Healthcare Wars

Hillary ClintonAs the Democratic primary race heats up one issue seems to be coming to forefront – Who of the candidates would do more to provide health coverage for the uninsured? Clinton and Obama have been engaged in aggressive arguments about the merits of their respective plans. Edwards, who released his healthcare plan has now entered the fray. But beyond the rhetoric which candidate has the better healthcare plan for the US?

John EdwardsAll three of the major players – Clinton, Edwards and Obama – in the race for the Democratic nomination have sweeping plans for healthcare reform. All three candidates have based their proposed reforms on universal health insurance coverage for Americans. The primary difference between the plans is that both Clinton and Edwards intend to mandate by law that every American purchase and maintain health insurance policies, while Obama would only mandate that children must be covered by law.

Barack ObamaThe other key elements of their respective healthcare plans are quite similar. Each includes government subsidies to help lower-income and even middle-income families pay health insurance premiums, and various proposals to cut the cost of health care. All three candidates say they intend to pay for their healthcare plans by rolling back President Bush’s tax cuts for upper-income earners and by creating costs savings in health spending through various measures.

That’s right, all three plans are based on universal health insurance coverage, not on some form of government healthcare infrastructure. So be assured that great pains will be taken to ensure that the $500 billion per year health insurance industry gets their share of the candidates’ proposed $100+ billion per year plans.

So it appears that the major difference between the candidates’ plans, and the cause of the increasingly vicious argument between Clinton and Obama that Edwards is now weighing in on, is the fact that Obama does not wish to mandate via federal law that every American purchase health insurance. Obama only wants the government to force the US people to purchase health insurance for their children.

I dont think we should start by giving up on 15 million Americans. Thats why my health care plan covers everyone.

— Sen. Hillary Clinton

And who are these 15 million Americans? These are the estimated 15 million Americans who would voluntarily choose not to purchase health insurance even though they could do so. Both Hillary and Edwards have a severe problem with the idea that American’s might exercise their right to choose not to insure themselves.

At what point did Americans lose the right of self determination? Is the US at the point where The People are willing to be forced to do something that may be in their own best interests, but is assuredly in the best interests of the healthcare industry?

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9 Responses to “Healthcare Wars”

  1. Pat Says:

    Hey Folks;

    As always, there a some (maybe lots, I don’t know) that would take advantage of any system to gain what they have not earned. Access to healthcare is definately one of those areas. As a healthcare professional, I get to see abuse of “the system” all too often. They come in the form of patients that are seeking drugs (legitimate ones) to get high, going from ER to ER in the area. It always amazes me how hard they’ll work to cheat the system! It comes in the form of having to care for patients that do not stop smoking, don’t take their insulin, continue to eat a lot more than they should and are tremendously overweight (and I have to break my back moving them around!) I hold no grudge against them although it is annoying at times for sure.

    Let me give you a couple of stories though of legitimate folks that have been neglected by our wonderful “system.”

    Story one: Young man, mid 30’s, former race car driver, computer geek for a real job, has wife (also in healthcare), pays taxes, has health insurance. Developes was is commonly known as “Lou Gherig’s Disease” or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.) He is now home, in bed, unable to move any part of himself except his eyes, eyebrows (which he uses to communicate) and his tongue. Obviously he needs total care, from wiping his butt and clean up after defecation to shaving to bed bath etc. He has a G tube for feeding and a foley cath to collect his urine. He is also on a ventilator (at home now) so he can breath. As one of his home health caregivers, I know how difficult it is to do this professionally and for 8 hours at a stretch. Imagine his wife, parents, inlaws and friends who are also pitching in to help. In the midst of all this the nurses have been pulled off the case due to a conflict between the original insurance company and the state. Basically, the agency the nurses work for hasn’t been paid. It is a small agency, and it has dotted the “i’s” and crossed the “t’s” for both the state and the insurance company to best of anyone’s knowledge (which it is difficult to get due to the variety of sources one must navigate to get this knowledge.) In the end, there is always one more excuse why the insurance won’t pay and the state won’t pay. (It comes down to who is responsible for how much and who should get billed first.) This argument between the insurance company and the state is affecting lives and neither seems to give a damn.

    Story two: A female healthcare professional associate of mine has been dropped from her health insurance. Why? Well she is rather well endowed topside, and as a result of reaching her mid 40’s she got a mammogram. (This is recommended no?) Fibrotic changes were noted on the exam. These changes are normal occurances with age. The woman has no history in her family of breast cancer either by the way! These fibrotic changes were the reasons given for her being dropped from her health insurance!

    Story three: A person quits one job to work part time elsewhere. This person notifies the company they are leaving that they will need COBRA insurance, or at least proof of continuous health insurance so they can get their own policy (money not being too terrible a problem here okay!) It takes the company they left 3 months to get the appropriate paperwork to this individual. Mean while, they have investigated a variety of health insurance companies to find out about rates, benefits, whether their Doc will accept it and so on. Once this paperwork arrives, the insurance companies refuse to insure because of a “break” in coverage over 90 days! It doesn’t end there either! This person is male, single, in their 50’s and requested health insurance for themselves only. The offers they got back were for a specified amount, and oh by the way you’ll get an OB/GYN exam thrown in, as well as “well baby” care! What, this is a male, in their 50’s, and just wants it for himself! Sorry sir, these are package deals he is told!

    Okay, what’s wrong here? Our system, inspite of being touted as the best in the world (which is may well have the capability to be okay) is broken, and broken badly!

    As someone that works in humanitarian aid, in war zones voluntarily, I can say without hesitation that in the middle of the desert in South Sudan, I can give more caring care to the African tribesmen and women and kids there, than I can here in the U.S. with the same outcomes. I have seen and experienced first hand (I’ve had some dreadful diseases myself) the kind of care given by those in “3rd world” countries and the west. Guess what, it may not be as fancy and the beds may not have electric motors in them, and you may not have a private room, but the level of care is a hell of a lot better in many cases!

    Unless and until you separate the money from the medicine you are going to have crap care. Period (I’ve been in this field for over 35 years now, as a military person, civilian at fancy hospitals, and in humanitarian aid in places like Congo and Sudan, I know of what I see and speak!)

  2. jacksmith Says:

    The #1 cause of injury, disability, and DEATH in America is, Health Care. More people die now from contact with the American Medical Health Care system than from any other cause of death. More than from Cancer, Heart disease, or Stroke. More than any other country in the world. Many times more than any other people in the world. This fact is a catastrophic indictment of the entire US Health Care System.

    Driven by greed. And a rush to profit. Thousands of Americans are killed, and injured daily in America. By compromised health care. Cutting corners. Over, and under treatments. And poisonings with all manor of toxic, poisonous pharmaceuticals. Especially the children. America only makes up 2-4% of the world population. But Americans buy, and consume 50% of all pharmaceuticals world wide.

    But the tide has turned. I can see it. Hear it. And feel it. The message is getting out. And taking hold about the fact that we have a very serious, and major health care crisis going on in America. Hurting everyone. Especially our precious little children. Rich, and poor alike. And most all Americans seem to understand now that “HR 676 Not For Profit Single Payer Universal National Health Care For All (Medicare For All)” is the way to go. Like all the other developed countries have done. I have seen numbers as high as 90% of Americans want government managed health care Now. Medicare for all. Like other developed countries have. And like older Americans have now.

    BRAVO!!! America. YOU GET IT! YOU REALLY GET IT! See sickocure.org.

    It’s NOW TIME to bring out the BIG GUNS!! The BIG GUNS!! are you. The American people. And anyone else that wants to help. From now until HR 676 is passed into law. I want every person to reach out and touch their fellow Americans every day if you can. I want you to take a phone book. And call at least one of your fellow Americans every day. And ask them to pickup the sword of HR 676 Single Payer Not For Profit Universal Health Care For All (Medicare For All).

    Call more than one each day if you can. And ask them to do the same as you are doing if they can. And also to put maximum pressure on their politicians to get HR 676 done. And to make sure their politicians support HR 676. Accept no substitute. HR 676 is a no-brainer. It’s the best way to go on health care. It’s the only moral, and ethical way to go. That is why every other developed country has done it. Most did it years ago.

    I know that many of you have been doing a fabulous job of spreading the word by talking it up with family, friends, and co-workers. And putting pressure on the politicians to get HR 676 done ASAP. The phone calls to your fellow Americans will increase the pressure. And grow the movement at an astonishing, and exponential rate. And I know many of you have been wanting to do something more to help. The phone calls to your fellow Americans is something you can do every day to help.

    Trust me. It will be something to see. But you have to keep the focus, and pressure on getting HR 676 passed pronto. They will try to distract you. With all manor of other crises, and catastrophes. And other plans. Don’t be distracted. HR 676 Single Payer Not For Profit Universal Health Care is the #1 concern of the American people. Thousands of Americans are dieing daily now. And you or your loved ones could be next.

    There is no good reason HR 676 cannot be passed into law well before the coming elections. Do not tolerate delays. If it is not passed before the coming elections. All America will know which politicians are on the side of the American people. And which are not when they vote. Well before the elections.

    Everyone can do this. Most of you are well informed about HR 676. This truly is one of those no-brainers. Be considerate of your fellow Americans when you call. But be comfortable about calling. These are your fellow Americans. Some will be receptive. And some will not be. Some maybe rude, and mean. Just thank them, and move on to the next. Most will be with you. And if you get a call from one of your fellow Americans about HR 676. Let them know you are already on board. And thank them for calling. Build them up. And keep them strong. They are fighting for all of us.

    I will try to make a second post with just a few of the reasons everyone with 2 working brain cells agrees HR 676 is the best way to go. But you can also look them up for your-self. And read some of the positive informed post on many of the message boards too.

    Lastly, I am sick and tired of hearing how the candidates, and politicians health care plans are going to protect, and preserve the private for profit health insurance companies that have been killing, and ripping off the American people. And now the politicians want to mandate (require) that every American has to support the private for profit insurance company’s that have been killing, and ripping you off. Or you will be fined, and PENALIZED. Thats right. PENALIZED. Ridiculous! The politicians really think you are all detached idiots. CASH COWS! To lead to the slaughter. Don’t put up with that.

    So get on it America. Get those phones going. Chat it up! Save some lives. You want all of America talking about HR 676 becoming law, Now! Before more die needlessly. Make it happen. And to my fellow cyber warriors. You have been doing great! I see it! Keep it up. 1 of 2 post…

    Below are a few reasons why “HR 676 Single Payer Not For Profit Universal Health Care For All (Medicare For All) is a no-brainer. And some reasons why private for profit health insurance is a stupid idea, and injuring, and killing you and your loved ones.

    Medicare cost 2-3% to administer. Private insurance cost 30% to administer.

    Under HR 676 everyone would be covered from birth to death. No co-pays. No-deductible. No out of pocket cost. Plus Dental. And Vision. For less cost than we pay now under private health insurance.

    With private insurance. You have 47 million Americans with no insurance.

    And 89 million Americans that had no insurance part of the time from 2006-2007.

    And over a 100 million that are under insured.

    18-30 thousand Americans that die each year from lack of health care.

    Health Care bills as the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy. And loss of homes.

    Under HR 676 health care is moral, and ethical.

    Private for profit insurance is immoral. And unethical.

    Profit is the primary motive of the private insurance companies.

    They make profit by charging needy, vulnerable, sick Americans as much as they can charge them.

    Then they make more profit by denying them care when they most need it. And are most vulnerable and unable to fight back. When they are sick. Or trying to recover from major illness.

    Yep! I know you are getting angry. I’m sorry. But I have to continue.

    Under HR 676: we will save 300 billion dollars in administrative cost each year.

    With private insurance: we spent more per capita on health care than any other country in the world. Over twice as much as most other developed country’s. Yet we have 47 million with no health care.

    We rank at the bottom in quality of health care #37.

    Americans have a shorter life expectancy than people from all other developed countries. We rank # 42 in life expectancy. Down from #1.

    For the first time in American history. The life expectancy of American children is less than that of their parents. American children are dieing at a record rate. And are in terrible health generally.

    People from other country’s enjoy a much higher level of general health than the best privately insured Americans.

    Americans are also shrinking. We used to be the tallest people in the world. Now we are down to # 10.

    People from other country’s never have to worry about going bankrupt, or loosing their homes over medical bills if they get sick.

    Maybe you should go take a break for a while before I go on. I know this must be upsetting. But this is just a small part of the sad truth about private health insurance that HR 676 can fix.

    Under HR 676: Health care will be based on need. Not on profit. And high standards, and quality will be enforced, and patients protected by the Government through a dedicated civil service. With the power, and resources to rain in abuses of patient care. Like they do with Medicare now.

    With private insurance: Medical care is base on ability to pay. And profit. Tens of thousands of patient are killed, and millions are injure, crippled, and mutilated each year under private for profit health care, and insurance.

    By insurance companies denying needed care to increase their profits.

    By hospitals cutting corners. And using the cheapest least experienced personnel, equipment, and standards they can get away with.

    By doctors that over treat, and under treat. Who injure, mutilate, and kill patients with unnecessary test, procedures, surgery, and invasive diagnostic test for profit. Who poison, kill, and injure millions of Americans with all manor of unnecessary pharmaceuticals for profit. Men, Women, Children, and babies.

    Americans makeup 2-4 % of the world population. But Americans buy, and consume 50% of all pharmaceuticals world wide. This is a monstrous evil. And immorality.

    And lastly, by politicians that take blood money from all these despicable groups and turn blind eye’s to this slaughter of the American people. And the slaughter of their own loved ones. And them-self.

    Well I could go on. And on. But I think this is enough to get you started making your daily phone calls to your fellow Americans to support HR 676. And to help them understand how important it is that each of them join the fight. And bring the MAXIMUM pressure to bear on all individuals, parties, and especially your politicians, and Representatives. To get HR 676 passed into law immediately.

    This is an emergency. America is in a crisis. More Americans have died from this health care crisis than have died in all the wars in US history. Do your best. Millions of Americans lives are counting on each of you. Including your own life. Remember, you are Americans. You know how to fight for your country when you have too. The whole world is in your blood. I’m with you.

    All the best… 2 of 2

  3. jonolan Says:

    Pat,

    There are always people who will game the system. In healthcare you have the “patients” you of the type you mentioned and doctors and clinic administrators who perform needless test or just plain lie to the insurance companies to make $$$.

    The three sad stories you provided illustrate the failings of the current health insurance system in the US. I’m not happy with any candidate that wants to force me to spend my money in supporting an industry that corrupt and poorly administered.

    jacksmith,

    A long but well worded comment indeed! It’s obvious you have a strong preference for State run – i.e. Socialist – healthcare, especially since you spammed this exact comment verbatim across a dozen site in the last day or so. That being said, I’m still leaving your comment here because it points out an interesting alternative to all the candidates’ plans.

    I’m not sure that I disagree with your premise and desire, but I doubt that the US can overturn an industry that is that large and powerful without undergoing severe financial and social repercussions.

    I’m also somewhat concerned about the government legislating morality through deciding what procedures and medicines would be covered and / or offered.

  4. health insurance Says:

    […] Healthcare Wars […]

  5. jacksmith Says:

    jonolan,

    You are the ones I am hoping to reach. The ones who are intelligent, and thoughtful enough to consider the truth of what I am saying. And possibly act on it. And bring the rest of America along with you.

    Yes, I have posted my message on many message boards. Like you, I read many of the message boards. It has been from these many message boards that I have learned much. And take strength, and hope for my fellow Americans having quality health care again. Some day soon.

    This post is my contribution. And I am trying to reach, and save as many lives as I can. I just wish I was a better, more powerful writer. My expertise are in fixing human beings when they get broken. And I am good at it. But I am a very poor writer. But I try my best.

    I believe things will be changed quickly, and dramatically. I think it is already happening. Rising like a tsunami from cyberspace. That will wash over America and Washington. Crushing all opposition with it’s undeniable truth. There by reforming our current disgraceful, immoral health care system.

    I look to those of you in cyberspace to lead this fight. I have from the beginning. For it is a battle of information. No group is better suited to complex information exchange than those of you in cyberspace. Where information, and all points of view can be fully explored. You are the ones that are most informed. And best at communicating that information.

    But if we are to save the lives of the American people we must move this information out of cyberspace. And to the people. It is already happening. I hope you will make calls too, if you can. And encourage others to do the same. You have nothing to lose by making the calls. And every thing to possibly gain. Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

    Jacksmith….

  6. Christy Says:

    Fabulous question, Jonolan.

    To say I dont like where things are headed is an understatement.

    But beyond that, if Christians actually started doing what they should be doing, churches would be taking care of their local communitys needs, including helping provide healthcare for those who cannot afford premiums, etc., which would alleviate some (in a perfect world, all, hah) of the need these healthcare plans are intended to try to meet. But as a whole, the Christian community has bailed on its responsibilities. (James said True religion is taking care of the widow and the orphan.)

    Ive had the privilege of living in community with other people who take care of each others needs (financial and otherwise) as they arise, not out of a sense of guilt or obligation but out of love and in response to Gods love and provision but its not happened as often as it should/could happen.

    And while I am encouraging those I come in contact with to think differently about those around them who are in need…I don’t want to be forced to self-insure and I certainly don’t want socialist healthcare, either.

  7. Rhea Says:

    Given how unhappy people are with our current chief executive, it’s my guess that we will see a Democrat in office next, and most likely one of these three. Therefore, I assume our system of healthcare will be changing radically over the next decade. Something does absolutely need to be done about healthcare, because premiums are exorbitantly expensive, and people are sacrificing everything to be able to pay for healthcare that too often lets them down when they need it. However, mandatory coverage (which requires paying into the system by every American) is not the way to go.

    Universal coverage will be a booming moneymaker for the already loaded healthcare industry. Their relationship with the Presidential candidates will inevitably lead to a back-scratching carnival. I do tend to side with Obama in that it is more important to make sure children are insured, because they are dependent on their parents to act in their best interest or not. However, adults should have the decision. We need to be careful about how much say in our lives we allow the state, because once we hand it over, it can be hard to take back.

    Coming from a family of doctors, I get an up-close view of how shady the healthcare system can be at times, because it is for profit. At every level, from individual doctors to corporations, decisions can be driven by ethics or money. There are seemingly plenty of compelling reasons to force mandatory healthcare, but ultimately, this move will end up serving the profit turners more than the people. It is an unnecessary breach of personal choice. Who will truly profit from such a move…the people or the corporations? Let it remain a choice. Healthcare serves to improve quality and quantity of life, and should not be governed by an attempt to catapult a specific candidate into office.

  8. jonolan Says:

    Rhea,

    Exactly! I don’t think that the “individual mandate” that would require every American to purchase health insurance will do anything to lower premiums. The government might provide subsidies for low income households, but they won’t benefit middle income families who will most likely suffer from even higher premiums.

    The current system is too corrupt and too inefficient to used as a basis for universal coverage.

  9. jacksmith Says:

    jonolan,

    In fact, plans that call for a insurance mandates are not universal health care. And the politicians should stop calling it that. They are perpetrating a lie, and a fraud on the American people. Only single payer health care is truly universal.

    And you are right about the higher premiums. Jut look at what is happening to Massachusetts. They are now raising the insurance rates by as much as 16%. It’s a slaughter.

    I copied this from a post I read. It shows just how stupid we look.

    “I am a Brit, and regularly loose my rag on this site over this issue. It really is a “COME ON, JUST GET IT” issue .

    First, the USA standing in the world stage is not as great as I think Americans assume. Not being able to get it together as a society to provide healthcare to all your people as a right really paints the country in a bad light. It is not all about the money. Who feels safe in that environment. (Don’t compare yourself to Afghanistan please. Yes, we do know life is better in the USA compared to Afghanistan. We do. Compare yourself to a Canada and to Europe). A great place work, sure, not a great place to live. And that needs to change.

    Second, those shouting “like that would work” sound silly. It does, as we are doing it. Europe is doing it. Canada is doing it. Come take a look. Everyone gets treated, and we have strong economic democracies working well within the capitalist framework. Every one is covered. We make sure our people know they are looked after. Yes, there are problems, but in the UK for example, I think it is 15% of the population work for the Health Service, indirectly. We are in the middle of a technology boom, with changing demographics on a huge scale. Off course there are problems. There are problems in any organization that size. And that is the thing. As everyone needs the service at some point, it has differing market forces that make group action on a national scale produce economies of scale that in time result in true benefits on a national level. Roads for example. You can’t just go around building roads where you want. It needs planning on a national level with huge govt involvement. That works well, so why not the infra structure of public health.

    Three. Health providers get shook up. It can’t be avoided. Insurance companies fold up. Litigators will be removed from the process, and reduced in size. And drug companies get to tender for the provider accounts. There is a limited fund. Deal with it.

    Four. If you want private healthcare, you can get it still. But we all have a standard fee to pay out of tax, and everyone is covered at the point of delivery. All Americans can come to Europe, and if, as a guest and as a human, you fall ill, we will make sure your health is looked after, and not demand you sell your home before you leave hospital. It doesn’t make America look like such a civilised, advanced and friendly country, knowing you don’t have the ability to do that. It seems strange to want to sell the US system to the world over and above any other when you can’t care for own. Americans are better people than this situation speaks, and the world wants them to grab this occasion, get control of it, and develop a health service for all which is the envy of the world, as that is where the world leaders should be.

    Five. It’s a universal system, so you can’t add up the individual contribution cost. In reality, young people work and do not use the service, and old people don’t work, and do use the service, on the whole. So, expect it to function like that.

    Six. It is still an internally free market, but centrally organized. The problem is that those who want the status quo to remain, are A. legal people who add so much to premiums, B. Insurers who basically act as the middle man with stupid differing ideas on what cancers qualify and what do not etc etc and taking the money and not treating the patient, and C. A pharmaceutical industry really writing themselves blank checks and paying off congressmen who represent them and not the people who elected him to represent them.

    America it seems, has sold its soul. This is a democracy, and over 50%, way way way over 50% of the population believe in universal health care, and want it. “

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