Health Care Legislation: The Future of Health Care in America

March 28, 2010

(This is a reprint of an article I posted at http://www.DumpDC.com)

You didn’t really think that I could resist weighing in on this health care debacle, did you? With my 35-plus year background in the insurance business, I think I can bring some unique perspective to the table.

I don’t know for sure what is in the bill. But from what I read all over the Internet, there are a few features that need early discussion.

First, this bill has a name already. But, on the day that President Obama signed the bill, Vice President Joe Biden whispered in Obama’s ear that this was a “Big F**king Deal,” which was picked up by microphones and broadcast around the world. So, from now on, I will refer to this bill as the BFD.

One bound copy of the BFD

The agenda hidden in plain sight

The BFD is not about providing health insurance coverage for the 32-40 million ESTIMATED Americans without health insurance. It’s about a government takeover of a giant portion of this nation’s economy, and fascism.

How do I know for sure?

Well, let’s use the low end of the estimates, 32 million. I’m only using that because the government always lies, and the true number is probably a lot lower. And let’s say that the annual premium for the best health insurance policy you can buy is $5,000 per year per person regardless of age. Then do the math. 32 million uninsured people times a $5,000 annual premium per person is only $160 Billion.

Congress and President Obama could have bought every uninsured person in America a deluxe insurance plan for only $160 Billion. But that’s not what they did.

This bill is estimated to cost over 900 Billion dollars…and they ALWAYS underestimate on the low side.

So, as I said, this ain’t about insuring the uninsured.

But it IS about demographics.

Demographics and Two Major Players

The health care providers didn’t fight this bill. That’s because right now there are a lot of uninsured people that use the hospital Emergency Room as a free clinic. But under the BFD, all of those people will either pay for coverage, or the Federal Government will pay for their coverage. The days of hospitals providing free health care to the poor and indigent will be gone. The health care providers see the tidal wave of health care benefit money that will hit their shores. All they have to do is soak it up.

The health insurance industry didn’t fight this bill, either. That’s because they see 32 million people (questionable estimate) that aren’t paying premiums that will begin buying insurance. And many of those people will get the DC crowd to pay their premiums for them through “low income” subsidies. In addition, the health insurance companies already have the trained staff to help DC roll out this health care law and administer it for the DC bureaucrats. More money for the insurers.

What pact did the big insurance companies make with the devil?

The insurance industry has not fought this BFD. They have not used their club in the closet. So, the logical conclusion is that the insurance industry has made a yet-to-be-discovered pact with the DC Devils to enrich themselves at the public’s expense.

All of the insurance companies domiciled in the USA have investment portfolios. Part of their money is always invested in government securities. That means bonds and other debt instruments. These can be Federal, State or even municipal bonds. But they all hold a large percentage of US securities.

Their bond holdings are sufficiently large that if they suddenly sold even a small portion of the bonds, it would collapse the entire bond market. And with the volatility of the dollar, and the mind-boggling Federal debt that is constantly growing, the value of all government bonds is dropping like a stone.

The insurance companies know this. They already know that they could cause the bond market to meltdown any day that they began selling off government securities. The US Federal government would finally be proven to be bankrupt. So, in essence, they have created a government interference insurance policy for themselves that protects them from Washington’s meddling in their business. It’s the equivalent of the old “club in the closet”…the weapon you bring out when it’s needed. And NOTHING prevents them from threatening DC with that club.

One of the features of the BFD is that pre-existing conditions will no longer be considered in underwriting a health insurance policy. In practice, this will mean that I could wait until my doctor diagnoses me with terminal cancer before I buy an insurance policy. Then, I pay my copays and stick it to the insurance company.

Another feature is that there will be no lifetime cap on benefits. Underwriting and actuarial considerations are worthless when an insurance company cannot calculate the limits of their loss exposures. Insurance ceases to be insurance…a transfer of risk…when there ceases to be any risk. Under the BFD, health insurance becomes a healthcare welfare system.

No insurance company would ever agree to this…unless underwriting and actuarial decisions don’t matter anymore. That would only occur if there was some entity above the insurance company that was going to pay all the benefits. Guess who?

Health Care Rationing is Inevitable

Here’s the way for Washington to screw up any economic activity:

1. Tax it
2. regulate supply and demand
3. impose price controls
4. impose wage controls
5. impose limits on profits, or “windfall profits” taxes

The DC bunch is going to do this with health care. The health care industry will naturally shrink in size as many people realize that it makes no economic sense for them to continue in this path.

As the BFD unfolds, and the regulations start to affect doctors, the number of doctors will diminish. Some will retire early, some will switch to other careers, premed students will switch majors, and most doctors will just sing “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.”

Some doctors will opt out of the government benefits system and stop treating anyone covered by the BFD. But that brings up another possible scenario. If the number of participating doctors drops, and rationing inevitably begins, I can see Washington stepping in and forcing doctors to treat BFD patients. Think about it. Doctors are licensed in every state. Congress could easily pass a new law that mandates all licensed doctors to accept BFD patients and BFD benefits…or no license for the doctor. What’s to stop Congress from doing this? Nothing.

But some medical professionals will adapt and prosper.

Doctors are going to watch as their incomes shrink. But some will think of ways to escape the American healthcare system while still practicing medicine.

That means an escape from America.

Canadians have been coming to American doctors and hospitals for decades to escape the rationing in Canada. Now it’s America’s turn to run for the border.

Over the next ten years, thousand of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals will set up shop outside the USA. They will establish clinics and surgical practices “just across the border” with the most modern and advanced medical treatment facilities possible…free from Washington’s crushing burden of regulation.

Expect the offshore medical industry, or commonly called “Medical Tourism” to explode in Mexico, the Caribbean (and Cuba, once Castro dies) and Latin America, in places like Panama and Costa Rica. Read more about Medical Tourism HERE.

For example, the prestigious Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Global Health opened the Hospital Punta Pacifica in Panama City, Panama in 2006. It is the most advanced hospital in Panama and rivals any great American hospital. Medical tourism will be a huge cash cow for this facility as health care falls apart in America.

Big Pharma is Smiling

The pharmaceutical industry has entered in the Promised Land. They will negotiate their pricing with the government, and the government health care will promote and buy their products. All Big Pharma has to do is continue paying bribe money to Congress.

The Swami Predicts…

1. Health care rationing nationwide
2. Price controls on everything related to medical treatment
3. Hundreds of hospitals close their doors
4. Dozens of health insurance companies close their doors
5. Thousands of doctors stop practicing medicine in the US
6. Thousands of doctors and nurses become Federal employees
7. Pharmaceutical companies’ stock value soars
8. Mortality rates in America creep upward due to rationing
9. Hyperinflation must occur as DC monetizes debt with paper money
10. The US economy collapses and America enters a Dark Age

OR…

11. Courageous states of the United States secede and the United States dissolves into the ashbin of history.

Which will YOU choose?

Secession is the Hope for Mankind. Who will be first…and wisest?

DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.

© Copyright 2010, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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Medical Tourism: Could Medical Tourism Save Your Life?

March 24, 2010

A growing number of people worldwide are seriously considering a new phenomenon called “Medical Tourism” as an answer to high cost and/or unavailable health care. Others who have already used medical tourism are praising it as a terrific solution to an ongoing problem.

If you don’t live in the US, you may still have some interest in medical tourism–perhaps your health care provider doesn’t cover a procedure you want, or maybe the wait for the procedure is too long. For those people worldwide without health insurance, and with limited access to the health care system, going to another country for a medical procedure could literally save your life.

The cost of medical care here in the United States is high and going higher. However, the World Health Organization ranks the US healthcare system as #37 in the world. We are behind nearly all Europeans nations, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica.

So, you might survive your medical condition and treatment. But will you survive financially when the medical bills arrive at your door?

For a growing list of reasons, Medical Tourism is an idea whose time has come.

There are two prominent resources for Medical Tourism listed below:

PlanetHospital.com

PlanetHospital began in 2002 as a coordinator of overseas healthcare for the uninsured desiring to travel abroad because they could not obtain or could not afford healthcare in the US or their respective country. Over time, as news of medical tourism spread, carriers, employers and self-insured groups began to ask PlanetHospital to explore ways that would allow PlanetHospital to solve their skyrocketing healthcare cost problem. Consequently, while maintaining their commitment to individual self payers, they expanded into healthcare solutions. As a result, over the past two years, PlanetHospital has developed several products for the marketplace. Most of their products center around four critical needs:

1. Self insured companies and their related partners (such as Stop Loss agencies, TPAs, and MGUs)
2. Uninsured and underinsured individuals
3. Healthcare plans that need to control expenses
4. Immigrants and guest workers who need affordable healthcare while working in the US.

I strongly urge you to spend some time touring their website at: http://www.planethospital.com

HealthCare Tourism International

HealthCare Trip, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit service of HealthCare Tourism International, was started on April 1, 2006 as a portal and service that connects all people interested in healthcare abroad with safe and effective information and accreditation. In addition, they do not have any financial partnerships or arrangements with for-profit healthcare tourism operators, hospitals, or providers, so that they may maintain a non-partisan approach to safe healthcare services abroad. HCTI is the world’s first 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization specifically for health travel safety.

Visit their website at: http://www.healthcaretrip.org

Medical Tourism includes many of the following specialties in Medicine.

Alternative Medicine

There are many treatment procedures with long histories of success that are not approved and available in the US. For example, German cancer specialists have alternative treatments that are much more successful than traditional American procedures. Other alternative medicine is found in heart disease, for example.

Nursing Home/Long Term Care

In order for Medicare to pay for nursing home care, one must be basically broke (under $2500 in assets). If you do not have Long Term Care insurance, the monthly costs can easily run between $3,000 and $5,000. In other countries, high quality nursing care can be found for less than $50 a day.

Dental

Some of the most popular and widely-used medical procedures are dental procedures. With only half the US population covered by dental insurance, Americans are streaming overseas for high quality, low cost dental care. Medicare does not cover dental work, and elderly people have elderly teeth that require more care than the young.

In certain areas of Prague, Budapest, Bangkok and Tijuana, streets are lined with dental clinics. The savings the patients realize can more than compensate for their travel costs. Teeth caps that range from $750 to $1,000 in the U.S. cost $150 in Mexico. In Budapest, a top-quality crown costs $780, compared with $1,200 to $2,000 in the United States. In Great Britain the average cost of an implant is $3,500, but in Budapest you can get it done for $1,000.

What about the quality of the work? According to the non-profit group Healthcare Tourism International, their surveys of patients found high levels of satisfaction. But that should come as no surprise. A spokesman from the New York University College of Dentistry states that they bring in over 100 dentists a year from 33 countries, train them in advanced procedures, and send them home.

In March 2008, FOX News reporter Lori Lundin blogged about her husband’s dental excursion to El Salvador. The quote they got in the US for the dental work he need was $60,000. They had the work done in a world-class Salvadoran facility for about $19,000. He had the procedures done and experienced no pain, plus they had a tropical vacation while they were there. Lundin figured that the total cost including travel expenses and lodging was $30,000.

Cosmetic Surgery

Tummy tuck, Breast Augmentation/Reduction, facial, liposuction, butt/thigh lifts and other cosmetic procedures can be done through Medical Tourism.

Conventional Treatment

Medical procedures include:

• Fertility
• Orthopedic Surgery
• Heart Surgery
• Bariatric
• Cancer/Radiation
• Eye and vision
• Gynecological
• Lung procedures
• …and many others

Pharmaceutical purchases

Pharmaceuticals outside the US cost a small fraction of US prices. For the most part, the manufacturer is the same as you would find in an American pharmacy. Countries like India, Brazil and Thailand have huge generic pharmaceutical industries, and many of their companies are importing product into the US. Patients can save hundreds per year by buying drugs outside the US.

Travel benefits

One of the other benefits to medical tourism is that, depending on how long you stay for your medical procedures, you may be able to take in the sights while you are being treated. Imagine yourself on a Costa Rican beach while you wait for your dental work to be completed! Picture yourself attending the Prague Symphony while you are in the city for your medical treatment. Wonderful!

Caveat Emptor

As with any major purchase, you should do extensive research before you spend your money. Do not trust ANYONE just because the letters “MD” are tacked onto his name, or because he’s wearing a white lab coat. Spend the time necessary to thoroughly investigate any medical provider. Then, make an informed decision.

Medical Tourism can be a tremendous money saver for you, and can provide you with world class medical treatment and a memorable vacation. Good luck and good health!


Health Insurance…the Government Way: Buy Insurance or Go To Jail

January 7, 2010

Part of the legislation squirming through the bowels of the Federal Beast is a prohibition for insurance companies to exclude an applicant because of pre-existing conditions. That really sounds nice and fair, doesn’t it? But there is perception and then there is reality.

In nearly every other market for insurance, the pre-existing condition underwriting makes no sense. But when insurance companies began writing large groups for health insurance, like with a large corporation with thousands of workers, they made the BUSINESS DECISION to accept those with pre-existing conditions. But be assured that everybody in the group paid higher premiums to keep that business profitable. And, if the insurance company was losing money on that piece of business, it would likely not offer to renew at the next renewal date.

Compare the pre-existing conditions exclusion to other types of insurance…your homeowners coverage, for example. If you had a house with a pre-existing condition, that would mean you’d had claims before for one particular problem, and that you had not gotten that problem fixed. Let’s say that your problem was that your basement flooded every time that it rained hard. You had no drainage and no way to prevent the flooding.

So the insurance company, instead of being able to decline coverage for you, or at least exclude coverage for your flooding, would have to accept your risk. They know up front that they are going to pay claims on your house flooding. The only thing that the insurance company can do to remain profitable is to charge a higher premium for you and everybody else.

You might get your pre-existing conditions covered, but you may not be able to afford paying the premium to get the coverage. But here is how the insurance companies and the Washington criminals will run it.

What will happen then? The populace will whine, and the politicians will either subsidize the individual premiums, or they will impose price controls on the insurance companies…or both. Either way, the politicians will enact more laws that screw up the health insurance industry, or redistribute more money to quiet the sheeple.

Price controls may bankrupt some insurance companies. I wonder what the Congress and president will do when their interference in the insurance market cause the insolvency of some insurance companies? Will they pronounce them “too big to fail,” and nationalize them? Remember what Florida did after the spate of hurricanes a few years ago. Florida created Citizens Property Insurance. It is the high risk pool for Florida property owners that need insurance. So, in effect, the state of Florida got into the insurance business as the insurer of last resort. Citizens is one major hurricane away from bankruptcy, which means that it will also bankrupt the State of Florida.

The same thing will likely happen with health insurance and Washington. DC’s interference will ruin some companies, and DC will become the insurer of last resort. That also means that DC will get the sickest patients and the highest health care costs. You might see the public option imposed on everybody as a way for Washington to take control.

The mind boggles.

Oh, by the way…in the present health insurance bill, US citizens will be subject to massive fines and long jail terms if they do not buy health insurance from private companies.

That’s what passes for health care reform in the good old USA circa 2010.

The news media is TOTALLY silent and politicians see nothing wrong with it.

If you think I’m kidding, watch this video:


Bribery: Also Known As Lobbying

October 23, 2009

The health insurance companies of America are lining up at the doors of Congress to commit legalized bribery like never before. In this time in which Congress and the President are trying to craft some type of health care legislation, insurers want to make certain that their feet are firmly under the table.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the national association representing nearly 1,300 member companies providing health insurance coverage, reports that it spent $2.4 million just from July through September.

The non-partisan group Center for Responsive Politics reports that some drug companies are also outdoing previous efforts at buying influence. Pfizer has spent $16.3 million lobbying so far in 2009, and Amgen spent $9.2 million so far this year. Those amounts far outpace their 2008 bribes.

So, let’s run a total:

$ 2,400,000
$16,300,000
$ 9,200,000
$27,900,000

That doesn’t count individual companies like US Healthcare, Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, Humana, United Healthcare or any others. That also doesn’t count October and November.

But remember…there are 435 members of Congress and 100 Senators, one president and one vice president who is also president of the Senate. That totals 537 people. Divide the bribery total above by 537 and you see that each elected official could potentially have received $51,955.00 in contributions just from these lobbyists.

Remember also that the bribery is not done. Remember also that the opponents to this health care bill are also lobbying and bribing.

Even the AARP has spent a mind-boggling $15.1 million in lobbying bribes this year, which is less than they spent in the first three quarters of 2008.

Don’t worry about the insurance companies, though. Their profits are secure, and Congress will NEVER leave them out.

Why?

The insurance companies have vast investment portfolios. A big part of their portfolios are government bonds and other government securities. If the insurance companies sold off even 1 or 2% of their holdings at once, they could cause the bond markets to collapse overnight. Washington knows this and won’t allow it to happen. So, insurers will get pretty much anything they desire.

As the old saying goes…“when money talks, all the bullshi* walks.” Don’t believe ANY headlines that tell you the insurance companies are dithering and worried. They have NO WORRIES.


Hospital Blindness: More Cognitive Dissonance On Display

October 9, 2009

Today I’m at the Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m sitting in a gorgeous eight-story atrium, filled with light, palm trees, and other wonderful green plantings. It reminds me of the lushness of the Opryland Hotel’s atrium.

I’ll get to the cognitive dissonance in a moment…

My mother-in-law has a pacemaker implant, and the battery has gone dead. She has to have a surgical procedure to replace the battery. I had time in my schedule to transport her and my father-in-law from their home, about an hour’s drive away, to the hospital.

When I say “Cognitive Dissonance,” I mean the ability to hold two opposing ideas in one’s mind at the same time. Usually that causes some uneasiness. But at Centennial Medical Center, it just seems like medical blindness.

My life philosophy is “Actions speak louder than words.” If you want to truly understand what is important to another person or a business, don’t listen to what they way…only watch what they do. Their values are found in their actions.

Hospitals blab on all the time about healthy lifestyle choices, taking care of yourself and losing weight. And that very blathering is happening at Centennial Medical Center. Centennial’s actions are anything but promoting healthy lifestyles.

In the atrium, there is a coffee bar where I’m sitting right now. On display are sugar-laden juices, candy, cookies, chips, oversized muffins, sugar-laden sodas and all sorts of coffees, cappuccinos, espresso, etc. That’s bad enough, but how about the food court?

The food court on the second floor above the atrium is mind-boggling. When you walk through the doors you are met by TWO fast food franchises…Dairy Queen and Subway! Beyond that is a grille area, and beyond that is the steam table area.

The breakfast menu included:

Scrambled eggs
Bacon
Sausage
Hash browns
Grits
Biscuits and gravy
Assorted Danish
Cinnamon rolls
Caramelled apples

Beverages were every kind of sugary soft drink you could imagine, along with diet soft drinks, coffees, sugary “vitamin water,” sugary fruit drinks and bottled water.

Most of the patrons for breakfast were hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and other medical staff. And a cursory look at their choices proved that they ate the standard American menu of fats and sugars.

The lunch offerings were:

The entire DQ menu board
The entire Subway menu board
Pork Tenderloin in gravy
Salisbury steak in gravy
Baked chicken
Mashed Potatoes and beef gravy
Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts…all boiled into a nearly undistinguishable mush, thereby destroying most nutritional value.

After my mother-in-law emerged from surgery into recovery, they brought her a lunch box, which contained half a chicken salad sandwich, a bag of pretzels, a bag of cinnamon cookies, and a can of Coke. This is nutrition?

What can we learn from this? Is it reasonable to conclude that the hospital doesn’t really consider healthy eating to be important? There is no salad bar on the premises. No truly healthy food is offered for any person who frequents this food court. Most public school lunchrooms do a better job of nutrition.

The most cynical viewpoint is that the hospital is all about treating diseases. Most diseases that humans get are directly attributable to the stuff they eat and drink. So, feeding the patients, their family members and the medical staff the very stuff that keeps them overweight and sick assures a steady stream of customers for the hospital. If people ate right and got healthy, they wouldn’t need the hospital. It might have to downsize or close its doors altogether.

A hospital that was truly committed to healthy living would not serve or sell the traditional American diet. It would champion the cause of abundant vegetables, limited fruit and meat consumption, no sugar, wheat, caffeine or processed foods. That’s what is known as the “alkaline lifestyle,” and is the most healthy lifestyle to maintain.

I challenge you to find an American hospital that has championed the cause of healthy lifestyles by only serving healthy foods on its premises. Let me know if you find one.

But I don’t expect to hear from you any time soon.