The 'Public Option' Health Care Scam

Why Obama's plan won't work

Some statements are inherently unbelievable. Such as: "I am an official of the government of Nigeria, and I would like to deposit $60 million in your bank account." Or: "I'm Barry Bonds, and I thought it was flaxseed oil." And this new one: "I'm Barack Obama, and I favor more competition in health insurance."

That, however, is the claim behind his support of a government-run health insurance plan to give consumers one more choice. The president says a "public option" would improve the functioning of the market because it would "force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest."

He has indicated that while he is willing to discuss a variety of remedies as part of health insurance reform, this one is non-negotiable. House Democrats, not surprisingly, included the government plan in the 1,000-page bill they unveiled Tuesday.

It will come as a surprise to private health insurance providers that they have not had to compete up till now. Nationally, there are some 1,300 companies battling for customers. Critics say in many states, one or two insurers enjoy a dominant position. But market dominance doesn't necessarily mean insufficient competition.

Microsoft's dominance of software didn't prevent the rise of Google, and Google's dominance of search engine traffic didn't prevent Microsoft from offering Bing. If a few health insurance providers were suppressing competition at the expense of consumers, you'd expect to see obscene profits. But net profit margins in the business run about 3 percent, only slightly above the median for all industries.

There are reasons, though, to think that the president's real enthusiasm is not for competition but for government expansion. Free-market advocates want to foster competition by letting consumers in one state buy coverage offered in other states. If WellPoint has more than half the business in Indiana, why not let Indiana residents or companies go to California or Minnesota to see if they can find options that are cheaper or better?

But the administration and its allies show no interest in removing that particular barrier to competition. Maybe that's because it would reduce the power of state regulators to boss insurance companies around.

Nor does Obama believe in fostering competition in other health insurance realms—such as existing government health insurance programs. John Goodman, head of the National Center for Policy Analysis, suggests letting Americans now enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) select a voucher to buy private coverage if they want. Don't hold your breath waiting for the administration to push that idea.

Supporters of the "public option" think it can achieve efficiencies allowing it to underprice existing insurers. But efficiency is to government programs what barbecue sauce is to an ice-cream sundae: not a typical component. Nor is there any reason to think Washington can administer health insurance with appreciably lower overhead than private companies.

Medicare supposedly does so, but that is partly because it doesn't have to engage in marketing to attract customers, which this program would. It also spends less than private companies combating fraud and unwarranted treatments—a type of monitoring that spends dollars while saving more.

As the Congressional Budget Office has pointed out, "The traditional fee-for-service Medicare program does relatively little to manage benefits, which tends to reduce its administrative costs but may raise its overall spending relative to a more tightly managed approach." False economies are one reason Medicare has done a poor job of controlling costs.

But a public program of the sort Democrats propose doesn't have to control costs, because in a pinch it can count on the government to keep it in business. Competition is healthy, but how are private companies supposed to compete with an operation that can tap the Treasury?

Students of the Obama economic policy will also note a curious consistency in its approach to economic issues. Some problems, like the near-collapse of General Motors and Chrysler, came about because competition worked very well at serving consumers and punishing poorly run companies. Some problems, such as high health insurance premiums, came about because competition allegedly didn't work so well. In both cases, the administration proposes the same solution: more federal spending and a bigger federal role.

Will introducing a government-run insurance program work? After all, that Nigerian financial scam works. Just not necessarily the way you hope.

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  • johnny john john||

    I don't think the Democrats are stupid enough to fuck this up. They know the population is wary of words like "socialism" and "universal health care". They have 2 years to prove the population wrong about its conceptions of public health care before it's re-election time.

    If the Dems fuck this up, the libertarians should be overjoyed. The backlash against them would be tremendous. The Democrats would be removed from power and conservatives and libertarians could pick up the pieces and create their dream government.

    You're attacking the public option because you're afraid of its potential success. BTW the system Obama is proposing is similar to the German universal health care system that has both a public and private option. It is also the oldest universal system in the world, the private companies remain competitive, covering 23% of the population:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Germany

    http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL34175_20070917.pdf

  • ||

    Chapman's a racist?

  • ed||

    "[H]ow are private companies supposed to compete with an operation that can tap the Treasury?"

    Or raise an army? Or tax your income? Or put you in prison?

  • ||

    Why is Walter Sobchak head of the National Center for Policy Analysis?

    He's out of his fucking element.

  • Shannon Love||

    I think it very revealing of the crypto-Marxist influences on Obama thinking that he claims to believe that insurance companies do not have enough competition right now.

    In the Marxist model, capitalist and their companies are a monolithic entity united against the interest of everyone else. In this model, companies spend the lion share colluding with one another in various schemes to exploit the people. In this model it makes perfect sense that only the government could provide competition for such an entity composed of every private insurance company.

    This just proves that neither Obama no anyone in his inner circle have any actual experience in the business world. If he did, he would know that businesses spend most of their time trying to out compete the companies most like themselves.

    Marxist only see great capitalist conspiracies every where because Marxist as a group attack capitalist as a group. Marxist attack capitalist as a group and capitalist respond as a group. There narcissism leads the Marxist to believe that the group cohesion existed before the attack.

    Imagine a jerk who goes into a bar full of previously unaffiliated people and methodically punches ever one in the nose. Then when an enraged mob of bar patrons chases him down the street, the jerk yells, "See! I told you everyone in the bar was out to get me!"

  • ||

    I finally figured out how to tell when Obama is lying.

  • Tricky Prickears||

    . Nationally, there are some 1,300 companies battling for customers.

    Exactly which customers are they battling for? The individuals and small businesses, or the large groups? Who gets better pricing? How many choices does the consumer actually have? Take the cheaper employer provided coverage, or go out and spend a lot more on the open market? And what about those that don't have access to a group rate at all? Can it be argued that employers use health insurance as a form of control over their employees; to keep people in jobs they don't necessarily want, for fear of losing their coverage? And perhaps there's an even bigger question here. The backbone of insurance is risk assessment and management. Is it even possible to assess the health risks associated with an individual? Large groups?

    If WellPoint has more than half the business in Indiana, why not let Indiana residents or companies go to California or Minnesota to see if they can find options that are cheaper or better?

    The problem with that is, for 50 states, there's 50 sets of regulations. Some companies choose which states they will provide coverage in. Different regs, mean different pricing. Are you suggesting one blanket set of regs for all 50 states, to be determined by the fed?

    Eliminate employer provided coverage, and let these "insurance" companies really fight it out. We'll see just how expensive it is to provide individual coverage.If that doesn't work, then there's no choice but to go to a single-payer system.

    I find it very interesting that health care discussion quickly breaks down to Marxism or Capitalism. Nothing in between. I find that when people so quickly revert to politically charged comments, such as Marxism, or Socialized medicine, that they have their own agenda. Such as Joe McCarthy.

  • ||

    When Michelle's mouth is open?

  • ||

    Public option advocates like to say that private health insurers should have nothing to fear if from a public plan if they're truly more efficient than the government.

    I just reviewed the house bill section on the public option. Advantages that the public option, per the bill reported in the house, will have over the private health plans:
    1) not explicitly subject to state laws and regulations on either content of coverage or on company financials (insurance reserves, etc.)
    2) $2B + first 90 days of claims in low cost start up financing from federal government to be paid back over 10 years
    3) not subject to taxation by state or feds
    4) providers who take medicare or medicaid are required to participate
    5) implicit government guarantee should the plan not be able to make it on its own

    If Republicans can't stop the juggernaut, they should at least include provisions that equalize the playing field.

  • ||

    not explicitly subject to state laws and regulations on either content of coverage or on company financials

    But I thought unregulated = disaster. Luckily, govt bureaucrats have no incentive to be evil or sloppy, which is why that never, never happens.

  • ||

    "Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers."

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=332548165656854

    This is an interesting read. The plan as it now stands makes it illegal to purchase individual healthcare coverage or to change companies once you are in. But everyone will be able to keep the coverage they have. There is just something really sinister about Obama and his band.

  • ||

    Who is most evil:

    The government or the insurance industry?

    As far as healthcare goes,
    the insurance industry is much, much worse.

    I know this is heresy, but I've experienced both and I've never had to wait in line or forced to choose another doctor because the government told me to.

    However, I've had to wait in line or be forced to choose another doctor because of the whims of the insurance company.

    Just anecdotal evidence and not worth anything.

    However, you might want to look up the life expectancy in countries with national healthcare and compare the numbers with the US.

  • ||

    It wont work because the private sector will lose too much money. And rest assured the medical lobbyists (bribers) have all the right players in their hip pockets, bought and paid for to see it will never happen.

    RT
    www.anonymize.tk

  • ||

    The plan as it now stands makes it illegal to purchase individual healthcare coverage or to change companies once you are in.

    They're making it illegal for me to change companies to promote competition?

  • ||

    John,
    That guy is misreading the bill. The section he's quoting is the grandfathering provision. The bill permits individual policies so long as they are offered through the health insurance exchange that the bill sets up. It grandfathers in individual policies not offered through the exchange that were issued before the bill is enacted.

  • ||

    "That guy is misreading the bill. The section he's quoting is the grandfathering provision. The bill permits individual policies so long as they are offered through the health insurance exchange that the bill sets up. It grandfathers in individual policies not offered through the exchange that were issued before the bill is enacted."


    But isn't the exchange determined by government? Aren't you left out of buying your own coverage? It seems to me that going to the exchange and buying the mandated coverage is not the same as going to a private company and buying what you want. As it stands, I can buy as much or as little coverage as I want. Under Obama care, I can't buy individually but must buy the government mandated coverage through the exchange.

    The bill is impossible to read, so maybe I am wrong, but that is how it reads to me.

  • ||

    It is my understanding that the proposed penalty for not buying health insurance is $1000/year. It is also my understanding that insurance companies must offer insurance to anyone - even those with pre-existing conditions. If both of these premises are made into law, then one should opt for the penalty until they get sick, then purchase the most generous of the policies. I am on Medicare. ( I have no choice.) However, the premiums for Medicare and a supplement far exceeds $1000 a year. Dropping Medicare and paying the $1000 would certainly be cost beneficial for me. I suspect that anyone paying several thousand dollars per year in premiums would also benefit with this $1000 a year plan.

  • ||

    "I know this is heresy, but I've experienced both and I've never had to wait in line or forced to choose another doctor because the government told me to."


    There is a ton of anicdotal evidence from all over the world that shows a lot of people in government run systems have. Further, the government's track record with running bureaucracies is terrible. Give me one piece of evidence that this government, considering that it can't run the schools very well or anything else, will run health care well.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Anyone who has had to deal with the VA for healthcare knows we don't want government anywhere near it. You can change insurance companies. It ain't always easy, but it's a helluvalot easier than changing government beauracracies.

    On the other hand, you can't spell "rational healthcare" without "ration healthcare" so what do I know?

  • ||

    I suspect that anyone paying several thousand dollars per year in premiums would also benefit with this $1000 a year plan.

    So you pay the govt $1000/yr for nothing until you get sick, then they force a private carrier to insure you at a regulated rate, and any harm to the private carriers this causes is Market Failure.

  • creech||

    1,000+ pages long and this President wants to rush things through before anyone has much time to study the proposal? Weren't we promised "transparency?" Shouldn't we have more time to make a rational decision on something so important? Bush rushed into Iraq with little hestitation and now Obamessiah wants to make the same mistake with a health care plan that has potential impacts for generations to come. We need time to discuss all the implications with our doctors, health care administrators, employers, accountants, whomever. And if those wanting to rush this measure through Congress are scared that a careful review will give the opposition time to change enough votes, then think on the blowback if a significant portion of the population feels it has been bamboozled.

  • ||

    The same incentives apply on the employer side, Terrell. The penalty of 8% per year for not buying health insurance for your staff is almost certainly less than you would pay, especially if you were a small business, for health insurance. As a small businessman, you can now save money, pay the penalty, and tell your staff that they can get insurance from Obamacare.

  • ||

    You know why we have high healthcare costs? Mostly because we take care of our old people and your disabled people and just don't let them die in the name of cutting costs. That fact drives utopian liberals nuts. Government run healthcare as much as anything is about cutting off the old and the disabled from expensive medical care. A lot of advocates have let that fact slip. That is what they are saying when they talk about "why give a 75 year old a knee replacement instead of a 40 year old?" Of course you give it to the 40 year old because he will work and pay taxes. In this view, people are nothing but machinery to be fixed and replaced until their usful life has ended at which time the maintenence is cut off.

  • Tricky Prickears||

    The penalty of 8% per year for not buying health insurance for your staff is almost certainly less than you would pay, especially if you were a small business

    I thought there was an exemption for businesses with less than $250,000 in payrolls. Recently raised from $100,000

  • ||

    "I thought there was an exemption for businesses with less than $250,000 in payrolls. Recently raised from $100,000"

    Even if you are paying minimum wage that is no more than ten or twelve employees. That is not much of an exemption.

  • ||

    "But isn't the exchange determined by government? Aren't you left out of buying your own coverage? It seems to me that going to the exchange and buying the mandated coverage is not the same as going to a private company and buying what you want. As it stands, I can buy as much or as little coverage as I want. Under Obama care, I can't buy individually but must buy the government mandated coverage through the exchange."

    Well yes, the exchange is created by teh governemnt and the plans that can be sold through it are subject to standards, so there is definitely less choice under this bill. But the plans can be offered by private companies and they can be purchased by individuals, not just through employers.

  • ||

    Snyderman: So, self-responsibility.

    Obama: So, self-responsibility is going to be critical. This is probably not going to be something that's legislated. But I tell you what, every business out there is going to be looking at their health care bottom line. And increasingly what you're going to see is that businesses are going to incentivize their employees to stop smoking, lose weight, get exercise, get regular checkups.

    What we can do is we can encourage those companies that have those sorts of wellness-prevention programs. We can make sure that it's easier to find a primary care physician to get a regular checkup, that everybody has basic insurance. But the American people are going to have to participate in their own health.


    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/kausfiles/archive/2009/07/15/obama-as-health-care-salesman-he-sucks.aspx

    If that doesn't send a chill up your spine, nothing will.

  • ||

    What is depressing about that post to is that Klaus doesn't seem to be bothered by the quote. He is just mad that Obama isn't selling healthcare properly. The idea that the government is going to force business to have mandatory wellness controls of their employees lifestyles doesn't seem to phase him one bit. Scary. Very scary.

  • ||

    I have a friend who works for a Big Chemical concern. He spent an entire ski trip paranoid about an injury, because all injuries go on his company's stats (I guess to keep employers from 'encouraging' employees to claim they were injured off the job).

    Govt regulation to "protect the workers" turned into "govt regulations that say you can't ski, for your own good". Yea, I trust them to be reasonable here.

  • Gunboat Diplomacy||

    "However, you might want to look up the life expectancy in countries with national healthcare and compare the numbers with the US."

    Red herring.

  • ||

    You're attacking the public option because you're afraid of its potential success.



    If they aren't they should be. The success of the New Deal left the pro-plutocracy faction out of power for a long time.

    Anyway the criticism of a public plan is schizophrenic. Either it's a malicious bureaucracy that will destroy healthcare via inefficiency, or it's unfair competition for the private sector. Surely the low expectations you guys have for anything the government does isn't a very high bar for corporations to get over.

  • One of Tony\'s Reason Rubes||

    Shut the fuck up, Tony.

  • ||

    Either it's a malicious bureaucracy that will destroy healthcare via inefficiency, or it's unfair competition for the private sector.

    Tony, the great thing about a government program is that it can be both.

  • ||

    Tony, the great thing about a government program is that it can be both.

    Tony, do you even consider it possible for govt to subsidize inefficiency until the whole thing collapses under its own weight?

  • Enyap||

    "However, you might want to look up the life expectancy in countries with national healthcare and compare the numbers with the US."

    That might have something to do with us being a country full of sedatary Mickey D's eating fatasses.

  • ||

    That might have something to do with us being a country full of sedatary Mickey D's eating fatasses.

    Next comes the ban on Mickey D's and fat asses.

  • ||

    I have a friend who works for a Big Chemical concern. He spent an entire ski trip paranoid about an injury, because all injuries go on his company's stats (I guess to keep employers from 'encouraging' employees to claim they were injured off the job)



    Well, of course, one solution here is for the company to make of the job injuries due to accidents from skiing, sky-diving, fuccking around on ATVs etc not covered.If you want to engage in risky off-the-job pursuits that your coworkers don't engage in you should get your own specific risk policy.

    The other solution is to remove the incentives that create the connection between work and health insurance. This would return responsibility for getting insurance and budgetting for out of pocket expenses to the individual. if people want to use groups to get better rates* they should get them through groups with which they are like ly to have a longer association (churches, social clubs etc).

    *Although I've been led to believe that large groups have less and less of an advantage now days.

  • Gunboat Diplomacy||

    "That might have something to do with us being a country full of sedatary Mickey D's eating fatasses."

    No, it has to do with how the US counts stillborns and premies that die. We count them, the other countries don't. It skews the numbers funny.

  • ||

    Well, of course, one solution here is for the company to make of the job injuries due to accidents from skiing, sky-diving, fuccking around on ATVs etc not covered.

    Its not the company's decision. This wasn't a healthcare issue, it was an OSHA employee safety issue. Govt protection = govt making your lifestyle decisions for you.

  • ||

    Ah, point taken, Johnny.

    But, apart from that, the points covered in my posts still stand.

  • Other Matt||

    The other solution is to remove the incentives that create the connection between work and health insurance. This would return responsibility for getting insurance and budgetting for out of pocket expenses to the individual. if people want to use groups to get better rates* they should get them through groups with which they are like ly to have a longer association (churches, social clubs etc).

    Or, just make us all into one big group, pass a mandate that everyone pays based on the average risk of a person in the USA, so whether you're 30 and fit or 80 and obese, you pay the same. Don't do a govt program, let the private sector manage it, then you can purchase whatever program suits your budget and everyone is in the "affordable" category. Sure, younger and healthier will pay more, and less when they get older and less healthier, but that's what is happening now since you can't be turned away from the ER and any uninsureds that show up get written back to overhead anyway.

  • Other Matt||

    This wasn't a healthcare issue, it was an OSHA employee safety issue.

    I've NEVER heard of OSHA making off work injuries reportable, and I deal with them as our company rep, a $25M/yr construction company.

  • ||

    I've NEVER heard of OSHA making off work injuries reportable

    It may not have specifically been OSHA.

  • ||


    Tony, do you even consider it possible for govt to subsidize inefficiency until the whole thing collapses under its own weight?



    Possible, sure. Why do you consider it a foregone conclusion?

  • classwarrior||

    In this context, its important to remember that the only real competition exists to attract healthy people to pay premiums, not to look after them well when they get sick. After all, its the sickies that the other companies don't want to cover- no competion there.

  • IceTrey||

    If you claim an on job injury was off job that's a fraud and is already illegal.

  • smartass sob||

    Can it be argued that employers use health insurance as a form of control over their employees; to keep people in jobs they don't necessarily want, for fear of losing their coverage?

    Could it be argued that employers use high pay and other benefits as a form of control over their employees - to keep people in jobs they don't want, for fear of losing their high pay?

  • DADIODADDY||

    "I don't think the Democrats are stupid enough to fuck this up"....like the scorpoin on the frogs back, because it's in their nature

  • ||

    Why are you guys trying to read the bill? If our Congresscritters don't read them, why should we. Don't we have The Right People In Charge writing these things?

  • ||

    Or, just make us all into one big group, pass a mandate that everyone pays based on the average risk of a person in the USA, so whether you're 30 and fit or 80 and obese, you pay the same.

    Odious as that would be, it would be preferable to a welfare program paid through debt and/or "progressive" taxation of the productive.

  • smartass sob||

    ...the proposed penalty for not buying health insurance is $1000/year.

    As I understand it the penalty is 2.5 percent of one's adjusted gross income. In other words the government figures even if someone can't afford to buy coverage, one can still afford to give the government 2.5 percent of their income. In other words - it's a tax increase ... and a sizeable one at that.

  • smartass sob||

    ...Obama's Health Care Plan Won't Work


    Might I remind everyone that whether something "works" is entirely dependent on just what it is one wishes to accomplish? As Ayn Rand once wrote - don't try to analyze or understand a folly - look at its results.

  • ||

    Tricky says:

    How many choices does the consumer actually have? Take the cheaper employer provided coverage, or go out and spend a lot more on the open market?

    employer plans are MORE expensive than individual plans.


    Is it even possible to assess the health risks associated with an individual? Large groups?

    seriously? You don't know what actuarials are?


    The problem with that is, for 50 states, there's 50 sets of regulations.

    So you agree that the regulations are a problem.

    If that doesn't work, then there's no choice but to go to a single-payer system.


    Define "work" and that's a false dichotomy anyway.

  • ||

    Or, just make us all into one big group, pass a mandate that everyone pays based on the average risk of a person in the USA, so whether you're 30 and fit or 80 and obese, you pay the same.

    That's exactly the effect that will come from disallowing insurance companies to change rates based on risk profiles or reject new customers for pre-existing conditions.

  • ||

    Gunboat Diplomacy,
    "No, it has to do with how the US counts stillborns and premies that die. We count them, the other countries don't. It skews the numbers funny."

    Interesting. Did not know that.
    Do you have any links that proves it, because my google-fu is weak.

  • ||

    Looks like the health care bill makes private health insurance illegal: http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=332548165656854. So, the only "option" we'll have is the public one (unless, of course, you're a member of congress).

  • JB||

    Obama is a lying scumbag.

    We are familiar with his kind in Chicago, from the guy on the street corner hustling to the red-faced mayor.

  • ||

    "But net profit margins in the business run about 3 percent, only slightly above the median for all industries."

    I am under the impression that average corporate profit margins are more in the realm of 7-8%.

  • ||

    I am under the impression that average corporate profit margins are more in the realm of 7-8%.

    Median and average are not the same thing.

  • ||

    I had to stop reading this article after the fist paragraph. Comparing Obama to the fake Nigerian royalty and Barry Bonds is racist. They are all black and therefore criminals, hmmm?

  • Space Fiend||

    Got to agree with Smartass sob here - if you assume that the objective of the plan is to deepen and expand government control of healthcare forever and ever, I can pretty much guarantee the Democrats will make this "work"

  • ||

    Astonishing. I cannot think of anything more illiberal than government fining citizens who choose not to obey their norms. It's fascism, nothing more, nothing less.

  • Bart||

    "Median and average are not the same thing."

    In general. But, is there any reason not to expect that the distribution would be at least approximately Gaussian? A factor of > 2 difference in the mean and median would demand a very skewed distribution.

  • tekende||

    Obama: So, self-responsibility is going to be critical mandatory. This is probably not going to be something that's legislated. But I tell you what, every business out there is going to be looking at their health care bottom line. And increasingly what you're going to see is that businesses are going to incentivize their employees to stop smoking, lose weight, get exercise, get regular checkups because it will be required.

    What we can do is we can encourage force those companies [to enact] those sorts of wellness-prevention programs. We can make sure that it's easier required to find a primary care physician to get a regular checkup, that everybody has basic insurance. But the American people are going to have to participate in their own health because we will put them in jail if they don't.

    FTFY, Mr. President.

  • Barack Obama||

    I'm here to help!

  • alan||

    I don't think the Democrats are stupid enough to fuck this up.

    I didn't think they were stupid enough to come up with porkulus, but they did.

  • ||

    THIS IS IT!

    The healthcare reform bill released by the House Of Representatives is an excellent bill as I understand it. It is carefully written, and thoughtfully constructed, informed, prudent and wise. This bill will save trillions of dollars, and millions of your lives.

    This is the type of bill that all Americans can feel good about. And this is the type of bill that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans. Rich, middle class and poor a like. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other party affiliations. This bill has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of every American.

    The house healthcare bill should be viewed as the minimum GOLD STANDARD by which all other proposed healthcare legislation should be judged. All supporters of true high quality healthcare reform should now place all your support behind this healthcare reform bill released by the United States House Of Representatives, as the minimum Gold standard for healthcare reform in America.

    You should all now support this bill with all your might, and all of your unrelenting tenacity. This healthcare bill is a VERY, VERY GOOD! bill for all of the American people. Fight tooth, and nail for every bit of this bill if you have too. Be aggressive, creative, and relentless for this bill.

    AND FIGHT!! like your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. BECAUSE IT DOES!

    SPREAD THE WORD

    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSM8t_cLZgk&feature=player_embedded)

    God Bless You

    Jack Smith - Working Class

  • EAnderson||

    "Some problems, such as high health insurance premiums, came about because competition allegedly didn't work so well."

    There is modified competition but government mandates (state and federal) limit what policies can be offered and what must be offered in a policy. Eliminate the mandates and cross state restrictions and the free market will be able to provide policies at better prices. In fact the only type of policy should be for hospitalization. Everything else should be paid out of pocket.

  • ||

    Well, johnny john john said:

    "I don't think the Democrats are stupid enough to fuck this up."

    Go to page 16 of the House bill and read where they are going to outlaw buying private insurance after the government option becomes available. Only pre-existing private policies will be allowed. All new policies? The government option, baby.

    THAT, johnny john john, is how the Democrats fuck things up. On page 16 ("hey," you say, "at least they didn't fuck up in the introduction. It took them all the way to page 16"). There are still a thousand pages worth of potential fuck-ups to go.

    Oh no, johnny john john. The Democrats are plenty adequately stupid, venal, and power-hungry to completely fuck health care to the wall...and to completely change the relationship between the government (the fucker) and the citizen (the fucked) forever.

  • ||

    PD Fucking PD fucking PD...you sound like an idiot when you condescend. You are the government and you are the citizen so either fuck or get fucked.

    The statements on page 16 are followed by a few more that qualify that remark and yield the absolutely certain testament that the public option will not make you stay with your provider, ban private insurance or force insurers to stop providing new insurance. Go back to your website about 2012 Endtime, Disasters and WTC Conspiracy Theories and check your facts.

    Is it against right wing conservative policy to read through any document to see what it really means? You guys accept anything Rush Limbaugh says and read exactly one sentence of a 1000 page document to make your entire political position regarding healthcare. What the fuck is wrong with you? It can't be pure ignorance because you seem to be able to read and write. Please tell me why you'd rather support private insurance that bases all it's decisions on a collection of statistical equations regarding their ability to make a profit off of a group of people's general health? You are always just a number to someone, the government, the insurance companies, mass transit, car companies. Why not be a number that is being supported, like mass transit, by the monies society provides for services. If you are serious about all this private versus public business then fuck off to an island or go create a community based on continual exchange of goods where you give according to your ability and take according...oops that's Marxism, you idiot.

  • smartass sob||

    Martin | July 16, 2009, 4:05pm | #

    Astonishing. I cannot think of anything more illiberal than government fining citizens who choose not to obey their norms. It's fascism, nothing more, nothing less.



    Despite your thinly veiled sarcasm I can assure you that establishing "norms" regarding how people should set priorities in their lives or how they should spend their money is quite illiberal - even more so than taking their money for not doing what their masters determine is best for them. Yeah, I'd call it fascism ... or socialism. Might even call it slavery.

  • johnny john john||

    "Gunboat Diplomacy,
    "No, it has to do with how the US counts stillborns and premies that die. We count them, the other countries don't. It skews the numbers funny."

    Interesting. Did not know that.
    Do you have any links that proves it, because my google-fu is weak."

    Here's a link:
    http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL34175_20070917.pdf

    We count 'em but USA healthcare still sucks in comparison to other countries that count them too.

  • johnny john john||

    I think yall are misinterpreting the bill... not that I'm a lawyer and I don't have time to read the whole thing, but here's a link to the bill: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.3200:

    I don't think the language excludes insurance companies creating new policies that I believe must live up to gov't regulations, though it does say they must stop offering their current policies...

    besides if the bill really killed the private option you would be hearing a lot of yapping pissed off Republicans right now talking about it, which they're not.

  • Alice Bowie||

    ...But the administration and its allies show no interest in removing that particular barrier to competition. Maybe that's because it would reduce the power of state regulators to boss insurance companies around...

    I like the fact that NEW JERSEY Bosses the Insurance companies around.

    The Insurance companies do their best to wiggle out of paying ANY CLAIM. And, in New Jersey, it's a lot tougher. Yea...we pay higher Insurance premiums...But we get the Benefit...NOT the runaround once we file a claim.

  • ||

    nice post...
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  • Stephen Macklin||

    There will be no competition. There is language in the bill that prevents private insurance from signing up new customers once the bill is law:

    "Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.

    http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=332548165656854

  • Epicurus||

    "Luckily, govt bureaucrats have no incentive to be evil or sloppy, which is why that never, never happens."

    Incentive? Oh yeah, it is so much better to have private insurance companies which profit from denying claims ("not medically necessary" or "experimental treatment"), rescinding coverage after you get a serious illness (by combing through your health history to find some minor ailment you failed to disclose on your application--like a yeast infection) and which give bonuses to employees based on the dollars they save by denying claims and by rescinding policies. That's not evil, that's just bidness.

  • Epicurus||

    "I've had to wait in line or be forced to choose another doctor because of the whims of the insurance company."

    Many big company plans have a list of doctors which you have to choose from (most with names you can't pronounce; many, if not most, foreign trained in third world countries). On the other hand, the Canadians, the French, the Swiss, the Germans, and the citizens of every "socialist" Western country I know of get to choose their own doctors.

    This is typical of the Republican disinformation campaign about "government run" health care.

  • ||

    " the Canadians, the French, the Swiss, the Germans, and the citizens of every "socialist" Western country I know of get to choose their own doctors."

    Why do libs come to forums like this and tell outrageous so easilly exposed lies like that one? "the Canadians, the French, the Swiss, the Germans, and the citizens of every "socialist" Western country.." do NOT get to choose their own doctors. The system chooses it for them.

  • ||

    "Incentive? Oh yeah, it is so much better to have private insurance companies which profit from denying claims ("not medically necessary" or "experimental treatment"), rescinding coverage after you get a serious illness (by combing through your health history to find some minor ailment you failed to disclose on your application--like a yeast infection) and which give bonuses to employees based on the dollars they save by denying claims and by rescinding policies. That's not evil, that's just bidness."

    The private industry denies about 10-15 percent of claims for various reasons. And when that happens, there is still recourse as you can appeal the denial and/or move over to another insurance company. Government on the other hand, Massachusetts, for example, to which Obama points to as what he wants to emulate, denies 23 percent of claims. And when the government is the only game in town, and if it denies you, where are you going to go? What do you do? You cant change governments as easilly as changing insurance companies, especially when the government forbids insurance companies from taking on any more customers.

  • Epicurus||

    " 'the Canadians, the French, the Swiss, the Germans, and the citizens of every 'socialist' Western country..' do NOT get to choose their own doctors. The system chooses it for them."

    While I may be mistaken about some countries, and while I'm sure you don't believe any sources other than Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, please read the following:

    France's health care system:

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/08/11/frances_model_healthcare_system/

    "The French can see any doctor or specialist they want, at any time they want, as many times as they want, no referrals or permissions needed. The French hospital system is similarly open. About 65 percent of the nation's hospital beds are public, but individuals can seek care at any hospital they want, public or private, and receive the same reimbursement rate no matter its status. Given all this, the French utilize more care than Americans do, averaging six physician visits a year to our 2.8, and they spend more time in the hospital as well. Yet they still manage to spend half per capita than we do, largely due to lower prices and a focus on preventive care."

    Debunking Canadian Healthcare Myths:

    http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_12523427

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_health_of_nations

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-francis/republican-lies-about-can_b_201521.html

    "The article here is correct about the Canadian medical system, even if many comments are wrong. We've had the same family doctor for 30 years. He's never shuffled us anywhere. Care could not be better. I had total knee replacement 18 months ago. It went off perfectly. I knew well in advance that it would become necessary and chose the timing myself. The operation happened 3 weeks after meeting the surgeon and my out of pocket cost was $12 for my share to buy a cane. Even 8 weeks of physiotherapy was part of the hospital package. The treatment would have been no different if my income were zero or if it were immense. I recall that medical expenses were the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the USA. In Canada it is simply not a factor. Keep your system if that's what you like."

  • Epicurus||

    "And when the government is the only game in town, and if it denies you, where are you going to go?"

    Nowhere. I have pre-existing conditions. The insurance companies don't want me.

    I agree that any government insurance plan will be as bad or as good as the politicians make it.

  • Epicurus||

    "The private industry denies about 10-15 percent of claims for various reasons. And when that happens, there is still recourse as you can appeal the denial and/or move over to another insurance company."

    Gee, you forgot to tell us how many policies the private industry rescinds after people get cancer or other serious illness. Since you seem to know the industry statistics, how much money does the industry add to the bottom line every year by rescinding policies after people get sick?

    Move to another insurance company AFTER you get sick? Sure. They love taking sick people. How often do you get these delusions?

  • ||

    Health care reform is not rocket science; nor is it brain surgery. The goal of improving access and lowering the costs of medical care require several things: 1. acknowledgment that adjustments and sacrifices across the board will be necessary; 2. the understanding that for-profit insurance schemes add nothing substantive to the delivery of medical services nationwide and are, in fact, a form of rationing accomplished by the paying of tribute; in fact, insurance actually sucks the life out of health care. Eliminate its corrupt taxation of the medical economy and you will have all the money you need to cover everybody--and at a lower cost. 3. The GOP is terrified of the potential for Democratic Party success in this area. 4. Like the Conservative Union, shilling its "brain power" to Fedex, most libertarian/conservative house organs add only gibberish and bias to the political dialogue. This piece is a good example.

  • Epicurus||

    "most libertarian/conservative house organs add only gibberish and bias to the political dialogue."

    This is the sad truth. There are legitimate issues to discuss with healthcare proposals (e.g. why the Massachusetts plan has not held down costs), but rarely do we get anything other than talking points straight out of Frank Luntz's memo on defeating health care reform from Republicans.

    One of those rare instances is a Forbes article by a Reagan economist:

    "In 2008, employer-provided health insurance reduced the cash wages of American workers by 7.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If businesses didn't have to pay for health insurance, they could afford to pay their workers 7.9% more and be no worse off. If workers paid 7.9% more of their income in taxes to pay for national health insurance, they would also be no worse off.

    "To a large extent, this is exactly what happens in other countries. Workers see the higher taxes they pay the same way Americans view the deduction from their pay for health insurance--not as money down a rat hole, but as the payment for a tangible benefit.

    "The point is that one can't look just at the taxes people pay here or elsewhere without looking at what they get in return. It doesn't automatically follow that the places with the lowest taxes are the best places to live and work. This is obvious when we think about where to buy a house. We always look at the quality of local schools as a major factor and are willing to pay higher property taxes in return for good schools. The same is true at the national level as well. Higher taxes may pay for services that people value and thus are not as burdensome as they might appear at first glance."

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/09/tea-party-taxes-opinions-columnists-bartlett.html

    Bartlett's point makes too much common sense--and is of course too politically incorrect for the wingnuts.

  • Epicurus||

    AETNA Headquarters: Hartford, Connecticut

    2007 Profits: $1.831 billion
    2007 CEO Total Compensation: Ronald A. Williams, $23,045,834

    In 2007, Aetna applauded itself for its low "medical loss ratio"--the percentage of revenue it "loses" to paying for health care. (Sensitive to public relations, the industry now calls this a "medical benefit ratio.")

    "Our commercial medical benefit ratio of 79.2% for the fourth quarter and 79.5% for the full year reflected solid underwriting discipline and our focused efforts in the area of medical management," CEO Ronald Williams told investors in February, 2008.

    Translation: We are proud to spend less than 80 percent of premiums on health care by avoiding enrollees with pre-existing conditions, denying coverage through rescission, purging sick, older and riskier policy holders, and limiting payments for legitimate claims by declaring them "not medically necessary" or "experimental treatments."

    For a real eye opener, read the testimony of Wendell Potter, former CIGNA VP:

    "To help meet Wall Street's relentless profit expectations, insurers routinely dump policyholders who are less profitable or who get sick. Insurers have several ways to cull the sick from their rolls. One is policy rescission. They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment. Asked directly about this practice just last week in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, executives of three of the nation's largest health insurers refused to end the practice of cancelling policies for sick enrollees. Why? Because dumping a small number of enrollees can have a big effect on the bottom line. Ten percent of the population accounts for two-thirds of all health care spending. The Energy and Commerce Committee's investigation into three insurers found that they canceled the coverage of roughly 20,000 people in a five-year period, allowing the companies to avoid paying $300 million in claims.

    "They also dump small businesses whose employees' medical claims exceed what insurance underwriters expected. All it takes is one illness or accident among employees at a small business to prompt an insurance company to hike the next year's premiums so high that the employer has to cut benefits, shop for another carrier, or stop offering coverage altogether leaving workers uninsured. The practice is known in the industry as purging. The purging of less profitable accounts through intentionally unrealistic rate increases helps explain why the number of small businesses offering coverage to their employees has fallen from 61 percent to 38 percent since 1993, according to the National Small Business Association. Once an insurer purges a business, there are often no other viable choices in the health insurance market because of rampant industry consolidation."

    His entire testimony is a must read:

    http://commerce.senate.gov/public/_files/PotterTestimonyConsumerHealthInsurance.pdf

  • Epicurus||

    For those who haven't read it, here is Frank Luntz's memo about how Republicans can defeat health care reform (Luntz is a Republican consultant who uses proven social psychological techniques to develop propaganda and disinformation strategies for his clients):

    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/frank-luntz-the-language-of-healthcare-20091.pdf

    You will recognize that Republicans parrot almost everything Luntz recommended in this memo.

  • Epicurus||

    Want to know why health care costs are so high and are growing annually in double digits?

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=1

    Summary:

    The highest healthcare costs per capita, aside from Miami, are in McAllen, Texas, a poor community. Costs at the Mayo Clinic are a lot lower and the results are better. Why are costs so high in McAllen? Because the physician culture there regards patients as revenue streams. They invest in doctor-owned facilities like the hospital, imaging centers, etc and make sure to send their patients there so they can get kickbacks from the facilities in addition to their fees. They solicit kickbacks from the home health companies (one doctor solicited sex from one female home health executive). Is it any surprise that per capita health care costs there are $3000 higher than the average annual income? Few people have employer based health insurance so who is footing most of the bill for all this? Medicare and Medicaid: you and me. This is the unregulated laissez faire free market atmosphere that the Republicans keep telling us is so great, and the doctors are the great entrepreneurs. It turns out that a doctor's pen is the most expensive piece of medical equipment in the health care system, and it is a license to steal for those doctors unburdened by ethics and regulation.

  • Epicurus||

    Opponents of a public option for insurance warn about the danger of having a bureaucrat in between the patient and the physician. But that threat already exists in the current system every time an insurance company decides whether to approve a claim. Wendell Potter, former head of Public Relations for Cigna, recently told Bill Moyers about Cigna's decision to deny a liver transplant to a 17-year-old girl, Nataline Sarkisyan, even though her doctors at UCLA had recommended the procedure.

    A public-relations uproar forced Cigna to reverse its decision; the company subsequently explained its reversal as an exception, saying the surgery was approved "despite the lack of medical evidence regarding the effectiveness of such treatment."

    Ms. Sarkisyan died hours after Cigna's decision, without having received the transplant.

  • Epicurus||

    Some good observations:

    "In his new book The Healing of America, the journalist T.R. Reid employs a clever device for surveying the world's health systems: He takes an old shoulder injury to doctors in various countries. In the United States, a top orthopedist recommends a major joint-replacement operation, costing tens of thousands of dollars. In France and Germany, general practitioners offer him the same surgical option, at little or no cost, but steer him instead toward a regimen of physical therapy. In Britain, the doctor is unimpressed with his injury and tells him to go home. In Canada, he is offered a place in line, where he will wait a year just to consult a specialist. In India, he is sent to an ayurvedic clinic, where he is treated, quite effectively, with herbs, massage, and meditation.

    "America's system has become wildly unfair and expensive. In fixing it, Reid says, we should follow other countries where health care is fairer, cheaper, and produces better results.

    "All advanced, wealthy countries have structures that are more egalitarian and cost-effective than ours. Each also has its quirks, which tend to reinforce familiar stereotypes.

    "America's evolved, undesigned system is also an expression of our culture at its best and it worst. Health care in the United States is innovative, entrepreneurial, expensive, litigious, and wasteful. It is decentralized, driven by self-interest, excellent at the high end, and increasingly unequal. It resists acknowledging trade-offs or limits and is characterized by shocking gaps in basic care.

    "We need to recognize that we're getting a crazy-bad deal by spending so much on health care and leaving so many people out. Our society and government are threatened by runaway medical inflation, which saps business profits and undermines fiscal responsibility.

    "The current system of American health care is at odds with America's character in three fundamental respects: moral, economic, and sociological. Morally speaking, Americans are surely more accepting of economic inequality than their European brethren. But the random unfairness that condemns the uninsured to bad health and the risk of untimely death offends the social conscience."

    http://www.slate.com/id/2223037

  • ||

    A couple things to consider:
    Microsoft and Google present about as strong an arguing point for "how competition should work" as Walmart.
    Additionally, even if inefficiency and government programs are synonymous, inefficient health insurance beats none, don't you think?

  • ||

    So the premise that a public option will be another bulky program that runs in the red is compelling, but it's just not true.
    We already have health care support from non-profits that cover those who can't afford health care and stay in the black. The same model will work on a larger scale.
    If you don't believe me then check out: http://bit.ly/4vemDg

  • ||

    I tried to remember a time in American history when the congress acted as it currently is acting. Then it came to me. Following John Quincy Adams' presidency he was pressed back into public service as a senator by his party. For what reason? So that he could oppose and attempt to outlaw slavery in America. But he was strongly hampered by the fact that congress had passed a bill making it illegal to bring up the subject in congress. This is what the democrats are currently attempting to do with any imput from conservatives!

  • kavita ||

    how can you compare the health care industry to the car industry? we're not just talking business, we're talking life and death. what if the public option approach is not an solution to generating more competition, but rather a way to give those who have NO life insurance (tens of millions of people) a viable option?

  • nike shox||

    is good

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