Got a big tube of KY? Hope so.
Many Obamacare advocates attempt to refute these premium increases by pointing to Obamacare’s generous subsidy scheme. But as the Hoover Institution’s Daniel Kessler points out, “This argument is misleading. It fails to consider that the money for the subsidies has to come from somewhere. Although debt-financed transfer payments may make insurance look cheaper, they do not change its true social cost.”
Yep. Cost is cost, although some of it will be shifted. Shifting a cost does not avoid that cost; it merely changes on who it falls. Drop it on "the rich" (or the "businessowner") and it immediately winds up back on you in the form of being laid off or not hired in the first place.
By the way, if you think you're insulated from this because your employer "provides" your health insurance you're wrong. This will result in, for the average person with a $50,000 family income, a real decrease in spendable family income of approximately $10,000/year -- a rank 20% decrease.
Good luck folks -- you're going to need it.
Where are the apologies from those spamming both the airwaves and social media such as Facebook over this incident?
The family of an 87-year-old woman who died after an employee denied to give her CPR at a California independent living home says she chose to live in a facility without medical staff and wanted to pass away without life-prolonging intervention.
Every one of you who jumped to judgment and trashed both this facility and the person in question owe a big fat public apology for your words and deeds.
The reality, now that we're learning it, is this:
We all die folks. I know that's uncomfortable for a lot of people to deal with but not being comfortable with something doesn't change it. These "extraordinary measures" drive costs to the moon for medical care generally and many people simply have no desire to have them applied.
You have every right to expect that those around you will honor your expressed wishes if, after expressing them, you suffer a heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening emergency.
Those who do not honor your wishes but are aware of them should (1) be charged with assault, (2) bear the full financial cost of any treatment they initiate or cause to be provided to you that, had your wishes been followed, would not have been provided and (3) be subject to a lawsuit for any pain and suffering that you undergo that would not have taken place had you been left alone to die in peace.
This is not a tragedy, as is being reported, if the deceased did in fact not want life-prolonging intervention in the event of a medical emergency.
It is a natural death that took place as the decedent desired and intended and those who are trying to make political or social hay out of this deserve to be castigated -- or worse.
What's missing, however, is acknowledgement that the problem can't be fixed with more government regulation and replacement of private sector influence.
Rather, it is government protection of these industries and the explicit legal frameworks put in place for the purpose of destroying market influence that have led to where we are today.
I understand The Wall Street Journal's generalized reaction to Time Magazine -- I have it too, given that the mag has a leftward bias that stretches credulity on a more-or-less continual basis.
But this doesn't excuse the "well gee, you didn't exactly explain it all, so I will use that as a claim that the problem doesn't exist" reaction from their editorial page either.
Without diminishing the epic scope of Steven Brill's Time magazine piece about the U.S. health care system, he reiterates in lengthy detail perversities that are already well known, without offering a single useful insight on how it got that way, and even less on how to fix it.
If they're well-known why aren't you addressing it rather than bitching about someone else who wrote on the subject?
Since, however, you poked the question out there, I'll take a crack at it, having also written on the TIME article itself.
We got this way because:
Notice that exactly none of these circumstances arose due to natural market forces. Every one of them occurred because of special privileges granted to firms in the medical field by government. Many of these "privileges" are outright and literal theft of your funds to pay someone else's bill.
In fact most of these distortions and circumstances exist because of explicit federal laws that criminalize free-market behavior that would instantaneously collapse these pricing structures. If you could load up your car with scorpion anti-venom for $100/dose in Mexico and drive across the border with it unmolested nobody could charge in excess of $30,000 for the same thing and get away with it. If you could not be compelled to pay for Juanita the illegal Mexican invader's NICU bill then your hospital room would not cost $1,791 a night.
The lack of consumer protections is equally-galling. If you had to be provided a price quote before service was rendered nobody in their right mind would opt for the $125,000 hip replacement over the $14,000 one when both are performed by a top-20 hospital.
You cannot charge $5/gallon for gasoline instead of $4 when there's a hurricane coming in this state. If you try it you'll wind up in prison. Yet if you're a hospital you can charge a heart attack victim with exactly the same ability to negotiate as a citizen fleeing a hurricane with an empty gas tank $100,000 instead of $10,000 and the government not only endorses that but lets the hospital use the courts to sue you when you refuse to pay!
And finally, if restraint of trade mattered in the medical business all of the hospitals buying up medical practices and "independent" diagnostic centers, then jacking up the price of procedures by 2, 3, 4 or 5x would instantly face federal racketeering charges and people would go to prison. Ditto for those medical boards and practices, not to mention explicit state "CON" laws, that very-effectively block the opening (and closing!) of medical centers by people who see a market opportunity and wish to exploit it, such as opening an MRI center that will do scans for $200 instead of $2,000.
The reality of the situation is this: There is no actual problem with people being able to afford their medical care, in the general sense. There is a manufactured crisis that is intended to extort the American public to both (1) buy health "insurance" that really isn't insurance lest they be bankrupted due to all the cost-shifting and price-fixing and (2) force-feed something like "Obamacare" down everyone's throat.
As to how to fix it, that's simple: Cut that crap identified up above out.
If you did, the following would happen:
Why hasn't any of this been done and why isn't it on the table?
That's simple: One man's fraud, waste, abuse, scam and theft is another man's paycheck, and all of the above are GDP.
The reason our government doesn't stop this crap is that if it did 80% -- or more -- of what we spend on health care we wouldn't spend on health care any more.
In 1970, before all but McCarren-Ferguson, the Federal Government spent $12.1 billion on all health care combined. The CPI in that year, in December, stood at 38.8. Note that in 1970 all of the current programs (Medicare, Medicaid, etc) existed.
Today the CPI stands at 230.28, 5.94x higher. In a market economy, which most of the rest of the CPI measures, the government should therefore be spending about $72 billion a year on health care.
It instead spent over $850 billion in 2011, or more than 10x as much, and that's with the claim by medical firms that the government doesn't actually pay "what it costs" to provide the care!
In short you are paying more than 10x what you should for good, decent medical care and so is everyone else.
And that, my friends, is a fact.
Were we to cut this crap out 90% of the $2.8 trillion currently spent on health care would not be spent. That's a $2.52 trillion reduction in GDP, or about 17%!
The jaw-dropping reaction you get when suggesting that this nonsense be stopped comes from this reality and the fact that lawmakers know damn well exactly what would happen to those industries that exist today in their present size and scope only because of the special privileges given by governments to them that enable you to be robbed blind with the worst abuses coming when you're unable to meaningfully participate in negotiation or decision-making.
But were we not to spend that money on overpriced health care our nation's employees would be dramatically more competitive and so would our businesses. Our consumers would spend their money not on overpriced cancer treatments of questionable efficacy and $30,000 scorpion anti-venom shots but rather on cars, airplane rides, cruises, homes, educations and other things of value. The immediate hit to our economy from putting a stop to this outrageous theft, fraud and abuse would be dramatic and inescapable, but the benefits would begin to accrue immediately as well and within a short period of time we would be far better off as a nation than we are today as the economy re-aligned toward productive purpose.
More to the point, however, is that what we're doing now -- that is, enabling and permitting this outrageous level of theft, fraud and abuse to take place -- cannot continue.
These costs are rising at a 9% compounded growth rate from 1980 to 2011 and in fact the insurance cost increase listed in the latest CPI was very close to that -- approaching 9% -- over the last year.
This means that spending doubles every 8 years.
At this rate the entire economy today will be consumed by health care spending in 20 years. If you are 50 today and live to 85, the Federal Government will attempt to spend $17 trillion, or more than four times the entire current federal budget, per year on health care by the time you die.
Neither of those outcomes is possible, and for every day that we fail to act and stop this crap the damage we must accept in the economy increases. If we continue down this road too far we will reach the point where our economy, government or both are doomed to inevitable collapse.
I repeat: None of this is due to market forces.
All of it is due to the force exerted by government and special protections granted by it that prohibit the market from addressing these problems on its own, as would occur otherwise.
And incidentally, if we fix this the budget deficit falls immediately to about $300 billion. Even if the entire $3 trillion comes out of GDP and never comes back we wind up with a deficit that's 2.5% of GDP -- which means we're within shooting distance of a permanent fix to the Federal Budget problem.
We either do it or we don't do it, but nobody can claim from this day forward that it can't be done and nobody can claim that they weren't both warned of the consequences and given a way to avoid disaster.
I just showed you how to fix what ails our nation from a fiscal perspective.
Time's up folks on the BS and game-playing.
Dozens of midpriced items were embedded with similarly aggressive markups, like $283.00 for a “CHEST, PA AND LAT 71020.” That’s a simple chest X-ray, for which MD Anderson is routinely paid $20.44 when it treats a patient on Medicare, the government health care program for the elderly.
More than a 10x -- that is more than 1,000% -- mark-up.
You'll find dozens of examples in this article.
You'll also find documentation that so-called "non-profit" hospitals make plenty of profit -- they're just prohibited from distributing it to shareholders. Multi-million dollar salaries, on the other hand, are just fine.
Further, the essential purpose of a non-profit must be to operate for some charitable purpose. You will find single-digit percentages of operating income that are in fact "donated", including those alleged "compassionate use" claims from pharmaceutical firms.
While pharmaceutical companies are for-profit companies, the supposed non-profit hospitals and networks are another matter.
Again folks, as I have argued, if your medical bills were 1/10th or 1/5th of what they are charged at today, you could probably pay them in cash.
Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.
What do you call a practice that is universal among the participants in a given market where the person who is buying not only has the price actively concealed from him or her before the fact but worse is unable to negotiate in many cases due to exigent circumstances (e.g. a perceived or obvious heart attack!)
Of course we have plenty of exceptions and simple refusals to prosecute when it comes to these firms and industries.
It's not an accident.
You're being robbed outright, and now it's in the "mainstream media."
Oh, and Obamacare? It further institutionalizes these practices by forcing you to participate and have your money stolen.
For how long will you sit back and tolerate this sort of outright theft in an amount that aggregates to nearly three trillion dollars annually, undertaken with the full permission and active participation of the United States Congress, the Administration and the States as well?
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