Plugging the Hole of Healthcare

By CFS

I was invited to contribute here by jhwygirl on transportation, land use issues, and such.  Since that has gone so swimmingly for me so far (my own mistake in making in-the-moment, emotional comments that didn’t sit well with many people).  So now I’ll change gears and throw my hat into the healthcare debate by sharing a friend’s story.

This friend was laid off just about a year ago, a few years before she would have received a full retirement package that included healthcare.  Upon termination she moved to Missoula and has been on COBRA health insurance, which will run out in a couple of months.  COBRA has been pretty good to her as she’s made extensive use of it to cover abdominal surgery (which went horribly wrong) and the numerous subsequent surgeries that were needed to fix the complications from the first surgery.  This has been a nine month saga costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and she is just now getting back to normal… though still weak from all the surgeries.

So now she is facing a future without healthcare because she can’t afford the $12,000 a year for coverage because of here now  “preexisting” condition and she is still a few years from being able to draw medicare.  (life is a preexisting condition)

So what will she do?  Game the system by going back to college and signing up for the university provided insurance.  Its pretty sad that she feels this is her only option to get affordable health insurance.  According to her this is a fairly popular strategy for seniors that have lost their employer based health insurance but don’t yet qualify for medicare.  With all her health problems she can’t afford to be without insurance.

Not only is this not an effective way to provide health insurance, but I also wonder of how much this costs the state of Montana?  If this is a truly popular option among Montana seniors as a stop-gap option to health insurance, how much money is going to cover their health problems that should be going into investments in education?

This just goes to illustrating that we don’t have a healthcare system in this country, but a patchwork of less than optimal options that increasingly don’t work for the American people.

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  1. problembear

    we had an opportunity to change health care in the us quite a few months back but max baucus kept back pedalling on real change and giving backrubs to the gop members of his committee until time ran out.

    what we have now that is being called health care reform is something that joe lieberman regurgitated on the senate floor carpet. the present hcr bill is a convoluted hairball that defies description except that it in no way resembles reform.

    it was originally written by the health care insurers, copied by max and his ex-health insurer lobbyist staff members to please them first and then amended to basically remove all vestige of any protection or cost control for consumers.

    but of course, the part of the bill that mandates that you buy insurance from these weasels still lies intact and waiting in the bill to strike us like a cobra if if ever passes.

    what is ridiculous is that instead of 2000 plus pages of crap, we could do something easily that would really reform health care but we won’t because the health insurance lobby has a stranglehold on our representative government.

    we could delete a couple of words below in parentheses in the medicare act thus:

    all americans (over the age of 65) are entitled to decent affordable health care…

    • problembear

      one option that i like right now is to lobby gov schweitzer to eliminate these leeches from our pocketbooks by proposing a statewide public insurance option that we could choose to join when the health insurers raise their rates to usurious levels as they are doing now.

      i believe montana could be the Saskatchewan province of the us that canada’s public health program began over 30 years ago. if if were done right, we would all save money, not be afraid of being dumped because of preexisting conditions, enjoy better health care that is affordable and regulated and not profit driven.

      i have given up on the federal government doing anything for us at this point and am tired of being jerked around by politicians who pretend to listen to us and then do the bidding of their corporate lobbyist masters.

      mass did a romney style health care bill that did not protect anyone. montana could and should do better for it’s citizens and for the small businesses that this latest increase will further devestate.

  2. JC

    “Game the system by going back to college and signing up for the university provided insurance. ”

    I wouldn’t call this gaming the system. And funny you should bring this up. I spent over an hour last night exploring the option of enrolling at the Missoula COT so I could get health insurance.

    As I have preexistings, am in my mid-50s, and can’t get insurance on the individual market, this is really the only option left to me, outside of leaving Montana and moving to Canada or another state that offers some sort of accessible insurance program.

    Pretty sad really. I think we’re going to see a whole lot more people 50+ enrolling for a credit just to get insurance.

    And guess who manages the U student insurance system? Blue Cross. Maybe all these increases are happening because they are having to cover all of these new, middle-aged+ students looking for a way to get access to health insurance.

    By the way, the student insurance plan is 300 deductible, 30% copay, up to $5,000 cap, with $200,000 benefits annually. All for $736/semester. That’s doable. Plus I can take a class in medical transcription or med terminology so I can figure out how to fill out all of those forms and insurance company doublespeak as they try to screw me out of my benefits. ;-)

  3. Pogo Possum

    Good job CFS. Glad to see you found the Organizing For American web site’s talking points. You did a good job of following instructions.

  4. carfreestupidity

    Thanks for the link Pogo… never seen it… and it looks boring as hell.

    Sorry to disappoint… but that was 100% home grown opinion. Just trying to highlight a part of the HC debate that most people probably never thought of.

  5. Pogo Possum

    Of course you were.

  6. carfreestupidity

    Considering that the post doesn’t call for any specific reforms and asks how much this situation costs the state of Montana… I think you are placing your own preconceived notions on what I wrote.

  7. gag me

    Help me with this, is healthcare a right or a privilege?

    • Don’t know if you are being facetious here, as in you’ve already got it figured out. Kinda sounds that way.

      So here’s your answer: It’s a “right” if we choose to make it a right. It’s a “privilege” if we choose to treat it that way.

      We have that power. We are a sovereign state with somewhat democratic governance, even if it only manifests on occasion.

      Further, Article 25 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the U.S. is a signator, reads as follows:

      Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

      Now, the U.S. alone since the end of World War II has pretty much made a laughing stock of that agreement, but there was a point in time when we had leadership that valued human beings.

  8. Chuck

    Your freind can get insurance for less than 12,000 and her medical conditions are not a factor. It is not cheap but it is an alternative. They can’t turn her down and you can enroll in about a week. They also have a program for low income folks. Talk to Misty or Linda.
    http://www.mthealth.org/

    • MCHA is kind of a cruel joke – it is the place where people with heart or lung conditions or cancer are forced to go. It is very expensive, has high deductibles, and so far has managed to attract maybe 3,000 of Montana’s 155,000 (+) uninsured.

      It does have the advantage of allowing insurance greedsters to vindicate themselves – they say “Of course we are screwing you, but here, here’s a program that we pay into to make us feel better about how we make our living.” It’s an enema for consciences of the BCBS people.

      Don’t know who you are, “Chuck”, but I suggest you peddle your disgusting wares on another forum. This one is wise to you.

      • Jim

        Good point Mark. MCHA is a cruel joke. The whole thing is such a joke. Chuck, you really have some nerve. It’s as if you’ve convinced yourself you are actually helping people. Seek help.

    • JC

      $12,000 plus $5k yearly cap on out of pocket. That’s $17k/year. I guess you could afford that if you were at like 300% FPL.

      MCHA is just another plan for, and ran by the insurance industry.It just serves as a dumping ground for the industry’s most unprofitable customers. Take a look at their most recent annual report. Here’s a few tidbits:

      Total number of people (since 2002) that received premium assistance: 529

      Number of people receiving premium assistance as of 6/30/09: 279

      Percent of insured using program as a portability bridge: 46%

      Number of people getting premium assistance on 6/30/09: 280

      Enrollment in traditional plan: has been declining since a peak of 1619 to a current (as of the AR) 1323

      Number of enrollees from Missoula County: 246

      Waiting period on preexistings: 12 months

      Amount of premium assistance for those who can get it: 45%

      Number of uninsured in Montana: 151,000

      Number of uninsured in Montana at or below 300% FPL: 81%

      So this program is obviously a joke serving less than 1% of the total population of Montana that need it. And 80% of those at 300% FPL or lower couldn’t afford it if they could get it.

      This kind of shit when thrown out as an option is really depressing. I’ve looked at this program, and it isn’t even worth considering, unless you’re upper middle class in MT.

    • carfreestupidity

      I brought this up with her and thats the option she was talking about. She doesn’t qualify for any other insurance other than what you mentioned.

  9. Don’t kid yourself that the insurance companies are not aware that people are gaming them. It has to do with adverse selection – insurance companies only want to insure healthy people, and sick people are more drawn to insurance than healthy ones. So we play hide and seek. In an article from 2004 or so by Krugman in NY Review, he noted that adverse selection was beginning to affect the group; market too … read “fake employment.”

    The problem we face is that there is no solution to the problem – insurance companies are like ex-spouses – we have to pay and pay and pay someone we don’t like. They need to go away, but so dysfunctional is the country that JC’s solution – Canada (my own preference at this time: Belize of Costa Rica) is the only realistic way out.

    The bill that the Democrats are trying to ram through Congress right now is a straight jacket, a death sentence for reformers.

  10. problembear

    i believe that unimaginitive thinking has doomed this country. gov schweitzer should be reinventing health care in our state instead of chasing coal dreams.

    if he reinvented health care so that companies could save money on health insurance it would be a bonanza.

    health care uses 1 of every 6 dollars in our country. coal is probably about .00001 of every 6 dollars. why worry about small potatoes?

    we are one of the few states that is still solvent. our population is small so we can start small and grow as companies move their headquarters to our state. like delaware, you wouldn’t need to base all your people here to provide them with montana based insurance. checks can be mailed to and from anywhere.

  11. Chuck

    Mark,
    I accept your apology. Nobody ,, I frikkin guarantee that nobody hates the insurance companies or Max Baucus as much as me. I am one of those that cannot get insurance elsewhere through no fault of my own and even then cannot get the latest treatment. I do not qualify for sht and I am quickly pissing away a nest egg built on 30 years of work. Baucus is literally killing me and I am not peddling one damn thing.

  12. Chuck

    I would add that to say I am disgusted by Obama and Baucus is a huge understatement. I voted for both and contributed and canvassed for Obama. I have written and called both in support of universal coverage.
    What is the answer? Maybe it is for mainstream Dems and Moderates to take their money back and use it to finance an alternative means of affordable health care for Montanans. Maybe Tester has not been corrupted.

    • JC

      How about a tear for the 44,000 Americans who die each because they don’t have access to health insurance, and never make it into a hospital until it’s too late to do anything but read them the last rights?

      It’s so easy to cherry-pick a headline from some other health care system to disbuse ours of all of its fallacies.

      I’d rather have the opportunity to be neglected in a socialized medical system than be totally ignored and left to die in one run by the free market.

      • Big Swede

        44k dead, there’s a link I’d like to see.

        • JC

          “Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults”

          Read it and weep. Except I expect a youtube video in reply… :-(

        • JC

          “Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults”

          Conclusions:
          Lack of health insurance is associated with
          as many as 44789 deaths per year in the
          United States, more than those caused by
          kidney disease (n=42868).41 The increased
          risk of death attributable to uninsurance
          suggests that alternative measures of access
          to medical care for the uninsured, such as
          community health centers, do not provide the
          protection of private health insurance.

        • JC

          “Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults”

          Read it and weep. Except sadly, I expect a silly youtube video or headline quote from the U.K. in reply.

          Conclusions:
          Lack of health insurance is associated with as many as 44789 deaths per year in the United States, more than those caused by kidney disease (n=42868). The increased risk of death attributable to uninsurance suggests that alternative measures of access to medical care for the uninsured, such as community health centers, do not provide the protection of private health insurance.

        • Really? You’d like to see that?

          You and your kind are disgusting.

          • Pogo Possum

            You misread him jhwyGirl. He was simply implying that he questions the validity of the study claiming 44K deaths.

          • problembear

            44,000 is considered a gross understatement by most physicians and nurse organizations.

            a high risk heart patient with adequate insurance visits his doctor regularly, therefore the treatments are incremental and usually more economical than a person who cannot afford treatment who waits until the problem is treated by life flight and a team of surgeons performing open heart surgery to attempt to save their life.

            to equate emergency room care as proper health care is to reveal yourself to be too ignorant to debate.

            capitalist/gag me… would you consider emergency room health care as adequate health care for your family members?

            if your income was 33,000/ year for a family of three would you consider 12000.00 per year with a 5000 deductible adequate health care? and if so. how in the world would you afford any of your other life necessities like shelter, food, heat and utilities?

            denying that there is a problem and simply telling us that the free market will solve this just doesn’t wash anymore. it is a stupid argument made all the dumber while the pirates you praise continue to up the ante of plunder that they demand of us.

          • JC

            $12k/yer + $5k is for one person. That’s half your income to insure the breadwinner.

            Of course you can put the kid on SCHIP, but that leaves mom out in the cold with her minimum wage Walmart job with no benefits.

            One family, three different health care plans (actually two plans, and one non-plan), and $16k/year to pay the rent, utilities and food.

        • Big Swede

          Like this Jim.

          “So, how did these political doctors come up with the 44,000 figure? They used data from a health survey conducted between 1988 and 1994. The questionnaires asked a sample of 9,000 participants if they were insured and how they rated their own health. The federal Centers for Disease Control tracked the deaths of people in the sample group through the year 2000. Drs. Himmelstein, Woolhandler, and company then crunched the numbers and attributed deaths to lack of health insurance for all the participants who initially self-reported that they had no insurance and then died for any reason over the 12-year tracking period.
          At no time did the original researchers or the single-payer activists who piggy-backed off their data ever verify whether the supposed casualties of America’s callous health care system had insurance or not. In fact, here is what the report actually says:
          “Our study has several limitations,” the authors concede. The survey data they used “assessed health insurance at a single point in time and did not validate self-reported insurance status. We were unable to measure the effect of gaining or losing coverage after the interview.” Himmelstein et al. simply assumed that point-in-time uninsurance translates into perpetual uninsurance – and that any health calamities that result can and must be blamed on being uninsured.”

          http://michellemalkin.com/2009/10/23/the-bogus-death-statistic-that-won’t-die/

          • problembear

            so when the insurance parasites keep raising their rates until no-one except corporate ceo’s and congress can afford them, you’re ok with that swede? just trust in your “free market” to solve all your problems?”

            guess making insurance unaffordable will eventually eliminate those pesky poor people you grouse about so much.

          • JC

            So of course, you’d rather trust Michelle Malkin than real scientists and researchers.

            I know, it’s just science, and what is science without a bunch of Fox commentators revisiting it? Eh?

          • Big Swede

            Michele and Fox aside. Ya didn’t read their own self admission.

            “Our study has several limitations,” the authors concede. The survey data they used “assessed health insurance at a single point in time and did not validate self-reported insurance status. We were unable to measure the effect of gaining or losing coverage after the interview.” Himmelstein et al. simply assumed that point-in-time uninsurance translates into perpetual uninsurance – and that any health calamities that result can and must be blamed on being uninsured.”

          • Swede – you are looking at a study that was not financed by any special interest, that openly admits its testing flaws, and that makes its data available for peer review by others.

            Put up something comparable (not Malkin!), or shut up.

          • Big Swede

            Major concession Mark.

            Their heart’s in the right place even though the data is flawed.

            Miles away from the old Lancet arguments.

          • You idiot! All data is “flawed” to some degree. That is the nature of scientific inquiry – to take a set of random data and try to tame it. Te taming methods are selection criteria and objectivity in analysis. Couple this with transparency -allowing the data to be examined by others to see if they can replicate the results, and you have a valid study open to honest debate.

            How valid? With any set of data, there are limits on the conclusions that can be drawn, and this is usually expressed at the outset by denoting the problems with the quality of the data, and at the end by expressing the results within a probability range.

            On the other hand, to attack data, a liar only need pick out one flaw and magnify it. This is all Malkin did. She’s a liar. A professional liar. She’s worthless other than salving you right wingers, giving you some credibility you otherwise so sorely lack.

            Swede, you are too honest to be called a liar. But in this case, you are being stupid.

      • carfreestupidity

        We exchange the gift of life for cheap plastic crap.

      • gag me

        I thought you would not be turned away if you went to the emergency room?

        • Kind of lame. Try going to the emergency room some time and say “I’ve got a nagging pain in my chest.” Their job is only to stabilize you, and so they won’t do anything until it is a real emergency.

          And it is not free-not for a second. They will bill you and pursue you for payment.

          • Capitalist

            Of course they will bill you. Are you charged for your internet service, car insurance, movie tickets, airline tickets, gas, groceries, lift tickets, beer? IT IS NOT FREE, until you give up every other luxury we are afforded (exclude, Food and Shelter) then you have no right to demand something for free, even if it is your health. And I call BS on your chest pain issue, been around plenty of ER’s where people are treated and not just stabilized when presenting chest pain, even without insurance.

          • ‘Capitalist’, considering that you’ve proven yourself inept at even the very principles of capitalism (transfer of wealth), I think it appropriate to start calling you Wannabe.

            IT IS NOT FREE, until you give up every other luxury we are afforded (exclude, Food and Shelter)

            Sad. It seems, Wannabe, that you haven’t heard about the foreclosure crisis that we’re currently experiencing. It would also appear that you haven’t heard one single anecdote of someone giving up food to pay for medical care. Guess what, cupcake? The rest of us have.

            But I am intrigued by your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. So, tell us, Wannabe, since the current system doesn’t ensure that you will get medical care without skipping meals and/or losing your domicile, what brilliant fricking idea do you have to fix the system? Single payer, or universal public option would do it, but you whine about us being socialists for doing what you favor. Fine. Let’s hear your ideas, bright boy.

            And I call BS on your chest pain issue, been around plenty of ER’s where people are treated and not just stabilized when presenting chest pain, even without insurance.

            Just what we need. Another moron passing judgment based on his own ignorance.

        • JC

          Plenty of people get turned away at the ER, if it isn’t an emergency.

          It’s attitudes like this that ruin our healthcare system by forcing the poorest among us into the most expensive form of health care.

          Thousand bucks to walk in the door, or two grand+ if you need an ambulance ride.

          All just to get stabilized and sent on your way.

          • Capitalist

            At least you are stabilized you whiny little man.

            Going back to an earlier point, create incentives (not mandates) for doctors and hospitals to treat those who cannot afford otherwise. I personally know plenty of docs who would be more than willing to donate time and resources to help the underprivileged. One problem they seem to run across however is once they treat this person (even if they were not paid) is they have to worry about the eventual malpractice lawsuit.

            Do you have any idea how far we could go in treating the poor and underinsured by offering tax credits to those who help. This would be an easy first step, one at least worth trying. But let me guess, you would not be for this as it does not create more government bureaucracy?

          • JC

            There’s no mandates for doctors or hospitals to treat. You don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

            And a doctor can refuse to treat someone they think will sue them. Just like I can refuse to serve clients whom I think might not like my service and might decide to sue me.

            Tax credits? I think offering access to health care via the IRS to be one of the stupidest ideas that capitalists have ever come up with. Add to that a mandate enforced by the IRS. Credits and mandates create huge government bureaucracies.

            What’s wrong with a simple single payer system? Managed by the private health insurance industry?

          • Capitalist

            You explain to me how a tax credit offered to a doc for his time creates more bureaucracy. Example, Congress passes a tax, the credit gives up to $50k (or pick a number) tax credit in exchange for services to the poor and uninsured. This could immediately give the 40 million uninsured a better chance to get healthcare, effectively leaving the balance of insured Americans untouched.

            No wait, your right, completely changing something for 300,000,000 Americans sounds way easier and will involve much less bureaucracy.

            How much bureaucracy was created with the first time homebuyers tax credit?

          • JC

            Oh, you’re talking about a tax credit to the provider.

            I call that a subsidy. I’m talking about tax credits to the consumer.

            We already have plenty of subsidies for rich people. Don’t need any more of them.

            Actually, the more the federal government subsidizes providers, whether you call them tax credits or not, the more the system begins to look like a socialized system in Britain.

            Might as well go all the way and just have the government hire enough doctors and build enough hospitals to care for those that the private market doesn’t want.

            I’ve often thought a bifurcated system might be the “uniquely American” system that folks are looking for. A nice private market system for rich people, and a socialized single payer system for all of the rest of us.

            How’s that sound? Two Americas, and you don’t have to walk among the unwashed. Just stay behind your gated communities and don’t get out and mingle with the real people. You might get dirty.

          • Capitalist

            Couldn’t of said it better myself. Sold!

            Doctors do not want to work for the government. 10 years of school to be a government worker, I’m guessing within a few years you are going to have a major shortage of docs.

          • JC

            Say that to all of the doctors that work for the VA, or community health centers, or in Britain.

            Either you believe in the free market or you don’t. If there is a demand for services, someone will step up and fill that need–even if it is a government job.

            Working for the government can be liberating for doctors–shielded form malpractice suits, less in-office paperwork, guaranteed income and no bankruptcies cleaning our your next yacht fund. No need to form or run doctor-owned businesses like radiologic imaging centers or laboratories to backfill underpaid insurance claims and no-pays.

            The benefits of socialized medicine are numerous, but I’m sure they’re not for you. Which is why we’d maybe let you keep your over-priced, pork-laden, profit-driven private health care system. Just spend more time in your off-shore tax-haven, and dumping your money in hidden places like UBS, stay out of the debate, and we’ll be good.

          • JC

            Oh, and if you’re really worried about under-funded mandates, why don’t all of you rich people just not take your social security and Medicare?

            I’m sure that we could work out a compromise that will allow you out of the mandate to take these “socialized” services. You can do just fine on the private market with health insurance when you’re retired now, can’t you?

    • carfreestupidity

      Yes, excellent point. And what a horrible link. No healthcare system in the world is perfect. We are simply flawed creatures.

  13. mick

    I just canceled my expensive -$5,000.00 deducable policy. Thanks for nothing Max &Jon, you guys are as useless as my policy was.

  14. problembear

    i would like to hear from Montana small business owners out there who now face 35% increases for their employee plans. is big swede’s “stick your head in the sand and trust the free market approach” something that you and your employees can endorse? or would you like to see gov schweitzer do something proactive like provide a montana public option to join?

    forget the federal government helping us. everyone agrees that congress is far too corrupt to do anything meaningful for small businesses or their employees.

  15. problembear

    in swede’s world doing anything at all to improve our lot in life would be a mistake because everyone knows that the world is flat….

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-146970796669217626&ei=ih-LS6GVDojCqQLum-SMBA&q=world+is+flat&hl=en#

    your precious free market at work….

  16. problembear

    i have a question for you swede. given that we are in a global economy and subject to the adapt or die maxim, how does clinging to outdated and antiquated regressive politics make us more competitive in the global marketplace?

    i trust you watched the video. given the state of the world today, can america afford to allow itself to slip backward into third world status by adhering to principles that rely on entrenched profiteering corporations to make all of our important decisions for us?

    or do you suppose the american people should rise up and reclaim some of the principles of our founding fathers who did not place blind trust in the aristocracy and their corporate/monarchist policies, but struck out on their own as a nation of free people who do not allow the wealthy to steal the fruits of our labor in order to give each other bonuses.?

    • problembear

      …..or to wage a war with (france)insert Iraq or afghanistan here.

    • Lizard

      swede and his ilk must want to experience neo-feudalism.

      they must either be dumb enough to imagine themselves as virile, self-reliant lords hoarding the spoils of corporate welfare as they pray to the false god they call “free market”

      or they just hate the idea of who “liberals” are so much that they openly welcome a neo-feudal environment where shooting all those uppity intellectual sounding liberals in their ivory towers is so enticing they don’t mind doing the bidding for the ruling class.

      • Big Swede

        Do me a favor guys. When you run out of tired old disproven talking points and start babbling like Liz and pb feel free to start hurling insults.

        But leave my ilk out of it.

        • Lizard

          boo-hoo. if you dish it, then you sure as hell better expect to take it.

          but BS is right, it is not fair to associate republicans who aren’t trolling progressive blogs with an idiot like swede, and to them i apologize.

      • Fair enough. Just be sure to have your”disproofs” handy. You are usually caught short.

        My ilk is dissed
        And I am pissed

        Anyone who can write limericks out there? I’ with rhyme.

      • Meant to say “I’m lousy with rhyme.”

        • Big Swede

          Mark T is lousy with rhyme
          And wrong most of the time
          His pal Hugo rants
          About Capitalist slants
          Treating subjects like that is a crime

  17. Capitalist

    I think most logical people would agree that we need to do something about healthcare, but the rational question is how do we find a solution that is uniquely American? We need to better empower doctors to make decisions with their patients. The insurance companies and attorneys have made very difficult for doctors to do their job the right way. Doctors are forced to order every test imaginable just to insure that when they get sued later they so they can say that ordered every test imaginable. This simply adds unnecessary cost to the system.

    Furthermore, I believe that ultimately healthcare is something that is provided by a person whom attend several years of school in order to have the skills to take care of someone else. How in our right minds can we say that it is someone else’s right to have access to someone else’s hard earned skills.

    Money and profits drive innovation, if we stifle this, then you can kiss our healthcare system good-bye. As least you might have a chance in our system to get care.

    We should create more incentives for hospitals and physicians to help poor and uninsured – this is something the government should be actively pursuing. Never underestimate the charitable intentions of most Americans.

    I also do not understand how the government will magically make healthcare cheaper? I’ve heard the “more people will be insured argument” but if currently 40 million people are without insurance, that means over 250 million people have insurance, how does that math work?

    • Good talking points. I disagreed with them the first time I them too. You forgot the bullet points.

      “Uniquely American” was a phrase coined by the insurance companies and used by the politicians to steer people away from public solutions. It is meaningless and only has propaganda value, like “hope” and “change” and “yes we can”.

      The cost of defensive medicine, liability insurance and court settlements is insignificant compared to things like insurance company overhead. You oddly fail to address that issue -insurance companies sap 31% of every health care dollar. You are precisely addressing precisely the wrong problem.

      Every other industrial country has outlawed profit for providing basic health care. It has not stifled innovation in other areas, and those countries still have private companies doing R&D. In health insurance, the profit motive creates perverse incentives, which leads to things like refusing to insure people with preexisting conditions and rescinding policies after people get sick. See how it works?

      Seems odd that you want to create “incentives” for doctors and hospitals to provide services to the poor rather than just taking care of them. You sound a little bureaucratically inclined.

      How does government make health care cheaper? To answer that question, you have to understand why the private sector has made it so much more expensive. It is due mostly to perverse incentives and the profit motive, though Americans are uniquely unhealthy in many ways. Our diet, spurred on by the fast food and processed foods industries, is very unhealthy.

      Other countries, maybe 40 of them, do a better job than us at about half the cost with government-run or controlled systems. Please think about that. Please. Think. About. That.

      • Capitalist

        “Seems odd that you want to create “incentives” for doctors and hospitals to provide services to the poor rather than just taking care of them. You sound a little bureaucratically inclined.” – Not sure I follow, you contest that we should force physicians to take care of poor and you call me bureaucratically inclined.

        I AGREE that Health Insurance companies are also at fault, I mentioned that originally but to not look at every little thing that is adding costs to our system is illogical. But hey, we should have confidence the government can run it better and more efficiently without bureaucracy, look at the forest service for instance.

        Thanks for bringing up the fast food argument, and once again, I agree with you, but last I checked no one was forced to eat at McDonald’s. Basically I should pay for someone else’s choice to be unhealthy?

        Name the 40 countries and next time you are sick I will be happy to buy your plane ticket to #40 on that list. Just becuase costs are less does not mean it is better, I am sure your buy a house in Haiti for less than Missoula but does that make it better?

        • problembear

          if government run insurance can cover all the people in a country like canada at 60% of the per capita cost that we spend in the usa to only (partially) and poorly cover about half our population how do you argue that our system is better? explain that logic?

          if other countries like canada can cover 100% of the cost of health care and leave none of its citizens bankrupt or abandoned at less cost how can anyone reasonable argue for the private insurer’s system of leaving everyone who is sick to the wolves and pocketing all the wasted dollars in premiums that they receive for their very carefully filtered clientele of mostly healthy people?

          it is stupid, heartless and above all, illogical.

    • Lizard

      money and profits drive innovation, huh? what about competition, the disingenuous mantra of supposed free market cultists? but then the insurance companies whine about how a non-profit govt option is unfair competition, because it could further expose the ungodly scamming of for profit health insurers.

      people should just face up to the fact that the profit motive should have never been applied to health care. that is the problem. insurance companies are just doing what their shareholders expect them to do. so what if they kill people?

      17% of GDP and climbing, and nothing proposed will address this cost save single payer. but capitalists want a “uniquely american” solution that preserves the obscene blood-money–er, profits of these insurance swine who fuck us over then gleefully cash in the checks.

      a uniquely american solution doesn’t exist. and if we don’t fix this, and continue expanding wars, then neo-feudalism is the future. i guess some people are okay with that.

  18. bloodyknife

    Max and Harry and Nancy and Barry
    Went up the hill with a lot to carry
    Over 2000 pages of govt. sh*t
    That no one has read, not even a bit
    Even progressives are wary
    Cuz change can be scary
    But since I am healthy
    And by your standards wealthy
    I don’t really care
    If everything’s fair

  19. problembear

    i am always heartened when i see a lot of tea-baggers and right wing loonies show up here with their crack-pot theories and talking points. it means they know that the american public is waking up to being lied to and robbed by corporations, lobbyists and talking point regurgitating ditto-heads and corporate dominated fox news propogandists…

    they are deperately trying to beat back the truth with truckloads of old tired lies that have long since been disproven. it is what they do. and i am grateful for the chance to blast away their corporate sponsored advertisements.

    people are waking up to who is really fleecing america.

    • Capitalist

      We need to focus on quality and our quality is better than most, our doctors are better than most and our hospitals are better than most. We can go back and forth and debate that but I think most will agree the quality of healthcare here is much better than the rest of the world. For the last time, we do need to consider how insurance companies operate under our system but the government solution, especially the one we are currently running towards, will not work.

      I can always appreciate someone’s concern and intellectual abilities to debate the minute they start out with calling someone a “Tea-bagger” because they have a different opinion. Bravo!

      Fleecing America, $3,200,000,000,000 – that is a lot of money, that is the fleecing of america.

      • We need to focus on quality and our quality is better

        Why? Your say-so? Sorry, I don’t take orders from wingnuts.

        our doctors are better than most and our hospitals are better than most. We can go back and forth and debate that but I think most will agree the quality of healthcare here is much better than the rest of the world.

        Prove it. That’s a simple request, so it should be easy. If I go to the hospital for cancer, and am told I can’t get treatment because of a pre-existing condition, then what is the quality of care? Zero. Prove your claim, you willful dumbass.

        we do need to consider how insurance companies operate under our system but the government solution, especially the one we are currently running towards, will not work.

        Funny, we have lots of evidence that government run systems can be better, a lot better. Where is your evidence of the claim you make so confidently? What’s that? You haven’t got any? About what everyone else figured, and you thought you could bullshit your way through.

        I can always appreciate someone’s concern and intellectual abilities to debate the minute they start out with calling someone a “Tea-bagger” because they have a different opinion.

        Who gives a flying frack what you “appreciate”. I think you are everything that hurts my country. I think you are willfully stupid. To me, you are lower than the low. I don’t want to debate you, and I doubt that PBear does either. You aren’t worth debating with. You are, however, a source of amusement. So you just keep up your condescension. That just adds the bright red clown nose to your already comedic performance.

        Fleecing America, $3,200,000,000,000 – that is a lot of money, that is the fleecing of america.

        Capitalize America, you un-American fool. And you prove here that you are either dumber than a box of rocks, or a very very poor capitalist. Where do you think that $3.2 trillion goes, dumbass? Do we burn it in a bonfire? Do we give it to charity for Swiss speed skating? No, you simpleton. It goes back into the American economy. (To the degree it taken by mandate from American people to give to Insurance executives, it is fleecing. But that would be what you favor, wouldn’t it? That is if you’re not too busy being a dumbass to actually see where the money goes, which you were.)

        I sincerely hate willful stupidity, and you, Capitalist/Gag Me/Dumbass of the year, have really taken the taco here, pal.

  20. Capitalist

    “If I go to the hospital for cancer, and am told I can’t get treatment because of a pre-existing condition, then what is the quality of care? Zero. Prove your claim, you willful dumbass.”

    Um? You can, if you could pay for it. You might not however get any insurance. You dumb ass, walk into any cancer clinic and I guarantee you would get treated, they just might want a little something for the effort.

    • JC

      “walk into any cancer clinic and I guarantee you would get treated”

      Want to send me the number of your Swiss bank account? I may be in need of collecting that guarantee in the near future.

      • Capitalist

        try another charity. To the previous post, I reiterate the fact that there is not a cancer treatment facility in this country that would turn you down if you can pay.

        • Self-insured is one way to go if you are wealthy.

          So you also find that private health insurance is untrustworthy and a complete ripoff?

        • I reiterate the fact that there is not a cancer treatment facility in this country that would turn you down if you can pay.

          That, in the blogosphere, is known as an ass-pull. You don’t know that, and no matter your vigorous assertion, I somehow doubt it.

          Anyway, the key with cancer is early detection. So now are you going to tell me that no doctor in the country is going to turn down someone who wants a routine physical? They’d never make it past the screener.

          And trust me, ER’s don’t do checkups.

          • Capitalist

            Here was the post, “If I go to the hospital for cancer, and am told I can’t get treatment because of a pre-existing condition, then what is the quality of care? Zero. Prove your claim, you willful dumbass.”

            My claim was that you will not be turned away for a pre-existing condition. If you could not pay however, you would be turned away.

            I am fairly sure if a cancer treatment center turned everyone way with a pre-existing condition, then they would have no patients. Healthy people do not go cancer treatment centers for fun.

            So Mark, you are telling me that if you had cancer and money, you could not get treatment? We do not leave in a blogosphere, make some phone calls and I am sure you could substantiate your equally stupid claim.

          • No – I misunderstood you. Of course, if you have the money, you will not be turned down for treatment at a cancer facility. I thought you were making the claim that cancer treatment facilities take on all comers. No doubt many of them have a budget hole for non-payers, but they also have ways of turning people away. After all, they are not charities.

        • Were the words “can pay” meant to be “can’t pay”? If so, ignore the above comment.

  21. Capitalist

    If they cannot handle the post office, how can they handle running a healthcare system?

    http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/02/news/economy/usps/index.htm

    • JC

      What a stupid thing to say. The Post Office isn’t responsible for the Internet and the decline in the amount of personal mail, online bill delivery and payment, nor is it responsible for the economic downturn.

      And this “they” you are talking about? It is you and your buddies who have constrained the operation of the USPS so that it is hamstrung in its ability to quickly adapt to changing market forces.

      I find it humorous when conservatives lambast the government, when it is they who created policy intended to destroy it, and then stand back and go tsk, tsk.

    • problembear

      maybe we should get Enron on it… see how they do…. or AIG? how about Bear Sterns?

      how long did it take you to find that dusty old argument and wipe the cobwebs off it for us to laugh at?

      the truth is cigna, united health and blue cross et al have hardly been good examples for you free marketers to point to for the answer.

    • Zing!!! You forgot the bullet point. I thought more of you than you apparently deserve, and … the Post Office is working just fine, as far as I can tell – I’m 59, and in my entire life, one piece of my mail has been lost. Their employees are well-paid, their executives not over-compensated.

      There’s nothing in the private sector that could do as well.

      • Capitalist

        UPS, FEDEX go just fine in the private sector- Just to name a couple. The post master general just said that they could lose almost 7 billion in 2010 – awesome business!

        Looks like the postmaster general is doing just fine also – http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/17/in-hard-times-postmaster-earned-800000-in-pay-perk/

        I never said cigna, unh and blue cross were good examples but surely there is a solution between them and the government.

        the simple fact is that services are beginning to be cut. UPS and Fedex are doing just fine, same economic downturn.

        The point is simple – if you like lines, rationed care and sub-par service then I can see why you might like the government option. I’ll take Fedex.

        • JC

          UPS and Fedex don’t deliver the daily mail. Make them compete with daily mail hand delivery, and then see how well they do. Make them operate branches all over the place, and see how they do. USPS serves the people. UPS and Fedex serve their shareholders.

          Apples and oranges, Mr. Capitalist.

        • $800,000? Are you kidding? That’s not even a houseboat in the Hamptons! Good grief.

          As GB Shaw said, if someone has not reasoned into believing something, they cannot be reasoned out. We’re not dealing with a reasonable person here, but rather a true beleiver,a religious fanatci.

          Capitalist, we have rubbed your face in 37 or 38 government-run systems that run better than ours, cover everyone and cost half as much. And you won’t even look that them.

          I paid FedEx $21 to do an overnight. I doubt very much they would do well in the 44 cent environment.

          You are not reasonable. End of story.

  22. Capitalist

    Seriously, unreasonable? You are proposing complete healthcare coverage for every American, managed by the government and you are not the least bit concerned that they can make it work.

    Medicare and Social Security have grown into this massive problem, our tax code is a joke, the postal service is having issues, our politicians cannot agree on anything, the Forest Service cannot effectively manage our forests, our elected politicians are driving around drunk and on and on we go. Yet, you think I am unreasonable.

    Nothing can continue forever if it cannot support itself. The postal service is a universal government run program that is failing and now beginning to cut services, you cannot argue that. If you cannot deliver mail, regardless of outside influences, how can you deliver healthcare.

    • You are proposing complete healthcare coverage for every American, managed by the government and you are not the least bit concerned that they can make it work.

      Bullshit, Wannabe. We are all very concerned about whether “they” can make it work. As Mark has pointed out so well, other “theys” have made it work, for a very long time now.

      Medicare and Social Security have grown into this massive problem,

      They are not a massive problem. Quit whining, Wannabe. Those programs are simply not funded in a manner that works in the long run. Our government needs to deal with that, but it doesn’t help when Chickenshit Littles want to paint the problem as unsolvable.

      our tax code is a joke,

      I don’t find it funny considering that Bush’s tax cuts bear the lion’s share of blame for our current deficit.

      the postal service is having issues,

      As was clarified above, you don’t even understand those issues. Take this advice, Wannabe. When you’re in a hole you can’t get out of, at least stop digging. The postal service was never meant to be ‘profitable’. It was meant to ensure communication among and between all members of this Democratic Republic. It was one of the first functions formed by the founders, and now you want to decry it as proof that government doesn’t work. Why do you hate America so much?

      our politicians cannot agree on anything,

      Now that actually is a problem. However, it isn’t the problem you think it is. The only governments where all parties agree are totalitarian. It’s nice to know what you desire, you fascist prick.

      the Forest Service cannot effectively manage our forests,

      Actually, since President Theodore, they have done a remarkable job. Kindly show otherwise, or STFU.

      our elected politicians are driving around drunk and on and on we go.

      I get it. You’re not a fan of Rehberg, Wannabe. So what?

      Yet, you think I am unreasonable.

      Yep. That’s pretty obvious. You make claims that are willfully stupid, you offer personal anecdote as if anyone should care, you engage in logical fallacy as if you have the wits to even know what you’re doing. You are very unreasonable, Wannabe.

      The postal service is a universal government run program that is failing and now beginning to cut services, you cannot argue that.

      No one here has tried, buttmunch. In fact, others have explained why it’s failing in a reasonable fashion. You, not so much.

      If you cannot deliver mail, regardless of outside influences, how can you deliver healthcare.

      That’s the point where you prove yourself rather epically stupid, Wannabe. The USPS does deliver mail, and it does it an outstanding job of it. Your argument, however, is as inconsistent as hell. Earlier, you argued that the government couldn’t run services because it wasn’t profitable. Now you argue that it simply can’t provide, “regardless of outside influences”. But the USPS has delivered for 200 hundred years. It does provide. Only a desperate moron such as yourself would claim that it doesn’t. The failings of the USPS are in terms of profitability, which is precisely the result of “outside influences”.

      Look, Wannabe, I’m tired of having my intelligence insulted by a backwards slacker such as yourself. I’m certain I’m not alone in that. If you want to engage hereabouts, don’t be so retarded about it.

      • gag me

        Just as my stupidity impresses you, I cannot believe how insane your ideas and rants are. Are you that bitter at the world? Is your life that bad? Are you just still pissed that you are a 50 year old virgin? You must cry yourself to sleep at night. What have you actually accomplished in your life, I am sure I will get a smart ass response but I would guess you have truly never accomplished anything other than irritating people like me.

        Go Pam!

        • Just as my stupidity impresses you, I cannot believe how insane your ideas and rants are.

          You can’t believe it because it’s not true. You only want it to be. That’s the fundamental brain flaw in wingnuts like you, Wannabe.

          Are you that bitter at the world?

          Pointing out willful stupidity makes me bitter? Imagine that, more stupidity from the willfully stupid.

          Is your life that bad?

          Come on, Wannabe, that Straw Man isn’t going to build itself.

          Are you just still pissed that you are a 50 year old virgin?

          Now you hate priests? You are a hater, aren’t you? (For the record, my wife gets a kick out of everyone of you retards who fall back on that little tantrum.)

          You must cry yourself to sleep at night.

          No. I laugh that I just factually kicked your ass.

          What have you actually accomplished in your life,

          Only a wingnut would think anyone would care for your poorly researched opinion of what I’ve accomplished in my life. So other than proving yourself an easy target for ridicule, what have you accomplished?

          I would guess you have truly never accomplished anything other than irritating people like me.

          Well then I’ve accomplished something, haven’t I? However, you contradicting yourself in one sentence proves what I’ve claimed all along, Wannabe. You are a wingnut moron.

      • gag me

        To make that statement about the forest circus either means you work for them (which I am fairly sure you don’t work) or you have never had to deal with them.

        • I have worked with them, I have dealt with them. They have you gas bags on one side with your mindless demands for destruction of the commons, and environmentalists on the other, who know how to use the courts when they break the law.

          It’s a very hard job, pressure from all angles. There are few politicians among them except for the very top. Most are scientists and simply don’t know how to deal with jackasses like you.

        • (which I am fairly sure you don’t work)

          Oooohh, wrong talking point, wingnut. Your betters in the idiot-sphere know who I am and who I work for, though they still foolishly claim I work for the government. How does does it feel to be proven the slowest kid in the moron class, Wannabe?

          For the record, I’ve studied the Forest Service. I know what they have accomplished and what they have failed at. More to the point, unlike you I know why. Mark is absolutely on the money. Of all government agencies, the forest service is among the least political, as regards it’s employees. They are tasked with a nearly impossible job in a truly impossible political climate. Your disrespect doesn’t establish my cred as an insider. It establishes you as fricking ignorant git, Wannabe.

  23. problembear

    any montanan who still trusts what right wingers call “free markets” to solve our problems should take a look at this video when pbs airs it….

    http://www.montanapbs.org/PowerBrokers/

    oh- and may i say to our disgraced ex governor marc racicot – i believe that you are every bit as guilty of fraud as kenneth lay was at Enron for pushing for deregulation and destroying our state’s power company and leaving this state with your legacy of higher power rates for everyone.

    but as a close friend of “w” i wouldn’t expect you to give one good god damn.

  24. gag me

    hey problembear, how is your parents business going?

  25. carfreestupidity

    I retract any statement previously made about the civility of the comments here… y’all make me so proud for democracy.

  26. Capitalist

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-03-02-postal_N.htm

    Yep, this is the future of healthcare. So it is .44 to mail something, fairly basic, ups/fedex 2 day or ground will cost you between $3 and $10. USPS is going to lose $238 billion. Fedex/UPS will make a few billion. Man I, cannot wait to see how the government deals with medical tests that cost 50x that. I guess the government can just get involved, charge less for something just because they say so and boom, the healthcare crisis is solved. That liver transplant is going to cost you $50,000 today but wait a year and magically under the 4&20 Healthcare plan that same procedure will cost you $225. The government got involved and made it cheaper, they are the good guys. That sounds like a solution.

    • problembear

      capitalist- your idea of free market entrepeneur would be along the lines of blackbeard. excuse me for not following sheepishly while you recommend that i put my fate in the hands of United Healthcare and Cigna.

      that is just sheer stupidity- either that, or you work for them.

      • gag me

        but go ahead and put them in the hands of the government. We need reform but not at the hands of the government.

  27. problembear

    as bitter as it is to say this, all the news agencies are reporting that obama has the votes to push through the shitty health care reform that made it through joe lieberman’s and max baucus’s intestinal tracts to be delivered by the end of this month. it is a crappy bill but if it provokes and pains those who follow the selfish greedy dictates of the far right, i guess i will get some comfort from that.




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