Note Important PS at bottom!!!!
OK, we are told that the cost of reforming health care will cripple the nation, bankrupting us all through skyrocketing taxes and bring about death panels that will decide whether we live or die based on how many hangnails we have.
Fine, even if we agree that that is the case (looney though it may be) would someone please explain the following actual, real, honest-to-god facts as reported in honest news publications:
– The Salt Lake Tribune has a lead story today that skyrocketing health care premiums — the tax we pay to health insurance companies which, our congress people assure us, have done such a bang-up job of controling costs and making things affordable through competition — have gone up 4.3 times faster than Utah wages. Premiums for the average Utahn have almost doubled since 2000, while wages have risen a pathetic 22.8 percent.
– Despite this massiveely increased spending, new data shows that life expectancy in the US is getting a bit better, but we lag way behind the rest of the world that spends a lot less. This chart ( click!) from the CIA’s fact book, puts life expectancy in the US at 50th world wide, behind such places as Macao, Norway, Japan and just about every other industrialized nation. But, hey, we’re better than Cuba!
So far, anyway.
This story from the Yahoo web site (click) points out that American life expectancycan be expected to drop in the next few years as the horrible number — 2/3 of the population — of overweight and obese Americans gets older. Diabetes is running 10 percent of the population which almost guarantees early and expensive deaths for those people. Overweight people are a huge drain on the medical resources of the nation for a wide variety of medical concerns, from heart problems to blood pressure, joint replacement and just a general overall worse level of health, which is probably one reason insurance costs are going up.
Even if an overweight person, otherwise healthy, has trouble getting around, that adds huge costs for special transport, wheelchairs, special beds and so on.
Health premiums go up because, remember, we already have socialized medicine, it’s just administered by profit-making companies that charge us all higher premiums if their costs go up because it is us, not them, who ultimately pay the bill. They just manage the money and take a 15 percent handling fee.
Those same companies reserve the right to kick you off their coverage (death panels?) if you cost them too much. Gotta protect the stockholders, remember.
– Not entirely unrelated, but there’s a story in the Deseret News noting that Utah will collect $4 billion in federal stimulus funds. Considering how many Utahns are so adamantly opposed to the national debt going up because of stimulus spending and potential health care reform (where were all those folks during the Bush years when the $2 trillion debt was tripling? Hey, just asking…) I am amazed that they allow the state to take what amounts to federal welfare, every penny of which is borrowed.
Of course, a lot of that money is going to education and transportation — it’s paying for all those road projects you see, and helping keep schools staffed, making it possible for construction workers and teachers to pay their ever-climbing health insurance premiums.
I might note that a huge amount of the money spent on medical care in Utah already comes from the federal government, directly or indirectly. The VA system, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and the tax break that employers get for employee medical insurance, all come out of the pocket of Uncle Sam.
It is fasacinating — we see people going to town halls to defend a health care funding system that doesn’t improve health but has doubled what it charges in eight years because a government run option will cost too much?
We see Utahns those same opposed to the national debt taking federal welfare money that is all part of that same national debt.
Oddly enough, I can understand why, in confusing times, people tend to lash out at any and all changes — and the proposed health care change is a biggie. But, as even Rep. Rob Bishop admits, staying the way we are is not acceptable.
What I’d love to see is single-payer universal health care that collects from everyone (not the cherry-picked healthy like insurance companies do now, but everyone, healthy and sick) and pays for everyone. Call it a tax, call it a premium, but it would be a lot more fair. It is how Medicare works now, more or less, and Medicare has a 4 percent or so overhead, not 15 percent. None of its administrators makes $250 million a year, either.
Single payer is not that complicated, and would get rid of the thousands of people the insurance industry hires to turn down payments requests, not to mention the huge bureaucracies that hospitals and doctors and clinics have to maintain to do battle with the insurance industry’s bureaucracy. Countries like England, Norway, Japan, and others, all with healthier and longer-lived populations than the US has, use that system. Canada too.
And people in those countries don’t go bankrupt because of a medical crisis. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Yes, it would help if a lot more of us would quit eating so much junk food and get out and walk a mile or two a day. That’s that personal responsibility thing you hear so much about. Utahns, from what I can gather just by looking around, arn’t too good at that one either.
PS: Needless to say, right after I wrote this I checked out The Onion and saw their take on health care reform which is, honestly, probably rather frighteningly accurate. Check it out at: (click):
Though there remain irreconcilable points, both parties have reached some common ground in recent weeks. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) point to Congress’ failure to pass legislation before a July 31 deadline as proof of just how serious lawmakers are about stringing along the American people and never actually reforming the health care industry in any meaningful way.
“People should know that every day we are working without their best interests in mind,” Reid said. “But the goal here is not to push through some watered-down bill that only denies health care to a few Americans here and a few Americans there. The goal is to recognize that all Americans have a God-given right to proper medical attention and then make sure there’s no chance in hell that ever happens.”