January 23, 2014


And This Is Why You Shouldn’t Get Sick In America

Many believe that the US healthcare system is the best in the world. Not so according to the World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health systems. The US doesn’t even rank in the top 25. It ranks 37th and is the most expensive in the world. I would argue that even if we had the best healthcare system in the world, what good is it, if no one can afford to access it.

Most companies are buying 60/40-policys for their employees these days, but even if you are lucky enough to have good insurance with 80/20-policy coverage, that 20 percent your responsible for can drive you right into bankruptcy as easily as the 60-40 policy given the cost of healthcare.

Insurance cost have been going up dramatically in the last two decades, long before the new Affordable Healthcare Act has taken affect, in some cases as much as 35% per year.

But have you noticed the latest trick the insurance companies have roll out?

Yes, Higher Deductible… most averaging $5,000 per year, per person, but I have seen some as high as $10,000 per year. For those of you that are wondering, this tactic is specifically designed too stop you from using your insurance. It reduces the insurance companies out of pocket liability by shift costs onto consumers, especially those dealing with chronic illness such as diabetes and arthritis. Consequently, because consumers can’t afford the deductible they will avoid necessary care to save money.

Although insurance companies are a problem, the real crocks is the healthcare system it self. A corrupt and bloated system desperately in need of reform!

LTMC: Man.  Canadians have cheap healthcare, but they must be dropping like flies with all that socialized medicine.  

Wait a minute…

(via postracialcomments)

January 3, 2014
"We could have eliminated the income tax in 2010 had we adopted the Canadian, German, or French health-care systems."

David Cay Johnston

I think DCJ may have jumped the shark here.  I have to assume that he reached this conclusion by comparing annual revenue from the federal income tax with the cost savings differential between international healthcare systems in terms of GDP.  But practically speaking, the math doesn’t get us there.  According to his article, “Canada, Germany, and France each spend about 11.5 percent of their economy on health care, compared to 17.6 percent in the U.S.”  2013 U.S. GDP was  $ 15.68 trillion.  If we apply the GDP savings difference of 6.1% to the most recent GDP numbers, we get a savings of roughly $ 956 billion.  

That’s huge.  In fact, $ 956 billion is enough to wipe out the present federal budget deficit completely, and would leave us with a $ 300+ billion surplus…*if* that whole amount was going to the Government.  But it’s not.  Government spending on healthcare only accounts for roughly 4.6% of U.S. GDP as of 2013.  So of that $ 956 billion, we can reasonably assume that the federal Government would only receive it’s proportionate 4.6% share in savings, which is about $ 43.97 billion.  Not enough enough to put a dent in the 2013 deficit, much less eliminate the federal income tax.

The analysis doesn’t quite end there, however.  A little over a decade ago, a study by two Harvard Medical School professors found that if you include public employee health benefits and healthcare industry tax subsidies, tax expenditures were responsible for almost 60% of all healthcare spending in the U.S.  I’m not sure what the proportion would be now, but if those numbers hold true, that amount of spending alone is enough to finance a national healthcare insurance program.  As the study’s authors note, “we pay for national health insurance, but don’t get it.”

Furthermore, it’s also true that the cost differentials couldn’t be more stark.  Both out-of-pocket and total spending for healthcare in virtually every other country in the world is far, far lower than in America.  Healthcare administrative costs in the U.S. are almost double what they are in Canada.  Medical bills contribute to roughly half of all bankruptcy filings in the U.S., and three-fourths of those filers had health insurance at the time they filed.

So there is no doubt that if we switched to a Canadian, German, or French-style health-care system, that Americans would have more money in their pockets, and the U.S. Government would be spending less money.  But it’s pretty far-fetched to claim that we could eliminate the federal income tax by switching to a Canadian, German, or French-style health-care system.  Universal healthcare saves everybody money, but it certainly doesn’t leave us tax-free.

Update: The numbers I used for federal spending as a percentage of gdp (4.6%) don’t include Social Security.  But if you include all Social Security spending (which I’m not sure is accurate for our purposes here), you would still reach a similar result: there still isn’t enough in healthcare savings as a percentage of GDP to mop up the federal deficit (much less eliminate the federal income tax), if you assume a savings of 6.1% in healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP.

December 30, 2013
"My cousin died because he couldn’t afford his cancer treatment back in 2005. The bills over a 2-year period exceeded $500k, and the insurance company cut him off. I still remember my uncle pleading with the insurance company over the phone. They said he had reached his lifetime limit. He was 27. Not to get too political, but thank god this crap is illegal now thanks to the ACA."

Redditor “muscledhunter”

December 6, 2013
"[The biggest barrier to my medical practice is] The lack of a single-payer system. We waste enormous amounts of time and energy dealing with insurance companies, whose major goal is figuring out how not to cover patients."

Steven Nissen, M.D.

August 20, 2013
"A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they’ll somehow be sticking it to me. But they’d just be sticking it to you."

President Obama, Saturday

"On the unstoppability of Obamacare: We have this system in which Congress passes laws, the president signs them, and then they go into effect. The Affordable Care Act went through this process, and there is no legitimate way for Republicans to stop it." - Paul Krugman

(via liberalsarecool)

LTMC: The fly in the ointment here is that they don’t need the legislative process.  The Supreme Court’s decision in NFIB v. Sebelius held that the enforcement provision of the Medicaid expansion law was unconstitutional, which means states can literally just opt out of the Medicaid expansion portion of the law.  Some states are also doing everything they can do stop the healthcare exchanges from going up, which is part of the reason why the administration keeps delaying the implementation of the law.

That’s the funny thing about dual-sovereignty: when you’ve got more than one cook in the kitchen, the meals don’t always come together nice and neat.  If anyone thinks NFIB v. Sebelius was the last piece of litigation related to the ACA, I imagine they’ll probably be unpleasantly surprised in the future.  This one’s getting dragged out to the last man.

August 18, 2013
The Power Of Experience

Think Progress highlights the story of Clint Murphy, a former Republican staffer who left politics in 2010, and discovered how hard it is to get insured with a pre-existing condition:

Clint Murphy, now a real estate agent from Savannah, Georgia, who’s been involved with Republican campaigns since the 1990s, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000 when he was 25 years old. Four years and four rounds of chemo treatment later — all of which was covered by insurance — Murphy was in remission. Insurance wasn’t a problem in his subsequent political jobs — he worked on John McCain’s election campaign in 2008 and Karen Handel’s Georgia gubernatorial run in 2010 — but when he quit politics in 2010 and entered real estate, he realized just how difficult obtaining insurance with a pre-existing condition could be.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Murphy said he thought after 10 years since his cancer diagnosis, the insurance companies might cut him some slack — instead, they found something else to charge him for.

“I have sleep apnea. They treated sleep apnea as a pre-existing condition. I’m going right now with no insurance,” he told the AJC.

Murphy now supports Obamacare:

That’s why Murphy had this to say to his Republican friends who oppose Obamacare on Facebook last week: “When you say you’re against it, you’re saying that you don’t want people like me to have health insurance.”

This might be a bridge too far.  There are many problems with the Affordable Care Act, and people are opposed to it for different reasons.  Many folks on the Right tend to oppose it because they feel it adds more costly government regulation of the private sector, raises taxes, and some of its provisions are hopelessly complex and impossible to implement.  Some folks on the Left oppose it because they feel that it’s an incomplete solution, doesn’t actually insure everyone, and constitutes a handout to private insurance companies, who are now guaranteed customers by the government.  Reasonable people can come to the conclusion that the Affordable Care Act is not the best solution to covering people with pre-existing conditions.

But what Murphy’s story really demonstrates is the power of personal experience to change a person’s mind.  Clint Murphy was convinced that the health insurance system worked.  He had faith that the insurance companies would “cut him some slack” once he had to re-enter the private sector and purchase his own health insurance.  But once he had a pre-existing condition, he learned the hard way how America’s health insurance system deals with the people who need it the most.

Personal experience is a potent source of knowledge.  It is the reason, for example, why people with gay family members and friends are more likely to support marriage equality.  It’s the reason why Black Americans are more likely to have a poor opinion of law enforcement than White Americans.  It’s the reason why Hispanic Americans overwhelmingly support a more humane immigration policy.  When you or someone you know is directly affected by a problem, that experience tends to change your worldview in ways that might differ from what you might believe in the absence of those circumstances.

But it’s important to remember that this is also a conversation about empathy.  When I was younger, I spent a large portion of my youth growing up in a mostly White suburb.  Despite this, I felt like I was racially conscious.  But as I grew older, I realized that my “racial consciousness” was basically a fraud.  A large part of this growth happened in law school, where I studied the criminal justice system, and realized that it is tainted by racial injustice at every level.  Suddenly, the anti-police narratives in hip-hop made sense.  Malcolm X seemed less like a violent rabble rouser and more like a legitimate voice for the frustration of the Black community.  The realization that my history books really had been “White washed” to some extent was frustrating, but also liberating, because it allowed me to see a deeper truth that had evaded me for so long.

This is relevant to politics, because most of us inform our political positions based on personal experience.  So when a small business owner tells me that he opposes Obamacare because he genuinely can’t afford to offer insurance to his employees, I don’t just shrug my shoulders—even though a part of me is glad that people with pre-existing conditions can get coverage under the law.  If I was a small business owner in his position, I might feel more strongly about the mandatory employer coverage provisions of the law.  In the political realm, being able to understand why others might feel differently is an important part of understanding how to change peoples’ minds.

In Clint Murphy’s case, all it took to change his mind was to be placed in a vulnerable position.  All of a sudden, the complaints of people with pre-existing conditions didn’t seem quite as trivial.  Of course, Clint spent years of his life believing the opposite.  If only there was a way that the wisdom he gained from his personal experiences could have reached him sooner.

If there was a way to achieve a critical mass of empathy in this country, one which allows us to more keenly learn from the personal experiences of others, we might see a public policy revolution.  Perhaps the Executive branch would stop dropping as many drone missiles in the Middle East, weary of the blowback caused by civilian deaths.  Prosecutors might be less anxious to rack up convictions, knowing the devastation that mass incarceration and criminal records have on poor communities.  We might actually see a humane immigration policy, knowing that 11-year old girls wouldn’t be torn from their fathers.  Drug use might be treated as a public health matter rather than a criminal one, knowing that incarceration has not only failed to prevent people from using drugs, but done immeasurable damage the lives of those affected.

Will it happen?  Who knows.  It’s probably wishful thinking.  But one can always hope for the change.  With same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the upswing, there’s plenty of possibilities on the horizon.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

June 20, 2013
"The concept that…poor Americans can just go to the emergency room when sick, and get care that they won’t have to pay for, is an extremely fraught one—with the assumption that the uninsured are comfortable just not paying their healthcare bills. To the contrary, many uninsured Americans would rather die—literally—than saddle their families with expensive medical bills."

Nancy Redd

6:35pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZMMjnxnp4Q_w
Filed under: politics healthcare 
June 1, 2013
"Getting free medical care in a Catholic hospital by a Jewish doctor is like the whole world coming together. It’s the way the world should work."

Dr. Rick Hodes, the medical director of the Jewish American Joint Distribution Committee.  Hodes works with sick patients in Ethiopia, and  has arranged for hundreds of children to receive life-altering surgeries that they could not afford or access on their own.

January 16, 2013
"The harm from [Hormone Replacement Therapy] has been so dramatic, when women quit in 2002, the incidence of US breast cancer fell 15 percent among women with estrogen-fed cancer. 14,000 women who were expected to get breast cancer didn’t because they eliminated the source. The same thing happened with endometrial cancer rates in the 1970s—rates dropped when women quit HRT. Thousands of cancers in women were caused not by genes, the environment, lifestyle or family history but Big Pharma."

Martha Rosenberg

June 29, 2012
A Journey Through The Healthcare Apocalypse With Glenn Beck

With the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, this epic tale from Cracked.com needs to be brought back:

It is the year 2020, and Obamacare has made the world a very different place. It is this distorted realm that our protagonist finds himself unwittingly, kind of awkwardly and very drunkenly thrust into. After having fallen asleep in the year 2010 and, possibly due to some sort of top secret army experiment in cryogenics (but far more likely due to passing out in that meat locker), he has become frozen in time and arisen 10 years hence to find the America he once knew “hanging by a thread.” Let this tale serve as a warning of things to come:

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