eyes and kicking my butt*

      • But you have the Homeowners Association, or the Gestapo as I like to call them, that you have to pay exorbitant fees to, a state income tax (i think), and other factors. You could always move to Tennessee, where it’s cheaper (and there’s more foliage). Just think, you could be living in the same state as Art Laffer.

        Personally, I don’t think any of this is going to matter in a few years. If hyper-inflation hits, and it will it’s just a matter of when, we’ll be Zimbabwe 2.0. And I hate saying that because, quite frankly it scares the crap out of me. They’ve abandoned their currency. And with China buying up commodities and protecting their economy (the way we did after WWII), they’ll be the economic superpower we used to be. Personally, I don’t want the renminbi to be the global currency. China’s scared that we’re not going to be able to pay off our debt, which they hold the majority of, and I don’t blame them. If I was a bank and I loaned someone x amount of money, they bought a car, then started buying other things w/out making payments on the loan, I’d be worried I’d never see that money again. The Chinese are worried that we’re going to go through hyper inflation to pay off our debt and that won’t be good for anyone.

        Didn’t mean to go off on a tangent. Anyway, back to my point, there’s another guy at work (I forgot about him since he’s hardly ever there anymore) who’s married with two kids, one of which is autistic. His wife doesn’t work, he has to take his son to a specialist every month, and this year they’ve been living off unemployment (he’s only worked two full weeks so far), which is $300/week. They have cable, high-speed internet, cell phones, all the amenities. They rent their house and they have two vehicles.

        Anyway, sorry about the ticket. Dad said you shoulda called him and he coulda given you some advice. He’s got people :).

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