Clinton’s Healthcare Sell-Out: Watch Out for this Lady — She wants to be President more than she wants to be a great president

THE PROBLEM WITH AMERICAN HEALTHCARE

AN UNAVOIDABLE TRUTH — IT DOESN’T WORK

When Marianne Falacienski’s husband started a new job, the family could not afford the health plan. Ms. Falacienski, 32, found individual coverage only for him and their daughter, Gabrielle.

WHY OBAMA HAS THE RIGHT APPROACH:

INCREMENTAL STEPS TO ELIMINATING MIDDLEMEN WHO ADD COST BUT NO VALUE

THE REASON WHY HEALTHCARE COSTS ARE SO HIGH: We let it get that way because we thought we were not paying for it. We were lulled into this fraudulent situation by the presence of “insurance” which was just a hidden tax which we call “PRIVATE TAXATION.” This opened the door for the profit motive to dominate healthcare.  The inevitable result was cutting costs by delivering less care, increasing revenues by increasing premiums, and avoiding delivery by small print. 

THE EFFECT ON AMERICAN HEALTH: Americans are dying younger, with higher infant mortality than 40 other countries, and living lives of quiet desperation and stress locked in by a system that requires us to choose between life and death, between quality of life or suffering, and between being overmedicated into virtual stupor or becoming our own physicians and deciding what medications we need.

WHO CONTROLS OUR OPTIONS: The presence of insurance along with government complicity has interfered with the normal market forces found in every other country on the planet. Examples abound where the cost of a medication is $120 per month here whereas it could be as little as 5 cents elsewhere. 

The pharmaceutical industry dictates medical protocol: the profit motive requires them to present protocols that require long-term constant daily medications which now average 8-10 pills per day for many people. 

The pharmaceutical industry controls the FDA (virtually all FDA employees have worked for Pharma, are working for Pharma or will work for Pharma and Pharma literally pays most of the budget of the FDA). 

Any protocol that is preventative is opposed by Pharma and opposed by the insurance companies because revenues would decline, costs would decline and thus the need for expensive insurance premiums would also decline. 

Any intervention protocol is likewise not covered by insurance and declared “placebo” or “experimental” unless it is accompanied by a protocol of 53 pills per day for life as in the case of a lung transplant. 

The inescapable conclusion is that the insertion of insurance into our lives has increased our effective rate of taxation without us realizing it was a tax, it has reduced the level, quantity, availability and quality of care, and is responsible for half of all bankruptcies filed.

Obama’s plan, while it continues to include the insurance infrastructure, loosens the death grip of the insurance-Pharma cartel. It can lead to continued enhancements of the system and eventually to a single payer system which is what everyone else in the world has. 

Mandatory insurance is a sell-out for continuation of the current system regardless of what sound bites are attached to it. Obama is once again taking the courageous position of recognizing the nuance and complexity oft he situation and taking hits for not “mandating” insurance for everyone. The Clinton-Edwards “mandatory” plan is good politics, bad economics and unworkable.

Mandatory health insurance is a tax pure and simple. Except by inserting private insurance companies into the mix it adds between 100% to 500% to the costs of healthcare. Mandatory insurance is a wealth transfer system and anyone who promotes it is either purposefully or inadvertently playing into the hands of the few people who benefit financially from this corrupt system while the rest of us continue our lives of quiet desperation and stress.

 

May 4, 2008

Even the Insured Feel the Strain of Health Costs

By REED ABELSON and MILT FREUDENHEIM

The economic slowdown has swelled the ranks of people without health insurance. But now it is also threatening millions of people who have insurance but find that the coverage is too limited or that they cannot afford their own share of medical costs.

Many of the 158 million people covered by employer health insurance are struggling to meet medical expenses that are much higher than they used to be — often because of some combination of higher premiums, less extensive coverage, and bigger out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments.

With medical costs soaring, the coverage many people have may not adequately protect them from the financial shock of an emergency room visit or a major surgery. For some, even routine doctor visits might now take a back seat to basic expenses like food and gasoline.

“It just keeps eating into people’s income,” said James Corbin, a former union official who works for the local utility in Tucson.

Mr. Corbin said that under their employer’s health plan, he and his co-workers are now obliged to pay up to $4,000 of their families’ annual medical bills, on top of about $1,600 a year in premiums. Five years ago, they paid no premiums and were responsible for only about $2,000 of their families’ medical bills.

“That’s a big jump,” Mr. Corbin said. “You’ve just lost a month’s pay.”

Already, many doctors say, the soft economy is making some insured people hesitant to get care they need, reluctant to spend a $50 co-payment for an office visit. Parents “are waiting longer to bring in their children,” said Dr. Richard Lander, a pediatrician in Livingston, N.J. “They say, ‘The kid isn’t that sick; her temperature is only 102.’ ”

The problem of affording health care is most acute for people with no insurance, a group expected to soon exceed 48 million, but those with insurance say they too are feeling the pain.

Since the recession of 2001, the employee’s average cost of an annual health care premium for family coverage has nearly doubled — to $3,300, up from $1,800 — while incomes have come nowhere close to keeping up. Factor in other out-of-pocket medical costs, and the portion of the average American household’s income that goes toward health care has risen about 12 percent, according to the consulting and accounting firm Deloitte, and is now approaching one-fifth of the average household’s spending.

In a recent survey by Deloitte’s health research center, only 7 percent of people said they felt financially prepared for their future health care needs.

Shirley Giarde of Walla Walla, Wash., was not prepared when her husband, Raymond, suddenly developed congestive heart failure last year and needed a pacemaker and defibrillator. Because his job did not provide health benefits, she has covered them both through a policy for the self-employed, which she obtained as the proprietor of a bridal and formal-wear store, the Purple Parasol.

But when Raymond had his medical problems, Ms. Giarde discovered that her insurance would cover only $22,000, leaving them with about $100,000 in unpaid hospital bills.

Even though the hospital agreed to reduce that debt to about $50,000, Ms. Giarde is still struggling to pay it — in part because the poor economy has meant slumping sales at the Purple Parasol. Her husband, now disabled and unable to work, will not qualify for Medicare for another year, and she cannot afford the $758 a month it would cost to enroll him in a state-run insurance plan for individuals who cannot find private insurance.

She recently refinanced her car, a 2002 Toyota Highlander, to help pay for her husband’s heart medicines, which cost some $400 a month.

Experts say that too often for the underinsured, coverage can seem like health insurance in name only — adequate only as long as they have no medical problems.

“There’s a real shift in the burden of health care to people who happen to be sick,” said Paul B. Ginsburg, the president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a research group in Washington.

Companies and policy makers have yet to focus on what the faltering economy means for employees’ medical care, said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a Washington association of about 200 large employers.

“It’s a bad-news situation when an individual or household has to pay out-of-pocket three, four or five times as much for their health plan as they would have at the time of the last recession,” she said. “Americans have been giving their pay raise to the health care system.”

Sage Holben, a 62-year-old library technician with diabetes who is active in her local union in St. Paul, says that in 2003 union members agreed to a two-year freeze on wages to protect their health care coverage. But for the union, which will begin talks on the next contract this fall, it may be difficult to continue that trade-off, Ms. Holben said. “It’s at the point where we’re losing, anyway,” she said.

“I live paycheck to paycheck,” said Ms. Holben, who makes close to $40,000 a year at Metropolitan State University.

When she took the job in 1999, she says, the health benefits required no co-payments for doctor visits. Now, her out-of-pocket cost per visit is $25, and she pays $38 a month for her diabetes medicine. She has not been to the eye doctor in two years, even though eye exams are crucial for people with diabetes and she knows she needs new glasses. Nor does she monitor her blood sugar as regularly as she should because of the cost of the supplies.

“It’s not an extravagant expense,” she said. “It just adds up.” And it comes atop the increasing cost of utilities, gasoline and food — and the few hundred dollars of repairs her 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier needs.

Many employers do recognize that their workers are struggling financially even as they are asking them to pick up more of their health-care bills.

“It makes the work we have to do even more challenging,” said Anne Silverman, the vice president in charge of benefits in North America for the publishing company Reed Elsevier. “Employees are being stretched in terms of their disposable income.”

Even so, more companies may see themselves as having little choice but to require employees to pay even more of their health expenses, said Ted Nussbaum, a benefits consultant at the firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide. And when a weak economy undermines job security, he said, workers may simply have to accept reduced benefits.

While Mr. Nussbaum and other consultants say it is unlikely that significant numbers of employers will simply drop coverage for their workers, the weak economy could prompt more of them to push for so-called consumer-driven plans. Such plans tend to offset lower premiums with higher annual deductibles.

And while these plans often allow employees to put pre-tax savings into special health care accounts, they typically end up forcing the worker to assume a bigger share of overall medical costs. About six million people are now enrolled in these medical plans.

Among employers, the hardest pressed may be small businesses. Their insurance premiums tend to be proportionately higher than ones paid by large employers, because small companies have little bargaining clout with insurers.

Health costs are “burying small business,” said Mike Roach, who owns a small clothing store in Portland, Ore. He recently testified on health coverage at a Senate hearing led by Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.

Last year, Mr. Roach paid about $27,000 in health premiums for his eight employees. “It’s a huge chunk of change,” he said, noting that he was forced to raise his employees’ yearly deductible by 50 percent, to $750.

Around the nation, some workers are simply priced out of their employee health plans.

After Brian Falacienski of Milton, Fla., was laid off last year from his job as a surveyor for a construction company, he found another position. But the cost of his new health plan — $800 a month for coverage with a $1,000 annual deductible — was beyond the means of Mr. Falacienski, 38, who is married and has a 2-year-old daughter.

His wife, Marianne, started researching individual insurance policies and was able to find policies for her husband and daughter offering basic, if minimal, coverage, costing $161 a month for father and daughter. But Ms. Falacienski, 32, who has arthritis and the severe digestive disorder Crohn’s disease, is now uninsured. Because of her conditions, she said, four major insurers rejected her.

“I even applied for Medicaid,” she said, “but I wasn’t low-income enough.”

A Jail called Mandatory Health Insurance

A Jail called Mandatory Health Insurance

 

This is arithmetic not ideology. We make it ideology when we defy the numbers. We are already paying for full and complete coverage for all American citizens. In fact, we are paying 40% more than is required to give everyone complete health services. That we are paying for it and not getting what we are paying for (including a rebate or dividend on the many billions we are overspending) is testament to our ideology getting in the way of good judgment and concern for American citizens. It also gives you an idea on how and why the Pharmaceutical companies alone spend more than $5,000 on each and every one of the more than 500,000 doctors licensed in the United States, rewarding them with free samples, free trips, free seminars, free equipment, free supplies, and a host of other things that would make anyone other than a saint turn their heads.

 

In fact, it isn’t even ideology, it is myth. The myth is that American medicine is better than anywhere eels in the world. This is one of those myths that come from facts once holding morsals of truth. It is no longer truth. Our rate of medical advances is dwarfed by work done in dozens of other countries, our education is in a nose-dive, people are dropping out of the system, retiring early and otherwise getting out of the cancerous system we call our medical establishment.

 

We are already paying far more than we need to and far more than any other country in the world for the exact same medical facilities, medical care, medical treatment and medical prescriptions — AND we don’t have access without digging into the bottom of our pockets to treatments that are available, more effective and far less expensive than medical protocols in the U.S. because Big Pharma dictates those protocols through its absolute control of the FDA. And Big Pharma has a blank check from Big Insurance, because Big Insurance wants everyone to perceive the need to pay premiums for medial insurance. It’s like the credit card industry — they want to convert your assets into their fees without giving you anything of value in return.

 

Insurance is not the solution. It is the problem. Mandatory insurance locks us into the problem instead of heading for a solution. Wind down the need for medical insurance and the hold that Big Pharma has would likewise wind down. Putting people on the front line of what is available and how much it costs would put them “in the know” — instead of removing them from their sight the obvious tyrannies of the medical-insurance complex. This will create outrage. And outrage is what we need here — before we pass outrage and go straight to social unrest, riots, and other troubles that shake even the foundations of our form of government. We are corrupted and we the voters must make the changes that elected officials are unwilling to do. The only thing left that is made in America and for sale are our politicians.

 

Our insurance driven system causes us to spend about 40% more money than it would take to give full, total and robust health care to every man, woman and child in the United States. Instead, our citizens get partial coverage, no coverage and limitations on what therapies “qualify” for coverage — not on the basis of safety but on the basis of revenue production for Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Big medical. We need e little trust busting here like a hundred years ago. The corporate trusts, creating anti-competitive barriers to both older and newer treatments that are readily available, preventative care that would reduce the need for medical services and products, are literally ruining our lives.

 

Krugman, Clinton and the rest of those who subscribe to mandatory health insurance have it flat wrong on the numbers, the policy, and the purpose. Obama is a lot closer to the truth when he says we should NOT tie ourselves to the insurance model. Insurance is the problem, not the solution.

 

Under the Clinton plan we would be locked into the current cycle for the foreseeable future. Insurance companies would control how well we are cared for, what procedures are available (i.e., “covered), and perpetuate the medical fraud perpetrated on the public whereby spiraling higher medical costs for services, procedures and treatments are completely controlled in the lockbox created by the mighty triumvirate of Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and Big Medicine.

 

Under mandatory insurance the jail cell we are in would become a life sentence and the key thrown away. Transfer of wealth on the backs of those need help would continue on its merry way — a perfect Republican solution conceived in fear and deceit, servile to their own greedy agendas and creating cruel results but never brave solutions, to paraphrase Thomas Paine in “the Crisis.”

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