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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WHY AMERICAN HEALTH CARE COSTS SO MUCH

What we Americans are paying for health care is grand larceny! Costs keep shooting up far faster than inflation and at a rate much higher than do American salaries. As with last summer's ridiculously high $4 per gallon gasoline prices, the main cause is corporate greed, particularly in the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Their greed is an indefensible abuse of the marketplace, all the more so at a time when Americans' wages have been stagnating or in decline for years now, and food, energy, and almost all other costs have been on a steady rise.

Health insurance providers love to blame the high cost of health care on doctors, but this is a dishonest claim designed to focus attention away from their own most definite contribution. According to an industry survey done by Merritt Hawkins & Associates, in 2007, 81.29% of all primary care physicians made $225,000 or less annually (and only 8.9% made in excess of $300,000). Surgeons and specialists, of course, drew higher salaries, but their numbers are smaller than those of primary care physicians. And yes, all of these doctors have well-paid staffs including nurses, medical technicians, therapists, x-ray technicians, etc., but their salaries are all much less than that of physicians or surgeons. Not only that, but health insurance companies have large staffs themselves. Now $225,000 or $300,000 may seem like a gigantic amount to a person earing only $25,000 or $50,000 per year, but the number seems less gargantuan when one considers the many years of expensive higher education put in by physicians as well as the colossally high malpractice insurance rates they must pay. So this attempt by insurance companies to use physicians as whipping boys for the high and ever-rising cost of health care is a deliberate deceit.

Now that we have exposed the myth of the massively-overpaid physicians, let's look at the humungous salaries the health insurance and pharmaceutical company CEOs "earn" (steal?). According to an August 23, 2007 WEB MD blog called "Nad About Medicine," in an article entitled "CEO Compensation: Who Said Health Care is in a Financial Crisis?", in 2005 the CEO of United Health Group was paid a staggering $124.8 MILLION, the CEO of Forest Labs got $92.1 MILLION, Merck's CEO got $37.8 MILLION, Aetna's CEO received $22.1 MILLION, Becton-Dickinson's got $10 MILLION, and Eli Lilly's got $7.2 MILLION. Keep in mind, these are only CEO salaries and DON'T include Senior VPs', VPs', or other board members' compensation rates, which are also extremely high. You'll be guaranteed to grab your wallet or pocketbook in terror and puke green if you go to The Industry Reader's website at http://www.theindustryreader.com/index.cfm?account=radar&page=Healthplan_Executive_Co . Here you'll see that, in 2007, the top 6 health plan boards paid themselves a whopping $277,998,793. That same year, the entire Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of our government cost us, in comparison, only $95,974,600. Damn few health insurance board members have ever directly saved a life or eased someone's pain. So why should these pigs and their counterparts in the pharmaceutical industry be paid salaries in the MILLIONS while the infinitely better-educated and more valuable physicians be paid only in the hundreds of THOUSANDS? This is unjustifiable, immoral, and we are most definitely not getting our money's worth from these vastly overpaid, leveraged parasite middlemen!

Clearly, with health insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies swimming in mounds of money and excessively profiting off of human illness and suffering, this setup is in need of radical reform. The piggish executives live lives of absolute luxury, while 1 in 7 of us cannot even afford health insurance, and the prospect of cancer treatments or major surgery spells certain loss of property and life savings. This is blatantly wrong and thoroughly evil. Hospitals (even so-called non-profit ones) have become giant money vacuums sucking the public dry. Doctors are being squeezed by health insurance bandits, who are now effectively dictating terms of health care for purposes of profit by cherry-picking whom and what they will cover, how often, and how much. Regrettably, the John Edwards health care plan will not be adopted. It would have truly provided universal health care for all citizens and would have closely resembled plans long in use all over Europe and Canada. It would have also booted the self-serving, profiteering insurance company pigs out of the picture altogether. Instead, we will most likely end up with a version of the Obama plan, which will still be far better than what we have today, but it will unfortunately allow the insurance parasites to still sit at the planning and operations tables. So it will fall short of the mark we truly need to hit. Oh well, I guess 10% of something is better than 100% of nothing...

One parting thought: The next time you are at your doctor's and feel like grumbling at the $15, $20, or $25 co-pay you must pay, just remember that your doctor, just like you, is also getting screwed by the profiteering insurance companies!

8 comments:

Yellow Dog said...

The next time you are at your doctor's and feel like grumbling at the $15, $20, or $25 co-pay you must pay, just remember that your doctor, just like you, is also getting screwed by the profiteering insurance companies!

Perfect soundbite (in a good way)! It can't be emphasized enough that the gougers ruining the system are not the providers of medicine but the insurance companies.

Obama's plan is far from perfect, but at least this time we've got big business on our side.

Anybody else seen the commercials, sponsored by SEIU among others, making the point that universal health care is no longer a nice-to-have warm fuzzy for families, but a cannot-survive-without for business?

Every time I see it I do the Snoopy Happy Dance and bless Andy Stern.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Yellow Dog! I have seen that ad and marvel that it has come about as it has. The fact that insurance companies are dictating the terms and delivery of health "care" the way they now are is criminal. They are not interested in public health. They are only interested only in their own private profit and adding to the wealth of their own tiny elite. It is people like these, ECONOMIC terrorists, that this country should fear most and deal with promptly. For they are attacking and destroying our quality of life bit by bit every single day!

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

I learned something from this blog! Ta Jack... and btw, gave me a satisfied smile to read your comments ala globalmyth... ta for that too! we'll all beam within when obama walks into the white house...

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Gwendolyn. I can't wait until noon on Tuesday. I guarantee you I'll be smiling from ear to ear all day! :) :) :)

Michael Hew said...

Jack,
Thanks for pointing the spotlight in the right direction. I have no idea how a so called civilized society can allow so many of it's citizens to suffer without proper healthcare. As usual, the least of us suffer at the hands of those of us with the most. Keep up the good work and I just wanted to let you know that we added you to our blogroll.

Jack Jodell said...

Thank you, Michael! I, too, marvel at how uncivilized our so-called civilized society can often be! Our obsession with making money and grabbing as much profit as we can in all endeavors has become truly excessive. I laugh at how economic and social conservatives, and especially those on the intolerant and exclusionary religious right, love to talk about personal responsibility. They never seem to practice it. When pursuit of profit interferes with or deprives others of proper health care, that is highly IRRESPONSIBLE and anti-religious. Yes, we're all human and we all err, but I will never understand the foolishness and paradoxes found in the conservative mindset!

SJ said...

This post made me sick.
I'm nauseated after reading it which is to say it was illuminating.
Funny how no one is talking about the fact that health care costs, the predatory pharma industry and the absence of Universal Healthcare is also killing corporate America, the US Auto industry for one.
Keeping knocing 'em out of the park Jack.
-SJ

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, SJ! Finally---FINALLY---big business is starting to slowly wake up to the fact that these costs are draining THEM dry, too. That's the ONLY reason we'll probably end up with some kind of universal coverage plan, simply because they want to cut their costs. Pathetic crowd these corporate types be...