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Here's an idea for a bailout: Universal health care.

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Dark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:13 AM
Original message
Here's an idea for a bailout: Universal health care.
First, let's get something clear.

I'm not going to talk about the 1/3 of Americans who go without healthcare at some point.

I'm not going to talk about how healthcare is the no. 1 reason for bankruptcy



I'm not going to talk about how we spend more on a healthcare system that covers fewer people than pretty much every othercountry


I'm not going to talk about how Americans forgo healthcare when times are tough. (actually, I kind of will.)

I'm not going to talk about how Americans are still the least healthy people in the developed world.


I'm not going to talk about how a few


fringe


groups


have


endorsed


universal


healthcare.


I'm not going to talk about how the medical industry has let people die to save money

I'm going to talk about something else.

We pay a TON of money for health care. You do. I do. Everyone does. We pay, on average, around 40 percent more than other countries.

--- Slightly off topic

(And let's face it, the French will protest at the drop of a beret. But you don't see them demanding better care. I mean, conservatives, if they're socialistic commie pinko terrorist sympathizing cheese eaters whose only jobs are protesting and whining, as you love to describe them, why don't they protest for better care? Not private care, just better.)

Back on topic ---

So, we pay a lot more for health care. That's an undebatable fact. What does this mean?

It means that every other global competitor for American businesses doesn't pay anything beyond a tax. They don't have to pay partly for plans (which companies say are crippling them).

They don't pay for extra man hours to file the paperwork.

They don't have to waste time explaining options to employees.

They don't have to worry about anything at all. Just pay a small fee (especially compared to ours) and they got health care.

So, they have less overhead.

But even that doesn't do it justice. See, our GOVERNMENT, yes our GOVERNMENT, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, spends more per person on health care than each of the following developed countries, save France.

Don't believe me? Here's the World Health Organization:

Be my guest.

How much could it save? Well, in 2007, premiums for both businesses and employees rose by between 5.5 and 8 percent, depending on whom we're talking about.

Universal Health Care. Now.


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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:28 AM
Response to Original message
1. ...but...but...that is SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!!!
and you know how horrible that is!!!

:sarcasm:


A cogent and convincing argument....Great post.
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Dark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 02:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. OMFG!! YOU'RE RIGHT! IT'S WORSE THO! POLICE ARE ... SOCIALIZED CRIME FIGHTERS!
Duhn duhn duh!
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:06 AM
Response to Reply #6
15. And don't forget the fire department n/t
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sasquuatch55 Donating Member (701 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 09:14 AM
Response to Reply #1
46. Let's start with Medicare for ALL!
nt
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Project Grudge Donating Member (228 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:28 AM
Response to Original message
2. Hear, Hear. n/t
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Jim Sagle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:32 AM
Response to Original message
3. There you go again. Typical lefty, making sense when you know that just isn't practical.
When the adults are in charge, nonsense rules the day.

:sarcasm:
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:10 AM
Response to Reply #3
16. Yeppers, just another one of those hard-core lefty ideologues
Every bit as senseless as one of those Rapture Ready whackjobs.
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AndyTiedye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:45 AM
Response to Original message
4. And GM Keeps Telling Us that Health Care Costs Are Killing Them
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ColbertWatcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 02:09 AM
Response to Original message
5. I'm glad you posted this and didn't talk about those other things. k+r, n/t
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Norrin Radd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 02:46 AM
Response to Original message
7. kr
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BelgianMadCow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:11 AM
Response to Original message
8. Here's the belgian perspective
Edited on Fri Dec-05-08 03:13 AM by BelgianMadCow
- We pay like 8 euro after reimbursement for a doctor / specialist visit. The average medicine has a 80% plus reimbursement, for everybody.

- We have a pretty good basic insurance for hospitalisation for +- 200 euro/year for a family of 4.
(example: having our baby kid costed 1500 Euro total. Reimbursement was 1400 euro)

- There is a so-called maximum bill - if you go over it, you don't pay it anymore but the govt does. There are hardly any people going broke because of medical reasons. Actually, never heard of it. Of course, that is partly because we are among the best savers as well, so people have some backup.

AND, hold on tight, I calculated the entire cost to GOVERNMENT is 1500 euro per person per year. If you would transpose to the US, you get a total which is LOWER than your defense budget! It is easy to see how the medical costs in the US are INCREDIBLY overinflated - I imagine at the bidding of the concerned corporations.

Couple disclaimers: we pay hefty taxes (40-60% for most people, 60 being for the highest bracket) and our military spending is uhm sub-par ;-)
Between our excellent public transportation, our very good state-sponsored cable channels, our social adjustments on the free market such as unemployment benefits and disability pay, I have no problem with those taxes. Another important note - the health bill has been rising with 4-5% per year, even when there is pretty tight oversight of spending. We too will have a problem with baby boomers retirements and medical costs.

But I'm a social democrat :P
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Optimistic Donating Member (139 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:28 PM
Response to Reply #8
34. Great Post
You make alot of sense for a Socialistic type of Govt. And to the Right Wing Wacko's ( I will not name anyone)
(er..Bill O'Rielly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Rush Limbough, etc etc etc, But I am not going to name names)
Socialism is totally different than Communism.
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bookman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:52 PM
Response to Reply #8
36. Problem is..
... many Americans would rather die than raise taxes.


(Incredible, but literally true. )
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old mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:58 AM
Response to Original message
9. See, this is why god hates america
and why we get all those tornados and stuff.

Socialism...

mark
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asteroid2003QQ47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 04:56 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. False analogy!
What percentage of "tornados and stuff" target Foggy Bottom, the Socialist capitol of America? upon close examination I think you'll find it's extremely low!
All Socialists are equal but some are more equal than others, hence, 'God' only hates the "others" in America! :evilgrin:
----------------------------------------------------------

It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
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old mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:12 AM
Response to Reply #11
17. Maybe it was hurricaines - You know, like Texas?
Besiudes, the leaders don't get punished - it's the common religious folk who provedto god they are not religious enough by letting people like you and I live.



mark
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Dark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 08:08 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. Hurricanes only target gays. The rest is just 'collateral damage.' n/t
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old mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #18
28. But in New Orleans it was poor people who spoke French -
Maybe this is a different god, the god of the Bushes?

mark
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bobmorr1 Donating Member (228 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 04:18 AM
Response to Original message
10. k& r
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:34 AM
Response to Original message
12. +1. We pay more because
of insurance industry greed and other factors. We will never have a solution until the profit motive is removed from the health care equation.
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SammyWinstonJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 09:28 AM
Response to Reply #12
47. Bingo! nt.
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:47 AM
Response to Original message
13. As has been shown time after time, in case after case, year in and year out. . .
The "left" is right!
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:17 PM
Response to Reply #13
29. At this point I would settle for our Congress critters seeing to it
That we are not taxed and penalized when a medical emergrency forces us to deplete our retirement funds.

My husband and I would have avoided bankruptcy if that had been the case. So, I imagine would many other Americans.

And BTW, we had health insurance at the time we went under. But the cost of the health insurance was so expensive that it meant raiding retirement.
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Hippo_Tron Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #29
32. Socializing catastrophic care is a good first step
And IMO it's a very politically viable one too. Even if it does keep private insurance in the equation, it takes catastrophic coverage out of their hands which is one of their biggest risks and thus even they will support it. It would also (at least in theory) reduce the price of insurance and make it more affordable.

I think John Kerry's plan had something like this in it.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #32
49. Good first step. +1 nt
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Lifetimedem Donating Member (652 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:50 AM
Response to Original message
14. One of the reasons GM
builds so many cars in Canada is they save the health care costs..

We need national health care now
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asteroid2003QQ47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 08:33 AM
Response to Reply #14
19. Enjoy the luxury of national healthcare NOW, get elected to Congress!

:evilgrin:


The time has arrived to help millions of Americans living without a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health . . .
and protection . . . against the economic effects of sickness.
--Harry S. Truman, September 19, 1945
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Dark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 08:53 AM
Response to Reply #19
20. Not to mention good job security, unless you're a republican nt
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glowing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #14
35. And I'm not sure what Canadian idiots they throw on the airwaves to
complain about their healthcare system and how much more they'd like to see it like the United States.. I've heard more people spout off about a Canadian or two that they find to actually say this.. because I do feel that the majority of Candadians wouldn't want our healthcare system.. even if they have a few problems with their own.
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wolfgangmo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 10:03 PM
Response to Reply #35
54. the 3rd rail of canadian politics
No matter how radical harper has been in Canada he has never even MENTIONED the health care system. To do so would be political suicide.


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area51 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
21. K&R
We need to transition to single-payer healthcare. It can both save 273 lives per day, and employ more people in this economy when people can see a doctor. If we can spend money on wars of choice, we can spend it on training more doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers.


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Laelth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
22. Hear, hear! Universal Health Care Now! k&r n/t
:dem:

-Laelth
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 12:20 PM
Response to Original message
23. K&R. Great thread. Should be seen by everyone.
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glinda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:30 PM
Response to Original message
24. Our home would be able to have an extra
$900/mo to live on, pay bills, give back to the economy. That's a big woppin' "$900" PER MONTH.
So I agree, Universal Helthcare would help a lot. even if we paid in $300 a month.
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:39 PM
Response to Original message
25. Just a little reminder for all those who scream socialism.
60% of health care delivered in this country today is paid for by the government today. It comes from, Medicare, Medicaid, CHAMPS, Schips, the Veterans Administration and others I can't remember. It's time to combine all those programs under a one payer umbrella and extend full and quality health care to everyone, because right now that other 40% of health care delivered from the private sector is using up the majority of health care dollars and there are still 40% of the population that isn't covered or is underinsured.
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patriotvoice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
26. Yeah, in 2007, Blue Cross Blue Shield wanted to raise premiums for my employees a minimum of 25%.
I said f*ck you. We're all healthy, young, non-smoking, non-drinking, very active men who work in an extremely safe environment (programming). You can go take that for-profit-schtick you were on and cram it up your F!CKING @SS.

Anyway, yes, Universal Health Care. Now.
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Mithreal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 02:35 PM
Response to Original message
27. Trust Republicans and the greedy to make healthcare work?
Universal single payer, same as the Congress has. Not just Universal healthcare.

This is one vision for America in which no compromise is acceptable. Incrementalists, pragmatists, and compromisers might get us there eventually? Is that good enough?
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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:22 PM
Response to Original message
30. So happy that so many people are now getting it. Repeat, our govt spends more on health care now
than it would if we had a western European style universal health care system in which everyone was covered (and you completely eliminated the private insurance part of things), because under that system disease prevention would become feasible. Right now the most underinsured portion of the population is made up of young to middle aged working adults who are developing the chronic diseases that are bankrupting Medicare and Medicaid. The Medical Industrial Complex in this country gets fat and bloated from their misery. We, the tax payer, get much poorer. Plus, think of all the work days lost to sickness and early retirement. Less productivity of skilled workers.

It has got to stop.
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Dark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 10:22 PM
Response to Reply #30
37. Not to mention we subsidize everyone else's healthcare.
The governments negotiate with the drug companies and set their own prices. Here, we pay for the difference.
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GOPBasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:33 PM
Response to Original message
31. Rec'd. I agree. n/t
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:05 PM
Response to Original message
33. K & R. nt
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Rosa Luxemburg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 10:34 PM
Response to Original message
38. So when can we have our National Heath Service?
January 2009 would be nice
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Dark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 12:14 AM
Response to Reply #38
41. Yeah. I don't think I'd want bush to handle it.
n/t
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 11:01 PM
Response to Original message
39. Remove age restrictions from Medicare --
Edited on Fri Dec-05-08 11:01 PM by defendandprotect
and change drug plan to eliminate insurance companies --
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 11:02 PM
Response to Original message
40. I would guess this is going to take some coming out into the streets ---SOON ....
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WCGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 12:21 AM
Response to Original message
42. OMG, why do you hate the Human Resource Officer....
What would those poor sons of bitches do if they didn't spend all their time explaining the health care programs.

And what about all those insurance company clerks who are there just so they can deny someone somewhere a procedure that will save a life...

Yea, all those layers and layers of bureaucratic bullshit we have hoisted on to the simple task of providing health care to just some of our people would make Old Joe Stalin proud...
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CaliforniaPeggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 12:41 AM
Response to Reply #42
43. ROFL!
:rofl:
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DUlover2909 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 03:35 AM
Response to Original message
44. My sister-in-law is a nurse for a cancer center. She told me this:
Every day pharmaceutical reps bring the entire staff of their clinic free lunch. Not cheap food, but expensive dishes from restaurants around town. Everyone in their clinic makes enough money to easily pay for their own lunch, but Big-Pharma takes care of it free of charge. They all gladly accept it and take the left-overs home.

I asked, "Why would those pharma-reps do that? Why would they spend all that money and time supplying clinics with free lunches from expensive restaurants? What do they stand to gain? Are they trying to bribe the doctors to prescribe their drugs?"

"No." she replied. "We'd use their drugs regardless becuase they are the only drugs approved by the FDA for these treatments. The pharma-reps have a budget to spend and that is the most convenient way to consume the budget."

I said, "Well, someone pays for those lunches and it's probably the government through medicare or the patients themselves. That's at least one place in which healthcare can be reformed."

She agreed. There's no such fucking thing as a free lunch. EVER!
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Po_d Mainiac Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 08:16 AM
Response to Original message
45. But, But
Then we would be following the rest of the industrialized world.........not leading it.........DOWN THE TUBES!! :evilgrin: :evilgrin:
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JimboBillyBubbaBob Donating Member (225 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
48. Friends, let me relate a personal story.
Edited on Sat Dec-06-08 09:40 AM by JimboBillyBubbaBob
This past January 10th my wife and I lost our 18 year old daughter to brain cancer. She fought this bravely and valiantly for two and one half years. Over the course of her treatment, the bill ran to over one million dollars. We had insurance and it did pay a great deal of the cost. A lot of it, the insurance did not pay. Attempting to manage the paperwork and the accounting became, and remains, a second job. We owe so much money on this that we will pay it until each of us meet our respective ends. That, however, is the nature of the beast and we have settled into a mindset that deals with it. It has become part of the landscape. A year ago February, one of the hospitals that was involved in her treatment phoned me at work and notified me that they would need to bill me for $92,000.00 that the insurance company had paid months before, citing the claim that the amount had been paid in error, that we weren't covered for the line items under consideration. I laughed and told her "Lady, I don't have 92 cents in my pocket." To date, they have not pressed the issue. Last year we had $72,000.00 worth of an immune system booster in our refrigerator. It was in the form of syringes in sealed packages. The change in her treatment protocol negated the use of the drug. Luckily for us, it was paid for by the insurance company. Yet, due to the chain of possession, we were unable to give the drug to any hospital, clinic, or patient that could use it. We even offered it to Doctors Without Borders. We subsequently discarded it. It was a sick feeling. This is the kind of waste that goes on daily, yet the corporate fiefdoms do not wish to consider the common good. We must stand together and demand change in this system. What we have now is obscene, pure and simple.
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area51 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #48
50. I'm so sorry for your loss. (n/t)
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Dark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 11:09 AM
Response to Reply #48
51. That's so sad. I'm sorry.
You're the one who could use a bailout
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SmileyRose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-07-08 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #48
57. We had to discard $9000 of immune suppressent
it came with each pill blister packed inside 20 count boxes that were plastic shrink wrapped. We tried like heck to give it away but, by law, no one is allowed to take it.

I believe we can thank the tylenol terrorist for that and I agree with you 900%, there has to be a better way.
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quidam56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 11:35 AM
Response to Original message
52. Acceptable Standards of Health Care in Tennessee and Virginia
We hear so much about affordable health care, but that won't be worth much if we don't have acceptable health care too. www.wisecountyissues.com
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 05:18 PM
Response to Original message
53. Stop making sense will you?
Congress will get a migraine.
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JPerk87 Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 10:35 PM
Response to Original message
55. Health Care Paper
Edited on Sat Dec-06-08 10:45 PM by JPerk87
I recently wrote a Health Care Policy Proposal paper in my Medical Sociology class (I'm an undergrad at UMass Amherst) and I'd thought some of you might enjoy it. As I said I'm only an undergrad so please don't judge it too harshly lol. Anyways, here it is....

    Our health care system has turned into a disaster. There are few left who would dispute this claim, but the real question is: what are we going to do about it? There are two main schools of thought concerning how we should address the situation. There are those who believe that free market principles can save health care, and there are those who believe that we need to adopt a national insurance plan. I am in strong agreement with the latter of these two arguments as I believe only a single-payer health care system can guarantee the coverage of all Americans and finally reign in the escalating costs that plague our current structure. President-elect Obama has revealed a health care plan which is certainly a step in the right direction, but is not enough. In this paper I will list the major problems with our current system, describe why piecemeal solutions will not get the job done, illustrate how a single-payer system will get the job done, and I will also explain why such a plan is politically viable.
    In 2003, the United States spent $1.7 trillion on services related to health care (which comes out to $5,800 per person), and this accounted for 15% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is more than any other country in the world spends, yet our quality of care is nothing to brag about. If we continue on our current path then by 2013, we will be spending about $3.4 trillion a year on health care (Weiss 2008; 339). This means less money for other important things such as education, transportation, science, energy and many other essential services. Some of the things that have led to these high costs are; new high-technology procedures that are very expensive, yet often only have marginal benefits, increasing drug costs, and administrative overhead costs which account for over 20% of total health care expenditures (343). Since 2000 weve been spending about $200 billion a year on drugs alone (Angell 2005; 3). A more detailed description for the reasons of these high expenditures will be discussed later.
I would like to digress for a moment and explain how the high-technology procedures that were just mentioned are what drive a small amount Canadians to our country every year. These Canadians, however, are usually wealthy and their lives do not depend on such services, rather they are taking advantage of their wealth by enjoying the luxury health care services America has to offer. The reason I mention this is that there are some who will point to this fact to support their claim that Canadians think our health care system is better, and thus we shouldnt waste our time pursuing a health care system like theirs, but this could not be further from the truth as most Canadians would laugh at such a suggestion. Later on I will explain why more common myths concerning single-payer systems are wrong.
    High costs have left many Americans left out in the dust. At any given time roughly 50 million people are uninsured and this makes up 15% of the total population. (Relman 2007; 51). The dangers of not having health insurance are obvious enough, but if youre still not convinced, 18,000 adults die each year due to a lack of coverage, not to mention many more who are alive but are living in pain (LeBow 2002; 17). The United States is the only Western industrialized country, regardless of how they raise funds, organize care, and determine eligibility, that fails to guarantee every citizen comprehensive coverage for all essential health care services (Quadagno 2005; 2). This embarrassing fact is something that we need to address immediately.
    Unfortunately, not only do we have coverage and cost issues, but the quality of care is a problem as well. In our system, improving patient care has taken a back seat to economic interests. Insurance companies will often deny care to people who have conditions that will cost the company too much money. Imagine having a serious medical condition, like cancer, but not being able to find an insurance company that will help you pay for your medical bills. For those who are lucky enough to have insurance, many insurance plans only cover a limited amount of doctor and hospital visits. Also, our delivery system is so flawed that tens of thousands of Americans die each year due to hospital medical errors (Kohn 2000). Lastly, the 2000% growth of the number of administrators since 1970 has led to a tedious amount of paperwork, which is a headache for both patients and physicians (LeBow 2002; 56). Such developments have put primary care in a crisis as physicians are leaving the profession due to poor compensation and plummeting job satisfaction (Brewster 2008). This hurts patients too since they have to keep switching doctors, thus preventing them from developing a healthy relationship with their primary care-giver. In light of all these facts, it is no wonder a 2000 World Health Organization report ranked our health care system 37th overall in the world (LeBow 2002; 14).
    There is good news, however, as President-elect Obamas health care plan aims to address many of these issues. The following details of his plan were obtained from BarackObama.com. His first overall goal is to lower costs, and there are various ways in which he plans to do this. For example, he wants to invest $10 billion a year over next five years to bring electronic information technology to the health care system. This will supposedly save us $77 billion per year. Next, he promises to make prevention and disease management programs more accessible. For instance, he will require public plans, like the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) and Medicare to utilize proven disease management programs. Then he intends to reform the market structure to increase competition and thus preventing companies from abusing their monopoly power through unjustified price increases (BarackObama.com). He says he will enact a new National Health Insurance Exchange that will help increase competition, allow consumers to buy drugs from other countries, prevent drug companies from blocking generic drugs from the market, and allow Medicare to negotiate for cheaper drug prices. Furthermore, he wants to reimburse employer health plans for a portion of catastrophic costs, provided that they guarantee their savings will go towards reducing workers premiums.
    His second overall goal is to ensure affordable, accessible coverage for everyone and this is to be achieved through eight specific strategies. These strategies include; requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, offering a public plan similar to what Members of Congress have, providing tax credits for families and small businesses, requiring large employers that dont offer coverage to make contribution to new national plan, mandating that all children be covered and allowing children to keep their parents plan up to age 25, expanding eligibility of Medicaid and SCHIP programs, and lastly ordering that state plans meet the minimum standards of the new national plan. It is also important to note that he wants to expand funding for public health programs, and encourage new ones. This is essential, as I believe reforming the health care system is only part of the solution towards creating a healthier America.
    As stated before, I believe this plan is only a step in the right direction as it does not address the underlying problem of our current system. The underlying problem to which I am referring, or the fundamental source of the all the ailments that are currently holding us down can be summed up in one word: profit. The commercialization of health care is what has brought the concept of profit to our current structure, and the only way to get rid of it is by addressing the privatization of health insurance. There are both ideological and pragmatic reasons why we need to end the commercialization of health care, and I will begin with the ideological reasons. I strongly believe that seeking to make a profit over the life-threatening conditions of others is unethical and unjust. How could we as a society allow modern medicine to transform from a healing profession into a business where the desire of profit takes precedence over greater human needs? When looked at in this context, the radicality of our health care system is revealed. It is my strong belief that every human being is endowed with the natural right to receive all the necessary health services that ones society has to offer. Furthermore, I believe that it is our moral duty to provide such health services to those who do not possess the means of obtaining these services on their own. It is on these underlying principles that I base all my opinions expressed in this paper.
    Even if you cannot be convinced ideologically that we need a national health plan, there are a number of pragmatic reasons for such a plan, and these reasons all have to do with the reduction of costs. First of all, health care institutions do not compete like other capitalist institutions by advertising prices, so there is no economic benefit to the public (Wells 2007; 2785). Arnold S. Relman, who is a well renowned physician and a long-time advocate of a single-payer system, pointed out that health care institutions and physicians are forced to compete for well-insured patients because it is hard to make a profit treating patients with no insurance or bad insurance. Non-profit institutions are forced to act like their for-profit counterparts by advertising expensive equipment and services to the well-insured, and therefore, non-profits act like profit maximizing institutions, and this is bad because costs inevitably increase (Relman 2007; 50). Also, the overhead administrative expenses of these institutions account for at least 20% of the total costs (LeBow 2002; 19). Relman points out how for-profit institutions contribute to this by spending considerable money on high executive salaries and bonuses, consultants, legal advice, brokers, marketing and advertising, back office operations, public relations and lobbying, and many other expenses that are common in business (Relman 2007; 50)
    Inequity is another consequence of commercialized health care as markets are not concerned with justice and equity, so private health care and insurance are sold by profit-driven forces, and those who cannot afford them are left behind. Those without insurance go to the emergency room (ER) when in need of care, and this has led to the falling apart of ERs across the nation due to the strain of too many patients (LeBow 2002; 16). President-elect Obama says he will offer a new public plan but he offers no concrete details and he will not mandate that all adults have health insurance, so under his plan there will still be some who remain uninsured.
The next major consequence has to do with the quality of insurance, as the commercialization of care puts profits over quality of care. Consumers cannot make informed decisions concerning what their needs are like in other markets. For example, well insured patients are often lured to fancy services and luxuries that have nothing to do with the quality of health care, and this increases overall costs. Also, insurance providers like HMOs, will regulate care by deciding what to pay for, and they will even discourage primary care physicians from the use of hospitals and expensive technology, as these serve as a roadblock in their quest to make a profit (Relman 2007; 64). In some instances, private HMOs will reward their doctors with bonuses for denying care to patients with costly health conditions as documented in Michael Moores famous documentary, Sicko. Obamas plan will help alleviate most of these symptoms, but will not eradicate them once and for all. I think a recent article from the Journal of the American Medical Association summed it up the bestPerhaps it is time to wave the white flag and admit that it is impossible to develop policy initiatives that correct market distortions and produce a truly efficient health care market (Wells 2007; 2787). I thoroughly agree with this assessment and feel that it is time to adopt a much more feasible single-payer health system.
    Based on all this evidence, it is clear we need to adopt a single-payer system, but what should this system look like? I want to note that I agree with Arnold Relman when he says that we not only need single-payer insurance, but also need to reform the way physicians are organized in practice and how they are paid (Relman 2007; 113). This will be explained in more detail later, but first I think the government needs to offer a single-payer insurance plan that will be relatively simplified in that it will eliminate the hassle, expense, and complexity of billing that is present in our current system. Private insurance companies will no longer be able to offer the services that will be provided under the public plan. This insurance plan will be funded by a health care tax levied by Congress, and these taxes should be based on income or assets. This plan will cover everyone, which means even people with no income or assets will still be included. Even if a person has pre-existing conditions which require expensive treatment, he or she will be included. We will not need any more money to reform the system; we will just be pooling all our current health care payments, and then using them to fund a more efficient system. All essential benefits will be guaranteed, including ambulatory and inpatient services, short-term and long-term care, drugs, psychiatric care, home care, and dental care. Unnecessary services, such as cosmetic surgery, will not be covered, and for people who want coverage for such unnecessary services, private insurance companies will be allowed to provide these, but only the services not provided by the national plan. Since everything will be pre-paid for, there will be no billing or payment transaction during trips to the medical facilities, which also means no more tedious paperwork for both physicians and patients, and no more ridiculous overhead administrative costs. As stated before, these administrative costs account for at least 20% of current expenditures. I do, however, think that money should be given to patients who have to use public transportation to get to the medical facility, like they do in some European countries. Also, there would be no more incentives for putting profits ahead of patient care. For example, I would suggest that physicians be offered bonuses for keeping the most patients healthy, as they do in England, opposed to receiving bonuses for denying treatment to costly patients, like in America.
    As stated before, we also need a new way of delivering medical care. As Relman says Physicians are better qualified than government, employers, insurance plans, or patients to assume this responsibility, but they must be organized in a way that allows them to use their best judgment, uninfluenced by financial incentives or constraints that prevent them from meeting their professional commitment to patients (119). From this premise, he develops a smart idea which I agree with. He wants to create teams of approximately 50 to 100 physicians, half of whom would be primary care and the other half would be specialists. Every one group would be responsible for about 75,000 patients, or 1,500 patients per primary care doctor (who would be supported by nurse practitioners and physicians assistants) (120). They would be pre-paid and certified by a new national agency and most importantly, would be managed as a not-for-profit group. The physician groups (PGPs) would be given a percentage of the collective funds created through taxation. Any doctor who wanted to continue to practice solo would be allowed to do so, but would not be part of the national plan. Such physicians would find patients among the wealthy community, or anyone who was interested in additional non-essential services not covered by national plan. Medical facilities would also be not-for-profit and would negotiate prices with the PGP for their services, and I also agree with Relmans recommendation that the prices should be regulated and fully disclosed so there could be no special dealing between facilities and PGPs (124). Lastly, the new system would have to be managed by a national agency that was accountable, yet independent, of Congress.
    Another serious problem that plagues our current system is the high cost of drugs. As stated before, we currently spend about $200 billion dollars a year on drugs, but it does not have to be like this. If all Americans are under the same system, the payer suddenly has a great deal of power. For example, the VA gets a 40% discount on drugs due to its buying power, and this is also the main reason why other countries drug prices are so much lower than ours (PNHP). It is no wonder the drug industry is so opposed to a new national insurance plan.
    We have to be ready for criticism and must be prepared to quickly correct any falsehoods that will be voiced concerning a new national health plan. Many of those who are still diluted by the idea that the free market can save health care will undoubtedly resort to scare tactics, such as throwing around the term socialized medicine. In response to such an attack, the real definition of socialism should be clarified, which is the state ownership of the means of production. Health care will still be privately administered, we will just all be under the same insurance plan, and that is not socialism, it is common sense. In matter of fact, the French health care system (which was rated best overall by the WHO and has a single-payer system) makes use of private insurance plans that pay patients expenses not covered by the national plan, and nearly 90% of the French population make use of such coverage. (Dutton 2007). Therefore, it can be said that a single-payer system is not socialized medicine, and there is still a role for private insurance.
It will also be suggested that under a new national plan, people will not be able to choose their doctor. This is simply wrong, as patients will be able to choose their physician as they do in Canada and many European countries. Patients can even seek treatment from doctors outside of the plan, as long as they do not expect the national plan to cover the costs. Long waiting times are another common criticism of single-payer systems, but the truth is urgent care is provided immediately, and there are only some waits for elective procedures, but nothing that is worth belaboring over (PNHP). There will also undoubtedly be people who say the new system will cost too much. First of all, businesses will save money, and as evidence, the three major automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) have already endorsed a single-payer system (PNHP). Taxes will increase but there will be no more premiums, co-pays, deductibles, ridiculous drug prices, etc. France spends $3,500 per person every year on health care compared to the $6,100 the United States spends per person (Dutton 2007), and $3,500 is even considered expensive by single-payer standards, but it just goes to show how absurd our costs are. The truth is we cannot afford to not adopt single-payer system.
    Perhaps the most significant criticism of any proposed national health insurance has to do with its political viability. It is commonly believed that it would take a miracle for the United States to adopt a European-like health care system. Public opinion polls, however, tell a different story. First of all, a poll conducted last March revealed that 59% of all U.S. physicians support national health insurance (Fox 2008). This is huge as the health care reform efforts during the 90s ran into resistance from many physicians. Furthermore, an ABC News/Washington Post poll from last June reveals that 66% of Americans think it is more important to provide health care for all, even if this means higher taxes, whereas only 31% believed holding down taxes is more important, even if this means some Americans will be without care (PollingReport.com). Also, last September, a CBS News/New York Times Poll indicated that only 14% of U.S. adults think minor changes will be enough to fix health care (PollingReport.com) This shows that Americans are open to at least fundamental changes in the current system. But the most promising poll was a Yahoo News/Associated Press Poll from 2007 that revealed 54% of the nation supports a single-payer system (Yahoo News 2007). With the continued escalation of health care costs, I wouldnt be surprised if this number is even higher now. Furthermore, we will soon have a Congress that is at least open to the idea of national health insurance.
    To summarize, our current health care system has failed us considerably, and I believe only a single-payer system can adequately address its underlying problems. President-elect Obamas health care plan is a step in the right direction, but is not a long-term solution. In all honesty, I think he understands this himself as he has hinted in the past an acknowledgement that we need a single-payer system. He is much smarter than I, and probably sees his current plan as a mechanism that will pave the way towards true national health insurance. And when we finally do achieve this goal, it will certainly not be a perfect system, as it will have its flaws, but as long as we have a structure that keeps costs under control and secures every citizens right to health care, we will at last have a system that is worthy of being called American.

Works Cited

Angell, Marcia. (2005). The Truth About the Drug Companies. New York: Random House.

BarackObama.com. (2008) Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan to Lower Health Care Costs and Ensure Affordable, Accessible Health Coverage for All. Available at http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/HealthCareFullPla... Accessed November 26, 2008.

Brewster, Annite. (2008) "The crisis of primary care physicians." Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/ope... / Accessed November 26, 2008

Dutton, Paul V. (2007) Frances model healthcare system. The Boston Globe. 02 Dec 2008. http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped... / Accessed December 02, 2008.

Kohn, Linda T., Janet M. Corrigan, and Molla S. Donaldson. (2000) To Err is Human. Committee on Quality of Health Care in America, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Fox, Maggie. (2008). Ed. Will Dunham and Xavier Briand. Reuters. Doctors support universal health care:survey.
http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN31432035... Accessed November 27, 2008.

LeBow, Robert H. (2002). Health Care Meltdown. Chambersburg: Alan C. Hood & Company.

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). "Single-Payer Myths; Single-Payer Facts. http://www.pnhp.org/facts/singlepayer_myths_singlepayer... Accessed December 2, 2008.

PollingReport.com. Health Policy. http://pollingreport.com/health3.htm Accessed November 20, 2008.

Quadagno, Jill. (2005). One Nation, Uninsured. New York: Oxford Press.

Relman, Arnold S. (2007). A Second Opinion: Rescuing Americas Health Care. New York: The Century Foundation.

Weiss, Gregory. (2009) Uninsured in America. The Sociology of Health and Illness: Critical Perspectives. 8th Edition. Ed. Peter Conrad. New York: Worth Publishers, 339-347.

Wells, David A., Joseph S. Ross, Allan S. Detsky. (2007). What is Different About the Market for Health Care? The Journal of the American Medical Association. 298, 23; 2785-2787.

Yahoo News. (2007). http://news.yahoo.com/page/election-2008-political-puls... ;_ylt=AkO9w4FTYhpdbrgapp1RIB9QzpB4 Accessed December 01, 2008

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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-07-08 11:45 PM
Response to Reply #55
58. and another source worth citing

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/349/8/768

Costs of Health Care Administration in the United States and Canada

... Methods
For the United States and Canada, we calculated the administrative costs of health insurers, employers' health benefit programs, hospitals, practitioners' offices, nursing homes, and home care agencies in 1999. We analyzed published data, surveys of physicians, employment data, and detailed cost reports filed by hospitals, nursing homes, and home care agencies. In calculating the administrative share of health care spending, we excluded retail pharmacy sales and a few other categories for which data on administrative costs were unavailable. We used census surveys to explore trends over time in administrative employment in health care settings. Costs are reported in U.S. dollars.

Results
In 1999, health administration costs totaled at least $294.3 billion in the United States, or $1,059 per capita, as compared with $307 per capita in Canada. After exclusions, administration accounted for 31.0 percent of health care expenditures in the United States and 16.7 percent of health care expenditures in Canada. Canada's national health insurance program had overhead of 1.3 percent; the overhead among Canada's private insurers was higher than that in the United States (13.2 percent vs. 11.7 percent). Providers' administrative costs were far lower in Canada.

Between 1969 and 1999, the share of the U.S. health care labor force accounted for by administrative workers grew from 18.2 percent to 27.3 percent. In Canada, it grew from 16.0 percent in 1971 to 19.1 percent in 1996. (Both nations' figures exclude insurance-industry personnel.)

Conclusions
The gap between U.S. and Canadian spending on health care administration has grown to $752 per capita. A large sum might be saved in the United States if administrative costs could be trimmed by implementing a Canadian-style health care system.


Complete doc can be seen here:

http://www.pnhp.org/publications/nejmadmin.pdf
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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-07-08 11:04 AM
Response to Original message
56. We want to continue to terrorize those who can't afford health care...
and we like it when people find out that their health care insurance denies coverage just when they need it the most. It's so nice to find out that after your health insurance coverage stops you still end up with enough bills to force to declare bankruptcy. We love to see others die because they don't have money. We don't want the evil socialism to take care of our own.
We are terrorists. We love it when people are scared that they are going to die because they don't have health care. Give us your money or die! Feel the love of your fellow Americans!
:evilfrown:
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