The mirage of U.S. healthcare

August 26, 2009

On healthcare, the White House is struggling with a political riptide that threatens to drag it into deep water.

Americans, as they contemplate change, have suffered a weakness of nerve. The main reason is that nearly two thirds of Americans are apparently happy with their healthcare coverage, for all its deficiencies. Repeated reassurances from President Obama that those who like the existing set-up will not be forced to change, have had little effect.

A change of tactics may be in order. The administration must do a better job of underlining the glaring defects of the existing system. The genius of the U.S. healthcare is in providing the illusion of value and security. For their own sake, Americans must be encouraged to set aside jingoistic claims about having the best care system in the world and look more honestly at its short-comings.

Let’s start with value. Most Americans are blissfully unaware that their healthcare system provides appallingly little value for their money. This is because when it comes to costs, they see only the tip of the iceberg. While companies typically pay about three-quarters of an employee’s family premium — on average $12,680 a year — individuals ultimately bear the burden. In a free market, companies do not hand over to their workers more than they absolutely have to. Money spent on healthcare is carved out of take-home pay or other benefits.

“We pay for healthcare in considerably lower salaries,” Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton University economics professor, said in a telephone interview. “The system seduces people into thinking care is pretty cheap. We are kidding ourselves if we think that the shareholder pays.”

One measure of this financial sacrifice is that employer premiums are now 17 percent of median household income — up from 15 percent in 2003. From 1999 to 2008, family health insurance premiums rose by 119 percent.

With healthcare costs rising fast, it is small wonder that middle-class Americans have failed to wring real pay increases out of employers. The drag on pay will increase further, according to research by the Commonwealth Fund. The foundation estimates that without reform, the cost of premiums could double again by 2020 — gobbling up still more take home pay.

The second big healthcare mirage is security. If the current downturn has demonstrated one thing, it is the fragility of an employer-based healthcare system. Lose your job — as more than 6.5 million have in this downturn — and your insurance can disappear with it. (COBRA provides only a temporary patch and can be expensive.)

It also means that you can lose your coverage if you get very sick. “Get so sick you can’t work, you can also forfeit coverage,” Gary Caxton, an analyst with Kaiser Family Foundation, said in an interview. The very idea of insurance is to protect you during a crisis. Instead Americans are getting insurance that works only when the sun shines. “The American system is least good at the worst times,” as David Cutler, a Harvard healthcare economist, puts it.

The final illusion is that the healthcare system can be relied on in the longer term. In reality it is taking on water fast. This is most obvious in small companies. Less than half of companies with fewer than 10 employees now offer insurance, down from 57 percent in 2000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For all companies, the percentage is down from 69 percent to 63 over the past 8 years. Companies are also starting to unload a growing share of costs onto employees anyway.

Deductibles for most employees have more than trebled since 2000 — a trend that looks almost certain to continue. This is all before you take into account the prodigious quantity of tax dollars soaked up by healthcare.

As the private sector has faltered, the state has been forced to step in. The result is that America is stumbling toward nationalization.

A recent Gallup poll found the share of Americans dependent on the state for healthcare — including Medicare, Medicaid and VA benefits — had climbed to 29 percent from 26.5 since the start of 2008. If you include the 17 percent of U.S. workers employed by the state, then closer to 40 percent are covered by the government.

Americans need to take a good look at their existing healthcare system, warts and all. It is the administration’s job to hold up a mirror to U.S. healthcare. If they fail to do so, the U.S. will pass up an opportunity to build a system that’s fair, sustainable and offers better value.

210 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

“Americans need to take a good look at their existing health care system, warts and all.”

But, as a whole, they won’t. Even in today’s highly stressed economy, 2/3 are apparently happy with their health care. Add to this the money-cowards in Congress, the medical-industrial complex’s big money lobby, reform is impossible. Obama leadership notwithstanding.

Reform may be possible when 2/3 are NOT happy, and 1/3 ready to revolt. Society ready to blow up. Big money lobby no longer can contain street violence. That’s how America works.

Posted by The Real Deal | Report as abusive

I don’t understand why the drop in small businesses providing insurance is called “fast.” It fell 7% in a decade. At that rate, it’ll take 40 years to reach 25%, and 70 years (a lifetime, literally) to reach zero. It’s definately a problem, but not one I’d call a pressing concern.

We should also be taking a good look at the statistics and polls that say people are happy with their coverage. Who are they polling and how was the question asked? Anecdotal evidence suggests to the contrary: People are constantly having to review insurance issues, wait for months to get appointments (particularly when changing providers) and complain that the doctors do not provide sufficient time or personalized attention. It seems like it is a convenient poll to stave off a government option, although the same noise was made 40 years ago when Medicaid was first introduced.

Posted by Kira | Report as abusive

hows this for a possible future. since the people (rightwingers) are ultimately concerned about gov. take over then how about we embrase the reality tv crowd to answer this delima? seriously, those who adore reality tv present a much larger pop. base than those who are poled. so, let the gov. create its big bad public healthcare plan while in parallel holding a national reality tv show like the apprentice to find young new talent out of college and off the street to create say, 50% of the future board to this monster of a business? what do you think. this way the gov. can show that it has no stake in the ultimate control over healthcare and can take credit for the possible creation of our future healthcare system.

The really hope Daniel was being sarcastic, otherwise those with more than a couple marbles bouncing around up there should be scared out of our minds.

Also, love the use of jingoistic… haven’t seen that word in years – I think it was used by Chomsky. Pretty good (literary) company, he being the foremost current scholar of linguistics.

Posted by the Shah | Report as abusive

Gee whiz. What manner of delicate phraseology in loaded polling does it take to even *use* the word “happy” in conjunction with America’s terminal case of health insurance shenanigans?

Only the terminally stupid could conceivably rank today’s American public infrastructure – health care in particular – as anything better than a gigantic disaster waiting to happen. Command-level insurance finagling only makes it worse.

How little must it really take to make an American “happy” these days? The pollsters will have you believe, precious little, with some ritual abuse and TV ads for erectile dysfunction medication thrown in for good measure.

How uneducated must people be to remain passive while paying $1000.00 a year for dental insurance which literally, and only if you’re lucky, caps out at $1000.00 per annum? The pollsters will no doubt find redemption in this ongoing practice of licensed usury as well.

How passive must Americans be to sweat out this blatant fiasco without so much as a soupçon of revolt? The same pollsters will have you believe Americans are not, as they appear, incurably comatose. Only sleeping?

Nay, say said pollsters, Americans are actively “happy” in their bipartisan-induced apathy and in the widespread delusion of consumer satisfaction, yea though failure – even total collapse – be staring them in the face, gloating at their impotence.

Long ere this nation’s politics became, undeniably, a miasma of meta-quotation (who’s saying what about whomever supposedly said anything in the first place) laundered through myriad pollsters for generic popularity testing – which means, the language having been taken hostage (ref: Victor Klemperer’s masterwork, “LTI”) the American education system had already been undermined.

Before they were deprived of health care and meanwhile charged up the colon for a load of hot air, generations of Americans had already been robbed not only of a decent education, but also of their natural voice and vocabulary.

The main reason so many people in America still pay as much as they possibly can for as little as possible in return, case in point being any aspect of health insurance, would appear to be this: they no longer have the basic education, let alone sense of community spirit or social orientation to recognize an institutional scam-job when they see one.

So here it is in plain lingo, Americans: Just Say No to health industry BS.

Posted by The Bell | Report as abusive

You must realize that outside of Massachusetts and the beltway, Teddy is reviled everywhere else as a drunken lout and a “lady killer” in the most literal sense. He was a laughing stock. This is a great day for the Irish – we no longer have to make excuses for this bastard’s bad acting. National health be damned.

Posted by Margaret C | Report as abusive

I wonder how “happy” Americans will be with their health insurance policies when it costs them $36,000 to cover a family of four (just a couple of years away). As for stagnant wages, health care costs are not the only foe, globalization has also played a role. There is no way a worker in the US can compete with a worker in China, who has the skill set, when the Chinese worker makes 1/10 the salary. People have lost their ability to think critically about the issues in this country, that along with being able to see the big picture. Not really a suprise when only 25% of the population has a college degree.

Posted by BB | Report as abusive

What this article fails to point out is our famus Senator from MA, did not nor ever would participate in national healthcare. He received premerie care only because Congress has gold plated healthcare. If this national healthcare ever passes, I can almost be certain, that Congress will exempt themselves. JUST as they have done with every other “program”. So we have a body of fat cats writing laws which they really never intend to be subject to.

Posted by scott | Report as abusive

Where to even start? I do like to Commentary; if anything, it is too kind.

I’m not sure 2/3 of American’s are happy w/ their health care. Is that 2/3 of the 40% on a government plan? Or 2/3 of those who have no coverage like it that way? Or, what?!?

Or, is it that 2/3 of the folks that supported or voted for Obama have this sinking feeling that in health care, like financial matters more generally, he’ll just continue to go down the corporate path? i.e., we got suckered into thinking there would be real change, but now, … After all, Ben gave trillions to Goldman Sachs and other on Wall Street, and O just re-up’ed him for another term!

What is clear is that well more than 2/3s of the few, big companies in the “health” industry continue to make giga dollars. What is clear is that well more than 2/3 of the Congress seem to be bought by their lobbyist — this is THE perfect example of: all the government money can buy!

What is clear is that if even 2/3 of the American voters that could vote did, and if 2/3 of them voted one way, it would still not change one hell of a lot — the U.S. quietly became a fascist some time back now …

What is clear is that more than 2/3 of the Senators think they are party of a ruling, privileged elite that frankly don’t give a damn about their constituents!

What is clear is that more than 2/3 of the Birther’s and Deather’s are profoundly stupid people who must have resulted from too much inbreeding, or too much listening to Rush — the ultimate bastion of intelligence, knowledge, compassion, correctness, and all good qualities!!

Barney Frank is right — and what we ought to do about it is drop all medical coverage, of all forms, for all Birther’s and Deather’s!!

And, if you think all this is bad, just wait till O tries to do ANYTHING on global warming that amount to anything whatsoever!

We’ll have more wind-bags blustering BS, we’ll have more outrage from idiots, egged on by the corporate greed-heads who don’t gave a F about anybody but themselves!

We’ll have more of Rahm putting the label of “success” on literally anything Congress and O manage to do, no matter how weak, ineffective, or how much a sell-out it is!!

We are ALL — both in the U.S. and everybody else in the world — quite literally F’d!!!

Posted by MadAsHell | Report as abusive

Baloney. Most people realize there are problems but we wanted healthcare remodeling, not demolition. Fix what is broken, don’t break what is working.
- Attack fraud in Medicare; the government already runs that mess
- Provide access to private insurance for all legal citizens who what insurance
– No mandates
- Tackle Tort Reform
- Leave decisions between the patient/doctor
- Encourage efficiency and cost reduction.
- Try for a patient payment system instead of third party payer system
There is no Constitutional authority for a government owned and operated health insurance system. No to a public plan which is calculated to morph into a ‘single payer system’ which is a code word for government monopoly of healthcare which is socialized medicine. NO to socialism!

Posted by Allen S. | Report as abusive

“With healthcare costs rising fast, it is small wonder that middle-class Americans have failed to wring real pay increases out of employers. The drag on pay will increase further, according to research by the Commonwealth Fund. The foundation estimates that without reform, the cost of premiums could double again by 2020 — gobbling up still more take home pay.”

Single best point of the argument…the admin should be driving this home, but they won’t.

Why? b/c they don’t want to shake the house too much. Obama isn’t steadfast in his initiative…One quality I wish he could mirror Bush in.

Posted by LVR | Report as abusive

Allen S. is right on.
I’m a conservative Republican, and virtually all of the right-of-center people that I know _want_ changes to the healthcare system. We want it more affordable, and we want it to extend to more of the population.

What we object to is the way the proposed program is being rammed through, that it is not well thought out, and that is too far reaching in giving the feds additional power in areas beyond health care.

The white house mantra that anyone who opposes the plan is misinformed or is a selfish dolt manipulated by the insurance companies, only serves to insult those of us who are legitimately concerned and trying to practice good citizenship.

Posted by Pete C. | Report as abusive

My question to Allen S – How is a governement option going to break the working private sector? Unless you are aware that the private sector isn’t really working. This is like a small town business crying foul when they hear a Walmart will be opening soon. This is an opportunity for us to explore all our options. We will only choose the government plan if its better.

Posted by Emmanuel | Report as abusive

The author of this article is unbelievably misguided. “Lttle value” in the health care received? Seriously? By every single measure, outcomes for serious medical conditions are better in the U. S. system than the NHS and Canadian systems. That’s a fact. Yes, more money is spent, but more (and better) care is given. That’s not “jingoistic” (what a stupid label), that’s also a fact. This is another falsely manufactured “crisis” by the statists. Just say “no” to socialized medicine.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

Let’s start reform by requiring many more autopsies, run by qualified, thorough, and independent doctors. Let’s see if the medical establishment knows what they are doing.

Posted by Linda | Report as abusive

The government needs to start by cleaning up house – its own share of medicare, medical + many other government sponsored expenses. As soon as the house is in order, they would be in position to claim more money for extending their programs (e.g. the new healthcare initiative). Chances are, the pruning will de-allocate so much funds, there will be no need for additional revenue from the population.

The way Obama administration wants it (today) is throwing good money after bad…

Posted by Cris | Report as abusive

Allen S. is correct. As for Emmanuel…are you really serious? You’re comparing apples to oranges. A large private business vs. a small private business are the same except for scale. They BOTH must make a profit to survive. The government does not…it can print more money to continue on, whilst the private insurer cannot. Get a clue. Obama made the same mistake as you when he compared the govt Postal Service to FedEx and UPS. Guess which ones are more efficient and provide better service? Guess which one goes billions in the red each year, yet continues to suck money from taxpayers to stay in operation? I hope you guessed correctly. No one in their right mind would want the government to run health care in this country.

Posted by Robert L. | Report as abusive

As a Canadian, and being on both sides of the doctor patient relationship, I would like to give Americans a neighbours perspective of this issue.

As a patient, a universal healthcare insurance plan is supposed to offer you portablility and the peace of mind that when you are unemployed, you can still get care for your family and yourself. It does mean having to wait in lines. It does mean that newer technology is slow in coming online and that it’s adoption or use is severely limited by bureaucratics who usually do not know what is being talked about. You can get your sore throat assessed, and you can usually get your cancer treated very well. Our plan in Canada does not cover medications. Thus, you can get a diagnosis, but sometimes you cannot get treatment.

From the physician side, I see governments who play political games with healthcare. Decisions are made from a political bias and not necessarily from a needs or best practice bias. We are left arguing with hospital administrators who try to make decisions for your patients based on cost. I have never worked in the U.S. so I do not know if the same can be said for hospitals there.

My suggestion to you neighbours are that you have a long discussion about what it is that you are trying to do. You need to be able to incorporate coverage for the poor and those that cannot get coverage. Leaving someone or their family to fend for themselves when some tragedy befalls them will not help you build and maintain a stable society. As a people, you have to have a say in this. You have to informed and interested. Do not let politicians grab hold of any system you create for they will surely run it as they see fit. Politicians will certainly get great care and at taxpayers expense if they control your system. Politicians will get to the head of any line before you or your family. If it needs control, then the people need to control it.

Good Luck
I wish you develop a system that is the envy of the rest of the world.

Posted by Docotr Canuck | Report as abusive

The Swiss approach has much to be said for it that could translate to the American landscape if only Americans were as sensible yet truly believed in limited government as the Americans claim to do:

Require all to have health insurance.

Provide vouchers and/or scaled subsidies appropriate for those with truly low incomes.

Let private insurance companies compete for the business, but have the government regulate cost ceilings.

Pretending there’s no need to ‘ration’ health care is delusional. Resources are finite. The only question is whether it’s left to the self-interest of private entities in the name of the ‘marketplace’ when in fact there is in most cases no real market competition and the process is manipulable, or whether a form of appropriate regulation of pricing is necessary while allowing competition within that framework.

The Swiss can make it work.

The Americans can only whine while waving their fists in the air and proclaiming themselves ‘Number One!’

At what, precisely, other than internecine warfare and paralysis is another question . . .

Posted by Super Atomik Dog Fred | Report as abusive

This health care reform will change nothing as long as Americans continue to rely on doctors to take care of their health. A doctor is no different than plumber, electrician, software engineer, lawyer, etc: the more people who go to doctors, the more their rates will go up. An emphasis must be put on prevention. Aside from eating low fat foods and exercising, little else is taught to Americans of how to take care of their own health. American’s pride themselves in independence, so they should be taught to take control of their own health.

Posted by Fred | Report as abusive

We do not need Healthcare reform, what we need is insurance company reform. IF insurance companies were all non profit, could not deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or recent illness, and permitted purchasing pools to get group rates — the overwhelming majority of americans would be covered. Medicare and private insurance work just fine. IF you are not insured you can go to any ER and get the same treatment as Sen Kennedy would get. If you want to limit defensive medicine, then have federal malpractice reform where lawyers fees are capped, informed and educated judge panels decide the cases, and settlements are determined by merit not threat. Let me see any legislator take on either the Lawyers lobby or the insurance company lobby then we would have real reform.

Posted by Jim U | Report as abusive

I always wonder who these ‘happy’ people are – perhaps they mixup their maintenance health care with the whole point of insurance – for catastrophic coverage. I was diagnosed with a genetic cancer syndrome 9 years ago. My employer keeps changing private insurance provider so the rules keep changing with each new provider. Perhaps the reason they are so sloppy with processing claims is that it benefits their bottom line. I’m fortunate to be well enough and too mean to let them get away with it. Lost? miscoded? denied? not approved properly? Don’t get seriously ill in this country.

Posted by Val G | Report as abusive

Mr. Swann, although you write well your argument is flawed. First, Americans do have great value in healthcare. We have maginal tax rates of 15 to 36%. In many European countries with “cradle to grave” healthcare the tax rate is 70% at least and for all income classes. We are getting off cheap and have first tier access and treatment available to just about everybody. Second, please recall that Cobra was recently changed to permit coverage for up to 2 years with the federal government/employer covering 80% of the premium for the employee. By the way, healthcare insurance, paid time off, paid lunch, paid holidays, life insurance, 401Ks are optional employer paid benefits – they ar not employee rights or entitlements.

Posted by Jim U | Report as abusive

Tort Reform before Health Care Reform

The US government predicts an 11% rise in the number of lawyers between 2006 and 2016 (www.bls.gov/oco/ocos053). Why is this a consideration in health care reform? The costs of medicine are not stand-alone costs. A great percentage goes to lawyers.

The American Tort Reform Assn. notes: “America’s… civil justice system is the most expensive in the industrialized world. Aggressive personal injury lawyers… systematically recruit clients who may never have suffered a real illness or injury and use scare tactics, combined with the promise of awards, to bring these people into massive class action suits. They effectively tap the media to rally sentiment for multi-million-dollar punitive damage awards.” (www.www.atra.org/about).

Health Care Reform Steps:
Step 1: Delineate the factors present in health care costs including all lawyer costs and malpractice insurance.
Step 2: Draft a comprehensive plan that considers the results of step 1.

Having a health care reform without tort reform is like putting make-up over skin cancer and stating, “It looks better, therefore it must be better.”

Posted by Elaina | Report as abusive

I don’t understand why we think a public option or any other coop arrangement would change the final results. The services have to be paid for either directly via the insured or their employer or via tax dollars. Increased government involvement has never solved any problems in the long-term. The real problem is skyrocketing costs due to the presence of medical malpractice and looming litigation. Put caps on recoveries and implement other meaningful tort reform and you will get much better results.

Posted by Erik | Report as abusive

QUOTE: “Mr. Swann, although you write well your argument is flawed. First, Americans do have great value in healthcare. We have maginal tax rates of 15 to 36%. In many European countries with “cradle to grave” healthcare the tax rate is 70% at least and for all income classes. We are getting off cheap and have first tier access and treatment available to just about everybody.”

Hahahahah! Hahahahaha! Hahahaha! Where did you pull this load of misinformation?

I pay more on taxes than my contemporary coworkers in the UK who make the economy based equivalent of what I make! Then, after that — I pay $480 a month in health care!

Perhaps you should go and research tax rates, and don’t forget the cost you are paying for social security that many of us likely won’t receive much of. Because regardless what you think, that is a tax. The NHS fee (Equivalent to SSI but including health care) in England isn’t much different than what we pay in OASDI/SS.

FAIL!

Posted by Kevin Morgan | Report as abusive

i overheard that on page 19 of the proprosal, it made it illegal for a citizen that either lost their job, changed jobs, or changed status (marriage divorce etc.) to attempt to switch their healthcare plan
i was however unable to track down a copy of the actual proposal, can anyone confirm or deny this?

Posted by question | Report as abusive

More of the liberal health card garbage. There is NOTHING wrong with our health care system.

Posted by One_Mad Taxpayer | Report as abusive

“the U.S. will pass up an opportunity to build a system that’s fair, sustainable and offers better value”

If someone would propose a system that is fair, sustainable, and offers better value the vast majority of Americans would jump at it. It’s not that we don’t see the flaws in our system, it’s that the proposed system doesn’t do anything to fix the flaws. Having the government run a broken system won’t fix it, just ask GM or Chrysler.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

The first problem (of employee provided insurance) is easily fixed by changing the tax code in two ways: individuals get a tax break for providing their own insurance, and second, providing the tax benefit for companies only for the amount provided to the employee who can use it to make his own choice among many plans and these plans must be available to individuals at the same rate as if they were employeed. If the individual chooses a catastrophic plan that costs less than the amount provided by the company, he should be free to put excess into a tax-free account that can be used for medical expenses.

Notice that this plan also takes care of what happens to the individual that is laid off. Since the insurance cannot be purchased from the company unless it is also offereed to the individual on the same terms as if he were employed, he will be free to continue it using his savings from the health account. The company and the union will be free to negotiate an amount (not a level of benefits) that are provided.

The coverage of “pre-existing conditions” cannot be mandated without encouraging people to not purchase health insurance. By not erasing debts of those who do not provide any insurance people will be encouraged to purchase major medical insurance which can be at much lower costs. In addition, this would discourage overuse of medical facilities, especially of relying on emergency room care.

Posted by Cliff Alexander | Report as abusive

The administration is missing the main point. Why is health care so expensive in America?
Liability, a patient come into the hospital and the standard of care is based on the law suit that should be avoided. Obama administration is not willing to handle the male practice cap because of interest group. The reform will drive more dr out of the filed that already is missing thousands of dr.

The reform should be on fixing the system, and not overload it with another 50 million clients

Posted by dr | Report as abusive

“It’s not that we don’t see the flaws in our system”

Sorry, I was too hasty to jump to a conclusion; One_Mad Taxpayer obviously doesn’t see the flaws.

Seriously, one doesn’t have to be liberal or conservative to see that there are problems. It’s just that each side (not like there are only 2 sides on this issue) believes that a different issue is the problem. It’s hard to agree on a solution when you don’t even agree on the problem.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Less value – For $13000 a year, an average American gets health-care that is inferior to all industrial nations.
No security – You get very sick or you lose your job and you lose your health insurance.

Posted by Sam S. | Report as abusive

Fear-spreading by far right-wing media, i.e., Obama’s plan is a Nazi plan, etc. The irony is that so many of the American people are being manipulated “nazi-style” by propaganda spread by large corporations. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of good Americans either can’t afford private health insurance or can’t qualify due to a pre-existing condition. Nothing can be accomplished if the hard-core spin continues.

Posted by Sygma | Report as abusive

I’m 73. My wife is 64. She has diabetes II but is not insulin dependent. No insurace company will insure her other than the one we have from my employer. I pay $13,000 per year plus co-pays and 10$ overage on hospital bills (even tho’ I have Medicare and Secondary Health). My wife lost our doctor’s coverage and either goes without medical care OR takes a doctor who looks at his watch after 10′. We need some new approach. The $13,000 ($17,000 with all other medical expenses) is 33% of my retirement.

Posted by Dick Diamond | Report as abusive

The point about stagnant wages as a reflection of hyperinflative health care costs rings so true. There are a whole host of people who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo (insurance companies and the doctor’s union, better known as the AMA most notably). If health care hyperinflation continues at the current rate, the most likely scenario will be companies continuing to shift the cost burden to employees. MORE cost transparency is needed, MORE competition (including government options), MORE accountability for cost, and most importantly, BENCHMARKING care standards (referred to as rationing by the doctor’s union). Don’t confuse QUALITY of care with QUANTITY of care. Ask my father, who’s had pneumonia FOUR times over the last five years because his (old) doctor has insisted that his psoriasis medication hasn’t compromised his immune system…..

Posted by Joe Bonomasses | Report as abusive

no matter what change takes place–enormous amounts of people are going to really get pissed off–there is no way to provide 50 million with health care without extorting dollars from who ever has them–medicare clients will pay thru the nose for medicaid–i am glad i am retired from the health care field

Posted by peter lener | Report as abusive

Re: – Posted by Pete C.
Which is it? Are you a conservative or a Republican? They are almost mutually exclusive in light of the Medicaid drug benefit the Republicans voted in.

Posted by e065702 | Report as abusive

Just another case taking from one group of people in order to give to another. The government should be getting out of health care instead of forcing companies farther down the socialist path. The main reason for the cost of meds is the governments refusal to grant long term patents to the companies who develop the meds. It forces companies to jack up the prices to recover the large sums of money spent to develop the meds in the short period of time they have sole rights. This is just one example of how government forcing its way into the health care field raises the cost. Can anyone give one example of where government involvement makes anything better? Public schools, housing, or air travel???? HAHA!!! Stay out of health care big government before you destroy that to.

Posted by Daniel Mckay | Report as abusive

Because the government has had so much success in running any business, I guess we should let them run healthcare as well. King Obama said it best, “Fedex and UPS aren’t in trouble. It’s always the USPS”. Anybody that agrees that the gov. should be in healthcare is a moron.

Posted by Clemdog | Report as abusive

# “Americans are blissfully unaware that their
# healthcare system provides appallingly little value”

Worse by far is that they are unaware (blissfully or not) that their healthcare system is fictitious. Yes, that’s right: there is no healthcare “system” in America. Americans have the dubious distinction (among many others) of living in the only industrialised nation without a healthcare system. The natural question for any rational person to ask (“why is that??”) does not seem to occur to Americans. They seem to be content with, even proud of, their ignorance. Why is that??

Posted by Moe Badderman | Report as abusive

I have coverage from Kaiser. I have a sore foot. I emailed my doctor with a detailed description of my symptoms and what caused it and she promptly emailed me back telling me to continue the cost effective care I was already administering myself.

CoPay = $0.00
No XRay needed
Consultation = $0.00
Time spent in waiting room: O:00 min
Distance travelled in car: 0 miles

How does this work? My doctor works for an HMO that has standards of care and, gasp!, benchmarks. She doesn’t make more money by ordering more procedures. They don’t fire up the MRI just for a sore foot. I benefit because I can consult the expertise of a doctor about a minor issue from the comfort of my own home. The members of Kaiser benefit from lower premiums.

People need to show some willingness to accept that the most responsible treatment for a damaged knee may be a brace and some ibuprofen for six months, not an MRI and expensive orthopedic surgery.

I kind of like managed care run by technocrats and actuaries. I think it is the most equitable and cost effective way of delivering healthcare.

Added bonus? When I see the doctor, I walk into the clinic, show the nice lady my Kaiser card, pay my 10 dollar copay, and go wait for the doctor. No billing, no reimbursement forms, none of that in or out of network hassle, it’s all taken care of.

Posted by Josef | Report as abusive

It seems to me many of the people in the U.S opposed to healthcare reform are the same people filling pews on sundays. Dont you think jesus would want everyone to have healthcare? I’m not a christian simply because I believe in being kind to everyone, not just stale white bread.

Posted by Chris D | Report as abusive

It is just the kind of comments like the one Clemdog made that convince me that America is the new Nazi nation. Spewing hate, and innuendo and lies is the order of the day…..
Healthcare in America needs reforming…. but I haven’t heard anybody say the government would be running the healthcare business…..

Posted by edgy | Report as abusive

The only to solve the HC issues mentioned in your article is the single payer healthcare program. Specifically, H.R. 676, John Conyers bill.
If not now, when?

Posted by Christine, RN | Report as abusive

If you haven’t worked in health care as a provider at a system level, please don’t comment on how good our “health system” is; we don’t have one here. We have several hundred, profit-centric systems that do not have any motivation to coordinate care, in fact there are tremendous competitive disadvantages to cooperation for the pieces of the system that offer the same or similar services.

That is exactly the point, there is no incentive large enough from a business perspective to meaningfully cooperate and attempt to actually improve health in this country. Tort reform would be nice, but is not a huge contributor to health care costs. Insurance reform is a good start, but there is too much greed on that front for anything useful to come from insurers. The AMA represents approx 10-15% of us. The rest out intentionally don’t belong because they are no less corporate than Cigna et al.

To actually improve health and save my kids’ future, we have to imitate Kaiser , Geisinger etc. on a massive (yes, Government!) level, employ physicians (sign me up!) hold us to quality standards rather than volume targets and have the government hold the malpractice riders for all participants (its tough to sue the Government and make any money at it) and put all government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, VA care and this new one)into one US CARE program. Eliminate any new contributions to Medicare, etc and take all the funds from those programs to help finance US CARE. Anybody that wants private care or insurance can keep right on paying exorbitant fees for highly variable quality. There will undoubtedly be fewer health insurance companies, but a few less zillionaires in this country is ok with me.

Posted by Michael Williams, MD | Report as abusive

It only makes sense the more the federal government CUTS Medicare payments to health care providers, the more health care and insurance costs with RISE for the rest of us.

In typical big government fashion, the Obama Administration is rushing to throw money at the problem – without first performing and publishing for the public a detailed analysis of “What works and what doesn’t” within our current healthcare delivery and insurance industries. For each item that needs to be “fixed”, the report should list the possible options and costs to implement solutions, then outline which option the government wants to implement.

The government should first focus on reducing the costs of health care and insurance through the aggressive identification and elimination of FRAUD and over billing.

The government should offer tax credits to healthcare providers and insurance companies who implement computerized Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems.

Lastly, if the government really wants to through money at the problem, let’s offer a Federal Tax Credit to each and every U.S. citizen who is currently paying out-of-pocket more than $200 per month for healthcare services, insurance, and prescriptions.

Government intervention simply does not increase efficiency or cut costs. Our government has no business in the health care industry.

(By the way, I am a life long Democrat but on this issue I must side with the Republicans.)

Posted by Jodi Boyd in L.A. | Report as abusive

Beware the ‘Industrial Medical Complex’! It’s $400 hammers all over again. We’ve been frogs stewing in a slowly heated pot. Costs just go up and up. I had a co-worker with a very sick child. Our small company saw its premiums double each and every time we tried to renew based on the costs of that poor little girl. it was the biggest lose lose situation ever. Management absorbed the costs as long as they could, then we began paying more and more out of our own pockets. But ,when dealing with a dying child money is not really an issue you speak of. I don’t care what side of the political isle you stand on … the system has appalling flaws … and its the wrong issue to try and use as political cannon fodder. I am not saying that I agree with Obmamacare. Actually I think that Obamacare doesn’t go far enough. It just bandages the system … while what we really need to do is transform it.

http://docs.google.com/View?id=dfz22bg6_ 1554wgh8xhn

Posted by Juls | Report as abusive

Yes, we need to reform and improve our system !
As a conservative, I whole-heartedly agree !
But let’s be honest: the retards in congress are not
concerned with healthcare ! It’s all about CONTROL !!
Solution: Term Limits!
Get rid of all the dinosaur legislators!
Elect people with new ideas that are willing to
work for the good of the country !
Keep doing the same every time vote!

Posted by Max Lehmann | Report as abusive

This commentary is dead on.

We have a lousy healthcare system today. It is designed to deny you coverage so that insurance companies can maximize their profits.

The problem with trying to fix it is that most people are healthy and aren’t really using their insurance. You can’t possibly know how bad something is if you aren’t using it.

The people that know how bad the system is are in the minority simply because only a fraction of the population is sick and seeking healthcare. Many aren’t getting the care they need. This is wrong.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Let’s recall that a good deal of the problem started when the government forced the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) on the system. Prior to that large insurers were able to negotiate rates directly with providers thus keeping rates somewhat in check.

The HMO was the first great idea from the government.

Agree that Cobra is expensive.
1. Amend the law to add a slight premium for cobra participants. There is no reason an individual should be penalized. If laid off or terminated the employee should be retained in the company’s pool until the individual is re-employed.

Prevent the loss of coverage during illness.
1. Amend the law to have insurers provide coverage to those at no cost through the illness.

Limit frivolous lawsuits. Eliminate contingency law suits. The party that loses the lawsuit pays all legal costs.

The statement that 17 percent of the US workers are employed by the state does not mean that they are covered by government run health care. The care is provided by third party insurers.

Remember the government cannot even obtain the H1N1 swine flu vaccine in sufficient quantities in time. How can they manage a complex system?

Take several measures to correct the problem and monitor results.

If the people want nationalized medical let’s do as Obama promised during the campaign; we all should be covered by the same plan that covers congress. If the government is going to run health care lets have one plan.

Posted by Healthy For Now | Report as abusive

What the article fails to mention is that employer-provided health coverage a GOVERNMENT subsidy, because what employers pay for is tax free. The government pays 60% of the US health bill. That’s what is driving the prices up up up……

We haven’t had a free-market health care system in a looooong time.

Posted by wxbrwer | Report as abusive

Is socailism the only way to reform health care?
Maybe we should look at the socialism that already exists in our country first. Like the VA. Like the Post Office. AmTrak. Face it, there is not very many things hat the government does well and socilized health care has been tried in other countries. IT SUCKS!!!!

Real reform can only be had with a great simplification. My healthcare bills are lower when they come to me and I file the claim. I pay and receive the reimbursement. I get the same service and show a high level of concern for the turnaround…I’m on the hook. Sometimes as much as 2/3 lower. Huh! Fees are so varied for similar services from state to state you wouldn’t beleive it. I once took my son to a Florida ER while on vacation. They billed my insurance 3 times what a resident would have paid. My Maine insurance paid twice what the Florida resident would have paid and I was billed the difference: all of what a Florida resident would have paid. A few phone calls and a couple well crafted letters and I never heard another word (or got another bill.) So in addition to insurance co shenanigans we all know about, the multi tiered billing of hospitals needs a whack…The price shopuld be the price, I don’t feel well or have had a crash and I’m supposed to negotiate fees? NOT EVEN CLOSE TO FAIR!
Doctor Canuck, You said technology is slow to catch on in the Canadian system. How about this: I needed a hip in Maine. One group wanted to do minimally invasive surgery followed with 12 weeks recovery then (and they didn’t exactly come out and say this) 12 weeks of physical therapy. I’m young and asked for a 2nd opinion. Referral produced a Doc that does th 24 hour hip. I took it, paid less, had no restrictions, minimal scarring and returned to work without any assistance at all in 13days. The other Docs don’t even want to consider this because they have something that works and makes them a ton of moola. Problem is if you do their standard hip replacement on an elderly person the 12 week recovery makes their recovery less than ideal. REWEARD OUTCOMES!

Posted by DanO | Report as abusive

Why are the only people complaining about Canadian/British health care American?

Posted by Matt K | Report as abusive

I have no problem with reform – this is what government needs to help us with – tort reform, more control over the insurance companies to reduce cost and limit them from giving someone the boot for pre-conditions, etc, etc. How about big gov lowering our taxes so that people could afford better health care? Force in the availability of HSAs to save for health care.
The point is that there are many things that the gov can do to help us change health care with forcing extensive bill down our throats. I have herd some of the good and the bad about the bill and can only conclude that it will get expensive and worse case set our health care system back. Why do I conclude this? Simple, the government is too involved. Gov Health Care, No thanks.

Posted by MJ | Report as abusive

A recent visit to the US confirmed my suspicion that the US, for all it has good, has no safety net for the disadvantaged. Not everyone is poor or unemployed due to personal failings.
Branding health care for all as “socialism” is a weak riposte. Firstly, ideal socialism is about sharing benefits rather than the rich grabbing the lot. It’s not red-rag communism, but I can see how it grates on the more rabid capitalists who seem to think it’s possible for everyone to grab all the money they want.
All I have to say, really, is there are a lot of ways to make health care more equitable. Just one comparison would be the Aussie set up, and I am certain there are others as good or better.
I am covered both by the government Medicare, and optional additional private insurance. Because I have some private cover – which of course I have tailored to my own needs and income – I pay a 1.5% levy at tax time towards Medicare. My additional private cover (if it matters I am 59 and just about to retire) costs me $24 a week, about .05% of my wage, and slightly more of superannuation. Even that is subsidised between 30% and 40% depending on age.
That’s a darn sight better than the 33% of pension mentioned by another comment on this thread, and the coverage is quite good.

Posted by John from Oz | Report as abusive

And I can keep going:
My brother was laid off, COBRA healthcare cost him $1700 a month. Thats more than I make in my day job. How is this helpful
Again I say simplify.
My Older brother died of cancer last year @59. He had had little health coverage as an independent plumbing contractor, and luckily he had just a little prior to diagnosis gotten on his girlfriend’s policy. He did not suffer utter financial ruin, but barely dodged that bullet. As he became disabled he applied for SSI in April. He died the following January having received one check from SSI. I think his widow was asked to return it.

If the Govt is going to pay we are going to pay too much for too little. If the government will hand down minimum and best standards and practices to this gawdawful mess of an industry we could all feel comfortable dealing with the bills and expect our reimbursement. Hospitals can’t keep a straight face overcharging you as easily as they do your carrier.
Still there will be times when many of us are on the outside of the system. Medicare/Medicaid should be extended to all who are out of a job and a subsidised benefit should be made available to all who are working at slave labor/wages. Taxes are an important part of the mix. Witha few well placed simple tax changes we can cover the gap. 1. Tax all market trades @.01%. This will move the markets toward more secure positions and reduce day trading and program trading. 2. Treat all compensation (salary bonus stock and options) as wages. Raise the top tax bracket to 90% at $1 million. eliminate the tax cap for social security.
The derivative market being worth $450 trillion turning over 3 time in the next year could produce $135 million.
Think of the volume ot the markets on a daily basis. If securitization has this much capital tied up, our money supply is about 4 times too small. We can and should print the difference and inject it at the bottom of the economy. It will multiply about 8fold on the way to the top and I dare say barely inflate prices. A great deal of foreign debt could be retired on the way from the bottom to the top.
I could keep going but someone might call me a Nazi and I’d have to send out the flying monkeys.

Posted by DanO | Report as abusive

You hit the nail on the head.
As to people who are concerned about tort reform and medical malpractice exposure, they should consider that if there was a single payer universal plan, the traditional standard for adjusters and personal injury lawyers calculating damages in settlements- medical expenses times a multiplier- disappears. Medical malpractice creates additional medical costs. Inadequate health care coverage creates additional tort damages. So in addition to helping business a national plan with a single payer model helps business again by reducing tort claim exposure. The only busines that would be hurt by reform is the health insurance business, and it only makes money by not providing all the needed coverage.

Posted by Bradford C. Riendeau | Report as abusive

I believe that we owe the citizens of the United States a workable and affordable healthcare system. We can build it but one of the controls over the system would have to be an separate citizens group that controls it. I think we need to limit tests and Doctor and Hospital liability. People can only do so much and people make mistakes. We will also have doctor testing and continuing education, plus we need to develope cures rather than drugs that keep patients coming back. Enough of the designer drug and drug advertizing. Might also start allowing pharmacists sell people cures without prescriptions like they do in other civilized countries. Just give me a system that works.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive

I have a medical insurance from a German insurance company that provides a worldwide coverage, with only one exception….. no coverage in the USA. Why would that be?

Posted by Leonardus | Report as abusive

Yes, in my opinion, Kaiser Permanente the model of a not-for-profit HMO who provides affordable health insurance and quality, efficient health care to it’s members.

Kaiser has already implemented Electronic Medical Records (EMR) as well as an extensive integrated health care delivery management system, HealthConnect.

Members are empowered to set appointments, refill prescriptions, email their physician, and even view some lab results via a secure internet portal.

Not only do they provide free flu shots to all Members (no cost, no co-pay) but some Kaiser locations even offered “drive through” flu shot clinics last fall.

Posted by Thrive! | Report as abusive

“Because the government has had so much success in running any business, I guess we should let them run healthcare as well. King Obama said it best, “Fedex and UPS aren’t in trouble. It’s always the USPS”. Anybody that agrees that the gov. should be in healthcare is a moron.”

You must be thrilled by the performance of private industry lately, especially the banking, automotive, housing, and real estate sectors that brought such prosperity to this nation and have left us in such a strong position. Is it still “Morning in America” you rube?

Posted by Randolph Matamoros | Report as abusive

“Americans, as they contemplate change, have suffered a weakness of nerve.”

Idiot. Whoever wrote this is either a graduate of the Frankfurt School or a moron. Perhaps both.

Kaiser is crap everywhere but California. There is no such thing as “free” flu shots. Somebody paid for it. Another mentally challenged demi-nut.

Posted by Denver | Report as abusive

“Americans have the dubious distinction (among many others) of living in the only industrialised nation without a healthcare system. The natural question for any rational person to ask (”why is that??”) does not seem to occur to Americans. They seem to be content with, even proud of, their ignorance.”

1) because we’re different doesn’t mean we’re worse (or better). We need the system that works best for us and that may not be the same as any other system in the world.
2) because we’re different doesn’t mean that we haven’t asked the question of “Why?” That question has been asked (and answered) many times. We know (or have a general sense at least) of why we have been different up to this point.
3) because we’re different doesn’t mean that we are ignorant. Most Americans are aware of our differences and in many cases proud of them. Most importantly we know that we must do what is best for us, whether it is what the rest of the world is doing or not. Too often what “the world” thinks we should do is not in our best interest.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

I really don’t like the idea of trusting the proposed healthcare while at the same time denying cola’s for retirees and at the same time INCREASING the medicare insurance payments.

Posted by ken | Report as abusive

“Less value – For $13000 a year, an average American gets health-care that is inferior to all industrial nations.”

Quality of care is highly variable, just like any other service, since it is dependent on the person giving the care. There is no doubt the best quality of care in the world can be found here in the US. There is also no doubt that some of the worst quality of care can be found in the US. The “rankings” of health care are of little use in determining who has the best health care because the rankings are biased by their preconception of what constitutes “the best” healthcare. For some it is the availability of “universal” healthcare, while others have their own bias. However, absence of “universal” healthcare doesn’t mean that we don’t have available the best quality of healthcare in the world.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

“denying cola’s for retirees”

ken, the cost of living has declined in the past year. Denying a cola is doing retirees a favor because the cola this year would be a reduction!

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

I do not disagree that the healthcare system is not perfect. I believe it has many flaws that must be addressed. I simply disagree very strongly in Government making decisions concerning my healthcare. I do not believe politicians of any persuasion when they deny any intentions of forcing me into making decisions I am uncomfortable with concerning me or my family’s healthcare. The politicians track record permits me to not trust them even more than the facts written in what I have read in the healthcare proposal(s) thus far. I am not a right wing nut job nor am I a left wing weirdo. I simply believe the government should not be involved in my decision making, but protect my right to make informed decisions. The politicians approach here will not lower costs, but it will get them what they want, further control over our choices in order to force upon us their ideologies whether from the right or the left. Give me liberty or give me death.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

I, like most Americans, understand how expensive health care is, and that we need some rational reform. But, like most Americans, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as the Obama-Pelosi-Reid legislation would do.

I, and most Americans, as near as I can tell, have no clue as to HOW the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Health Care legislation will actually operate.

But I, and most Americans, know what we DON’T want: a single payer Federal system.

No one has yet articulated rational answers to the many questions being asked.

How will we provide 40 or so million additional people with quality health care without adding substantial cost and rationing to the system? Will illegal aliens be covered, and if so, WHY, in heavens’ name? Why should anyone think the government can run such a complex new system effectively, when they have failed miserably with much simpler systems like Social Security and Medicare? Why does Congress choose to exempt THEMSELVES from the system? Who works for whom?

Unless and until Obama-Pelosi-Reid effectively and unequivocally answer the legitimate questions Americans are asking, I can guarantee that Americans will respond extremely negatively in the next elections to any politician who tries to ram an unwanted Health Care system down our throats.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Where is tort reform?
Where is insurance reform?
Where are the pledges from our duly elected representatives that we will have access to the same quality of care that they have?

If our health care is soooo awful – why do people we personally know come here from France, Canada, Saudi Arabia, China and Germany?

Posted by PFMinTN | Report as abusive

Kudos! There are other massive defects:

Insurance (any kind) defies normal economic supply/demand curves. The principle of “Adverse Selection” says that the risk spreading mechanism itself is damaged by low-risk people who opt out. In essence, young healthy people say, “I’m young and healthy… I’d rather just NOT participate and keep my money, but thanks anyway.” And the market is left full of high risk participants.

Now pose the question: Should anyone be able to opt out of paying for roadways? (Highly socialized…except in Orlando and a few other places where there is a toll booth every 50 feet. Last time I traversed the city I wanted to shoot myself. Thanks so much, Mickey Mouse).

Should anyone be able to opt out of paying for police, fire departments, or military? (Much like health insurance, all risk spreading mechanisms. All incredibly socialized).

Meanwhile, people with families should not have to work for large companies (groups) to attain low cost coverage. That effectively dampens job liquidity and thus hinders broader economic markets. In effect health insurance actually dramatically dampens competition in the economy. What happens when GM closes down a plant and 800 workers find themselves constrained to working for another big company in order to find health care comparable to what they had before for their family? (Ever notice how manufacturing plants are often planted in small towns where there aren’t a lot of other big companies?) Stated another way: Big companies don’t have to compete nearly as hard for good talent as little companies because they get the only deals in town on health coverage. (They don’t have to compete with small companies to provide a better working environment, product, or culture…all the elements they should be forced to compete on). Health insurance under the current paradigm is just bad for capitalism at large.

Market job liquidity demands that job decisions be completely separable from the major health coverage decisions. So the current system patently discourages broader free markets and discourages massively liquid value flows rather than encourages them.

There has not been enough head-on discussion of “Adverse Selection” and the underlying group economics involved.

Posted by Kyle S | Report as abusive

our healthcare system cant be that great.1st you only see a doctor when your sick or get cancer,then they are so tightly regulated as to what there allowed to study or comment on (regulated by big money,can you say “drug corporate interests”).so were forced to pay for pro-active health screenings & tests out of pocket after taxes ,ouch! can i really aford that with a mortage & kids&car payments& oh yeah insurance premiums?there are fantastic legitimate roads to better health,though its hard to tell which anti-aging clinics arent just out to break you ,because they have to pay the sales teams salary ,who probably get there testing & supplements for free,thats why you can see how effective pro-active healthcare is by just looking at how healthy these people are on the leading edge of health&fitness.maybe if we break the old school idea of i only should worry about health after im sick &break down high costs for everyone we just might all fair much better than allowing huge corporate giants from holding healthcare like a carrot on a stick in front of us /as if were not paying for it through lower salaries & wages.reform could open the door to a cornucopia of new-age healing & experience new & better health alternatives through naturo pathics & chiropractics,which insurance pays for regularly,maybe because its pro active ie acting on the body before it gets sick? is truly the better way to look at heathcare &reform.or go back to the dark ages of oh, im ok,i dont have cancer yet,so lets keep things the way they are for fear of real progress,& health for future generations!!!!

Posted by john d. mayo | Report as abusive

In 2004, my wife had a cancer operation on her colon. The initial exams and subsequent surgery and treatments by a team of doctors proved to be quite successful. She did require a return to the hospital a short time later for a stomach levage due to the complication of a colon block brought on by the heavy use of pain medicines. Through another complication of a rare infection she was remitted to the hospital three weeks later for care and treatment that was more serious than the cancer procedures she had undergone.
Eight months after that, we were involved in an auto accident in another state in which I was at fault in very inclement weather with my wife and two grandchildren. We all required treatment of some form for various injuries of which my wife sustained the worst.
The insurance companies (health and auto), in effect, came to our rescue and upheld their contracts 100 %, even for coverage of our grandchildren, to the point of reimbursing our grandchildren’s parents for expenses and lost time at work required of them for travel out of state to check on the condition of all of us. Within the course of those infirmities and those months we had incurred expenses amounting to roughly $30,000. Our portion in the form of out-of-pocket co-pays and deductibles amounted to $1,200.
The insurance companies handled all the administrative details and simply asked us to comply with their procedures and processes, which we did. They paid all our expenses without a sound or whimper, much to our peace of mind.
Our insurance plan was a simple plan provided by our employer and was not in any way special or “cadillac.”
Before retirement, I was a retired pharmacist who, during his career, filled 90 % of his prescriptions billed to third party insurance companies. Each day hundreds of thousands of prescriptions are transacted through pharmacies nationwide for payment through insurance companies – without slow down or hassle – with insurance companies fulfilling their part of the contract.
Has anyone researched the hundreds of thousands of medical insurance transactions and payments that are made quietly and successfully on behalf of patients every single day in our country?
Our current discussions on health care are filled with banality and apparent ignorance of the current high state of medical care in this country. You focus on a tree stump and cannot see the forest.

Posted by Old Sage | Report as abusive

If this covers illegals, I am against!!!!!

Posted by JJ | Report as abusive

there are no such illegals, that you let them die

Posted by Manuel Klarmann | Report as abusive

The Health Care Bill has nothing to do with Health Care!By definition it’s the prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being. The bill does not help one root cause of poor health namely a bad diet. Why is a burger a buck yet broccoli $1.50 or so? Why is high fructose corn syrup the #1 source of calories (sugar per capita 150#/person)followed by white flour. Why are billions spent on subsidizing corn and other crops? Why are cattle fed corn and M&M’s rather than crewing their ccud as their supposed to? Why is 30% of our farm land used to grow unhealthy (aflatoxin, one of the most allergenic)corn with 90% Monsanto’s GMO seed? Why is there no prevention? Why no tort reform? Why should an D in NJ have to pay over a $1 MM lawsuit for treating a patient for $35 without any problem…except didn’t speak English. Why the increase in paperwork…53 some odd codes for getting hit by a ball! Why no reduction in regs preventing so much waste (once a box is open, all the individually wrapped items are discarded).
This bill penalizes those (of the same age) who have a healthy diet, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and exercise by subsidizing those who abuse drugs and their health.Why is autism (a brain inflammation)1 in 150 and in the UK in boys 1 in 35? Why is the flu vaccine with 25 ug of mercury going to be pushed to pregnant women.One answer Money.Look who’s being rewarded for getting who elected? Why is Janet in charge? Support and loyalty. Where’s the integrity in Congress or the White House.

Posted by Russ | Report as abusive

Russ has it about right in his post, we’re not focused on health care, we’re focused on treating illnesses. Treating illnesses makes money for the big players; healthy people don’t.

The whole “health care” debate is a conundrum. Most people have figured out that we have a big problem with health care costs. But we’ve also figured out that we don’t trust Washington with our money. So any kind of reform is going to have to happen without a big infusion of government influence.

Good luck to that happening in the current Dem congress!

Posted by Lin Atkinson | Report as abusive

“This bill penalizes those (of the same age) who have a healthy diet, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and exercise by subsidizing those who abuse drugs and their health.”(Russ)Are we contemplating having white bread police here? Or are we simply asking for better and more varied alternative and preventative coverage? Will sports and exercise that lead to medical problems also be considered high risk?

“Good luck to that happening in the current Dem congress!”
- Posted by Lin Atkinson . So when was the last time ANY health reform was offered by a non-Democratic leader? Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face or you may end up in medical bankruptcy.

I, and most Americans, would like to not be included in other peoples smack downs! Own up to your smack-down on your own or cite references!

Posted by Linda | Report as abusive

Just pass a law that requires they carry basic catastrophic like we have a law that requires basic liability insurance for cars.

If people submit bills and proof they can’t afford that, then let they should be on Medicaid.

There is a nation wide shortage of doctors the media loves to completely and totally ignore that is one of the root problems, so expand the slots for student in medical schools and give block grants for medical educations with the requirements that in return they work for ten or twenty years where the state needs them or that fifty percent of their patients be Medicare or Medicaid patients free of charge.

The hospitals all have to be run as non-profit organizations and the spending sprees by their administrators have to come to an abrupt end. These are the ones setting the horrendous prices and where government really needs to get tough. Might as well go after the university administrators and their binge spending at the same time. Right now this pack is all just waiting for their big bail outs so they can buy new jets too.

Posted by Jasmine | Report as abusive

Just pass a law requiring basic catastrophic health insurance like we have a law that requires basic liability for cars.

If they cannot afford that then they are supposed to be on Medicaid. Do some public service ads to let those people know what Medicaid is and where to go to get it. There are people all over the net who have never heard of it and do not even know it exists.

Pass a law to end people with pre-existing conditions being barred from coverage.

END THE NATIONWIDE DOCTOR SHORTAGE – Which is one of the roots of the problem with prices. Expand the slots for students to fill at medical schools. Give block grants for free medical education, with the condition that 25% to 30% of their patients be Medicaid or Medicare patients that they see for free for as long as they practice medicine.

And just as importantly – CRACK DOWN ON HOSPITAL SPENDING AND CHARGES – Their administrators have been spending like drunken sailors come into port for decades and their prices reflect that. Right now that pack is waiting for their bail outs so they can get new jets too.

Posted by Jasmine | Report as abusive

Liberals think they can improve the problem of a partial monopoly by turning it into a total monopoly. That’s what single-payer health care is: “Single payer” means “single provider.”

It’s the famous liberal two-step: First screw something up, then claim that it’s screwed up because there’s not enough government oversight (it’s the free market run wild!), and then step in and really screw it up in the name of “reform.” (hat tip Ann C)

Posted by ThomasS | Report as abusive

I love all the commenters attacking “government run healthcare” when the current reform being proposed is not anything close to government run healthcare. Yes, there is a public option and that will be government run insurance, but which part of “option” don’t you understand?

If you don’t think the government is any good at running things then don’t choose the public option. How hard is that? It’s your choice, but don’t take away my choice. I want the public option.

Healthcare reform opponents are all about taking away choice from Americans.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

This is similar to the military-industrial complex. Very expensive, lots of cheating, lots of redundancy, lots of unnecessary stuff etc…Lots of $ for few companies and individuals.
Same scare technique used: if u do not have it you are at a major risk! And who pays for it? We the people with tax and we the people have no say. Just the lobbies have the say.
Will Obama have the chutzpa to rise to the occasion!

Posted by Steven L | Report as abusive

This is just another news service hailing the praises of Obama, who has no clue about anything, having never held a job, or done anything worthwhile with his life, prior to buying the presidency. Keep the government out of our lives, and let’s continue to live the American dream, and not destroy it with socialist nonsense.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

Dear friend,
I like all your writings.
This subject of commenting is taking for number of days and for months.
Yes.Many American middle class employees will not get much home take salaries,if they join to this new health care schemes.
I know very well that,America is not following Socialist pattern in economics and in regard to social welfare.
One thing,we have to understand that,her ratio of income for the same jobs from other developed and from developing countries are very high.
Being moderate income generating countries have started to provide some,immediate health care insurance by deducting very negligible percentage from their monthly salaries with equal deducted amount sharing by concerned governments for better health care to her own people.
Here,many Americans are objecting of Mr.Obama!s new health care insurance scheme.
Please assume that,you are in government head,what will you do for your own people with poor economic and social back grounds.
After getting public opinion polls from her citizens,if necessary with some genuine modifications for this new health care scheme for implementation.
Some dramatic scenes are in air.
To sum up,real,modified,genuine benefit oriented new health care insurance will be accepted by majority Americans.

Moe Badderman is, I think onto something, when he (she?) commented on: “content with, even proud of, their ignorance. Why is that?”

I think the answer is kind of simple, sadly. One part of it is about the dumbing-down in America over the last 20+ years. I’m an American who would say that applies to: entertainment media (e.g., The Simpsons, relity TV, American Idiot) so-called “news” media (Faux Noise,) public education system (No Child Left Behind,) political ideologies (cartoon-level of Libertarianism,) politicians (Palin,) pseudo-religions (Falwell, Dobson, etc.); just to start the list!

What you end up with is a nation of ignorant people, who end up being EXTREMELY foolish, to put it mildly! Mind you, “ignorant” in the sense of lacking knowledge.

That folly is best typified by them becoming what has been termed: Sheeple — people who behave like scared sheep, who believe what ever they are told, ESPECIALLY by those they regard as “authorities.”

Couple that with the real national religion: worship of wealth, and the attended encouragement of individual greed without bound. One of the fundamental tenets of that being: do what you are told, even if it conflicts without your own self-interest, the self-interest of your kids & grand-kids, etc.

Put it all together, and you end up w/ the poor, confused, foolish woman who had the outright stupidity to ask a nonsense question (about Obama and Nazi’s) of Barney Frank, and expect him to not take her head off?!!?

Barney is right — how do you have a conversation with a dogmatic, ignorant (as in unknowing — could she get a passing grade on a 10th or 12th grade quiz about Nazi Germany??), stupid (as in exceptionally dull, or in this case, gullible) person? Likely not!

Once upon a time, in the U.S. being a conservative meant you had a brain, and used it. I’m old enough to remember Wm F. Buckley.

Now, it seemingly means the exact opposite! Namely, if you do have a brain, you stubbornly refuse to use it! Instead, you repeat what Rush told you!!

You also allow yourself to be bamboozled by utter bull-shit! But one example: a lot of the gas-bags, and their parrots, talk about Free Markets. None of them apparently studied economics. If they had, they would have learned that there is a HUGE difference between a free market in which no seller/producer has dominance over any other, and hence over the market, from the polar opposite case of a monopoly!

I a true free market, the profit of each supplier / producer is held in check by the market. The closer you get to a monopoly, the less that check exists, or is effective.

So, in their confusion, they play into the hands of the wealthy, and becoming more so by the day, insurance and health companies — who like so many industries in America have become more consolidated over the years. The wanna-be monopolies are not confused; they know that the more concentrated they are, the more profits they make!

They just get the confused, uneducated followers to clamor for exactly the opposite of the direction we are really going, in order for us to go there faster! The fools cry for “free markets” and “keep the government out of it,” while the consolidation proceeds, to the increased enrichment of the few remaining.

They are profoundly confused in that they *fear* Big Government. They were told to be afraid, and they are!

What I fear is Big Corporations cum Government — the day, that has likely already arrived long ago, wherein the few, major corporate interests control the US government utterly and completely.

What was it Obama just spent 5 hours golfing with a UBS big-wig this week?!!?

The ignorant masses are herded along, excited when necessary, and distracted when not.

How utterly pathetic!!!

What will be profoundly sad is to see those same folks give up their lives, and the lives of their kids, grand kids, and every other living thing on this planet, because they are told by “authorities” that they foolishly trust that is what they are supposed to do!

We’ll obliterate life on this planet in order to maximize the wealth of a very few, in the short term.

Hopefully Europe, China and the rest of the world will put a stop to that seemingly uniquely American madness!!

After all, we may be jingoistic about our national superiority, but in the end, our ignorance and stupidity will prove stronger, and we will slowly crumble into a third world status that already typifies so much of America; especially the South. In the end, we will be stupid, and the rest of the world will rightly knock us from our perch! And right so!!

And for those who would respond to this about patriotism, I’d recommend they go read Mark Twain’s comments on that subject, and educate themselves before they open their stupid mouths!

Posted by MadAsHell | Report as abusive

Mr. Swan,
I enjoed your article. Especially how you point out the obvious, costs are rising. However, to fix somehting even a huge system like US healthcare you must first understand what is causing the costs to rise. In your role as a reporter you have done a good job of regurgitating what the experts you contacted said you forgot to give any reasons why the problem is occuring. I would suggest you do a follow up article and look into what is driving the prices up. Is it the crookedness of healthcare companies (as the President has implied on several occasions), is it the demand for healthcare is ever increasing, or is it the legal/government pressures that have been placed on healthcare (lawsuits, medicare requirements, etc). Do yourself and your readers a favor and educate yourself on the real issues not on what the politicians are saying. Thanks

Posted by Healthcare Worker | Report as abusive

True, the commercial side of health insurance has warts. What isn’t said in the article, however, is how bad the alternative is. We know, for example that Medicare, the shining example held up by all in favor of “health care reform”, provides the average beneficiary with from $100,000-$450,000 more in benefits than they actually pay in over the patient’s lifetime. The system is heavily subsidized by people that pay in, but don’t, at this time derive a benefit. An aging demographic and a horrible economy are ensuring that less money is “making it into” the medicare system. Medicare is set for catastrophic failure and adding millions more onto the rolls will only hasten its demise. No the better answers to our problems are a healthier lifestyle, modified health savings accounts, cross border health insurance purchases, risk pooling and tort refrom on the private side. On the public side, strigent criteria for aid for new enrollees, adjusted age of eligibility for Medicare and increased premiums must be inacted.

Posted by Brad | Report as abusive

American friends, please note: Canadian medicare is not what is portrayed in U.S. Republican ads.

Visit http://rabble.ca/rabbletv/program-guide/ 2009/08/best-net/universal-health-care-m essage-americans-canadian-doctors-hea

Posted by Thomas Bergbusch | Report as abusive

To Mad As Hell:

Hear! Hear!

Thank you for your statement regarding the path America has taken in the last few decades. I fear it is too late for those trends to be reversed within the remainder of my lifetime. It will be sad to see my country just a shell of itself when I go.

Hopefully, the next generation will get it right and not suffer much from the ill effects of idiocy.

Posted by Steve in CA | Report as abusive

I really appreciated this article. I work for a large, not for profit health insurance company, and I am a strong supporter of health care reform.

I agree with your assessment that our employer-based insurance approach is failing many Americans – and leaves most of us without a safety net in the event that we lose our jobs.

A random musing on the health care debate: I’m surprised that the moral / religious / values-based aspect of this hasn’t become more of a “selling point” for advocates of reform. I think the human dimension of the health care problem – the fact that millions of people go without proper care because they can’t afford it – is actually one of the most compelling reasons for change.

It is just the RIGHT thing for a wealthy, developed nation to ensure that all of its residents have access to healthcare! Presumably, many of the opponents of health care reform are also “good Christians” – how would they propose to take care of “the least of these” Americans who can’t afford to pay for appropriate care themselves?

I also believe that universal coverage will create value in terms of public health and economic productivity. A healthy population is a more productive population.

Posted by Heather | Report as abusive

Mr. Swann: Your article is terribly written and suggests the only real alternative is to have the U.S. government step in to save us, PLEASE. The same government whose Medicare and Medicaid is frought with fraud and waste and rapidly running out of money? Instead of looking for the government to bail us out how about instead we look to eliminate goverment regulation??? Allow Insurance Company’s to compete on a national basis instead of regulating them and requireing they only operate on state and regional levels. If cash for clunkers is any indication on how the government will run healthcare I for one am very happy to keep it just the way it is. If the government truely wants to revamp healthcare then privatize Medicare and Medicaid, provide Tort reform and get out of our way.

Posted by Doug | Report as abusive

Whoa, eliminate regulation?? The collapse of the banking system and the subsequent world economic crisis didn’t teach us anything? We are indeed doomed.

Posted by Laz | Report as abusive

@Doug “If the government truely wants to revamp healthcare then privatize Medicare and Medicaid, provide Tort reform and get out of our way.”

Are you aware of some examples of other industrialized nations that have taken a similar approach, which is working well?

I agree with you that Tort reform is much needed – American physicians drive up costs because of the need to practice “defensive medicine” in case of being sued. Malpractice suits should be limited to cases of actual negligence, and awards should be limited as well.

Also, how would your suggested approach address the issue of the uninsured?

Thanks!

Posted by Heather | Report as abusive

[...] High costs, low household income growth and the vicious cycle: “We pay for healthcare in considerably lower salaries,” Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton University economics professor, said in a telephone interview. “The system seduces people into thinking care is pretty cheap. We are kidding ourselves if we think that the shareholder pays.” [...]

As an outside observer, I just don’t get Americans. I mean, I could see your concerns if people in America actually lived longer than other developed nations, which they don’t, or if your health care system was more efficient, which it isn’t. Why on earth you want the keep the system you have is beyond me.

Do you really WANT to have to suck up to your boss, so you can keep your job, so you can keep your insurance, so your sick kid’s medical bills won’t destroy you? I can walk away from my job and that won’t happen. I have a choice, do you? I live in one of those dreaded “socialist” countries (Canada) and I can go to any doctor I want, any clinic I want; I can choose to pay for stuff that’s not covered (and I have), can you? My father, a financial failure by any measure, got sick and went to the hospital. I worried about him, but not about his care, not about any medical bills. Not one of his medical decisions had anything to do with cost, only care. What would happen if your parents went into hospital and they had no coverage, no ability to pay anything? Would you just walk away, or pay for their care? Some choice. You’ve got to love that American Freedom.

Why you all aren’t demanding something better is beyond me. I guess you have to be American to understand.

Posted by Fixerdave | Report as abusive

Only the most stupid and uneducated people bring the word “liberal” into this debate.
This entire debate is about helping the very people who oppose a public option.
Those are not smart enough
to understand the basics of how they would benefit.
Big Business has herded them around like little children and filled them with fear.
Time to grow up and actually use your brains…….

So decide…is America a country where laws and policy are based on lies, and controlled by big business, or is America a country where law and policy is based on truth and
and dictated by an educated majority.
I’m not sure those screaming “liberal” have any intention of finding the truth, but I hope the rest of Americans will.

Posted by K Schluter | Report as abusive

We pay for car insurance in most places in america**.
I think we should pay for our own health insurance. WHO we pay is up for debate, whether the federal system or a private system or both. To address the article’s issues about the mindset of the common man in america, having a monthly, payment like my cell phone bill or car payment, should help people realize just where the money comes from that pays for thier formal health care. Just like children think money comes from the bank, people need to realize the money comes from us. **in pennsylvania if i want to drive an automobile, i must buy and pay for insurance.

Posted by dr jiminsurance | Report as abusive

My wife and I are very “saddened” by the behavior of a number of Americans in trying to use vitriol to try to derail a serious discussion on health care and the apparent agreement by others that this “anger” must mean something so let’s not change anything. I think it’s true that many currently working American believe they’re ok with health insurance and add to these those on Medicare, well just let the others get a job or get old.

The problem is those that don’t have coverage, tend to leave their health issues until they’re a crises and then go to emergency rooms, which have to address at least the immediate problems and pass these higher cost services onto those with insurance. So this issue of 50M+ Americans without insurance coverage doesn’t go away.

I also am a Naturalized US citizen from Canada and have experienced both health insurance systems and the Canadian system BY FAR exceeds that in the US. I was assaulted about 2 years ago and experienced the health insurance maze in trying to get insurance coverage for the health damages resulting from the assault. The health insurance file on just this case is more than 3 inches thick with rejections, appeals, partial payments, appeals…. I’m sure many others would have very similar stories as the insurance companies are very good at maximizing profits and minimizing payments.

I do fervently hope that the vast majority of thinking, considerate Americans will work past the hyperbole and self-interest and truly establish a health insurance system we can be proud to show the world. Right now as a nation we do not have a health insurance system that protects our citizens from financial disaster.

Posted by jgt | Report as abusive

Americans are fearful of what they do not understand. It is human nature to defy the essence of change, however, it is apparent that healthcare is in desperate need of some tweeking. Many Americans must decide between paying their bills or paying for healthcare. Many jobs provide health insurance but at such a high cost that it is deminishing the ability for people to pay for food, shelter or utilities. Americans need to understand that President Obama and his cabinet are trying to make it affordable for all Americans to be insured. I personally am outraged by all the resistance. I work in healthcare and have seen retirees losing their benefits, my husband is disabled and I cannot afford insurance while working two jobs. I am raising two children and taking care of my husband while trying to pay for the mere necessities of life. It is less expensive for me at this point to pay out of pocket for office visits and prescriptions than it is to pay premiums for my entire family. I pray everyday that an extreme emergency does not arise. So to those people who are fighting to keep things the way they are I pray that they do not lose their jobs, retire, or become disabled because they have no idea what its like in my neck of the woods. Hey, I understand that we may have to pay higher taxes there is always a downside. However, I would at least know where my tax dollars are going. I would know that I am paying for us to be able to go to the doctor before we are on our death bed. Many Americans do not seek the care of a physician when they are ill because its either that or no house. Then enter the influenza pandemic. President Obama is not God and in the real world things are not perfect, but at least he is doing something. I feel better that he is making decisons and not just watching as we go through struggles. The US economy and healthcare did not just fall apart in one day it is going to take time to make improvements I have to believe that change is a good thing. Change is the basis of America.

Posted by Tami Koon | Report as abusive

The genius of U.S. [here you can just fill in the blanks ... "Education", "Healthcare", "Food Safety", "Defense", "Homeland Security", "Securities Exchange Commission", "Global War of Terror", "Patriot Missile Shield"...] is in *****providing the illusion of value and security.********

Americans must be encouraged to set aside jingoistic claims about having the best [fill in the blanks] system in the world and look more honestly at its short-comings.

Americans were just forced at gunpoint to destroy 700,000 perfectly good motor vehicles that poor people could have used to commute miles and hours a day to some minimum wage job in some urban gulag. That “service” cost $1.8B to Big Auto and Big Car Dealers, but the American taxpayer cost was $4.2B with “administrative overhead”, a 40% Federal markup and that’s cheap!

Most of the Federal programs have up to, believe it or not, a 95% “administrative overhead”, as when General McKierney made the mistake of saying in an interview that the 2007 expenditures in Iraq were $27B and almost nothing in Afghanistan, when here we were told that Defense needed $50B in “emergency funding for Iraq, Afghanistan and *****other undisclosed national security purposes”.**** He was sacked after the elections, and now we have blood-and-guts McChrystal and S.A. Holbrooke saying we need another ‘surge’ of $100B, that’s $200B in one year without any audit, without even justification!!

Yes, American has the best healthcare system, and some of the finest mansions in the world too, but you and I are never going to set foot in them! While the uber rich get the Mayo Clinic, we get bologna and mayo with some quack holding a foreign medical degree nobody ever heard of, wired into the Medicare system, getting paid by Big Pharma to experiment on nursing home patients. Why do you think they have to choke down two handfuls of pills a day?! What a national disgrace, no, an international disgrace, our US “healthcare” system is!

Posted by Timothy Lynch | Report as abusive

As I read through this article and many comments, I hear ‘America is afraid of change’, ‘the system is broke’, ‘the current system is not sustainable’, ‘why don’t we demand something better’, etc. I do not understand why we must turn to the governement for an answer. The government has proven (repeatedly) that it cannot manage social programs effectively or efficiently and, in fact, is running a budget/deficit that is not sustainable. This country was built on competition, supply and demand, and drive for improvement – it is impossible for the government to deliver this because it ‘cannot go out of business’. If you want a taste of a government run health care system, then stand in line at your local DMV or Post Office – I hope you like the customer care and speed of delivery.
PS – Don’t be fooled by the Public Option. If we get a Public Option, the private insurance companies or ‘competition’ will surely be out of business in 5 years – who can compete with a tax-funded Public Option? THEN we will have only ONE OPTION – like it or not.

Posted by EVJ | Report as abusive

@EVJ: UPS seems to compete well with Post Office??

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

The public isn’t against health care reform. It is the millions that the health care industry is pouring into fighting health care reform that makes it seem that way. I don’t know why so much media coverage is given to the few who protest against health care. It is as if the media have also been paid off to televise protest against health care in order to fool the population into thinking that we don’t support it. How many “red necks” are really against health care when half of them don’t work?

Posted by Avg Joe against CEO's | Report as abusive

EVJ, the only reason private insurance would be out of business competing against the public option is if private insurance can’t do a better job than the public option. It is a public *option*. People would need to choose the public option over private insurance. Now, why would they do that? I mean anti-reform people keep talking about how bad the public option is, yet you seem to be saying that it will be so good that everyone will eventually choose it… so, we shouldn’t be allowed to have it. Huh?

Regarding budget deficits: Only about nine years ago we were running budget surpluses. If the economy starts adding more jobs than it’s losing by the end of next year, we’ll likely see surpluses again in about six years.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Health and education. These are the two largest social programs.

Well, we have many private schools, in spite of the fact that property taxes are a major burden (read public school tax). If good private schools can thrive than why can’t good private insurers thrive.

Public “option”? No brainer.

BFP

Posted by Barton Poran | Report as abusive

[...] Swann at Retuters. Read the whole thing. The genius of the U.S. healthcare (system) is in providing the illusion of value and security. For t…   [...]

this is just pure hogwash! it is always about the employees these days. nice,,,,but who hires them, trains them , and pays them!!!! the employers costs have gone up much more,,,,,higher taxes, higher salaries, and higher over head! the govt has failed to make Social Security work and they have had around 70 yrs to do so! yet, you think the govt can make a govt health care program work that fails in every country that does it????????? hogwash,,,, worst yet most of these countries are about the size of Texas? where did you get you education??

Posted by brad gillam | Report as abusive

I think the spirit of pursuing a national health care program for all is good, but do not kid yourself!
There are ramifications, both good and bad to deploy such a grandiose task as national health care.

Here are just some issues to consider and ponder.

Who pays for it?

The writer of the article suggest that Americans are not getting value for the health care they have today. While it is true, the cost has gone up and the benefits have been curtailed, Americans still have more choices for health care than most nations. Right now, employers pay for it and it’s typically subsidized by the employee at some level. The proposed new health care will require employers to pay for the national health care in the form of a tax. My question is, do we need to burden businesses and corporations with more tax obligation. If it is more the factor to consider is will this drive more businesses off shore and capital investment dollars along with it, thereby adding to the increasing unemployment roles along with increase strain on the government to provide with a tax base loss?

Will health care services be curtailed?

I have a friend who lives in Canada. He tells me, a doctor’s appointment is like getting an appointment with a King.
It’s an appointment sought with a purpose and when you get it, you sure don’t want to miss it. Canadians will alter their schedule to make sure they make that appointment. Talk to a Canadian and they will concur. Further this friend unfortunately had a son who was badly addicted to drugs. When he sought medical attention, he was told that he would have a 2 year waiting list. He told health care officials his son would be dead if he had to wait that long. When he inquired as to why the length of the wait, he was informed that there were only so many communities with specialized care that handled that type of treatment. He took his son to the States for treatment.

Can we really rely on the US Government to administrate Health Care?

Take a look at Cash for Clunkers. The program was a big hit and consumers cashed in, but the government was overwhelmed and could not keep up with the dealer request for voucher reimbursements. The government could not even provided an accurate accounting with how many vouchers had been received, validated and reimbursed until days after the program was ended. Congress even noted their own deficiency in administrating this program. Now this was a limited time program for $3 Billion dollars. How do you think the US Government will do administering an ongoing program that will spend Trillions? Have you ever talked to a service man or woman?

JGT: Are you kidding, the Canadian healthcare system is better than the U.S. Your newly appointed director to the CMA, (Canadian Medical Association) says Canada’s healthcare system is in a ‘Crisis’. If you believe Canada’s healthcare is so much better please feel free to move back.

Posted by Doug | Report as abusive

For once, an article that pinpoints exactly what it is that the present administration has failed to find: tangible objectives for the health reform campaign. A very well written article that perfectly describes the state of the debate in the United States today; something few other journalists seem capable of doing.

Posted by ISUer | Report as abusive

2/3 are happy? I’m thinking that the stat really translates into 2/3rds are relatively HEALTHY so as not to be aware of how the system works. And it sounds like the other third doesn’t count, even though that’s 100 million people.

The Brits spend between $7K-$8K per person for healthcare and have better outcomes. How about this for a polling question — “How would you like to receive an additional $4K-$5K a year from your employer and have better results in your medical care?”

Posted by Cheryl | Report as abusive

The real issue is our government receives care at no cost to them but from our taxes…It should be available to all people.. Are they not for the people or the insurance company?

Posted by jj | Report as abusive

Liberal minds and liberal thinking.
Americans pay less for health care while the federal government’s deficit increases by 100 billion dollars a year. How is this cheaper ??? Your accounting is irresponsible and mindless. Wakeup Democrats!!

Cheryl is right. Most Americans are healthy, so they have no idea how bad our current system is. Most Americans just go in for check-ups which is usually a no hassle affair. That’s because it is low cost for the insurance companies. Just wait till you need surgery or expensive medication. Then you’ll see who tries to ration care. The older I got, the more horror stories I heard. Then my dad got sick and I got to experience it for myself.

He missed a week of chemo because of his insurance company. It was important that the chemo run concurrent with radiation. How much of my dad’s life will be cut short because of the insurance company’s delay tactics? He’s 100% with a private insurer. Had he been with traditional Medicare with heavily regulated Medigap supplemental insurance there would have been no problem. The thing is he thought he was in a Medigap plan! These private insurance “Medicare Advantage” plans are the biggest scam. Taxpayers pay 30% more to fund them and they provide worse care just when the patient needs the plan to work.

Anti-reform people talk about the fraud that goes on with tradition government administered Medicare, but they never talk about how much of the fraud is recovered by Medicare. See, traditional Medicare pays first so that care isn’t delayed. Then if there is fraud they go and get the money back. It is the recovery statistics that anti-reform opponents use to complain about rampant fraud, but they fail to mention that the government gets the money back.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Timothy Lynch.

What a post…

I have checked many Blogs, newspaper forums (worldwide) concerning health care for the populace of a particular Nation & have never seen an \’American person\’ with such a clear perspective. It is a pity there are not many more citizen such as yourself!

Posted by Iain Charles | Report as abusive

I think it is a huge misconception “most Americans are healthy” I am 5’10″ and I am OVERWEIGHT, however i am working on loosing more. I have no problem with competitive insurance, but I am a very responsible individual who is trying to get healthy. As I go out and look around I’d day most Americans ,myself included, are at least overweight. A simple physical taking smoking,drinking, weight ,blood pressure,Cholesterol, resting heart rate, and if all is good a nice little stress test. Compile this and if someone is determined unhealthy from the test then give them 90 days to show an acceptable improvement in their lifestyle. Preventative measures will help a ton, America has really slowed on the smoking now we need to get up and push ourselves away from the table a little earlier and get some cardio. Insurance cost based on healthiness good competative rates. Very healthy= very low rates. Is this fair high risk drivers pay more. Iron out the kinks put the responsibility in the hands of the individual and if they don’t want to do it make’em pay.

Wow Mike, you’ve changed my view 180 degrees. I’m going to call my dad up now and give him 90 days to take responsibility for his cancer as it was obviously caused by his choice of lifestyle. He certainly doesn’t deserve further health care if he can’t shed the cancer in that time.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Americans dont like universal healthcare as that implies taking care of america’s poor with tax payers money. And america’s poor are significantly black and others whome the rich white conservatives dont give a shit about. All this free market, government interventions is just crap they did not as much as whimper when their personal freedom were taken away by bush under security. its racism thats coming in the way of universal health care

Posted by Kiran | Report as abusive

WoW , I just knew some one would come with something like this ,i was addressing people who have nothing wrong with them obviously , pre-exsisting conditions would not be included as well as family history. There are FACTORS YOU can change, now please people have some common sense about my statement. I am so very very tired of lazy people who wanna hide behind statements like that. Oh it is also true , some cancers are associated with obesity as well. Remember , Factors that can be changed by us. If it can’t be changed then it is not a target of my comment, please now lets put on our COMMON SENSE hats!

Yes Mike, you just knew someone would read your comment for what it is: Blaming sick people for being sick.

All Americans have a right to health care without the threat of bankruptcy. It is time that this country delivers on this basic human right. The health care reform being proposed by the White House delivers on this right without affecting those that are happy with their current coverage. It is time to get this reform written into law.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

One of the big problems with health care is that we treat it as a privilege, not a right. Although I have a hard time understanding how one can be in pursuit of happiness when sick, we have been conditioned that health care is an industry like any other, where money can be made. Other countries have recognized long ago that health care is a fundamental right.
A second major problem is that most Americans have never traveled outside the country and have never been exposed to other systems. As a frequent traveler, I had the privilege of having had encounters with a few other medical systems. I can say that the one we have pales in comparison with the ones in many other countries.
Until we have a better educated population that learns to adopt solutions from other cultures if they suit our needs, the health care debate will remain an exchange of poorly understood and poorly documented information in which the only winner is the insurance industry.

Posted by Allan | Report as abusive

Obama has come to office with promises of “change” by reversing two longstanding problems that afflict the USA: (1) health-care, (2) climate-change.

Now health-care affects the USA only, while climate-change affects the whole world. I’m not a USA citizen, so I’ll leave (1) for the North Americans to debate to fight over their new civil war (politically only, we hope, though violence wouldn’t surprise me given the tone of some bringing back “Nazism” and “Communism” from the dead).

On the other hand climate-change is a problem that afflicts us (earthlings) all.

My concern is that, in spite of my initial skepticism, Obama looks set to be able to do *some* change. But I doubt he’ll be able to pull a double whammy on these two issues. And if I had to choose to sacrifice one, that is (1). Also, (2) is more likely to succeed, because it’s not an “American-only” issue, where big corporations can push their agenda by corrupting enough members of Congress as easily, and many countries (especially EU and Japan) are now in a position to support changing the climate-change.

However, I do hope for my fellow USAmericans, as well as for the rest of the world that he can push through both policies and that they may enjoy a truly civilised health-care system, like most of us do on this side of the pond, instead of their current medieval robbery.

Posted by Oscar Lima | Report as abusive

Mike (August 29th, 2009 11:55 pm GMT)

your sense logic would make everybody laugh, if it didn’t have tragic consequences. Between the lines of your lifestyle description (which is beyond the point of universal health-care), I think I understand that what you claim is that a “free” (let’s call it this way) health-care system such as the USA’s encourages people to be more responsible vis-a-vis their health.

Strangely enough though, the places where health-care is 100% universal (e.g., Sweden, France, Italy, Japan) people seem to be much more healthy that in those where the system is not universal. Surely a “French paradox” if you believe in such divinities as the invisible hand of the free markets…

Posted by Oscar | Report as abusive

amazing that no one is actually talking on how to pay for all this–any idea on how to pay health care for 50 million americans?–forcing them to pay for is going to get 50 million americans very angry–can keep our present insurance–big deal if my co payments go up and they will–someone has to pay for welfare patients–they are the only ones wo will benefit from all this sound and fury–the dr? they are going to be very angry and I assure you some will lave the profession–they will be nickled and dimed at every turn–the lawyers hopefully will be very very angry if caps are placed on their cases–all i say is bend over and render to caeser

Posted by ilaboo | Report as abusive

Excuse me folks, but health care is NOT a “right”, it IS a privilage. It cost money, sometimes a lot of money. And all this is paid for by those of us who “pursue hapiness” by working for it. There are and will always be thos less fortunate, those who ar accidentally hurt, by their own mistakes or those of others. Hey what evere happened to families taking care of their own. How about charitable organizations, over and over again are proven to handle money more efficiently that any central government. The US of A was built on ideals of small local control government, and people taking care of themselves. If you want to see change via government, look into legislation against monopoly-sized health care companies, ridiculous health-related lawsuits and such. I’m convinced that expanding the governmental healthcare system will lead to more corruption, and yes, higher overall cost to the majority of us.

Posted by Toolman | Report as abusive

Most polling respondents in America seem to have a differing view of the state of America’s health care than the author of this piece. A large majority of them — as many as 75% by some polls — are satisfied with the insurance they have — and, presumably with the care their health insurance provides them.

I have to agree with them. I am retired, and am insured by a combination of Medicare and an insurance plan provided by my former employer. I recently suffered a heart attack. The care I was given — at an emergency room, and then at my provider hospita (Kaiser) — was excellent. There were NO ISSUES with the quality or thoroughness of the care I was given, nor the responsiveness of the doctors, nor with my insurer and medicare paying their insured portions of the costs incurred. The system worked the way it was meant to work.

I don’t dispute that there are problems in the system that need to be fixed, nor that the system in general costs too much. But I do dispute the idea that the entire system must be scrapped, and replaced by an all-new health care system. We should fix what’s broken, and keep what’s working.

I do dispute that the government should throw the old system out in its’ entirety, cobble together an all-new one, and then operate the resulting health care system. They are simply not capable of creating a RATIONAL all-new health care system that works, or of CONTAINING THE COSTS, as is evident in Medicare and Social Security (as well as in nearly every other large federal bureaucracy.)

For those who doubt this, I refer you to the FACT that the bills now before congress are incomprehensible (try reading HR3200 — I have!); were written in an entirely piece-meal and uncoordinated fashion; and were NOT EVEN READ by congress before being voted on. This massive congressional mess — if not deep-sixed as it should be — will be placed into the hands of nameless federal bureaucrats to “flesh it out” in the form of hard-edged rules, and the result will be “interpreted” by an army of lawyers and all levels of our courts for many years to come.

Congress should focus on FIXING the evident existing problems (widespread fraud in Medicare, and ridiculous legal costs, to name a couple…) BEFORE they even CONSIDER tackling any systemic revisions. Congress wants to throw the baby out with the bath water, and they don’t want to bother with even testing the water first!

–Mike

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Toolman,

Health care is absolutely a right. Some people like to point out excerpts from the Constitution or human rights treaties that we have signed. I simply say it is self evident. Anyone who thinks health care is not a right lacks common sense.

Ilaboo,

You are already paying for all those people. You are paying more for them now than you would under universal coverage, because they get treated at the hospital instead of seeing a doctor before their illness gets out of hand. Do you think hospitals are treating the indigent for free? Nope, you are paying for it right now.

Mike,

Several people here have already addressed your points.

Most people don’t realize how bad the system is until they get truly sick (not a cold, but a serious illness). Most people are healthy so the system looks fine to them – hence the “mirage” of decent health care. This is one of the main points of the commentary.

Our current system is not being “thrown out”, it is being reformed. If you like your current insurance you get to keep it. If you don’t like it, you get new options to choose from. The reform bill is long precisely because it is grandfathering in so many things to ensure that the change doesn’t adversely affect people that are happy with the way things are. The bill would be a lot shorter if we did just throw out our current system, but most Americans don’t want to do this.

I’m glad that you are happy with Medicare, but you don’t seem to want younger people to have the same options as you. Why is it that you feel it is fine for you to be in a public plan, but you don’t want to give me the option to be in one?

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

The solution to the healthcare crisis is quite simple: just do away with health insurance. As long as there’s a rich third party paying for health care, all the doctors and hospitals will continue soaking the system for as much as they can. With no health insurance companies to stick a big bill to, they will have to lower their fees or go broke. This means doctors will have to start driving Fords instead of Mercedes, living in moderately priced homes like the rest of us, and shopping at Wal-Mart instead of Tiffany’s. Hospitals won’t be able add more unneeded office space, grab up more land to expand, or harrass patients about past-due bills. But as long as the insurance industry exists, there will be no meaningful change in our healthcare.

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive

Healthcare as a human right? Yes, but in a sense. Each person has a ‘right’ to be treated by a doctor.

But only if they can pay for the treatment, or have another person is willing to pay on their behalf.

Human rights begin and end with you. Your rights allow you to do something without interference, or to prevent people doing something to you.

But your human rights do not extend to other people being forced to make positive acts for your benefit.

While you have a ‘right’ to healthcare, this does not extend to demanding the taxpayer to pay your bills.

A man has a ‘right’ to privately own property. But that doesn’t mean he can demand other people to pay his rates.

Africans can claim a ‘right’ to clean water, but this does not mean they can demand the water of other people.

You have the right to defend yourself from harm. But not to demand other people to defend you.

Otherwise your human rights would negatively effect other people, and the whole rights system would fall apart.

Where universal healthcare is provided to all, it is because a government has the money, resources and the incentive to do so.

And when the government provides you a tangiable benefit at the taxpayer’s own expense, then that benefit is a privilege. Not a right.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

Toolman — you are indeed a tool, and should be hiding in a shed.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

The thing that most writers fail to mention is that most of the proposed reforms could be dealt with by outlawing the most onerous practices of insurance companies. Doing so does not require a public option. Nevertheless, everyone needs to recognize that outlawing denial for pre-existing conditions, capping annual out-of-pocket expenses, stopping policy cancellations, etc. will increase the cost of insurance. This may be offset to some extent if insurance is mandatory for everyone thus bringing into the insured group all of those younger and healthier people who require little medical treatment.

Posted by ultima | Report as abusive

Oscar needs to reflect on what will happen in places like France when the cobination of increasing medical care costs and demographics (or low fertility rates) catches up with the universal health care plan. There will not be enough people in Europe to pay for the panoply of social programs offered by the governments.

There are several differences between Medicare and Medicaid participants and those in the pre-Meidcare category. First, those in Medicare are past their earning years. Second, what private insurance company would be willing to insure the older and less well people typically found in Medicare? Medicare folks would quickly trade their insurance plan for the youth and general wellness of the pre-Medicare set. Third, Medicaid provides for the indigent so a public program already exists for those who cannot afford health insurance. Perhaps the means test for Medicaid seems onerous to some while imposing the costs of universal health care on their neighbors does not.

Posted by ultima | Report as abusive

Mike says that health care is absolutely a right. It is interesting that so many millions if not billions of people have no access to health care. That seems to suggest that it is not a right but something you have to earn to receive. We throw terms like “right” around too loosely for them to have meaning.

Posted by ultima | Report as abusive

kirk wrote, “The health care reform being proposed by the White House delivers on this right without affecting those that are happy with their current coverage.”

This is a myth. A public option will be the deathknell for all existing private plans. Private insurers will not be able to compete with a subsidized public plan and therefore will have to fold their tents and fade softly into the night along with all of their investors including 401ks and other pension plans.

Another myth is the prohibition against the participation of illegal aliens. Without a provsion requring every applicant’s bona fides to be checked, that prohibition is not worth the paper it is written on. This is an exact analogue of the immigration fiasco. We pass laws to regulate immigration and entry into this country but then emasculate them by our failure to secure the borders, and apprehend and repatriate illegal aliens. Obama and others are being completely disingenuous about this.

Posted by ultima | Report as abusive

One might well ask Kiran why America’s poor are significantly Black? Do you suppose it has anything to do with a pervasive sense that the government and working people somehow owe them a free ride. There is something inherently wrong with taking from one what he has worked for to give to another who has not. After years of affirmative action, the problem still exists. There is no simple answer but surely removing incentives to better oneself is not the answer. Every government handout in some way removes a part of one’s incentive to get an education and work hard at earning a living.

Posted by ultima | Report as abusive

Only the fringe elements of America refer to health care as a “privilege”. Health care is a basic human right. It is humorous to read statements that attempt to prove health care is a privilege simply because not everyone has it. This is like saying that because the genocide in Darfur happened, it is not a violation of human rights.

Think about what these “health care is a privilege” people are really saying. They are saying that you need to earn the privilege to health care. So, when that 8 year old kid slips and cracks his head open, he better have done something to earn the “privilege” to be stitched up.

Anyone with common sense knows that kid deserves treatment. These “privilege” people do not believe this. These are the type of people that are opposing health care reform.

The health care reform being proposed by the White House is very good. It pretty much doesn’t change anything for the people that have insurance and are happy with it – except guaranteeing that they don’t lose coverage when they get sick. It reduces the cost of caring for the indigent and keeps many of them from ending up at the hospital. This will reduce delays for everyone. The public option brings down costs further by forcing competition into the insurance market. Everyone wins with the reform, except maybe the insurance companies that are currently rationing care to their patients.

The only people that don’t want the plan once they understand it are the private insurance companies. Not because they’ll be put out of business, but because they will have to redirect their obscene profits to the actual care of their patients.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

I should add that it is a myth that the public option will be subsidized. The public option will be paid for through premiums from those who participate, just like private insurance.

The only subsidy in the health reform bill is a credit to get health insurance if you can’t afford it. This credit can be used either for private insurance or the public option.

The reform leaves the choices up to the individual. You have more choice under the reform being proposed by the White House.

This is a very good resource for debunking the misinformation regarding health reform:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/

This is a more general resource for the health reform:
http://www.healthreform.gov/

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Kirk.

You cannot just claim something is a ‘right’, just because you don’t like the alternative.

Human rights can give you freedom, or prevent others from harming you. In some rare cases, it might impose a duty on someone to act fairly.

But where does universal healthcare fit in?

How does a failure to provide healthcare impact on freedom? The individual is not effected, and is free to do as he pleases.

The Government is not harming you by not providing healthcare. They are just failing to intervene in harm caused to you by another source.

If it is a duty, then imposed on who? And why? Are you implying that the African governments ‘must’ provide healthcare to it’s people? What about India, China, or Russia? Are they in breach too?

For that matter can you point out where, in UN law, this supposed right to *universal* healthcare is set out?

You cannot just begin on the assumption that it is a human right. You can’t just call something a right because you want it. It has to be set out, somewhere.

How’s that for a scary thought? Human rights only exist if they are set out by the UN. And that means they are a product of law, not a magical halo we get born with.

People who say ‘The right to universal healthcare is self evident’ are simply admitting they can’t justify it. Rights are not proven by common sense, but by international law.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

The public option will not be subsidized. It will be paid for through the premiums of participants just as private insurance is paid for. In fact, the only subsidies that exist in the healthcare reform proposals are credits for people that can’t afford insurance and credits for small businesses. In both cases the credits can be used to purchase either private insurance or participate in the public option. The public option is not given special treatment. The choice of where the credits go is up to the participants.

A boring academic reply regarding the right to healthcare… yes, I know normal people don’t care about this:

The Declaration of Independence set out a serious of rights as being self-evident. Why did our founding fathers not write a long treatise explaining why people had these rights? It’s pretty simple. Common sense dictated that these rights exist and who really cared if England claimed that they weren’t rights, but were instead the privileges of nobility. This disconnect is the very reason we separated from England. The same applies to healthcare.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

That is: series of rights

I hate typos.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Ok. That’s fair enough.

1. Please point out the relevent UN law which sets out universal healthcare as a human right.

2. Or point out where universal healthcare is set out in the Declaration of Independence.

3. Is it in the Bill of Rights? Or Magna Carta?

If not, then universal healthcare is not a right. Just yet another opinion on how some people think the world should be.

The founding fathers decided to recognise certain rights, and didn’t care if England agreed. Likewise, if some people believe universal healthcare is a right, the rest of America doesn’t need to care.

At the end of the day, a right needs to be set in law. If a right is not in law, it can’t be enforced. If a right can’t be enforced, it doesn’t exist.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

Yes, at the end of the day a right needs to be set into law, because laws must protect basic human rights. The right to healthcare without the threat of bankruptcy will finally be set into law in the United States once healthcare reform is passed. I’m glad we’ve come to agreement on this.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Haha seems to think legal rights are the only rights. Human rights are moral rights. Hopefully they are legal rights as well, but even if they aren’t they still exist.

Posted by Toadstool | Report as abusive

I was wondering if our congressmen and senators are looking at VAT (Value Added Tax), so everybody will pay for it, no matter what. Then small companies nor middle income folks has to be free from the burden of paying this entitlement? Just a thought.

Posted by Butch | Report as abusive

VAT is a regressive form of taxation. It is a flat tax on goods which takes a greater percentage of income away from the working poor than from the wealthy. VAT has no place in the United States and is not needed to fund the healthcare reform. VAT has not been proposed by the White House or by any serious proponent of healthcare reform. It has however been proposed by those who oppose healthcare reform in order to add yet another bit of misinformation to the already voluminous amount of misinformation already out there.

As has been said many times, we are already paying for healthcare for all Americans. We pay for this healthcare through increased hospital costs which are passed on to insurance companies which in turn pass them on to you as higher premiums. This is because no one can be refused treatment at a hospital – as it should be. So, those without health insurance let their condition worsen until they are hospitalized. After all, they can be, and are, refused treatment by general practitioners.

Think about a mild infection that can be fixed with oral antibiotics. If you can’t afford to see a general practitioner, you don’t get the antibiotics. So, your infection worsens until you are hospitalized and put on intravenous antibiotics. This requires an overnight stay at the hospital. Is this a cost effective system? No, but it is the system we have now.

The healthcare reform fixes this problem by ensuring that everyone is insured. This means that people that are currently uninsured will start seeing general practitioners when they get sick. This will reduce costs as these people will not end up at the hospital. We don’t need to look for more money to pay for healthcare reform as it is actually cheaper than our current system.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

You misunderstand me, Kirk.

My questions remain unanswered. Where is universal healthcare set out as a human right? Can you point it out to me?

If it isn’t set out as a human right in international or American law, then it is not a human right at all.

If changes in legislation provide for universal healthcare, this does not suddenly make it a human right. After all, laws can easily be changed.

Logically, a benefit given by such legislation would be a privilege. Something granted at the sufferance of the government, only so long as it chooses to keep the legislation.

I believe that I should be able to walk as I please, up to and including trespass on private property. But you know what? Just because I say I have a human right to trespass, doesn’t make it so.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

I haven’t misunderstood you at all. Neither has Toadstool who nailed it.

I will rehash something I wrote earlier regarding the fringe’s view of healthcare as a privilege.

“It is a privilege to receive healthcare.”

Let that sink in.

An 8 year old child trips and busts his head open. He has no money – obviously. His family has no money. Should he be stitched up or left to die? This is an easy answer for normal people. Stitch him up. This is not an easy answer for the fringe; the same people that are working so hard against healthcare reform.

No, it is a long bureaucratic debate with these people where things like the “Magna Carta” will be brought up. (Read the comments here to see that one) Perhaps the word “tyranny” will be thrown out. Yes, it is very tyrannical not to stitch up an 8 year old who is bleeding. I mean seriously, there are basically three groups of people fighting against this healthcare reform.

1) The misinformed. I can’t really blame them given the sheer amount of misinformation being thrown about. People have to work. People don’t have time to sift through all the garbage out there.

2) People disconnected from reality. These people are easy to spot. Just look for them throwing out stuff like “tyranny”, “Magna Carta,” or perhaps “Louisiana Purchase” when talking about healthcare reform.

3) People with a financial interest to make sure healthcare reform doesn’t go through. This would primarily be the private insurance companies and the congress members and senators they have bought.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

It was a simple question. Why is universal healthcare a human right?

A question you seem unable to answer. Your only real answer is ‘because’. You could have said so in less words.

You can choose to slur people as misinformed or as members of the fringe if you wish to. Such personal attacks are recognised for what they are, and indicate the weakness of your argument.

While you are good at saying something is a human right, you are not that good at justifying your assertion.

And this is not surprising. People who already believe that universal healthcare should be a human right, rarely need convincing of why this is so.

Which is why it is a lot easier to ‘preach to the choir’ then to actually justify one’s position.

Good day to you.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

Haha-

Universal healthcare may not be a universal human right as you say, but then maybe neither is the right to free speech, or the right to privacy, or freedom of movement. But we all realize that life would be pretty miserable without those things. So why don´t you put yourself in the shoes of someone who lost their job and can´t provide health coverage for their family?

Americans don´t even bat an eye and allow the government to spend billions and billions on defense to protect their “freedom” and BS but don´t really care enough about neighbors and coworkers to allow a safety net of universal healthcare in case things go wrong.

Instead there´s a predatory healthcare system in which insurance companies can easily walk away and deny coverage, and a pharmaceutical industry that charges ridiculously inflated prices.

I am lucky and greatful to have a successful career in finance and will probably never be affected by this in any meaningful way. In fact one of my motivations for success has been the fear of living in a country at the mercy of selfish idiots like you.

I´m originally from Spain where private healthcare is excellent and public healthcare is costly and inefficient. But if I´m unemployed and get cancer, I know the government will provide me with care. I may need to wait an hour in a public hospital to see a doctor but at least I can treat my condition. Why should the less priviledged receive a death sentence if faced with illness?

Americans, wake the f”"”k up.

Posted by alejandro | Report as abusive

Mr. Swann,

While I’m sure well intentioned, your commentary misses the point. You state that we don’t realize the true cost of healthcare because employers pick up the tab and then covertly pass that cost to the employee in the form of decreased wages. Likely a true statement. I would submit though that those in favor of a nationalized system, yourself included based on the tenor of your commentary, are missing the covert pass of cost on a much greater scale. There is this little item known as taxes. They also seem to rob workers of take home pay. If you work really hard you get to pay a much greater percentage of them. Medical is not free!!! Privatized or Nationalized. I would now ask what Nationalized system do we have that functions more efficiently than any comparable private system? I am not aware of any. This proposed system will cost more, provided less and shift additional burden of pay. For those who speak of the poor with traumatic injuries who are “left to die” wake up! It doesn’t happen. They get care just like the insured paying costumers. They just don’t pay for it. I care for them daily as do most doctors and hospitals across the country.

Posted by Jeff Rockwell | Report as abusive

This is a note in response to the comment from Jeff Rockwell.

Thanks for your comment. But I wasn’t particularly advocating a nationalized system, merely insurance where the individual gets the tax break instead of the company. This would make it easier for individuals to see the cost. It would also increase their take home pay.

It is worth pointing out that the share of tax revenues devoted to health care is not higher in Europe as far as I am aware.

Posted by Christopher Swann | Report as abusive

More importantly, the healthcare reform proposed by the White House is not a nationalized system. It is essentially the same system we have today, but with new regulations that prevent insurance companies from dropping your coverage, prevent them from denying coverage for preexisting conditions, and requiring them to spend more of your premiums on your care rather than administrative costs and marketing. These are the changes that will directly affect people that have insurance today.

Now, for people that don’t have insurance, you will be required to get insurance. If you can’t afford it, you will receive a tax credit to get it. As I’ve mentioned a few times, this actually reduces the cost of healthcare for everyone as the uninsured will no longer be a drag on our hospitals. Everyone pays for the uninsured today when the uninsured fail to pay their hospital bills. It’s better for everyone to insure these people and pay the cheaper general practitioner costs.

The public option is just that. An option. If you don’t want a government insurance plan, then don’t get the government insurance plan. Private insurance is not going away and you are not forced into or forced to pay for the public option. Not through premiums, not through tax dollars.

The reform that the White House is proposing is a series of moderate changes. But, these changes are targeted in such a way that as a whole they will have a huge impact for everyone. In my lifetime, I have never seen a more well thought out policy. The marketing, on the other hand, has been less than stellar. Personally though, I’ll take good policy over good marketing.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Beating a dead horse here, I know. But, I wanted to point out how healthcare reform opponents attempt to redefine concepts. Take human rights for example. We have a person in the comments section here attempting to redefine human rights as something that must be written on a piece of paper. As another commenter pointed out, a human right is not something that needs to be on paper to exist. The person attempting to redefine human rights then repeatedly asked to make the basic human right to healthcare fit their redefinition. That is a classic example of how opponents of healthcare reform attempt to redefine concepts.

The same tactics are also used with the concepts of “socialism”, “tyranny” and “Nazism”, but in reverse. Opponents attempt to redefine these concepts to tie healthcare reform to them. These are catchphrases that you have no doubt heard many times from opponents of healthcare reform.

Healthcare opponents like to attempt to redefine abstract concepts, because they can’t make their case with hard facts.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Kirk.

I think I have nutted out the issue here. You are confusing ‘natural rights’ with ‘human rights’.

‘natural rights’ supposedly exist regardless of codification (According to ONE of the many different theories of law- Bentham and others would disagree).

‘human rights’ are an aspect of international law, and require codification in order to exist. That is just common sense.

If arbitrarily taking something you want and calling it a human right isn’t redefinition, then I don’t know what is. So don’t accuse others of it.

As I agree with you that this thing is a dead horse, I might as well make my position clear and not respond further.

I believe that universal healthcare should be provided, if practical and possible to do so without taxing people into the stone age. And practicality will always be the main issue here.

But I will not go around pretending universal healthcare is a human right, when this is not backed up by contemporary legal theory.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

Wrong.

Natural law is not separate from human rights. Links are moderated here. So, you may Google “human rights”.

Wikipedia:

“Natural law theories base human rights on a ‘natural’ moral, religious or even biological order that is independent of transitory human laws or traditions.”

I find it sad that someone actually needs a piece of paper from some authority to understand that something is a human right. “It violates human rights to wipe out unarmed civilians,” says the Sudanese soldier. “Show me where that is written,” says the Sudanese general.

But, for robots that must be programmed, you may consume the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the Unites States adopted in 1948 which states in Article 25:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

I wonder what “medical care and necessary social services” means. I’m sure someone will come up with a meaning contrary to the actual meaning.

You support universal healthcare? Wow, I must have totally of misunderstood you this whole time. What’s this? “…if practical and possible to do so without taxing people into the stone age”.

Interesting, because we currently have a reform proposal that will provide healthcare to all Americans without raising taxes one cent for over 90% of the population. And for the people that will see a tax increase, it is a modest increase that puts rates back where they were in the 1990’s.

Instead of the middle class shouldering the burden of paying for the uninsured, as they are now through their insurance premiums, the burden is shifted to high earners who can better afford it. And that burden is less than what the middle class is paying now, since the healthcare reform package is a net savings as I have pointed out many times.

If you supported universal healthcare, you would be supporting the White House proposal as it fits your bill. Instead, you simply redefine abstract terms as a distraction to the most important issue we are facing today. Others here are talking about real issues. You are talking about petty definitions. Worse, you are even wrong about them.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Dear Kirk,

Remember to be careful what you wish for.

I can tell you that the majority of people on this post know what it’s like to be heavily taxed cradle to grave.

And I think you don’t.

I live in Canada and I eat taxes for breakfast, friend. You have no idea how hard those taxes are going to hit you buddy.

Of course, insurance companies are profit driven monsters too but at least you have the option to opt out.

You have no idea what kind of taxes you are facing friend.

Your leader Obama says something to the effect of “its not fair that you should get sick and go broke”

Buddy, you will all be broke.

Posted by Drew Kreutzweiser | Report as abusive

You are right. I don’t know what it’s like to be heavily taxed and luckily I never will, because I live in the United States.

As I’ve said, there will be no tax increase coming for over 90% of the people and only modest ones for high earners. This isn’t anything shocking. It is what our president campaigned and got elected on. In fact, this is just letting the tax cuts of the last president – that mainly benefitted the wealthy – expire; while at the same time cutting taxes for the middle class. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Dear Kirk,

I know I’m right. I’m just trying to be a good ol’ friend, Kirk.

I’m telling you…you have no idea what kind of taxes you are in for.

You – have – no – idea.

And if you believe that tax cut crap then you get the government you deserve and God speed.

The middle class always (I repeat always) shoulders the tax burden. Maybe this will seep in to your thick American skull.

Just remember what I told you. About going broke that is. If your country ain’t broke already.

Posted by Drew Kreutzweiser | Report as abusive

(To Kirk…)

Just remember what I told you.
You dumb Yankee ideologue.

Posted by Drew Kreutzweiser | Report as abusive

Dear Kirk,

How are you going to pay for the health care of 330 million of your countrymen?

The answer is higher taxes, buddy.

Can you add that up? Or did they teach you the new math in school?

You dumb Yankee moron, you.

Posted by Drew Kreutzweiser | Report as abusive

Again to Kirk,

(I apologize to all these posts to the good people at Reuters).

God bless America but God save their educational system…

To reiterate, Kirk, you dumb Yankee you, I eat taxes for breakfast and your little diatribe makes you seem in the eyes of the world as a bit of a wimp.

This solely my opinion

Posted by Drew Kreutzweiser | Report as abusive

Having already studied natural, human and legal rights, and having a good grip on most legal philosophy, I was quite amused to be spoken down to by you.

The ‘natural rights’ theory is only one of many theories on the law. There are many legal theories as to why and how human rights exist and bind us. Had you bothered to read your references, you would have known that.

All I can do is urge you to do some reading on legal philosophy. You seem to have a basic grip on one theory, and a stunning ignorance of all the others.

As for your reference to the UNDHR? It makes reference to healthcare. And an adequate standard of living. And emergency health services.

But ‘universal’ healthcare is not mentioned, and seems to be your reading into it. So I will treat it as your opinion, and value it accordingly.

And even if your interpretation was correct, it does not state to whom that duty is imposed.

It is unlikely such a duty exists, because it is one that the third world (and much of the developed world) would never be able to comply with.

Good day Kirk. I will not respond further.

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

Yes, natural rights is one theory of human rights. It is also the theory that was used to found the United States. Hence the “self-evident” rights set out in the Declaration of Independence. So, I feel pretty comfortable using the same theory of human rights as our founding fathers.

I’ve known all along that no matter how I replied, you would never accept the answer, but I thank you for demonstrating so well how the fringe in America would rather talk about the abstract than deal with the real world.

We have a healthcare reform proposal that will insure all Americans while not raising any taxes for 90% of people. And the high earners that will have taxes raised (or rather, have their current tax rates expire) will be paying less in taxes towards healthcare than the middle class is now paying through their premiums to cover the uninsured. This shift in payments from the middle class to the wealthy is effectively a tax cut for the middle class. Better yet, we had actual direct tax cuts for the middle class this year.

Money-wise, the middle class will gain the most from healthcare reform as they will be paying less (probably nothing) to cover the uninsured that they are currently covering. In addition, the middle class will no longer face the threat of bankruptcy when they get sick and lose their insurance. The reform proposal ensures that nobody can lose their insurance. The poor gain the most for healthcare in general as we will finally be delivering on the basic human right of healthcare for all. The wealthy will gain since the country will be a better place and they can rightly claim that they did their patriotic part to make that happen.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

-Not raising taxes for 90% of people?
-High earners paying less in taxes towards healthcare than the middle class is now paying through their premiums?
-And universal healthcare for all America?

As the saying goes: when you don’t like the reality provided, substitute it for your own.

Posted by JoeyJoe | Report as abusive

Either political party can put to an end the health care gridlock, steal the thunder from the other party and make the solution to health care its legacy for the 2010 elections. Republicans and Democrats have convinced everyone that single payer can only be done through a government run program for their own purposes. Many voters are afraid of a single payer system while others have been convinced that a public option or government run program is the only way they can get single payer and health care coverage and the only way to lower premiums and medical costs. That is NOT true and regardless whether its good or bad, single payer has been demonized to the point that its a political dead horse. A unique American solution is a PRIVATE sector single payer health care system run by an independent commission. It takes all the government run proposals off the table but it provides all the benefits of single payer even thought is neither government run nor run by a bunch of insurance companies. Neither party wants this because both get huge campaign contributions from insurance companies, both are exempt from whatever health care program they adopt for those of us whose taxes pay for their health insurance that we don’t get, and they get at least nine options from the insurance companies, all of which would go away with single payer. The commission awards the low bidder, either an insurance company or some other large asset manager, a contract to collect premiums and pay medical bills for a fixed fee with no right to make decisions or refuse payment. It hires people to negotiate down the prices charged by health care vendors, suppliers and providers, making them compete against each other for the first time ever. Doctors’ and hospitals’ charges are subject to the free market because patients can switch at the drop of a hat if they are dissatisfied. A true free market system. The only catch is that Republicans and Democrats in Congress will lose all the campaign financing they have been getting from insurance companies and they will have to be part of the single payer system we belong to. See my blog at jscopegmailcom-jscope.blogspot.com/ for a better explanation.

Posted by john scope | Report as abusive

More than 40% of Americans don’t want a single payer system.

The country is split between people that want government run insurance and those that don’t. The current proposal by the White House gives both sides what they want by giving people the choice between private insurance, like they have now, or a public plan that is paid for by the participants.

I’m sorry, but forcing people into a private single payer system is probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Hey Kirk,

Are you being paid by the word? I’m just saying that your taxes are going to be soooo high. It will permeate the whole fabric of your American society. I know first hand because I live in Canada and I know all about high taxes. How high? Your taxes are going to be so high you might not even be able to pay your internet bill. I’m talking a cash hungry government machine with an insatiable appetite for your money. Parking tickets. Surtaxes. Victims fees. Taxes on taxes. You will be too busy working to pay those taxes, friend. And taxes always take advantage of people like you – the dumb and the poor.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

I am a citizen of a country where public health care is run by the government and has been woefully inadequate. In my opinion Mr. Scope may be correct. I do not believe a single payer government-run system would be beneficial. The US seems to need better regulation of heath insurance with the ability of patients to quickly appeal decisions by insurance companies that denies them adequate care. It would be marvelous if an independent body would assess insurance companies on behalf of patients and help them choose a provider that would best serve them. But there is also need to reward persons who maintain a level of fitness that makes it easier for them to recover from acute illness and protect themselves from familial chronic disease. I don’t know if that is an aspect of the present US health care debate.

Posted by nigelb | Report as abusive

Drew, if you bothered to read then you would know that my family got jerked around by an insurance company.

I know first hand that private insurance companies delay and deny care to boost their profits. I also know that most Americans haven’t been through this, since most Americans are perfectly healthy. It’s not like private insurance companies deny all care, just the stuff that’s expensive and only for those that they think won’t fight back.

The health reform being proposed, specifically the public option, fixes this problem. People that want to stick with private insurance still can under the reform. Nothing is being taken away. But, for all those people like me that are sick and tired of spending days upon days fighting the insurance companies, we’ll have the public option that we will pay for. The public option is paid for by its participants, not the taxpayers. It should be the choice of all Americans whether they personally want a public plan or private plan.

The reform offers more choices and costs less than our current system. This is the best policy in decades and those saying otherwise are just full of crap or have a conflict of interest. Most of the people that are passionate about reform have experienced how bad our current system is. I am one of those people.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Dear Kirk,

You have an axe to grind and your position is understandable. And I’m not an American. And I’m not going to defend the insurance industry.

I’ve been ‘jerked around’ (as you so eloquently put it) by my Canadian Healthcare system, too. My mother died in my arms just recently. Looking for an answer I called the attending physician to find out what happened. How did she die? I wondered is this a hereditary condition? A rather annoyed doctor phoned me back and tersely said that “sometimes people just die”.

“Sometimes people just die.”

My father died in 2004, he was turned down from the local hospital because they were on strike. “Are you a local person”?, asked someone at the front desk. As if that would have mattered. “Sorry” said the lady with her palms faced up. We went home and in a few months, again, my father said “its time” and we drove down to another hospital in Barrie, Ontario. Canada.

He received excellent care but was quickly discharged. They need those beds free. He had some doctor prescribe a bunch of pills. He died a few months later. Remembrance Day. Also the paramedics did not take him to the hospital, the last day I saw him, “sorry” said the paramedics.

Remember these are all government people.

If you believe the government is there as some sort of panacea then you are a dumb idealogue.

I can site example again and again.

I seperated my shoulder three weeks ago. Tried to make a doctors appointment. Luckily got one. I asked for an X-ray, for I have some bone chips in my elbow and I was concerned if this is an acute condition or not. I didn’t get an X-ray. He said I didn’t need one. Wouldn’t that be a prudent response for an over extended public health system?

And did I mention the taxes you will pay?

If you are some pundit from the Obama camp then get off this post now. And if your family was truly disrespected then my sincerest aplologies.

How were you jerked around, Kirk?

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

A friend of mine tells me of some drug dealer, who’s wife is a nurse. He goes to the front of queue(line) for all MRIs, X-ray, ct scans, etc.

The waiting list for MRIs is a year, I believe. He goes to the front of the line because of his connections.

At least with your system you’re a consumer. And money talks. And bs walks.

Posted by Drew Kreutzweiser | Report as abusive

Another time my father fell backwards on the hard concrete in front of my house and hit his head. It sounded like a pumpkin smashing. He was making these gurgling sounds, blood pouring from the back of his head. I ran inside and called an ambulance. Fortunately my father has a head harder than a coconut and lived another day.

But as he explained to me later, and I was also there, the paramedics that came to his aid put together this stretcher. A unitized device you snap together – kind of like Lego.

Now this stretcher goes underneath as not to disturb the patient. But when they snapped this device together it pulled off some skin on the small of his back and he started swearing. Nothing major just a few expletives.

Did you know what happened? The paramedics (government employed) stopped immediately what they were doing and said if this person (my father) continues to be ‘mouthy’ we are not going to help him.

I was saying to myself, “No. Help him, please”. I mean the guy has a possible brain injury.

Government people are unionized and are employed for life. Government people also do not like to work.

Another story I thought I’d share

Posted by Drew Kreutzweiser | Report as abusive

Drew,

I know plenty of Canadians that have had a good experience with the Canadian health care system. If your last comments are true then I am very sorry for your family’s experience. However, given your past comments that were strewn with petty insults and very obvious misrepresentations about how the US health insurance reforms would affect taxpayers, it is rather difficult to believe any of your comments. Your other comments are still here for everyone to read and people can make their own judgment.

That aside, the health insurance reform being proposed for the United States does not create government doctors. The same doctors we have now will be operating under the same business structure they are now. The health insurance reform for the United States simply puts more safeguards in place for those that choose to stay with private insurance. It also offers people the opportunity to choose a public insurance plan if they wish. This public insurance plan is not funded through taxes; it is funded by the premiums paid by the participants. In no way does the health insurance reform force anyone to see government doctors. Neither does our existing government Medicare program for that matter as it is simply an insurance program.

I am an American citizen. I want the abuses of our private insurance companies stopped. The best way to do this is through a public option. If the insurance companies don’t stop their abuses then everyone will eventually choose the public option and they will be out of business. That is why the public option will work – the insurance companies will stop their abuse, because there will be true competition in the market. That is also why costs will come down for everyone just by having a public option – whether you use it or not.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

The more I hear about the healthcare debate in the US, the more I cannot believe the cruel and perverse attitude that ‘the haves’ in the US have compared to the ‘have nots’.

The UK has enjoyed FREE at point of need healthcare for some time. Yes, we pay National Insurance, but those on low incomes pay very little or in a lot of cases nothing at all and we all receive a first class service from a dedicated and highly competent group of professionals of all levels.

Those in the UK who want to be able to pick and chose a little more and want the luxury of a ‘hotel’ style vacation for a stay in hospital can of course pay for private healthcare insurance. Sometime this is a personal insurance plan and sometimes it is offered as a perk or job enticement. Nice, but not necessary.

The bottom line is healthcare should not be a ‘profit making’ business, it should be a service provided. The US healthcare system is a business, pure and simple. Health insurance companies are not and never will be charities, they are in it for the dollars and if you can’t pay or aint got the cover, then tuff.

How can the congress opposition to this debate sleep at night, knowing they are fighting to continue depriving the most needy of essential healthcare. The answer to that is very simple, they can afford the healthcare insurance (or it’s provided for them) so it’s not really their concern – They just don’t care!

The UK system is not 100% perfect, but it seems that way compared to the US. I would hate to live in fear of not having insurance for healthcare or having to fight an insurance company who are trying their level best to wriggle out of paying for some treatment.

If I need to see a doctor, I ring up and I see one, usually that day – NO CHARGE. If I need to have a hospital treat me for an emergency – I go, I get treated – NO CHARGE. If I need non-emergency treatment for a condition by a hospital – I get referred, I attend hospital usually within a couple of weeks and I get the treatment / surgery / equipment I need – NO CHARGE.

I have personally experienced all of the above situations in the last twelve months. In the US, I would have faced bills running into thousands of dollars or had to have had potentially expensive insurance to cover it all. I am also sure that many tens of thousands of others in the UK can reiterate my sentiments.

So come on America, wake up, wise up and reform your cruel and exceptionally biased healthcare system, so everyone can benefit and not just the privileged ones.

Posted by Phil Brown | Report as abusive

I feel the government will inevitably squeeze out any competition. That’s how government operates.

But you, Kirk. I already had you figured out. And you, friend, are a cheap politico. And a scumbag.

Good day.

Drew Kreutzweiser
Bracebridge, Ontario

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Since Americans will have the choice between the public option and private insurance, with both being paid by the premiums of their participants, the only way private insurance can be squeezed out is if private insurance fails to compete.

FedEx and UPS have managed to compete against the U.S. Post Office. Likewise, there are public and private colleges.

Americans shouldn’t be forced to prop up an industry that is uncompetitive. Americans are forced to prop up the private insurance industry, because they are not given any other alternatives if they want health insurance. The health insurance reform will finally give Americans a choice. If you think private insurance does a better job then choose private insurance, if you think the government does a better job then choose the public option. You can choose either with the reform.

The health insurance reform gives Americans more choice than they have now. Pure and simple.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Dear Kirk,

You still here? I thought I told you to get off this site. God bless the innocence of youth…and for calling me a liar??

You have not brought us any examples, concrete or real, defining your position on why your healthcare system will work. Only your 18-24 something, empty, sophomoric diatribe.

And you still have not explained how you got “jerked around” by the insurance industry. I have patiently given you first-hand real world examples.

There seems to be an international opinion (or an assault) on Americans like yourself and I’m starting to see why. For you, sir, are the Ugly American – the spoiled little child.

I will not be satisfied until you state your position. (Please do not quote Wikipedia). I want some facts. I want to ferret you out as the 18-24 something, middle class, perhaps Southern California, ballless Liberal you are.

I’m also somewhat convinced that you a dumb blogger, working for the Obama camp and not a genuine commenter.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

I have actually stated quite clearly, many times, why the health insurance reform being proposed will work and why it is good for the country. I have also stated quite clearly my family’s experience with our current broken system.

I am very curious as to why someone claiming to be a Canadian is so passionate about the American health insurance debate given that they have no stake in it. It seems to me that the time would be better spent focusing on one’s own health care system.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Don’t change the subject please. I want real concrete facts citing your position.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Also don’t talk down to me, either.

But let’s get to the nub of the matter: your parents can’t get the adequate healthcare necessary for your high functioning autism.

(Keep talkin’ – I love it…)

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Why do I have an interest?

Oh, nothing really except for the fact if you go down this road of Big Government, you will no longer have the discretionary income, which you are used to, and therefore, less money to buy the crap of the world, and therefore, us as Canadians will no longer be selling as much Oil as before to China because your society will no longer be able to buy those goods.

But what’s my real interest.
I want to say “I told you so”.
That’s why

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

I like giving you the mental clunk on the head. Its fun.

(Meanwhile our collegiate friend Kirk is looking in his thesaurus…)

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Gee, Kirk, anymore useful tidbits of information?

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

You call me a liar. You condescend to me. You spit on my family. Answer me.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

I don’t even believe that your name is Kirk. Its another fabrication from the Obama camp blogosphere.

Will the real Kirk please stand up…

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

I do have a useful tidbit or two.

The health insurance reform will insure all Americans while not raising any taxes for over 90% of people. High earners that do see a tax increase will simply be paying the same low tax rate they paid in the 1990’s. Their increase in taxes is simply an expiration that was built into the prior president’s tax cuts that primarily benefitted the wealthy. High earners will be paying for health insurance tax credits so that low income Americans can get insurance. Today, the middle class pay higher insurance premiums to cover the unpaid hospital bills of the uninsured. This can be thought of as a hidden tax and the health insurance reform will get rid of this hidden tax.

Since everyone will be insured, we won’t have people letting their condition worsen until they must be hospitalized. Instead, they will see a general practitioner. This will bring overall health costs down. For example, it is better to get antibiotics from a GP to clear a mild infection rather than letting the infection get worse and have to spend a night in the hospital on an IV drip. Unfortunately, this happens all too often with our current system since the uninsured often times can’t afford to see a GP and hospitals are required by law to treat anyone regardless of whether they can pay.

Americans will have their choice of private insurance or the public option. Both are paid for through the premiums of their participants. Neither is given special treatment. The public option forces competition into the insurance industry and therefore lowers costs and increases the quality of insurance for everyone. Even for people that choose not to go with the public option.

This is a very good reform package. It is the best policy in decades. When people cut through the misinformation and understand what they are getting, they overwhelmingly support it… well, except for insurance company executives and the politicians they have bought.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Poor Kirk,

Still sounding like a broken record. You owe me an apology for calling me a liar. And you still haven’t given me any hard facts.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Poor Kirk,

“…not raising taxes for 90% of Americans…”

What’s it like to be so young and naive? I’ve forgotten. Will the real Kirk please stand up.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Actually, I’ve given a lot of hard facts regarding the health insurance reform.

Some good resources that back up these facts are here:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/
http://www.healthreform.gov/

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Dear Kirk,

This is my final post on this subject. Its time to put this to rest.

The taxes for a nationwide health care system, which you are advocating, will cost you dearly. I know this because we have a nationwide health care system in this country, Canada.

The amount of taxes you will pay will be so high you may not be able to afford your internet bill. I know this first hand. We aren’t even having kids here. We have one of the lowest birthrates in the G20. Its because taxes. Also taxes kill jobs. Remember I told you so…

You call me a liar and, in fact, you are some phony blogger for the Obama camp. I don’t even think you are male. Who is the real Kirk?

I ask you to give me real life examples on how you were “jerked around” by the insurance companies and you have none. Except your broken record rhetoric.

I will not defend the insurance companies but at least you are a consumer when it comes to health care in the States and this will not be the case when its “all free”.

Regarding insurance companies, these are not saints but Big Government is not the answer. Insurance companies deny claims to keep premiums down: like your high-level autism, which I wouldn’t want to pay for.

You say taxes will not go up for 90% of Americans, well you know what they say about wrestling fans: they’re great as long as they don’t vote or breed.

You talk about politicians being bribed. Your Big Government dream will ensure a whole new crop of politicians and public workers weaned on the government teat.

You are an ass, a scumbag, a cheap politico, a stupid Yankee, a dumb ideologue spewing sophomoric diatribe. And a phony blogger wasting my time and energy.

I still haven’t received my apology for calling me a liar, however, it was nice lecturing you (Kirk?).

Drew

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Drew,

Actually, I’ve pretty much covered everything you’ve brought up. And once again you are stating obvious misinformation regarding how health insurance reform will affect taxpayers. Health insurance reform is a net savings and middle class Americans will pay less because of it. I have explained why this is many times and people can read the many comments and see this.

America is not adopting Canada’s healthcare system. We are reforming our own. Canada’s healthcare system is single payer. America’s reformed system will not be single payer. We will offer a choice of private insurance like we have now or the public option. The choice will be up to the participants and the participants will fund whichever option they choose.

Drew, your mistake is in thinking I care about changing your view. I don’t. You claim to be Canadian. You have no stake in this issue. It is interesting that you are so riled up about it. I only care about putting out the facts regarding health insurance reform and you have helped me do this. Thank you.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

You still haven’t explained your position yet. (yawn). Your government will be so addicted to the cash brought in that they will squeeze out all competition.

(muttering to myself…how can one be so stupid?)

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Also you might be best to get your high-level autism checked out. I’m getting tired of this (lol)…

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Ignorance is bliss. What’s it like Kirk? (your real name insert here).

Thinking that Barney Franks and Nancy Pelosi are your saving grace. Some people are just so dumb…State your position. Counterpoint my arguments. You stupid broken record.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

“You claim to be Canadian…”
I am Canadian. You fool.

I like Obama. He is a good man. I can’t stand his party. Your party. The party of Big Government. I was hoping he would win and then you can see your Democratic party for its true colours. I give real world examples on state run health care. You call me a liar (that’s rich, lol).

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Stop sounding sounding like an Obama press release.

How is your model going to work? Taxes will be widespread across the board. The middle class always carries the tax burden. When you get out of your parents basement, you will understand this.

You use this flimsy Fed Ex / Post Office argument. Is that all you Democrats got? The government needs (key word: needs) Fed Ex for the efficient movement of goods. The government, your government will not need insurance providers getting in the way of their revenue source.

The Democratic party wants money. Your money. I’ve never met a Liberal who saw a tax he didn’t like. I thought your opinion was based on some family hardship.

The meek will inherit the earth. Have fun Kirk.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Please let the dim bulb in your thick skull register this…

I’m right. And you are wrong. Right?

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

I’m still rather amused that I get such a reaction from someone without any stake in the American health care system just by saying:

The health insurance reform will insure all Americans while not raising any taxes for over 90% of people. High earners that do see a tax increase will simply be paying the same low tax rate they paid in the 1990’s. Their increase in taxes is simply an expiration that was built into the prior president’s tax cuts that primarily benefitted the wealthy. High earners will be paying for health insurance tax credits so that low income Americans can get insurance. Today, the middle class pay higher insurance premiums to cover the unpaid hospital bills of the uninsured. This can be thought of as a hidden tax and the health insurance reform will get rid of this hidden tax.

Since everyone will be insured, we won’t have people letting their condition worsen until they must be hospitalized. Instead, they will see a general practitioner. This will bring overall health costs down. For example, it is better to get antibiotics from a GP to clear a mild infection rather than letting the infection get worse and have to spend a night in the hospital on an IV drip. Unfortunately, this happens all too often with our current system since the uninsured often times can’t afford to see a GP and hospitals are required by law to treat anyone regardless of whether they can pay.

Americans will have their choice of private insurance or the public option. Both are paid for through the premiums of their participants. Neither is given special treatment. The public option forces competition into the insurance industry and therefore lowers costs and increases the quality of insurance for everyone. Even for people that choose not to go with the public option.

This is a very good reform package. It is the best policy in decades. When people cut through the misinformation and understand what they are getting, they overwhelmingly support it… well, except for insurance company executives and the politicians they have bought.

These are simply facts.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

I’ve refuted everyone of your points and its getting tiring. And you keep reading from a teleprompter. Your machine like response is only a reaction to the negative tide swelling against your pipe dream of state run health care. Fortunately Americans know better.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Got any more useful tidbits of information from that script of yours…

You will have a difficult time even finding a GP in your state run system. The government will drive out the private option. They will be addicted to money. Your money. You (I mean your parents) and the rest of the middle class will be paying dearly for this ‘free’ health care. Your leader, Obama, says its not right that people should go broke when they sick. You will all be broke! The middle class always pays the tax burden. You will be paying for everybody’s health bills and people will be paying for your high level autism. And yes I have no interest at all except the amazing challenge of drumming this into your overly dense skull. I’m right and you are wrong.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

At least with the insurance companies, you have the option to opt out, like your 30 – 47 million uninsured. When the government takes over your health care plan. You will have no choice. You will have given up that choice.

Don’t believe everything the government says. That’s why I know you’re just a dumb kid.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Few people are choosing to opt-out of insurance today, but there are many people that cannot afford to opt-in. Reuters has an article just today titled “Study links 45,000 U.S. deaths to lack of insurance”. That is the reality of our current health insurance system. People should Google that article. There is something very wrong when the richest country in the world allows 45,000 of its people to die simply to protect the profits of private insurance companies. That’s 45,000 people a year, one every 12 minutes. Those are just the people who die, many more live with debilitating conditions that could be fixed if they could afford the care. Healthcare reform, at its core, is a human rights issue.

Health insurance reform is not a government takeover of healthcare. It is simply more safeguards (regulations) on the private insurance industry to ensure that you can’t be rejected based on pre-existing conditions, you can’t be dropped if you pay your premiums, and you will know what your insurance company covers and doesn’t cover.

In addition, there will be a public option that will be a government run plan. No one is forced into the public option. It is an option that Americans can either choose or not choose. The public option is not subsidized; it is paid for through the premiums of those who participate, just like private insurance.

The only subsidies are tax credits to purchase insurance. These tax credits can be used either for private insurance or the public option. It is up to the participant to choose which plan to use the tax credits on. It is these tax credits that will ensure that every American has health insurance.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

You still sound like a generated script from the Obama camp. And now you are changing your position to the Republican insurance reform idea. Hmmm. That’s interesting. I miss something here?

First, don’t tug on my heart strings (lol). 45,000 die every year in the U.S. in motor vehicle accidents. I believe twice that die from misdiagnosis in the U.S.

In Canada, (I won’t look this up), we have that comparable amount dying every year because they cannot get their needed surgery or specialized medicine in time.

Did I mention your state run care will lead to long waiting lists?

The government, your government, like my government will be addicted to that cash and will squeeze out the competition (private health providers).

A great example is your cash-for-clunkers program: look at how your government screwed this up. Did you see on Youtube, destroying all those vehicles. I thought the green-era was about reuse and recycle. But no. Your government, which nows owns GM destroyed those cars. Destroyed the competition.

The same thing will happen with your health care, Kirk. I like the U.S. and its strong economy. When you go down that road of Big Government, its a one-way street and you cannot turn around.

But I still haven’t got an apology for calling me a liar. And I still haven’t heard your experience and how you got “jerked around” by your insurance provider. And you still haven’t got off this site, like I asked you to.

Empty broken record rhetoric will only get you so far. I have refuted and counterpointed everyone of your arguments.

I like to think you are akin to a punch drunk boxer, Kirk, back in his corner, muttering the same strategy over-and-over, but already lost the fight with the spectators long gone from the building.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Yes, I’m well aware that health insurance reform opponents could care less that 45,000 people die each year from the lack of insurance. Health insurance reform opponents do not have America’s interest at heart. They only care about the profitability of private insurance companies. They also will continue spreading misinformation to try and kill health insurance reform.

Health insurance reform does not create state run healthcare. It simply creates safeguards for those with private insurance and provides an option to join a public insurance plan – the public option. The public option is paid for through the premiums of its participants just like private insurance.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

Wrong again, Kirk.
Big Government is not the answer, friend.

First:

The uninsured (according to CNN) are mostly young, healthy Hispanics. Many have the opportunity to work, save and keep their money for a rainy day.

Second:

This is why many of the world, unlike myself, do not sympathize with you. You work and lived in the most dynamic economy in the world. But instead of taking advantage of this mostly tax free windfall, saving for a rainy day and living within your means. You and other Americans decided to piss away that money on larger houses, the nicest cars, not very fuel efficient cars, flat panel televisions. So don’t come crying to me.

Third:

Big Government redistributes wealth. So do the insurance companies. Both redistribute. Both are technically the same. Premiums, payouts. Taxes, benefits. Insurance companies redistribute payouts from premiums (less the profit motive).

Governments too redistribute income (benefits) from taxes. There is no profit motive in government and no need to be efficient. There is graft. The result is government going back to you for more money. Again and again. Did I mention how high your taxes are going to be? You will pay no matter what. See.

Third:

You mention politicians being bribed. Wait till your Big Government dream (nightmare) comes to fruition. You will be bribed with your own money. They will take tax after tax and give you back a few crumbs.

Governments will be addicted to the cash, your friends Pelosi and Franks will be salivating over that added revenue and then decide. ‘Hey, lets get rid of all the private insurance. Lets take over everything’. This could happen and probably will. Don’t be so naive. More so don’t trust sleazy Democrats.

Fourth:

Why is that Liberals perceive Conservatives as uncaring? I do care. I care about you. And I care about me. Don’t give up your right. Don’t have a larger entity manage (take and redistribute) your money from you. Conservatives care.

Yeah you have a problem with your health care, Kirk. But Big Government is not the answer. Like most Americans, impatient, you are looking for that quick band-aid fix. One vote and your problems will be solved.

So naive, Kirk….(sigh)

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

To quote Kirk, “I am well aware…”

You aren’t aware of anything. Get your head out of the clouds.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Luckily, we have an excellent solution to the health insurance crisis in the United States and that is the public option that is being proposed by the White House, the House of Representatives and now the Senate.

The public option will compete with private insurance and will operate like Medicare with the exception that it will be an optional program. You don’t have to pay for the public option if you choose private insurance. This is because the public option is paid for by its participants. If you choose the public option then you will pay a premium for the coverage, just as you would with private insurance.

While the health insurance reform being proposed has many fixes for the private insurance industry – like not allowing claim denials because of a “preexisting” condition – it is the public option that really brings the reform we need. Insurance companies will no longer be able to jack up rates willy nilly since they will have to compete with the public option. In addition, insurance companies will have to provide good service to their customers since their customers will switch to the public option if they don’t.

The public option is an essential part of health insurance reform.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive

These are simply facts. The leading cause of death in America is abortion (1.2Million/year). Obamacare is a Trojan Horse that is designed to bail out the abortion industry. While everyone is arguing about details and the impact to their own pocket book, the American government has created tax funded genocide larger than Hitler and Stalin ever dreamt of.

What a great example of the fringe. The irony of the previous commenter’s abortion statement is the fact that health insurance reform will actually reduce the number of abortions. Why is this? Since all Americans will be insured, all Americans will have access to affordable contraception. Logic dictates that this will reduce unwanted pregnancies and thereby reduce the number of abortions.

The previous commenter’s statistics are also wrong. Abortion has been on a steep decline since 1991 and there are far fewer abortions performed than the commenter stated.

The last comment is such a perfect example of the misinformation and scare tactics used against health insurance reform. We even had Hitler and Stalin thrown in. Most people will ignore the comment, but some won’t. This is the tactic of health insurance reform opponents. Just throw out as much false information as possible and hope one of the falsehoods will stick, no matter how ridiculous the statement is.

Posted by Kirk | Report as abusive