The problem of 45 million uninsured Americans hits home. Hard.

According to the folks at Cover The Uninsured Week there are around 45 million Americans without health insurance. We hear a lot about the pros and cons of trying to establish a national health care system that would guarantee coverage for everyone and the debate about what to do about the uninsured has been going on for as long as I can remember. I haven’t spoke up much about the issue myself because I’m not really sure how to go about solving it. I’d very much like to see some form of national health care for all Americans, but I also understand that the cost could be overwhelming without some serious reforms to go along with it. My apathy was probably helped by the fact that my job provides a pretty decent bit of health care for my family and most of my relatives have got coverage as well.

Today I woke up to news about one of my extended family members who wasn’t as fortunate as I am. My mother called and left a message on my answering machine about a death in the family. Diane, a cousin of mine on my biological father’s side of the family, lost her daughter, Debbie, sometime on Friday. I’ve mentioned before that there was a big age difference between my biological father and my mother which means that my cousins from my father’s side are also older than I am such that Debbie, a first cousin once removed, and I are the same age. I didn’t know Debbie all that well and only met her a couple of times that I’m aware of, the last of which was at my mother and step-father’s 25th wedding anniversary some five or so years ago. She had attended in the company of my Uncle Clyde and I remember her as being very upbeat and fun.

I called my mother back to see if there were any more details and that’s when I learned how Debbie had died. It wasn’t a bad car accident, as I had assumed, or a long term known condition such as a weak heart or cancer. Debbie was killed by pneumonia. That’s right. An easily treatable disease that is normally semi-serious to people our age only if left untreated. Debbie had been sick for awhile with what she believed to be the flu, but she never saw a doctor for it because her family didn’t have health insurance and she couldn’t afford to pay for the office visit herself. Her husband is working a newspaper delivery route that doesn’t offer benefits and I believe she was unemployed. Her kids were at home with her when she died. They called 911 first and then they called Diane who tried to talk them through CPR until the paramedics arrived, but it was to no avail. Debbie was gone before the paramedics ever walked through the door. Apparently Debbie never recognized just how ill she was as she never asked her mother for help. Diane says had she realized how sick her daughter was she would have given her the money to go to the doctor, but Debbie assured her she was OK. She wasn’t OK and she ended up drowning in her bed because she couldn’t afford an office visit.

When I heard this I was stunned and angry. My heart breaks for Diane as I can only imagine the pain of second-guessing yourself over the death of your child. So too for Debbie’s husband and kids. I barely know these people so my sense of loss wasn’t immediate with the first phone message, but it hit home once I learned the details of what happened. This sort of story probably happens many times every day in a nation with 45 million people living without health insurance and that’s just insane.

We are one of the richest countries on the planet and the government seems to be able to magically pull trillions out of our collective taxpayer asses when they need to fight a war over weapons of mass destruction that don’t really exist, but the moment someone suggests we invest in health care for every American there’s suddenly not enough money in the world to pull that off. Seems it’s always a lot easier to find money to destroy lives than to save them. Any one of us could end up in Debbie’s shoes. If I were to lose my job tomorrow then I would be in her shoes. My sister already is in her shoes. It’s inexcusable in this day and age with as well-off as the country as whole is that anyone should be unable to get at least basic health care. There’s gotta be a way to make it work.

The question is: How many more people have to have it hit close to home before it shakes enough of us out of our apathy to do something about it?

148 thoughts on “The problem of 45 million uninsured Americans hits home. Hard.

  1. The question is: How many more people have to have it hit close to home before it shakes enough of us out of our apathy to do something about it?

      Why is it that the richest country in the world, by many measures, is the only one that has not implemented some useable form of public health care?  Must be that all your doctors are evil bastards.

  2. What a sad story, Les.  What an unnecessary waste of life.  I, too, hope the Americans start questioning what kind of quality of life they are buying with their legendary wealth.

    I miss Americans, and grumble a lot about the closeminded stiffnecked Austrians.  But I’m glad we have universal healthcare here.  I got appendicitis (here in Vienna) ten years back, made it to the hospital just in time, was operated, spent a week in the hospital.  I would never have been able to afford it (instrumentmakers are not rich) without healthcare.  I did have to pay for my food- the bill for the week was something like $40.

    Of course, it will not be easy to implement national healthcare in America, given the wealthy vested interests against it, and the disillusioned and apathetic voters (and non-voters).  But given the number of people affected, there’s reason to hope.

  3. Whoa!  Mr Death!  I know plenty of docs who see patients on a pro bono basis.  But the patient has to go there.  Not defending our lack of healthcare, but don’t blame the docs.

    Let’s see…45 million people X $5,000 (guessing here)/policy equals 225,000,000.  This is not really a fair calculation, since many are children who would be included on their parents’ policy.  Our GNP is $10,402 billion, so what’s the problem with the government paying some of these costs?  It seems to me that we can afford it.

    SG

  4. As I see it, its an outgrowth of the ‘Everyone fending for himself’ philosophy. The market will take care of it.

    Me, I’m pretty happy that in such things, European governments are more paternalistic.

    That said, even in countries like Germany, the numbers of people without healthcare are rising. Mostly self-employed people who are not required by law to have coverage. Since many of these are actually just people struggling along on some sort of half-paying job (who’d be otherwise be unemployed, and whose jobs would not normally count as self-empoyed at all), it hits exactly those who can’t afford it when bad luck strikes.

  5. That is so very sad, Les. My heart goes out to her family.

    I am presently under insured now but 18 years ago I found myself in hospital via ambulance due to pneumonia. That is also when I found out that my health insurance was non-existant due to Eastern Airlines going belly-up. And to top it off I found out I was also pregnant! Due to the severity of the pneumonia and the added complication of pregnancy I should have been admitted. I was given a scrip and sent on my merry way. I suffered horribly – never knew pneumonia was that painful – but luckily got through it.

    A few months later whilst on a business trip to Switzerland with my then husband I ended up in hospital for an emergency surgery. I was in for 4 days. Being a non-resident I had to pay… a whopping $125.00 USD per day for EVERYTHING! You couldn’t get an MRI in this country for less!

    I think if one had the information to put a number to the death toll of under/uninsured people it would probably surpass that of the tsunami. I feel strongly that this is an area where donations could surely help.

  6. Les, I’m sorry…

    I learned a couple of days ago that owing medical fees is a virtual non-issue in Texas – provided you pay back $2 a month, without fail, for the rest of your life or until full repayment. As long as you do that, your credit rating is not affected and one of the few problems is that you can’t refinance unless the fees are fully paid.

    Like SG, I don’t believe it’s fair to blame the docs – they can’t treat a patient they don’t see. Unless there is significant abuse, I’d be surprised if there are many docs that would refuse to handle the occasional pro bono case for a life-threatening condition that is easy to diagnose and treat.

    If you don’t know you’re gravely ill, then why would you see a doctor in the first place? If you suspect, but the ability to pay medical fees is a concern, then it doesn’t hurt to phone around. The real problem is if somebody is scared off to the point of self-neglect.

    Personally, while it’s not my primary motivation I also tend to look at universal healthcare as a matter of enlightened self-interest. Healthy people have a better chance to find jobs, do better on the job, and will likely have more money to spend back into the economy. You have to spend money to make money…

  7. While the story is obviously going to be tragic and somewhat heartbreaking to anyone personally related to it, you must look at it from an objective point of view to come up with a viable solution.  Nationwide health care for every American, while often depicted as a lofty and virtuous cause, is nothing more than campaign trail fodder.  In practice, it would be disastrous.

    My grandfather having been a doctor for years, I’ve been witness to far too many cases of people with fully-government-paid-for healthcare strolling in to receive treatment for the most minor of injuries, simply because it is free.  You must consider in the cognitive capacity of the “Average American.”  In truth, the ratio of complete dumbasses to non-dumbasses is about a 25 to 1, and that’s being generous.  For every one person who would use their health care benefits responsibly and logically, you’d have twenty-five dumbasses clogging up doctor’s offices to schedule appointments for their ingrown hairs and headaches. 

    Prescriptions for medicine would be given out like highschool diplomas, and by that I mean like toilet paper.  Competition would be spurned among the medical field due to the fact that there is no longer any incentive to provide “quality care.”  The quality of healthcare would subsequently lower gradually, to the point of being complete shit. 

    You are proposing giving the government the power to choose which medicines and treatments you can receieve and how often you can receive them.  I don’t know about you, but I most certainly do not trust our government with such responsibility. 

    The “right” to healthcare is no right at all.  It’s a privilege.  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are your only “rights” as Americans.  You do not have the right to free health care, and any logical person wouldn’t want it.  The only Americans who clamor for free health care are those unable to earn it themselves, and those who have been affected by the malady of those who were unable to afford it.  In your case, right now, you are the latter.  However, as you are a logical being, over time you will see the truth of the matter; it’s a terrible idea.  While your loss is tragic for you, I’m sure, don’t let it get in the way of reason.

    “The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want—not to be given it without effort by somebody else.—Leonard Peikoff”

  8. My grandfather having been a doctor for years, I’ve been witness to far too many cases of people with fully-government-paid-for healthcare strolling in to receive treatment for the most minor of injuries, simply because it is free.

    And that’s a straw man if I ever saw one.

  9. I think the simplest and most efficient plan for health-care would be for the government to go into the insurance business.  Eliminate plans such as medicare, medicaid, the welfare health plan, etc., and charge a flat percentage of income for full coverage.  In this way, retirees of means would not pull funds from those in need, and even the lowliest workers in the USA could afford coverage. 

    Such a plan might even force insurance companies to re-evaluate their pricing structures, so as to get customers while competing with an income-based system.

  10. And that’s a straw man if I ever saw one.

    Hardly.  You’re obviously not very familiar with the medical community.  This is not only one of the most common complaints, but an even more common occurrence.

    Nice of you to comment on quite possibly the least meaningful portion of my reply, though.

  11. I think the simplest and most efficient plan for health-care would be for the government to go into the insurance business.  Eliminate plans such as medicare, medicaid, the welfare health plan, etc., and charge a flat percentage of income for full coverage.  In this way, retirees of means would not pull funds from those in need, and even the lowliest workers in the USA could afford coverage.

    The system would never work, and it doesn’t even sound that good on paper—let alone in practice. 

    Let’s say, hypothetically, that the “fixed percentage” is 7%.  Everyone, according to your plan, is receiving the same quality healthcare as everyone else.  Consider that you are a middle-class man, who makes around $60,000 a year.  At 7% (I am eliminating other taxes in the name of simplicity), you would be paying $4,200 dollars per year for your healthcare.  Now, compare yourself to the janitor at your local Chik-Fil-A, who makes $25,000 a year and only has to pay $1,750 dollars for the very same healthcare that you are receiving.

    It is illogical and immoral to punish people for having more money than others, and yet you seem to have no qualms with the government taking $2,450 dollars from the richer man’s pocket for the same quality healthcare that another man is paying 2.4 times less for.

    Healthcare is not a right.  It is a privilege.

  12. Healthcare is not a right.  It is a privilege.

    Only said by someone who has never had to worry about how they are going to pay their bills at the end of the month.

    Too bad you don’t live in the real world.

  13. Hardly.

    Really? And if it is such a problem, why is it the least meaningful part of your response?

    The straw man comes into play because we’re talking about different things and perhaps ‘universal health care’ was the wrong choice of words on my part. If you see a doctor for a hang nail, you should be prepared to pay out of your own pocket. If you suspect you’ve just had a heart attack, you shouldn’t need to second-guess if you have enough savings to seek treatment. Anything in between is negotiable. At the same time, there should be a concomitant responsibility and financial incentive to maintain your health.

    Should the wealthier contribute more? Absolutely. There’s nothing immoral or illogical about it, but that’s not a debate that will go anywhere.

  14. Only said by someone who has never had to worry about how they are going to pay their bills at the end of the month.

    Don’t assume; you’re quite incorrect.  Emancipated at 17, there were quite a few years when I had to worry about how I was going to keep up rent payments on the place I was living at, especially after all the medical bills revolving around my back.

    I just don’t delude myself into thinking that it’s anyone else’s responsibility to give their money to me, in the form of taxes, so that I can pay my bills at the end of the month.

  15. I said the government would sell insurance, not force people to buy it.  I am not punishing anyone by “having the government take money from the richer man’s pocket.”  once a person’s income is at a certain level, he can buy coverage with better “whistles and bells” than basic coverage.  Eventually someone is going to pay for the health care of those who cannot afford it.  Right now the local governments and hospitals are absorbing much of it.  This is one reason why hospital costs are so high.

  16. Healthcare is not a right.  It is a privilege

    Under our current system this is quite true, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t change the system. It’s not like there aren’t millions of Americans who wish to argue over which groups should and shouldn’t have the same rights as they do already. What’s one more right to argue over?

    The problem with your argument is that I haven’t proposed any particular solution for you to argue against so you’re making assumptions about what sort of system I have in mind and then trying to defeat that argument. That is, as Elwed has pointed out, a straw man fallacy.

    Under the proposal you’re arguing against everyone would pay a flat percentage and receive the same level of care. You go on to claim that it is “it is illogical and immoral to punish people for having more money than others” without considering a very simple solution to that quandary.

    In my rant I said that there’s no reason a country as wealthy as this one can’t afford to give every American basic health care. There’s nothing that says that the insurance companies can’t continue to offer plans which would give an even higher quality of care to those who can afford to pay for it under such a system.

    It seems clear to me, however, that your claims such a system couldn’t possibly work nor would it be desirable are defeated by the comments from others who have experienced such care in other countries. I’m sure the systems used elsewhere are far from perfect, but then few things ever are. I actually care enough about my fellow Americans, dumbasses that they generally are, that I’d prefer a system that doesn’t leave anyone out in the cold when it comes to something like health care.

    Socialist Swine, you should feel free to repost this to your blog if you wish. SEB is produced under a Creative Commons License that allows others to make use of the content as long as attribution is given and they release it under the same CC License (click the CC icon in the sidebar for more info).

  17. Double dipping here. Ronaldo brings up a very good point: In many states, including Michigan, it’s against the law for a hospital to turn away a gravely ill person regardless of their ability to pay. A lot of folks don’t realize this, but many do. Where do you think the costs for that care go when these people are unable to pay for the care they receive? How many of those emergency room visits could’ve been avoided if these people had been able to visit the doctor before it developed into something life threatening?

  18. I can totally relate.  My father was recently diagnosed with a condition which is potentially prostrate cancer, yet the veterans administration is making him wait 2 months for a biopsy because of limited resources.  My mom is nearly blind, is diabetic, and recently came very close to dying.  She has no health insurance.  Had my aunt had not taken her to urgent care and paid the bill, it is likely that my mom would have died. 

    I also totally understand your frustration with our government on this issue.  They can find money for their pre-emptive wars, but can’t find the money to solve the serious social issues in this country. 

    Mohandas Gandhi once said that “Poverty is the worst form of violence.”  I think that there were never truer words spoken. 

    Mind you that I am normally not taken to quoting Gandhi but in this case, he is right. 

    Poverty can be linked to most wars, sickness, heartache, broken homes, etc…

    We need to put up the fucking weapons and start working on real social issues.  Spend the money where it really belongs.

    Take the fight against AIDS for example, if we spent the money on research for an AIDS cure instead of the war in Iraq, could we have a cure by now?  Possible.

    Having said that, I AM NOT AGAINST THE MILITARY.  I do believe that the military has a proper place.  I just think that its current mission is seriously undermined by the questionable motives of the white house.

  19. Really? And if it is such a problem, why is it the least meaningful part of your response?

    You took the time to focus only on the fact that it would be an inconvenience for doctors and people with actual problems.  You failed to even mention the economic effect of a lack of competition, the lowered quality of healthcare, and so on.  While it is a problem, it’s not the biggest one.

    If you see a doctor for a hang nail, you should be prepared to pay out of your own pocket. If you suspect you’ve just had a heart attack, you shouldn’t need to second-guess if you have enough savings to seek treatment. Anything in between is negotiable.

    The problem with the hangnail to heart attack example is that hangnails would still be covered under a universal healthcare plan.. And if you, as you corrected yourself, did not truly mean a “universal” healthcare plan, you are then placing control and regulations entirely into the hands of the government.  You are inevitably letting the government decide what it deems worthy of their coverage, and what is not worthy of their coverage.. And if you are going to be taxing people in order to provide health care, how happy do you imagine citizens being when they discover that the things that they pay 7% of their paycheck to have covered are not covered?  We don’t need another welfare-like atrocity.

    Should the wealthier contribute more? Absolutely. There’s nothing immoral or illogical about it, but that’s not a debate that will go anywhere.

    You’re proposing that someone lower their quality of life just to make someone else’s better?  What horseshit.  It is completely immoral to ask someone to give up what they earn simply because other people are not capable or do not have the means to earn it.

  20. “For every one person who would use their health care benefits responsibly and logically, you’d have twenty-five dumbasses clogging up doctor’s offices to schedule appointments for their ingrown hairs and headaches.

    Prescriptions for medicine would be given out like highschool diplomas,”

    “The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want—not to be given it without effort by somebody else.—Leonard Peikoff

  21. You’re proposing that someone lower their quality of life just to make someone else’s better?  What horseshit.

    I’ve done it – gladly – in Europe.

    It is completely immoral to ask someone to give up what they earn simply because other people are not capable or do not have the means to earn it.

    I hear you say you are opposed to paying taxes.

  22. I said the government would sell insurance, not force people to buy it.

    Thanks for the reading lesson, but I’m quite adept at it already.

    The point is not that they would be “forcing anyone to buy it.”  The point is the “flat percentage of income” that you propose.  Higher income people would be paying more for the same coverage under the government plan.  The claim here is that the government should be required to at least offer some sort of healthcare plan to everyone.  However, a flat percentage of income on different incomes for the same service is a ridiculous idea.

  23. However, a flat percentage of income on different incomes for the same service is a ridiculous idea.

    That’s right. The wealthier should pay more in absolute and relative terms.

  24. That’s right. The wealthier should pay more in absolute and relative terms.

    I disagree. Where does this end? The wealthier should pay more than the poor for the same loaf of bread…the same movie…the same box of bandaids…

    Bullshit.

  25. I also totally understand your frustration with our government on this issue.  They can find money for their pre-emptive wars, but can’t find the money to solve the serious social issues in this country.

    Most of the uninsured can find the money for cable tv, restaurants, movies, newer cars, entertainment centers, computers, broadband; but can’t be bothered to pay for their own insurance.  So why not direct your frustration towards the source of the problem.  Health insurance is out there for anyone who wants to purchase it. They just have to decide whether or not it’s worth giving up other luxuries in order to obtain it.

    The 7% solution wouldn’t work simply because those making more would simply opt out since it wouldn’t make sense for them to pay much more for basic care when they could go elsewhere.  I don’t make that much and that plan wouldn’t even work out for me.  It’s cost would be more than the coverage I have now, but the benefits would be fewer.  The system wouldn’t even come close to being able to support itself based upon those who would be willing to pay the fees.

  26. It is completely immoral to ask someone to give up what they earn simply because other people are not capable or do not have the means to earn it.

    How is that a factual statement? Why would it be immoral to ask someone to help out others who may have been less fortunate?

    Don’t assume; you’re quite incorrect.  Emancipated at 17, there were quite a few years when I had to worry about how I was going to keep up rent payments on the place I was living at, especially after all the medical bills revolving around my back.

    I just don’t delude myself into thinking that it’s anyone else’s responsibility to give their money to me, in the form of taxes, so that I can pay my bills at the end of the month.

    So you are telling me that you have never had anyone help you, and you have managed to become the great person you are today with only hard work and diligence?

    So by your stance, anyone who has had bad luck, been in an accident, wound up in a wheel chair… whatever. They are unintitled to any sort of help from the government?

    Call me ignorant, but I will never understand people who would prefer to live in a world of greed. One where medical insurance companies trade in lives, only so that their investors may profit.

  27. Les, I would like to extend my sympathy for your loss. Having been on the receiving end, it doesn’t do jack, but I don’t know what else to say.

    As I’ve watched the discussion unfold, I believe TheAbyssStares could articulate his position better.  The problem with the reasoning for universal healthcare is not that it’s going to make my health care suck. 

    If health care is a right that you want to see universalised for all, the reason for doing so is it is a civil right, and wealth is immaterial.  As such, it must be demanded in the U.S., and demanded that Ethiopia provide the same.  It must be viewed that it is equally unjust that doesn’t exist in either.  To do otherwise is to confound your logic. That logic demands universal world wide health care for all as a civil right. Yet, I don’t see that thinking carried forward.

    Like TheAbyssStares, I do not believe that health care is a civil right.  We all get the opportunity to go do whatever it is that we want to do, and we enjoy the benefits and drawbacks of those choices. 

    The effect of making health care a civil right is to demand that the guy who is working 80 hours a week in a high stress job, not only meet his financial obligations, but take on the financial obligations of the John Doe who works 38 hours a week at the Quickee Mart and spends his paycheck smoking dope.  That hardly seems equitable.  Especially, when the guy working 80 hours a week in that high stress job would like nothing better than to pull a few bong hits with John, but he can’t.  He can’t because he could lose his ability to practice his profession.

    If one is troubled by the fact that others lack health care, then one is free to discharge that moral obligation in any number of different ways by reaching out to others.  Enacting a program of wealth redistributiion to meet health care needs of others seems to me to impose on others that moral obligation on your behalf.  I respectfully decline to take on moral obligations that you believe that you have.

    Regards,

  28. Consi, you and GM have been around this already. Here’s a simple question for you: Should the state secure the physical survival of its citizens or not?

  29. Consiglere,

    A logical argument you say;
    First, you seem to have stated that all individuals who do not work 80hours a week=lazy do-nothing, pot smoking, people undeserving of any healthcare. Obviously this is wrong, not all poor peolpe are lazy or stupid with their money. The clerk provides a service, in which his employer may profit, one that he can only provide if he is healthy and besides which, nobody forces the 80 hour workaholic to live his unhealthy lifestyle.

    Second, consider that a social system includes all the people within it, not just the rich. A poor social system will produce a less productive, unhealthy society. A system that only supports those who have money, will result in an overall unbalanced dispersement of wealth. Meaning that the middle calss is eliminated, meaning the average person, like most of us here, will wind up working harder/longer for less.

  30. El: Should the state secure the physical survival of its citizens or not?

     

    Only of those that are physically or mentally disabled and are incapable of doing it for themselves.

    Terroran: The clerk provides a service, in which his employer may profit, one that he can only provide if he is healthy and besides which, nobody forces the 80 hour workaholic to live his unhealthy lifestyle.

    And whether his employer provides health insurance is an issue between he and his employer.  We each derive the benefits and drawbacks of our choices.  You seem to want to punish the guy that works his butt off. Not only does he not have the same free time, but now he has to incur the additional financial responsibilites of John Doe. I’m not on board that bus.

    Regards,

  31. I came late to this party.  Hey, AbyssStares, while you’re being all “objective” and such, you think you can even see the rest of the world from up on that high horse?  Glad your tough early adulthood worked out for you but lots of people fall by the wayside.  Who do you think pays for their unnecessary emergencies?  You do.  The loss of productivity and taxes paid?  You again.

    Abyss and others taking the “resources are available” line –  Yes, some doctors will take pro bono patients.  Yes, hospitals are forbidden in many states to turn away gravely ill patients.  There are a couple problems with that scenario.

    The patient may not know if he or she is gravely ill.  This becomes an agonizing, high-risk choice to make because (at that low-income level) going to a doctor can backfire seriously.  Some years ago when I was seriously under-insured, I went to the emergency room with chest pains.  Can we all agree that if you have chest pains you shouldn’t screw around – you should go right to the emergency room?

    It turned out to be acid reflux.  Well OK, better safe than sorry, right?  Guess not.  My insurance company refused to pay the $800+ because it didn’t turn out to be an emergency.  I was stuck with the bill which was a serious financial hardship.

    Hangnails… hmm.  I had an infection on my left thumb that became a pyogenic granuloma – incredibly painful, debilitating, and it bled all the time.  By the time my insurance company got its head out of its actuaries, it had wrapped itself around the bone requiring the services of a hand surgeon to remove.  That wasn’t cheap and the insurance company wound up weaseling out of about half of it.  All from a little cut to the nail bed.

    At that time my kids were little and we lived in fear of major medical expense.

    As for the proported debacle of government-led (“It would be a disaster”) health care, you have to ask, has it been a disaster in other countries where they do it?  No?  You mean they’re spending less per capita on health care than we are and living longer in the bargain?  We are spending more and not getting our money’s worth.

    Health care for all serves the taxpayer’s purely selfish interest.  It gives doctors a chance to spot early warning signs, so it often prevents unnecessary major medical expense.  It keeps people working because it helps them manage chronic diseases better. 

    As for the danger of an inefficient bureaucracy, what we have in this country is a whole bunch of inefficient buraucracies that can’t communicate with each other: health care providers and insurance companies.  The waste – the egregious diversion of money that is supposed to be for health care – is unconscionable.

    Les, thanks for this post.

  32. DOF, my feelings exactly. My tax rate in Germany was about 55% and it didn’t particuarly bother me, because it bought a lot of state that I liked. Everybody was in the same boat, so the tax rate didn’t really affect my standard of living relative to everybody else.

  33. My tax rate in Germany was about 55% and it didn’t particuarly bother me, because it bought a lot of state that I liked.

    1) This is not Germany.

    2) I don’t want more “state.”

    Regards,

  34. Why thank you El.  I’ve always taken pride in being able to recognize that German social policy is pretty much irrelevant to our discussion. smile

    I could’ve swore I answered that.  Maybe not.  Oh, wait a minute, you wanted a yes or no answer to a question that requires more than a yes or no response so you could continue on some diatribe.  See my answer above.

    Regards,

  35. Really, it boils down to whether a person is a Constitutionalist or a Socialist.  The Constitutionalist will always say that health care is the individuals responsibility while the Socialist will claim that it is the government’s responsibility.  IMO, the less government, the better.  Socialism breeds bloated overly-intrusive centralized governments- pretty much anathema to the spirit of the Constitution.  And yes, I have been reported to the credit bureaus by a hospital before and I have gone two or three days without food.  Too bad for me, sometimes life isn’t fair.  At the same time, I have received help from friends and family.  Government enforced charity is no charity at all.

  36. What exactly is your idea of a constitutionalist? Is there a definition for that? Is it just someone who interprets the constitution to mean what they want (kinda like a Christian and the bible)?

    As it is, in 100 years with the way things are heading, socialism or imperialism may be the only option anyway. Overpopulated countries do not operate well under a capatalistic system. And with the downfall of the education syste (another crazy socialist idea) democracy is pretty much non existant, as individuals no longer think for themsleves but rely on propaganda to make their decisions.

    Calling health care, government enforced charity, is just narrow minded. The idea of keeping your populous healthy helps out everyone in the long run. Your only other option is to leave the health system in the hands of profit, and it seems that leaves the doors wide open for corrupt insurance companies.

  37. A Constitutionalist is someone who believes that there were (and still are) very good reasons for limiting the power of a centralized government.  The reasons that the Constitution was written to limit the federal government are still valid.

    As it is, in 100 years with the way things are heading, socialism or imperialism may be the only option anyway.

      lol As it is, at current population growth rates and global warming rates, all our current sociopolitical systems will have collapsed.  Some of the more current climate models show that Antartica will be the only place habitable to humans within 100 years, so a switchover to Socialism might be a little premature.

    Calling health care, government enforced charity, is just narrow minded. The idea of keeping your populous healthy helps out everyone in the long run.

      General health as dictated by having a fairly clean living area and certain safeguards to ensure that medicine is efficacious are all that are needed.  I might be a callous asshole, but someone dying from a lack of healthcare will most likely have little to no effect on my life.  In addition, not having access to healthcare, does not make someone automatically unhealthy- that is pure sophistry.

  38. I might be a callous asshole, but someone dying from a lack of healthcare will most likely have little to no effect on my life.

    Maybe you are. Then again it is also possible that you are afraid to question the system you are living under. It is possible that constitution is flawed, as it was written for a different time (hence the reason why the right to bear arms was added). Or maybe it isn’t even the constituion, maybe it is just a set of unsubstantiated beliefs that you follow. As an example, it seems that you have been able to stave off the clutches of government on your personal freedom, but you have not been able to stave off the clutches of a corporate plutocracy (hence our problems with the environment).

    In addition, not having access to healthcare, does not make someone automatically unhealthy- that is pure sophistry.

    I wouldn’t say pure sophistry, having acces to healthcare definately won’t make you less healthy, and I can’t see how it couldn’t help to make you more healthy. (ie Vacinations, physical check ups to identify health issues before they arrive).

  39. Then again it is also possible that you are afraid to question the system you are living under.

    But then again, probably not, as I have sent dissenting e-mails to both Dems and Reps if they advance an idea that I don’t agree with.  While I vote as an Independent, I am more of an anarchist in my heart.
      Maybe not pure sophistry, but certainly not a direct connection by any means.  You can be healthy whether or not you have healthcare.  In fact, I didn’t have healthcare until my late 20’s and the only time I ever saw a doctor was either for stitches or to have sea urchin spines removed.  Since I have had healthcare, I have had two back surgeries.  This last time, my insurance company tried to refer me to a neurosurgeon with whom I was less than comfortable with, so we went outside the insurance to go to a different doctor.  So even if you have insurance, you can be hedged in by their actuarial attempts at profit and wind up in worse shape.  As for vaccinations, there is an ever growing portion of the population who do not want their children to have vaccinations (not my view, but they are there).

  40. As a Canadian I feel a certain amount of comfort in the healthcare for all philosophy.  Where I differ from my country’s approach is I also agree with a user pay system in place. 

    I can see my GP anytime I feel it necessary.  I can also go to emerg. 

    As for the waiting lists that I’m sure you’ve all heard about here in Canada. If it’s not considered life threatening then you go on a list.  If it is life threatening you go to the front.  The thing that most get miffed about is the discomfort one must endure while waiting. 

    If we were to include user fees into this equation then I could have a choice, provided it wasn’t life threatening, to pay for the procedure or go on the list.

    Now this system in Canada is a huge burden on the taxpayer.  Thankfully I am in a tax bracket that would allow me to have any procedure done whenever I needed or wanted for that matter. 

    I am also in a tax bracket where I pay for this right for others less fortunate.  All I can say, and this is just me talking, is that ten years ago, when things were much different for me, when I was living below the poverty line.  I was thankful we had a healthcare supported largely by the wealthy when I needed it.  It’s now payback time.  There is nothing socialistic about it in my mind.  I have a considerable amount of freedom because of my income now.  I have a considerable amount of buying power in this economy.  None of that will disappear (provided I keep doing well).  I have so much more than those less fortunate and yet I feel no animosity towards the less fortunate for getting a piece of my action.  All it means is I don’t have MORE.  But I will always have my health.  ( I couldn’t resist)

    Now the system here is far from perfect.  No system is, as I believe someone has already pointed out.  But it continues to be redefined (unfortunately at the pace of bureaucracy) and eventually perhaps we can have a system in place that will address all concerns.  It’s a far cry better than doing nothing.  In my humble opinion.  I’d rather wait in a long line for procedures than the alternative.

  41. None of this really matters because we already have Medicare and Medicaid.  Anyone who doesn’t qualify for these programs can afford to get private health insurance.  Most will say that they can’t, but that’s only because they value their other luxeries more than their healthcare.

  42. Scorn,

    I’d like to point out that here in Ontario (yes, I’m a Canuck), the employer pays a percentage of payroll as a health tax—the burden isn’t entirely born by individual taxes. In addition, people pay a small fee for heath services in their personal taxes (about 700.00 I believe). The net result is that regardless of your financial status (employed or otherwise), general healthcare is entirely covered for all citizens.

    From flu vaccine to chemo, it is all covered—no one goes without a visit to the doctor if they need or want it, regardless of whether it is a heart attack or reflux (hey, we’re not all MDs—we don’t always know the difference).

    For my American cousins (and dear friends), I’m not sure what the pursuit of LIFE, liberty etc means without adequate healthcare to 40 million citizens.

    Personally, I’m happy to pay the tax. No one should have to die because they don’t have the money to visit the doctor.

    I’m so sorry, Les.

    Shelley

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