Monday, August 24, 2009

Family Feud

Decided to publish an email exchange with my wonderful sister from last week (with her permission, of course). It frames the health-care debate rather nicely. She tends toward the emotional, I tend toward the fanatical. She's really smart though- she writes books and stuff. Hard sometimes to believe we came from the same womb. As a partial explanation of my general bitterness- keep in mind that that almost everyone in my family agrees with HER.

It starts with my response to an article she sent me from

It's all good- she's my best person at my wedding this fall.




My final point:


Of course it has to change. But why is it always the insurance companies? How about doctors performing batteries of uneccessary tests? How about hospitals charging $185 dollars for a dose of Tylenol? How about juries handing multi-million dollar awards out for honest medical mistakes, far and beyond the actual damages to the patient? How about the government demanding 5 times more testing for new medical products than other countries, costing billions of dollars and delaying potentially life saving advancements for years?

What about person responsibility? What about obesity, smoking, bad eating habits of Americans driving medical expenses through the roof?

I know how expensive health care is. I spend $550 for myself per month. I also remember having a car accident with over $75k in medical bills (in 1985 dollars) costing me nothing. Why should Americans expect the highest quality of care in the world (which we get, no question, if you don’t believe this, do your homework) for free? Who the hell do we think we are?

It’s lazy to blame whoever is making money for whatever is wrong. The fact of the matter is that the formation of a government owned insurance provider puts the United States Government in direct competition with privately owned companies employing thousands and paying millions (probably billions) in taxes back to that same government. That is unfair, and downright Un-American.

No one is denying that health-care costs too much. A balanced policy that includes:

· more oversight of how doctors and hospitals are deciding on and charging for care

· tax breaks for employers who subsidize employee care,

· tort reform to partially shield doctors and hospitals from exorbitant jury awards,

· the standardization, simplification, and computerization of medical records and insurance forms

· the streamlining of the approval process for new drugs and procedures

· and yes (as hard as it for me to say) greater regulation of insurance companies abilities to deny claims and service

would accomplish anything this bill will without all of the slippery-slope elements that occur when the government gets into the health care business (or any other business).

Yes, doctors spend lots of time “fighting” with insurance companies. There, are believe it or not, two sides to this story as well. While insurance companies are certainly over-zealous about this and need to be reigned in, so do the doctors- who over test, over treat, and over charge on a daily basis.

Keep in mind that whether it be prisons, schools, hospitals, turnpike systems, or any other of hundreds of examples, the private sector always does better than the government. Any plan that wrests control of any industry from the private sector is doomed to fail, as has been proven over and over again.


Karen, making a good point that would be a lot better if surveys didn't consistently show that an overwhelming majority of Americans are happy overall with their health care:


You’re right. Poor people are able to get healthcare right now, but middle class, working people are not. Remember when employers paid for their employees and for a nominal monthly fee they could also have coverage for their families? Now people with kids are paying $600-$800 per month ( I know this is true because I know many of them) for family coverage. That’s absurd. And insurance companies do dictate what a doctor can and cannot do to treat their patients. This has to change. It simply makes no sense. This weekend I read a really heartfelt letter to the editor from a local (South Jersey) doctor who told the story from her perspective (all the time she spends fighting with insurance companies, etc.) and then bravely came out 100% for a national healthcare system. I’m not saying I agree with her, but I do know that something has to be done.


Me, getting downright snarky, and quoting from the article:


Not sure the point of this. I couldn’t possibly care less what people in Britain think about their health care, or right wing attacks (which I don’t support) on it. British people have lived with socialism their entire lives and have been forking up to 65% of their income to their government for 200 years. Why do you think so many rich British people have primary residences in the US? What they are willing to live with is certainly no concern of mine.

Spall's mother died of kidney cancer while waiting for treatment.

"There are failings in the system but I'm not anti-NHS at all," Spall told the British Broadcasting Corp.”

This from a presumably well off person whose mother died waiting for treatment. This is the United States you want?

An illegal alien with no money, insurance, or even identification, can walk to into an emergency room in the US and get the same level of care as a tax paying British citizen.



Karen, sending me a link to an article showing how happy the English are with their government supplied health car:




Me, in a rare moment of levity:


I look forward to discussing this with you in person. Just not at the wedding or Rona will throw us both off of the roof. In which case we will definitely need health care.


Karen, showing that she, like most other major party backers, has no real idea of what being a Libertarian really means:


We’re going to have to talk more about this in person. Believe it or not I have Libertarian leanings myself, but I do concede that many Libertarian ideals (even my own, like, we should never be messing around in other people’s countries—ever) are unrealistic. People need protection from entities that exist only to make a profit, insurance companies included. As a middle class person living in a modest house and living a healthy lifestyle I am unhappy with the current system and I believe that insurance companies are the root of the problem (and many other problems). I don’t know how to fix it, but I do believe there are others who know more about it than I do. I voted for one of them.


Me, again:


And by the way, we already have government subsidized health care here. It’s called Medicaid. This bill has nothing to do with helping poor people. It, like every piece of legislation put forward by this administration, is about providing government assistance to people living beyond their means. People who want to sit on their asses in houses they can’t afford and should never have bought, eat at McDonald’s, smoke and drink themselves to death, not leave room in their budgets for unexpected expenses, like health care deductibles. Who has the right to tell them how to spend their money?

Oh and I forgot “have kids they can’t afford to raise”.

Who has the right to tell them how many kids they can have?The American dream at a discount.




All comes back to personal responsibility. If you are a family, with two wage earners, making less than 40k per year, maybe you shouldn’t have 3 kids. And if you can’t afford $2,500, assuming you are allowed to pay if off incrementally over the course of the entire year, you need money management help.

Keep in mind that the $2500 deductible plan is completely free to the worker, no out of pocket cost up front whatsoever. So if you break it down, using the deductible as the cost, it comes down to around $208 month for comprehensive health care for your entire family. And that assumes you incur $2,500 in medical bills. If you don’t, it comes out less. That doesn’t sound like too bad a deal.

I have no problem with the notion that all Americans should have access to basic health care, regardless of their ability to pay. To suggest that anyone who opposes this plan thinks otherwise is disingenuous and unfair. There are specific provisions in the legislation that will limit paying customers’ options on coverage, plans and rates. There are specific provisions in the plan that call for the organization of government boards to make decisions on coverage options and rates. And nowhere in the legislation is there any mention of personal responsibility for the average American.

The legislation also places severe limitation on insurance companies’ ability to modulate rates between different customers. In other words, a 350 pound, alcoholic who makes 20k per year, smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day, hasn’t worked out in 27 years and has 4 kids, will pay the same basic rate for the same coverage as I, who have never smoked, drinks in moderation, has no kids and works out 5 times a week.

When the insurance companies stop making a profit, they will stop providing insurance. They have a responsibilty to their stockholders like every other company. Sorry, you live in America. And once that happens, the government will be responsible for all health care.




Sorry, we’ll just have to agree to disagree here. I stopped at the first point. I love the idea of a $2,500 deductible and everything else paid for, but there are many, many people who could never afford to pay $2,500 in doctor bills. There have to be alternatives for people who make less than $40,000 per year, which is a huge majority of this country. Healthcare should not be a luxury. It’s a basic human need that no one can afford, or is really getting, and yet insurance companies continue to make profits. I find that barbaric. I also know there are no easy answers.


My response to article:


It’s easy to paint opponents of the Health Care bill as right wing zealots, and it’s not shocking that a group like would choose to do so.

People who get their news from,, and, may be surprised to learn that there are plenty of thoughtful, reasonable people who have serious issues with this plan. Can we all trust that the founder of Whole Foods is not a right wing fanatic? If you took the time to read the original email, take the time to read this article:

If it doesn’t link from here, just cut and paste into your browser.

No comments:

Post a Comment