Health care is not a pretty sight

Will the Dems be any less conflicted?

By Jack E. Lohman

Ask any CEO; they have competition both externally and internally. The  latter includes ineffective and lazy employees, but there’s another: the insurance industry that leeches off the presence of businesses and the circumstances of the day. They draw cash from your coffers and are as bad as your worst competitor.

As a former CEO I never complained about auto or fire insurances that I needed, but experiencing 17% yearly increases in health insurance premiums when medical costs were only rising at 5%, I didn’t need. Perhaps because I was a health care provider myself and wasn’t seeing any of the 17%. Maybe had they shared their booty I’d have felt differently.

Why did they increase rates as they did? Because they could! And they needed the additional money to offset increased salaries and broker commissions and shareholder profits. And oh, campaign contributions, because the cost of having politicians in your pocket is going up.

Next to the financial industry of today privatized health care is the worst thing that has happened to this country. It can’t even be said that the insurance industry served a need because the need was not legitimate. It is make-work and adds overhead costs, and without it we’d move along just fine. We are the only industrialized country in the world without a universal healthcare system, and we can thank our conflicted politicians for that.

Total industries have left the state and country because of our awkward and costly health care structure. Steel, technology, TV’s, appliances, automobiles, you name it. The Big Three now make more cars in Ontario than Detroit because of Canada’s health care system being more friendly to corporations. And actually, to the people as well. It costs them $800 per employee per year there and $6500 here. We simply can’t compete.

But as long as the campaign cash flows, it is what it is. I thought the Dems would be different but the signs are not good. We are spending more money trying to avoid the correct solution than it would cost just to fix the system up front. We have 15,000 different private and public options when we need just one. And that “one” already exists; it’s called Medicare and it should be expanded to everybody.

Perhaps it will never be fixed until we deny health care to 15% of the politicians and under-insure another 15%, as we are doing with privatized policies.


— I say let Texas secede. Mexico needs the added territory and we can move the fence northward. Besides, their political contributions have not been great.

— Obama is correct in wanting to put the Bush years behind us, even his approval of over-the-top interrogation techniques. They may have served their purpose at the time, but let’s move on. We have major problems to solve without this distraction. The ACLU should hang it up.

— I am not a Bush fan, but on the terrorist issue he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.

— Greehouse gases? Cap and trade? Yea, let’s throw the book at them and drive the rest of them out of the country!

— On the pirates I vote for armed guards and electrified barbed wire around the boat.  No sense in forcing the guards to shoot at moving targets. They might just wound them, and that’s cruel.  😉

6 Responses to Health care is not a pretty sight

  1. I truly believe the Democratic can’t stand firm on anything when you consider the compromise on health care reform, to please the opposition who will not vote for it anyway, that basically continues the status quo.

    “Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House health reform office, said one compromise might be that the public plan pays hospitals and doctors rates similar to what private insurers pay. That would address fears that government would use its muscle to pay rock-bottom prices for medical services, allowing the public plan to charge discounted premiums that private insurers couldn’t compete with.”

    Good god.

  2. Yea, I agree. The “privates” over-pay because the doctor’s “usual and customary” were set high to offset the no-pay charity cases. A good Medicare-for-all system would not have charity cases and thus no need for exorbitant billing. But you’ve got to give it to the politicians, they’ll find a way. Aren’t campaign contributions great? If not great, effective?

  3. Belleville says:

    Medicare is not for everyone, that is until it is cleaned up a bit. I agree a national health insurance is overdue. Ask for and detail a hospital bill next time you incur one, than compare it to one from 5 oir 10 years ago. You see why healthcare is what it is. 25 to 30 of those charges are not directly related to providing healthcare. That is the problem. Every hospital and pharmaceutical merger has been financed through healthcare costs. This is not a party related issue, lets not however overlook the regulation neglected history of the party that just left DC.

  4. Thanks for your note, Belleville. Though I would disagree with the first part. Medicare is absolutely no different than private health care. The doctor just sends his bill to a different payer. But I see the same doctor and go to the same hospital I always have. In some cases it is even better because some private insurers have unreasonable coverage limits that Medicare does not have. See this free book at

    On your second point I absolutely agree. In Canada your hospital bill comes on one piece of paper. One daily charge includes everything. And they are cheaper to boot.

    You are also right that this is not a party issue. They both take campaign contributions from the insurance and health care industries, and that’s why we have such an industry-slanted system.

  5. ezag says:

    In my recent hospital stay I had an uninterrupted converation with my son (Cardioogist/EP). Some interesting data. 28% of physicians in Texas now refuse Medicare and Medicaid patients because of poor reimbursements.

    In the past 18 months, Medicare has delared 3 6 week moratoriums on payments. The last, during the crunch in September forced a number of practices into bankruptcy because they could not secure bank loans. I don’t know how this news managed to be unreported in the mainstream press.

    Texas has not added any medical school slots since the 1980s. This means that the much larger population is being served by the same rate of graduation. Furthmore, now 60% of med students at UT Southwestern medical school are women. The stats are that women retire on average about 7 years after graduation. Men retire in 20-25 years.

    There is a major doctor crisis in the near future in the US. Texas would be in a major crisis now were it not for tort reform (signed by Gov. Bush). Hundreds of doctors moved to Texas to take advantage of the 80% reduction in liability insurance costs.

    All of this is driven by poor reimbursements. With the advent of Universal Healthcare, the demise of private insurance will add further pressure to the economics of medical practice. Many doctors over 55 will simpy retire. We have a bad system…but it beats rationing.

  6. Ezag, I agree with some of your points, but frankly, very few. Yes, women retire much earlier. They have kids and tend to want to stay and take care of them. The only way to resolve that is to discriminate against them, and I won’t take the discussion in that direction. I’m still married.

    You really must understand why physicians may opt out of the Medicare system. They’ve grown their practice to the point that they CAN! Medicare has established a fee schedule that is based on reimbursement for labor, technology, and overhead, and it is generally fair. About 60% of physicians would prefer a Medicare-only system because it would reduce their personnel requirements and eliminate charity and bad debt. They’d get paid for 100% of their work.

    Docs who opt out do so because they can bill the privates whatever they want. It’s called “reasonable and customary” and they can often get four times what Medicare considers fair. Having been in health care for 40 years I’ve seen the abuses, but those are short-lived.

    Ask your son how he likes the private health care executives and gatekeepers getting between him and his patients. That’s one of the reasons doctors are retiring early. And frankly, a lot of them have made a lot of money and they can. I don’t blame them. And they SHOULD make a lot of money, but with the CEOs now driving health care that is more history than future.

    Medicare isn’t perfect, but if we get a Medicare for all system with politicians also under it, we have hopes. But even if Medicare turns downward both the employers and patients can opt to pay on the outside. Nothing mandates government coverage.

    >>> “We have a bad system…but it beats rationing.”

    Don’t believe the rationing arguments. See these two articles:

    10 Myths About Canadian Health Care, Busted

    Forget about Canada, we can do better!

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