Month: July 2009

Health Care

Dear Friends,
I’ve attached a comparison of various health systems around the world for your information.  Obviously, it is agenda driven, and it is very short on how the various systems are TRULY paid for other than saying it is paid for through taxes, but conveniently stops there.  Most systems are subsidized with little ability to break-even with sky-rocketing medical costs and other expenses.
I will keep this “short”, since we have been conditioned to a short attention span, even though this current battle will set the trend for a 100 years.
What is the problem?  My retired RN cousin said it is like a dog rapidly circling as it bites its tail.  We’ve created a monster.  She claims this whole issue started with the doctors many years ago when they thought they weren’t getting paid enough for the 12+ years they went to school.  I understand the insurance thing really started during WWII when there were tight wage controls and to differentiate employers, some offered “free” medical care.  In stepped the lawyers when they found they could build a class action suit on “slip-and-fall” circumstances.  A recent two-timing presidential candidate was in the cat-bird’s seat on this issue and became very wealthy.  Then there were the hospitals deluged by illegal immigrants and deadbeats.  The pharmaceutical companies followed with their law of diminishing returns drugs and ever increasing research costs and lastly, the good old FDA with its revolving door with industry to speed approvals and ease regulations to really foul things up.  Did I miss something?  ALL of these are contributing in some manner to this endless upward spiral of medical costs and the resulting higher premiums from insurance companies.
By every measure, people are getting adequate medical care, albeit uneven medical care in this country.  What I mean is that if you go to the doctor, you will most likely be taken care of, but some do not because of fear they will have to sell their house to pay the bills.  In the current system, these are the really “stupid” people because they are honest and responsible citizens, but are a bit short in the money department.
We are now faced with a government that is “selling” universal health care with NO WAY to pay for it.  Many sceptics, including myself, look at this as another power grab by the nanny state so that we become more and more dependent on the Federal Government, all the while with a major reduction in our freedom and liberty.  It ain’t gonna work… period!
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but we need to educate ourselves to reduce the possibility of being sold a plan by a bunch of self-serving lawyers that will add more pork to the Federal bankruptcy.  Here are some of the problems I see…
1.  Everything is negotiable.  This may be good, but the retail price of medical goods and services is 3-7 times the negotiated price with various insurance companies.  For example, if my doctor bills me $600 for an office visit, my insurance company will only allow $200 and the doctor “writes off” the $400.  I’ve yet to find out what happens to those write-offs.  This applies to real expensive items, as well.  I got an MRI on my knee and the billed price was $5,000 to the insurance company.  The Insurance company allowed $1375.  The hospital gave me a cash deal of $1275.  I don’t know if I will get the $100 or not.  Hmmm.  You see the stupid things going on?  Drugs follow a similar path, but are less determinant due to generics influence.
2.  The hospital bills in a similar manner for various other services via some voo-doo calculation that is top secret.  Cash is king.  Remember that.  Negotiate, even if you are on your death bed.  Leave more for you heirs.  The hospitals must, however, cover all the deadbeats and illegal aliens that come in the door.
3.  The insurance companies seem to be taking a lot of gas about this whole issue since they are the first party to present the year-to-year price increases of 17-25%.  Can this continue to go on?  I resent their continual manipulation with the terms and conditions of service which slice and dice the coverage to minimize payouts and maximize patient frustration with piles of paperwork that seems to have no bearing on reality.  Yet, they must make a profit to survive and they must be continually vigilant for abuse, such as doctors calling for too many tests for fear of a malpractice suit.  Oh, I almost forgot the underbelly of the business which is malpractice insurance, amplified by the ambulance chasing tort lawyers.  It is not uncommon for a surgeon to pay $150,000 to $250,000 per year for such insurance.  Now you know why he charges $600 for a fifteen minute discussion.
4.  We already know about the lawyers.  They prowl around looking for situation to bring a class action suit where they can really cash in.
5.  The pharmaceutical companies play with patents to extend their influence long beyond the normal patent span of 17 years.  This keeps costs high and minimizes competition.  Their overt marketing schemes to pull prescriptions through doctors is unethical in my book.  We don’t produce any vaccine in this country that I know of because of litigation.  This adds cost and slows solutions for things such as swine flu.
Well, I guess you knew this already, but I thought it useful to lay it out here and ask for you feedback on various horror stories.  Only by focusing on this and understanding what we are dealing with can we possibly head off the current stupidity being proposed in Washington.  We have a real mess, but we have to chip away at it rather than socializing the system that is doomed to failure, with long lines, allocation, and yet higher costs.  How about demanding loser pays in lawsuits?  How about real price billing?  How about a corruption task force to clean up the FDA?  Let’s  tighten up the system we have.  Go to electronic records with strict privacy requirements.  Let’s get the real information on what is costing so much and getting so little in return.
Let me know. I’d like to forward them to the list.
Expect your representatives to read the bills they sign, but before they do that, explain it to the electorate what they are signing.  We certainly cannot depend on the newspapers to do that anymore.  There is a lot of “spin” out there.  We have to determine where it is coming from and follow the money.  I am skeptical of the various victims of the Canadian health system that are being paraded in front of us.  I don’t necessarily support thier system, but we are most certainly being spun by vested forces that don’t want to upset the status quo.  I just can’t find Canadians, in my circle of friends, that have the same negative things to say about overall health coverage.  All I have to say is people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  We have a very large glass house in this country and we should not be so full of pride not to borrow what has been successful in other countries.  This is truly a daunting problem everywhere.
GEA

Dear Friends,

I’ve attached a comparison of various health systems around the world for your information.  Obviously, it is agenda driven, and it is very short on how the various systems are TRULY paid for other than saying it is paid for through taxes, but conveniently stops there.  Most systems are subsidized with little ability to break-even with sky-rocketing medical costs and other expenses.

I will keep this “short”, since we have been conditioned to a short attention span, even though this current battle will set the trend for a 100 years.

What is the problem?  My retired RN cousin said it is like a dog rapidly circling as it bites its tail.  We’ve created a monster.  She claims this whole issue started with the doctors many years ago when they thought they weren’t getting paid enough for the 12+ years they went to school.  I understand the insurance thing really started during WWII when there were tight wage controls and to differentiate employers, some offered “free” medical care.  In stepped the lawyers when they found they could build a class action suit on “slip-and-fall” circumstances.  A recent two-timing presidential candidate was in the cat-bird’s seat on this issue and became very wealthy.  Then there were the hospitals deluged by illegal immigrants and deadbeats.  The pharmaceutical companies followed with their law of diminishing returns drugs and ever increasing research costs and lastly, the good old FDA with its revolving door with industry to speed approvals and ease regulations to really foul things up.  Did I miss something?  ALL of these are contributing in some manner to this endless upward spiral of medical costs and the resulting higher premiums from insurance companies.

By every measure, people are getting adequate medical care, albeit uneven medical care in this country.  What I mean is that if you go to the doctor, you will most likely be taken care of, but some do not because of fear they will have to sell their house to pay the bills.  In the current system, these are the really “stupid” people because they are honest and responsible citizens, but are a bit short in the money department.

We are now faced with a government that is “selling” universal health care with NO WAY to pay for it.  Many sceptics, including myself, look at this as another power grab by the nanny state so that we become more and more dependent on the Federal Government, all the while with a major reduction in our freedom and liberty.  It ain’t gonna work… period!

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but we need to educate ourselves to reduce the possibility of being sold a plan by a bunch of self-serving lawyers that will add more pork to the Federal bankruptcy.  Here are some of the problems I see…

1.  Everything is negotiable.  This may be good, but the retail price of medical goods and services is 3-7 times the negotiated price with various insurance companies.  For example, if my doctor bills me $600 for an office visit, my insurance company will only allow $200 and the doctor “writes off” the $400.  I’ve yet to find out what happens to those write-offs.  This applies to real expensive items, as well.  I got an MRI on my knee and the billed price was $5,000 to the insurance company.  The Insurance company allowed $1375.  The hospital gave me a cash deal of $1275.  I don’t know if I will get the $100 or not.  Hmmm.  You see the stupid things going on?  Drugs follow a similar path, but are less determinant due to generics influence.

2.  The hospital bills in a similar manner for various other services via some voo-doo calculation that is top secret.  Cash is king.  Remember that.  Negotiate, even if you are on your death bed.  Leave more for you heirs.  The hospitals must, however, cover all the deadbeats and illegal aliens that come in the door.

3.  The insurance companies seem to be taking a lot of gas about this whole issue since they are the first party to present the year-to-year price increases of 17-25%.  Can this continue to go on?  I resent their continual manipulation with the terms and conditions of service which slice and dice the coverage to minimize payouts and maximize patient frustration with piles of paperwork that seems to have no bearing on reality.  Yet, they must make a profit to survive and they must be continually vigilant for abuse, such as doctors calling for too many tests for fear of a malpractice suit.  Oh, I almost forgot the underbelly of the business which is malpractice insurance, amplified by the ambulance chasing tort lawyers.  It is not uncommon for a surgeon to pay $150,000 to $250,000 per year for such insurance.  Now you know why he charges $600 for a fifteen minute discussion.

4.  We already know about the lawyers.  They prowl around looking for situation to bring a class action suit where they can really cash in.

5.  The pharmaceutical companies play with patents to extend their influence long beyond the normal patent span of 17 years.  This keeps costs high and minimizes competition.  Their overt marketing schemes to pull prescriptions through doctors is unethical in my book.  We don’t produce any vaccine in this country that I know of because of litigation.  This adds cost and slows solutions for things such as swine flu.

Well, I guess you knew this already, but I thought it useful to lay it out here and ask for you feedback on various horror stories.  Only by focusing on this and understanding what we are dealing with can we possibly head off the current stupidity being proposed in Washington.  We have a real mess, but we have to chip away at it rather than socializing the system that is doomed to failure, with long lines, allocation, and yet higher costs.  How about demanding loser pays in lawsuits?  How about real price billing?  How about a corruption task force to clean up the FDA?  Let’s  tighten up the system we have.  Go to electronic records with strict privacy requirements.  Let’s get the real information on what is costing so much and getting so little in return.

Let me know. I’d like to forward them to the list.

Expect your representatives to read the bills they sign, but before they do that, explain it to the electorate what they are signing.  We certainly cannot depend on the newspapers to do that anymore.  There is a lot of “spin” out there.  We have to determine where it is coming from and follow the money.  I am skeptical of the various victims of the Canadian health system that are being paraded in front of us.  I don’t necessarily support thier system, but we are most certainly being spun by vested forces that don’t want to upset the status quo.  I just can’t find Canadians, in my circle of friends, that have the same negative things to say about overall health coverage.  All I have to say is people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  We have a very large glass house in this country and we should not be so full of pride not to borrow what has been successful in other countries.  This is truly a daunting problem everywhere.

GEA

Walter Cronkite – RIP

Dear Friends,
I recall as a youth how Walter Cronkite was the main news anchor the family would tune in on the radio and later television.  Little did I know that beneath that mellow and calm exterior was a closet leftist similar to Bill Moyers and Teddy Kennedy.  They all revealed themselves with various hysteric outbursts when many of the left-ward heading social trends had a light shown on them.  That was another wake-up call for me as to how much we are lulled into complacency by main stream media pundits.
The conservative movement is often accused of being self-righteous and judgmental, but it pales in comparison to the equivalent manifestation of this group on the left.
GEA

Dear Friends,

I recall as a youth how Walter Cronkite was the main news anchor the family would tune in on the radio and later television.  Little did I know that beneath that mellow and calm exterior was a closet leftist similar to Bill Moyers and Teddy Kennedy.  They all revealed themselves with various hysteric outbursts when many of the left-ward heading social trends had a light shown on them.  That was another wake-up call for me as to how much we are lulled into complacency by main stream media pundits.

The conservative movement is often accused of being self-righteous and judgmental, but it pales in comparison to the equivalent manifestation of this group on the left.

GEA

The First Big Lie

Dear Friends,

Remember this administrations pledge to not raise taxes on anyone earning less that $250K per year?   Then there was the waffling by various administration members down to something like $125K or so.  EVERY policy this foolish administration is putting in place will dramatically increase taxes for everyone across the boards and will especially be damaging to the lower income groups.  How?  Cigarette taxes… liquor taxes… energy costs… food costs… etc., etc. ALL attached in one way or another to “stimulus” plans, cap and trade, socialized medicine, and various nationalization efforts of business.

How really stupid are we?  The issue seems to be that this wave of tyranny has so intimidated anyone who stands up, the bastards are having their way on virtually everything, creating a shambles of our country.

While Rome burns, we are spun on gay marriage or similar divisive issue.  RIGHT!

GEA

A Fourth Of July Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that our leaders will listen to the people and not their own hearts, Lord.  You know the situation here. I pray that more and more people will find that YOU are the answer to everything this side of heaven.  Through You, our needs, NOT our wants, will be met.

I pray that our government will be touched by the Holy Spirit to let the people achieve by Your grace and guidance, not by automatic provision and fiat from the limited vision of man.  Only You can make our paths straight.

Lord, help us to put aside divisive issues that do nothing but take away from Your glory.  We know that the dark one has purposely put forward such schemes so that we take our eyes from You.  We are weak and we pray for strength to deal with these matters.

Lord, we, as your humble servants, pray in Jesus’ name… AMEN.