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.


The Stockholm Syndrome For States

September 10, 2009

According to Wikipedia, the “Stockholm Syndrome” is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed. The syndrome is named after a 1973 bank robbery in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage for six days. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, and even defended them after they were freed from their six-day ordeal.

This time, the captor is the Federal Government in Washington, and the 50 states are its captives.

The powers-that-be in Washington are accelerating the destruction of the United States of America. And the state governments stand by idly.

President Obama is proving to be “the new Boss, same as the old Boss.”

• He has not removed troops from Iraq to end our military presence there. Most troops that were removed from Iraq were redeployed to Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan has been escalated. From that war, the American military has expanded that war into Pakistan. The fighting in Pakistan has a very real possibility of destabilizing the Pakistan/India relationship, which has been a decades-long powder keg.

• The operation of the American Embassy in Iraq, the largest embassy in the history of the world, continues unimpeded. America’s not leaving, folks.

• The American military is presently building new US military bases in Colombia, South America.

• Washington is still working behind the scenes to cause unrest in Iran, and an air strike is still an option. Covert military ops have been happening inside Iran for years.

• Washington has established an African Command for the US military, further expanding American hegemony worldwide.

• Congress is spending money like there is an infinite supply of it. They now own General Motors. They’ve bailed out carmakers, investment banking companies, lenders and brokerages with hundreds of millions of dollars that they don’t have.

• The Cap and Trade legislation, which would be the largest tax increase in the history of the USA, is still alive.

• The Congress wants to pass health care legislation which will change health care in America, and not for the good.

• The Obama Administration is surrounding itself with advisors who are avowed Communists, Socialists, and Marxists.

• The Federal Reserve continues to operate unchecked, with no oversight by anyone whatsoever.

• The Transportation Safety Administration tightly regulates all air travel within the borders of the United States. Piss them off and you don’t fly.

• The manipulation of the American economy by Washington continues. Between Federal Reserve monetary policy and a Congress that never saw a bill it would not fund, unemployment rises. Foreclosures mushroom. Bank failures increase. Bankruptcy is at an all-time high.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point.

Most Americans SEEM to be unhappy with the way our nation is being run right now. Obama’s approval numbers have slid to a place that only about 50% of those polled approve of his work. And NO ONE trusts Congress.

The tyranny of Washington continues. Washington has long forgotten that the Federal government was invented by the States to serve THEM.

The tail has wagged the dog since Lincoln lived in the White House.

The “State of the Union” means more than a propagandist’s dream on a January evening in Congress. The state of our Union is desperately bad and getting worse.

How much longer will the states allow themselves to be victims of a kidnapping?

How much longer will the states accept the devastation of our way of life that is pouring out of Washington like feces from a sewer pipe?

How much longer will states tolerate being ruled by an unconstitutional military-backed junta that has stolen our nation?

How much longer will states allow their own citizens to be taxed to death by a government no longer accountable to those very citizens?

When will states awaken from their long slumber and once again realize that they are sovereign and independent, and that they have the power to shake off the heavy burden of Federal tyranny?

Will it take hyperinflation to wake up the states? How high will the unemployment rate have to be? How high will the taxes have to get? How many unfunded Federal mandates will have to be imposed? Will a new law about firearm confiscation or regulation of ammunition be enough? What if Washington decides to once again make it illegal for citizens to own gold, and begins to confiscate gold?

Will the states continue to be the indentured servants of the Washington plantation until the day that the plantation collapses? Then, what will the states do? Will they become sovereign once again and assert their freedom, or simply look for another “Massa?”

The Boy Scouts of America have a two-word slogan: “Be Prepared.” Every ten-year-old scout in America knows that he should prepare for both good and bad. The sovereign states of the united States of America would do well to adopt the Boy Scout slogan and start preparing for an uncertain future.

My prediction is that the majority of the American states are so inured to the Federal shackles that they will stay with Washington no matter what. The states have developed a love for their own captors…the Stockholm Syndrome lives.

© Copyright 2009 by Russell D. Longcore.


National Universal Health Care: Could It Work In The USA?

June 30, 2009

The United States is the only nation in the industrialized world without a universal health care system. The oldest universal health care system is in Germany, which had its inception in 1883 under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Let’s lay an important ground rule before we begin. Traditional insurance policies cover unexpected but predictable occurrences. For example, an auto policy covers an unexpected collision. But that policy does not cover maintenance costs which are a normal part of owning a vehicle. Health insurance has become maintenance insurance over the years, paying for everything from regular checkups and tooth cleaning to heart transplants. And, with some group insurance copays at $5 to $20, the concept of deductibles is becoming archaic.

So, in considering a single-payer cradle-to-grave government healthcare system, the old concepts of insurance and risk must be put aside. Single-payer healthcare is NOT INSURANCE in the strictest sense. It is a massive Social Security-type program, into which tax revenues flow and from which health care payments flow out to health care providers.

This article does not advocate a single-payer government-run healthcare system. But it does look at what a single-payer system might look like, and reasons why it will not work.

In December 2008 The McKinsey Global Institute issued an exhaustive 122-page report on health care costs in America, entitled “Accounting for the costs of US healthcare: A new look at why Americans spend more.” The best estimate of American healthcare costs is about $2.1 trillion annually.

Here is a summary list of its findings:

1. Administration costs in the US are much higher than in most countries around the world. This partly due to the privatization of some health care, resulting in profits for shareholders.
2. Pharmaceutical costs: Direct-To-Consumer Advertising encourages use of newer, more expensive drugs, a practice only allowed in the USA. Also, pharmaceutical lobbyists were successful in getting Congress to ban collective bargaining for Medicare Part D, resulting in the highest drug prices in the world. Also, the patent system for new drugs allows drug manufacturers to patent and charge more for non-novel medications.
3. The absence of a universal system that prevents risk-pooling, and the selective underwriting done by insurers. This leaves millions uninsured, and the uninsured avoid treatment until problems are more critical and more expensive.
4. Huge fees of specialist physicians for their procedural skills, rather than primary care that emphasizes preventive health care, early diagnosis and disease management.
5. Defensive medicine: Excess costs and duplication of health procedures in order to protect medical providers from malpractice lawsuits. Lawsuits and jury awards themselves don’t cause a large amount of monetary damage, but the tort system creates a culture in which physicians are paranoid and make health care decisions with lawsuits in mind, rather than patient interests first.
6. ICU Care: The costs of care at the end of life are wildly inflated, many times eclipsing the health care costs incurred in an entire lifetime. This is partly due to heroic efforts of lifesaving, pain management, and poor records.
7. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems would be of great benefit in managing living wills, advanced care directives and previous treatment records. Without EMRs, doctors regularly order redundant tests and procedures because medical information management is so inefficient.

The McKinsey report doesn’t recommend a universal healthcare single-payer system. It simply tries to provide accurate information to those who will be making policy regarding healthcare in the USA.

Here is what a universal healthcare system might look like. This takes the best characteristics from healthcare systems around the world.

1. Funding through individual taxation for wage earners and self employed persons. Low income persons subsidized. Should tax be based upon age? Should the tax be calculated as a percentage of income, like in the IRS Tax Tables and FICA payments?

2. Medicare, Medicaid, the VA healthcare system and all other Federal healthcare systems would be rolled into the universal system. That would include the healthcare benefits for Federal workers and members of Congress.

3. No individual underwriting. All living persons of US citizenship are covered. Non-citizens with taxable earnings could be taxed and covered.

4. No deductibles. Copay for any doctor visit of $5-$20.

5. Prevention-based health care at the General Practitioner level. Compensation based upon health of the patients. Healthier patients, doctor makes more money.

6. Medical school 100% paid by government in exchange for 10 years service as a Federal employee. This would include additional training in medical specialties. Compensation levels could be set lower since there would be no school debt.

7. FedGov sets minimum standards for care. Insured persons are free to choose their own doctors. Patients can choose specialists without first seeing Primary Care Physician.

8. No insurance company precertifications necessary.

9. System includes mental health, nursing home and hospice care.

10. FedGov sets prices for pharmaceuticals, medical procedures and medical supplies. FedGov sets wages for all medical employees, including administrators, nurses, med techs and doctors.

11. Tort reform. If health care was universal from cradle to grave, torts would be limited since the patient would automatically be eligible for additional medical care required by malpractice, an unintended consequence of treatment or a medical complication. Doctors would still be liable for negligence, but awards would not need to compensate the individual plaintiff/patient for anticipated medical care into the future.

12. Electronic Medical Records, a database of all medical records for each patient, accessible by all medical providers. Would eliminate all duplication. Living wills and advance care directives would be part of every patient file. This has the potential to drastically reduce end-of life invasive care and duplication of procedures.

13. Individual health insurance policies would still be available for those that wanted a higher level of care, and would be excess insurance, like a Personal Umbrella policy.

14. Private medical providers, including doctors and hospitals, would still exist, offering custom care for those willing to pay extra for it.

I know this is a cursory look at universal healthcare. I know I’ve left out important features and benefits. But I’m trying to wrap my mind…and yours…around a concept that I fear is in our immediate future.

The big insurance companies have completely screwed up the health insurance marketplace in the United States. So, if they get left at the dock when this new ship sails, I won’t shed any tears. They get what they deserve.

Now, here is why I don’t think that the system outlined above will work.

1. The Federal Government is broke. They are already running trillion dollar annual deficits. In order to stave off governmental collapse, the Federal Reserve is printing paper money as fast as it can. Eventually, inflation will sink the ship of state. To absorb the healthcare system into the Federal Government which represents about one-seventh of the economy, is a bridge too far.

2. Funding this new healthcare system would require increasing taxes significantly. Insurance premiums would be turned into tax payments. There is presently an IRS business deduction for insurance premiums for corporations. The business lobbyists won’t want to give up this deduction and will fight it.

3. Pharmaceutical companies lobby Congress. They will fight any system that controls drug prices and threatens their profits.

4. Trial Lawyers have a powerful lobby in Congress. They will fight medical malpractice tort reform.

5. Medical providers, the American Medical Association and other medicine-related groups have powerful Congressional lobbyists. They will fight reforms, just like they do now.

6. Insurance companies will be forced out of business if the Federal Government takes over the healthcare system. Insurance companies hold trillions of dollars in US bonds and other municipal securities. They will threaten Congress with the collapse of the bond market if Congress passed a new system that leaves them out. All the insurance companies would have to do to crash the bond market and cause the collapse of the Federal Government is to sell off a small percentage of their bond holdings all at once.

In conclusion, I recommend looking at any Obama Administration proposal for universal healthcare in light of the competing groups in the medical field. Each group must be bought off for their cooperation, and in turn each one will buy off Congress to get what they want. Some things never change.

The single payer healthcare system that emerges from Capitol Hill, the system that will affect the healthcare of each American, should adopt as its logo the duckbilled platypus.

That’s the animal that looks like it was designed by a committee.


Bread And Circuses: America’s Insatiable Desire for Socialism

June 29, 2009

The term “Bread and Circuses” is credited to Juvenal, a Roman writer and satirist (AD 55-127). He was describing the Roman citizens’ enthusiasm for free food handouts and gladiatorial games at Circus Maximus and the Colosseum. He felt that Romans had lost the capacity to govern themselves through their mindless self-gratification.

“Bread and Circuses” is a phrase that can accurately be used to describe the American population. Americans are so addicted to entertainment and personal pleasure that they ignore civic responsibility and gladly accept government authority with unflinching obedience.

Well, maybe some of us flinch a little. Reminds me of a bawdy story.

Three friends dared each other to go skydiving. They found a skydiving club and paid their money. After a short lesson, the instructor took them up to 8,000 feet and opened the door of the plane. Two friends jumped, but the third friend was too scared.

The instructor yelled, “If you don’t jump right now, I’m going to rip off your pants, bend you over and have sex with you.”

“Did you jump?” his friends asked him later.

“Well yes…a little at first,” was his reply.

Americans jumped “a little at first” after the Revolutionary War and up into the early 1800s. But by 1860, they were willing to allow Lincoln to make war upon the Southern States and completely ignore the Constitution. It was all downhill from then until now.

Thankfully, there are still some American patriots that jump when someone tries to attack them from behind, so to speak.

Just as Juvenal observed in his day, so I believe that Americans have lost the capacity to govern themselves.

Actions speak louder than words. Stated another way, if you want to learn what people truly value, don’t listen to what they say, only watch what they do.

The majority of American citizens want socialism. They may say that they are against socialism but they continue to elect and re-elect politicians that enact socialistic laws and regulations. They do not storm Washington when those politicians violate the Constitution and commit treasonous, criminal acts. They do not impeach and prosecute the criminals in Washington.

Naw…“Trueblood” is on TV. “Transformers” is in the theaters. Football season is just around the corner. Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett just died and we must mourn them.

America is on the auction block, and the Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal Government are the auctioneers. The American citizens expect their elected officials to “bring home the bacon,” which means get more Federal dollars coming back home than they are sending to Washington. American citizens want more than their share.

America wants socialism.

Over the past 100 years, American citizens have become addicted to the money that comes to them from Washington. Because most Americans have their taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks, they don’t feel the weight of their tax burden. So, it FEELS like benefits are flowing from Washington back to home.

America wants socialism.

In 2008 and 2009, the Federal Government nationalized the banking industry, the investment industry, a giant insurance company and part of the automobile industry. America barely made a peep.

America wants socialism.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the biggest entitlement programs in the history of the planet, have become as familiar as the air we breathe. Conservatives in Washington accepted the big social welfare programs long ago, and don’t lift a finger any more to fight against them…or even try to control their budgets. In fact, some of the biggest spending legislation ever enacted came from Washington while Conservatives controlled the House and Senate, and Republicans lived in the White House.

America wants socialism.

America totally forgave George Bush for lying the USA into a Middle East war. American has completely accepted an ever-expanding worldwide military, and embraced the wars in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. They festoon everything with yellow ribbons, and “support the troops”…even when the troops are murdering foreign civilians and violating the Constitution with their actions abroad. (by the way, a tenet of communism was to spread communism by military action. Americans think we’re trying to spread democracy)

America wants socialism.

Washington politicians have gutted what was left of the Constitution since 2001. Individual liberties have been destroyed. The Patriot Act was enacted, the Transportation Safety Administration made airports into “no-rights zones,” and the Department of Homeland Security has vastly expanded its power over American citizens. All done with only a few whimpers and few objections.

America wants socialism.

The Obama Administration is taking this window of opportunity to take over health care and health insurance in the USA. American citizens have watched the nation’s insurance companies destroy the health insurance industry. There are over 40 million Americans today without any health insurance at all. So, it’s a perfect moment to do a government takeover. American citizens are exhausted from fighting to get health insurance. They want health insurance at any cost, and are willing to trust Uncle Sam to run the healthcare and health insurance system.

Americans want socialism. And Americans are getting socialism as quickly as Washington can deliver it.

I always used to think that America was being misused and abused by Washington. I have changed my thinking about that. I believe that Washington is simply giving America what it wants.

Perhaps the Washington politicos are the most astute observers of human behavior. They are certainly the best at survival.

Curious, though…that last paragraph also aptly describes the relationship between a leech and its host.

“It is hard NOT to write satire.” ~Juvenal , Roman satirist, writing about the Rome of his day)