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Thursday, September 17, 2009

WE ARE GETTING RIPPED OFF!

"The GOP only cares about costs when a government program is not lining the pockets of their corporate supporters."
- SJ of Random Thoughts, New York City -

"Tax the very wealthy to make everyone healthy!"
- Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -



Left click on diagram below to make it larger.

As you can plainly see, the percentage of our Gross Domestic Product we Americans pay to maintain our private, for profit "health care" system is 16%, far in excess of what all the nations below us on the chart pay with their supposedly more expensive "socialized medicine" systems. This is an outrage, considering that 15-30% of what we pay goes directly to health insurance and pharmaceutical company CEO salaries and perks, as well as for their advertising and administrative costs (including paying lobbyists ), and that our system does not provide the best across the board health care in the world for us. By contrast, our government-run VA, Medicare, and Medicaid systems' administrative costs add only a mere 4% to the cost of providing health care, and none of that lines anyone's pockets as huge salaries or excessively high profit. We are clearly getting ripped off by the current private, FOR PROFIT system, and this system MUST change!

According to a study prepared by Robert B. Helms, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, in 1940 America, only 9% of the population had insurance coverage for medical expenses. After World War II, the rise of employer-paid or employer/employee-funded insurance benefit programs saw this figure jump to 62.2%, with an additional 6.8% carrying individually purchased coverage, and 17.5% receiving or co-covered with coverage through public programs. In 2006, a total of 18% had no coverage at all (roughly 1 in every 5.6 of us).

1 in every 6.5 of us now has no health care coverage at all. The number of uninsured is rising every day, yet so are CEO salaries, premium rates, co-pays, and deductibles, well above the rate of inflation. This is unjustifiable, indefensible, and MUST change as well!

In 1940, health insurance premiums took only 0.4% of disposable income.
By 1970, this figure had risen to 2.91%.
It is far higher today, now exceeding 10% for many of us.

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurance premium costs have increased 97% since 2000, FAR ABOVE THE RATE OF INFLATION. In that same period, the level of worker contributions toward health insurance policy costs skyrocketed 107%, while their wage levels remained relatively flat. Many American small businesses have now found it increasinglydifficult or impossible to provide health care for their employees. Health care provider greed and inefficiency is eating up small business profit and workers' paychecks, This is unsustainable. A June 5, 2009 Science Daily report states that, in 2007 (prior to the current economic downturn), 60% of all bankruptcies in the U.S. had their origins in medically-related causes. One illness-related bankruptcy was occurring on an average of every 90 seconds! That number has surely risen since then, and this situation must come to a screeching halt! Yet health insurance and pharmaceutical executives keep raising their prices and continue to stuff their already overflowing wallets with cash, completely unchallenged.

The fact of the matter is this: private health insurance and private care providers have become too expensive to justify their existence any longer. People in "socialized medicine" countries are NOT dropping dead on their streets in droves due to poor quality or outright lack of medical care. Nor are our shores being flooded with millions of desperate Europeans or Asians clinging to driftwood or life rafts in a do-or-die effort to obtain health care here. Their own systems are providing well for them, at a cheaper individual cost than ours, and the cost burden on their businesses and individual finances is far less than what we are experiencing with our greed-ridden, for-profit private system.

The long-awaited Health Care Reform bill just completed by Max Baucus's Senate Finance Committee is a pathetic effort and an insulting waste of time. It is designed for the benefit of the insurance industry, not for the needy uninsured or the average citizen. Rather than guarantee quality health care at an affordable rate to all and provide downward pressure on existing health insurance costs and CEO salaries, it merely floods the insurance industry with millions of mandated new customers, and provides no industry regulation or competition of any kind. It amounts to an added tax on already-overburdened middle class America. This version of a health care reform bill is a loser through and through, and a step in the wrong direction. IT MUST NOT PASS!



We MUST put an end to profiteering off human illness by adopting a non-profit, utility-type health care system! It is the only sane, economical, and moral path to follow!
---------------
---------------
Dawn Smith, an aspiring playwright out of Atlanta, GA, was diagnosed with a rare but treatable brain tumor 4 years ago.

Her doctors are ready to treat the tumor, but her insurance company, CIGNA, refuses to pay. The only hospitals qualified to treat her rare condition are "out of network." (CIGNA'S CEO, EDWARD HANAWAY, HAS BEEN PAID $120.51 MILLION OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS AND HAS STOCK OPTIONS TOTALING NEARLY $29 MILLION). Ms. Smith just received CIGNA's last letter.

Dawn Smith will now die because of CIGNA's network limitations (which are in place solely to boost their profit). Please join me and sign a petition to CIGNA's CEO by going to the site below, and SPREAD THE WORD! Thank you. Your action could very well save her life.


http://pol.moveon.org/dawnsmith/o.pl?id=17257-6861634-56tzTyx&T=3

14 comments:

Stella by Starlight said...

Great post, Jack. I made an enormous and serious omission on our blog links: I forgot to include yours. I plan to rectify that lack immediately. I've spent far too little time here—to my error.

Instead of war profiteering from the last administration, now we have health care profiteering. I can't figure out which is worse. I remember being a kid thinking how great it would be to live in the 21st Century.

One of the conservative blogs I visit mentions a large amount of money the U.S. spends on health care involved R&D, and I have participated in more than one clinical trial for altruistic reasons, so I understand the need to spend money this money—except big pharma and insurance companies do abuse the system for profit. Yet, my HMO is terrific: they've never denied my husband and I any coverage. I wish the entire world were this fortunate, not just the U.S.

Despite my limited knowledge of R&D, which I think is necessary, I also believe that our our greed-ridden, for-profit private system is a worsening disgrace. Many socialized countries in Europe vary in the quality of health care. I do know Sweden has one of the most preeminent oncological centers in the world for both R&D and care for cancer patients. We need to use their system as a model.

You are absolutely right about the the cost of premiums. To read the actual statistical data took my breath away. Although I tend to ignore statistics, I can see for myself the reality that too many working Americans are either too poor to pay rapidly increasing premiums or struggle to pay premiums many small business can't afford and many huge corporations don't want to provide good coverage. Statistics for the uninsured range from 4% to 30%.

The whole health care issue is a Gordian knot. The problem is that slicing through it with a sword will work. I agree with you and wish Dennis Kucinich had more support for H.R. 676.

So, there's the 21st Century.: Not all that great as I expected.

Jack Jodell said...

Hi Stella! Great hearing from you again! I am glad you have enjoyed good service from your HMO, and it's too bad other providers apparently aren't as conscientious as yours.

I share your belief in the importance of R & D. Did you know, though, that 30% of pharmaceutical company R & D costs are subsidized by us taxpayers? Then those bums turn around and charge our dealers and ourselves double what they do Canadian dealers and consumers! That's one of the abuses a government-run system would stop.

I used to have the same fantasies about our new century. I always thought by now we'd all be cruising around in small air cars like the Jetsons. I guees the grass always seems greener in another place, and that's what hopes and dreams are for...

Let us all hope that the current push for universal, fair, affordable health care does not become an unrealized fantasy or dream! :)

TomCat said...

Jack, a public option would interfere with the only successful initiative in recent GOP history: No Millionaire Left Behind!!

Max's Dad said...

Great post as usual,Jack. If you read Newsweek, check out the article on health care in the industrialized world. What is wrong with us? The only nation in the West that allows its citizens to go bankrupt due to medical expenses? We should be ashamed.

Stimpson said...

One of the pro status quo arguments I come across frequently is that the U.S. system has so many MRI and CAT machines because of the profit motive. Gotta admit, those types of equipment are way more common in the U.S. than here in Canada.

But that's part of the problem -- it's a factor driving up health-care costs needlessly. Clinics have to pay for that equipment, and they do so by having tests done whether needed or not.

And I don't have to point out to you that, despite all the diagnostic machines, the U.S. actually has lower average life expectancy than Canada and western Europe, do I? It can't be much of an advantage.

Jack Jodell said...

You are so right, Stimpson. But the most irritating fact about US health "care" is that 15-30% of its bloated cost goes to things which have nothing to do with providing good health: gigantic executive salaries, advertising, stockholder dividends, and lobbyists. Profiteering is a stage IV malignancy in the US system, and it is sorely in need of some effective Canadian-style chemo!

SJ said...

@Jack, Stella, Stimpson,
You may have seen this on Moveon's website, but I'll recap here:
--Dawn Smith, an aspiring playwright was diagnosed with a rare, but treatable brain tumor 4 years ago.
Her doctors are ready to treat the tumor, but CIGNA, her insurer, refuses to pay. -The only hospitals qualified to treat her are out-of-network. She just received her final denial letter. Dawn is going to die because of CIGNA's network limitations.

You can sign a petition to CIGNA's CEO here at this link:

(http://pol.moveon.org/dawnsmith/o.pl?id=17257-6861634-56tzTyx&t=3)

-SJ

Marc McDonald said...

I think our government has become so corrupted by lobbyists' money that it is incapable of doing anything for ordinary working people. Even the few programs that are labeled as benefiting ordinary Americans (like Bush's Medicare Part D) are nothing more than corporate welfare.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, SJ! I will amend this post today to include your info at the very bottom.
-----------
Marc,
You may be right. But as fightin' Irishmen, we cannot let this stand. Remember, slavery was once a very strong and oppressive institution in this country, too. It took years and years and years of toil and struggle, but eventually that seemingly invulnerable and all-pervasive labor system was completely destroyed. We must now grit our teeth and bear down and unceasingly fight for the destruction of our current perverse form of corporate dominance over our government and health care systems! These corporate parasites are sucking us dry, and they cannot be allowed to kill their host!!

Vigilante said...

Congratulations, Jack, for posting that OECD Dynamite graphic!

Stimpson said...

Here's food for thought: Remember a commenter at Vig's site saying government always does things much less efficiently? Well, does that graph support his assertion? Of course not. The U.S. private-sector system is clearly far less efficient than the French and Canadian "socialist" systems.

Jack Jodell said...

@Vig:
Thanks---sometimes one picture (or graph) is worth a thousand words, and THAT graph speaks pretty loudly!
----------
@Stimpson:
Great point. I'm so sick of that tired tale of business being so much more efficient than government. When it comes to BIG business corporate America, that assertion is a lie. There is so much waste and featherbedding going on at some of our major corporations it's a miracle they show any kind of profit at all! (Oh yeah, I forgot about outsourcing, frozen domestic wages, putting more of the burden of paying for health care on employees, generous subsidies, and huge Bush/Republican tax breaks---THAT'S how they make their big profits), and THAT'S the kind of "efficiency" the whole world should shoot for---NOT!

Jack Jodell said...

@TomCat:
Great point. They certainly couldn't allow THAT!
----------
@Max's Dad:
I share your disgust, as you know. I've reached the conclusion that our conservative Republicans have no shame!

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