Sunday, February 28, 2010

Health and Wealth and Care

The big political news this week was President Obama's Health Care Summit, in which he invited members of the Republican Party to a televised debate in order to present their ideas for health care reform.


It was a pretty bold move; and put the Republicans firmly on the spot by demanding they actually present ideas, rather than simply snark and snipe and attack the bill that the Democrats have presented.

Televising it was also a daring move by Obama; as what the Republicans came up with would be broadcast for the world to see in stark relief; instead of being filtered through the protective spin of Fox News or Conservative Talk Radio.

I didn't get to see much of it (as some of us have copy to write.)

However, I did catch the highlights and I'll admit that President Obama was magnificent; cutting several people down to size (reminding Senator John McCain that 'the campaign is over') whilst also acting with class and dignity by acknowledging legitimate points the Republicans raised (a capitulation that left that same Senator, John McCain, speechless with confused and angry pride at one point.)

Ultimately, though, I can understand the Republican's frustration with the summit. The Democrats made one point abundantly clear - they weren't going to scrap their 2,700 page Health Care Reform Bill and start from scratch, with a true bipartisan approach.

While you can understand the Dems taking that position - which would drag reform out for months - it kind of soured the spirit of bipartisanship.

On the other hand, the Republicans are fighting a losing battle by claiming that the government should butt out of health care. Last year, average health insurance premiums rose by 25% at my company - yet the health insurance companies had the audacity to reduce the amount of coverage that insurance offered and reported record annual profits.

It's disgusting. I'm all for making a profit; but not when it involves denying people access to health care.

What really rankles me is the fact that the United States government already pours billions into providing health care for the population; enough per head of population to finance a National Health Service like the Brits have without raising taxes a dime.

The American tax payer is already paying more than France does to provide the best health care system in the world. The fact that Americans are then expected to pay between 40% and 90% more than that out of our own pockets is just wrong.

When it comes to politics, I do tend to lean slightly the right of center. I believe in certain Republican principles (or, at least, the ones they pay lip service to) like fiscal responsibility.
Therefore I want to know why Republicans think it's remotely acceptable or defensible that Americans already pay so much more for health care than the rest of the world.

Sadly, the only solutions provided for 'improving' our system seem to be a trillion dollar spending program by the Democrats, or the Republican preference for maintaining a system that sees even basic health care coverage rapidly being priced out of the range of most middle class American families.

The truth is, I think America will have a European-style, single-payer health care system within a decade - no matter what either side do.

The current system is making so many more and more people reliant on public funds - either in the form of 'free' health care coverage, or subsidized health insurance - that in a few years so many people are going to be on government-funded health care programs that we'll have a de facto 'socialized medicine' program in this country even if nobody ever sat down and voted for it.

(One would imagine that the health insurance companies would realize that hiking rates and dropping coverage would eventually eliminate their potential customer base - but one would also have imagined that the American auto manufacturers would have realized the same about churning out gas guzzling SUVs and pick up trucks. The fact is, private business is so short sighted in modern, corporate America, that it's literally eating itself alive - and seems totally oblivious to that fact!)

12 comments:

paul mitchell said...

You and I watched two different "Summits." In the one that I saw (I do not watch television, I watched it ALL online), Obama looked his usually feckless self, while picking his nose, TOO! The Democrats were thoroughly and soundly beaten back with logic, good debate, and facts about the plans they have offered. And they had zero rebuttals for anything other than anecdotes.

By the way, McCain and Obama are on the very same side, dude. Both are proponents of huge government that bankrupts the country. We tried to tell y'all that in the election, too.

In case, you did not know this, medical insurance companies make on average less than three percent profit on their product. Wonder what is going to happen when government takes that TINY profit margin away from them?

Also, the French pay 13% of their annual income for medical services, the US citizen pays less than nine. Which is more expensive?

One more thing, since the US already has public medical services for over 45% of our population, how many more people do we cover than France,right NOW? Government run medical services is a loser in any way that you want to look at it, Roland. Well, if you use FACTS, anyway.

Just watch this part of the "Summit" that you probably have not seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPxMZ1WdINs

Andy said...

Roland, I will not disagree with your assessment that this Health Care Summit did NOTHING to change anyone's mind.

But, Jeez Louise! If you thought Obama came off as "brilliant," then I'm starting to think this is a comedy/satire blog. (with all due respect)

The booger-picker is a pompous ass. And, if you can't see that...well...

The guy thinks his own dookie smells good. He didn't invite Republicans to this SummitSham to hear anything from them that might be constructive. And, he came off looking like a little baby trying to tie his own shoes.

If you can't see that...well...

Let's take a couple of your statements...

"...the United States government already pours billions into providing health care for the population; enough per head of population to finance a National Health Service like the Brits have without raising taxes a dime...."

Okay, Roland...that's what I REALLY WANT! I want to wait forever to be seen by a physician in a filthy piece of crap hospital...just like the Brits do!

"Therefore I want to know why Republicans think it's remotely acceptable or defensible that Americans already pay so much more for health care than the rest of the world."

The answer to that is simple. We pay so much more because WE. ARE. PROVIDING. ALL. THE. HEALTH. CARE. FOR. THE. REST. OF. THE. WORLD...WE. ARE. PAYING. FOR. THE. R&D. AND. THE. CHEAP. DRUGS. AND, BECAUSE. WE. DEFEND. THE. STUPID. EUROPEANS. THEY. CAN. SPEND. THEIR. TAX. MONEY. ON. HEALTH. CARE. AND. DON'T. HAVE. TO. PAY. FOR. A. REAL. MILITARY. FORCE...AND, WITHOUT. US. THEY. WOULD. ALL. BE. DEAD, OR. LIVING. UNDER. THE. THUMB. OF. ISLAM.

"The fact is, private business is so short sighted in modern, corporate America, that it's literally eating itself alive - and seems totally oblivious to that fact!"

I'll give you a thumbs up on that one. You're almost completely right IMHO. It is short-sighted...but it's eating "us" up...which will certainly be their ultimate downfall.

One Salient Oversight said...

The truth is, I think America will have a European-style, single-payer health care system within a decade - no matter what either side do.

And that's a good thing because it will cost Americans less.

As for WE. ARE. PROVIDING. ALL. THE. HEALTH. CARE. FOR. THE. REST. OF. THE. WORLD...WE. ARE. PAYING. FOR. THE. R&D. AND. THE. CHEAP. DRUGS. AND, BECAUSE. WE. DEFEND. THE. STUPID. EUROPEANS. THEY. CAN. SPEND. THEIR. TAX. MONEY. ON. HEALTH. CARE. AND. DON'T. HAVE. TO. PAY. FOR. A. REAL. MILITARY. FORCE...AND, WITHOUT. US. THEY. WOULD. ALL. BE. DEAD, OR. LIVING. UNDER. THE. THUMB. OF. ISLAM., that is a load of crap, because;

a) Western governments pay for the health care of citizens which means that American R & D companies are subsidised by Western governments.

b) Military spending has no effect on the tax rates needed to pay for health care in Western countries. The simple fact is that health care costs in other Western countries are lower in real terms than in the US. This would be true if France (for example) spent 3% of GDP on its military or 30%.

c) And then there's the jingoistic "the world owes us" attitude. You're wrong. America owes the world $3.7 Trillion. America is only as rich as it is because we foreigners invest in it. I suggest America treats its creditors a little better than Andy does.

One Salient Oversight said...

Let me explain a) Western governments pay for the health care of citizens which means that American R & D companies are subsidised by Western governments. further.

Pharmaceutical companies get paid whenever their drugs get sold. Western governments with universal health care systems buy drugs from American pharma to supply to their people. Thus American pharma makes a huge profit from Western governments and their universal health care systems - probably as much if not more than the amount pharma makes out of the USA.

The only difference is that in the USA they make the profit directly from the users, while it is governments who are profited from in other countries (since they subsidise the cost to make them cheap or free for their citizens under a universal health care system)

Susanne said...

Interesting posts and comments! Thanks for sharing your views on this issue. Enjoyed it!

paul mitchell said...

OSO, so since our private companies spend R&D money on drugs that governments overseas buy, the socialist form of "healthcare" works? Okay, what if our drug companies STOPPED doing that work? Who would the socialist "healthcare" people buy drugs from? Do you even read what you write?

One more thing, if you check out the WHO report, where everyone gets this ridiculous data, you will find that a citizen in France paid 5% of annual income for medical services before it became FREE! Now, they pay 13%. WOW! What a savings.

Roland Hulme said...

Hey guys! Thanks for the comments.

I really appreciate OSO's support, although I have to grudgingly accept that Andy's got a point about the entire world benefiting from the broken American health care system. We pay a quarter or two times as much for health care and that drives the pharmaceutical business - one of the few industries that hasn't been outsourced to India (yet.)

This is why I'm not sure I support the idea of a single payer system; but still think it's inevitably going to arrive.

As Paul points out, 45% of our population is already on govt. funded health care. That percentage is increasing. How many years before it's 100%?

If premiums go up by 30% like mine did last year, I give it a decade.

And while Paul and Andy might be right about the 13% figure for French health care (I wrote a post with the exact number, but since I changed domain names I can't find it) it's worth pointing out that this amount is through tax, whereas the 9% for US citizens doesn't include the taxes they pay that go to pay for the 45% of people on govt. funded health care. I can't find the figures right now, but I think it works out as 15% or 17% in total at the end of the day.

One Salient Oversight said...

Total expenditure % of GDP on health:

France 2007: 11.0%

USA 2007: 16.0%

Source

Check frigging mate.

paul mitchell said...

OSO, check the WHO Report, which I have repeatedly discredited. And your Google doc doesn't work for me. Maybe it doesn't understand your version of chess.

One Salient Oversight said...

It's a spreadsheet file .xls. I'm sorry if you can't understand spreadsheets.

paul mitchell said...

I just clicked the link, OSO. I actually downloaded the spreadsheet just now. I do understand Excel, I used to use that program back in the last century, too. It was so cool back before good software was invented.....HA!

Again, the whole debate on government forced medical services was studied by the WHO. Their report is where I got my data. Of course, the numbers that support their recommendation that everyone have medical services like Canada and Great Britain are there, but the serious student looks beyond their conclusion, which they were commissioned to find, and looks at the actual numbers compiled by the countries themselves. France offered the data that said they increased in personal cost for medical services by 8%. When France says that, since it is devastating information that proves their system sucks, I believe them. They admitted it.

ck said...

Add me to the list of people that apparently watched a different summit.

Obama and the dems were owned.