Archive for Saturday, June 27, 2009

Health, not wealth

June 27, 2009


To the editor:

Health insurance ads always make me wonder whose health care was denied to pay for the ad. The goal of health insurance should be the health of our nation and not the profit and wealth of a few.

Our national health is the first line of our national defense and security. A healthy, productive workforce is the most necessary component to improving and sustaining our economy. Health care for all is good for families and strengthens the moral fiber of our national community: Children grow up in a country which not only says it cares, but does care.

Our constitution begins: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Wealth-entrenched fear mongers will try again to keep us on the same old but jingled-up renamed path of weakness and destruction for many and excessive wealth for a few. Some will tell us government is the problem.

According to a study published in the Aug. 21, 2003, New England Journal of Medicine, for-profit health insurance uses about 31 percent for administrative costs. Medicare uses about 3-5 percent. The goal of health insurance should be health, not wealth; insurance for patients, not profits. Private health insurance is all cost and no benefit. Urge passage of H.R. 676 and Senate 703.

Grieb is from Lawrence


Chengdu808 8 years, 10 months ago

Excellent letter. Unfortunately too many are falling for the scare tactics of the health insurance industry. Single payer is the way to go to insure that we, and our children, have access to decent health care and are not bankrupted in the process.

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

"According to a study published in the Aug. 21, 2003, New England Journal of Medicine, for-profit health insurance uses about 31 percent for administrative costs."

This is completely untrue, and the words of a kool-aid drinker who never read the study, only the sound bites.

I was going to say that this is the biggest 'myth' being perpetuated by the pro-single-payer lemmings, but I see their tactics have detriorated into outright lies. Physicians for a National Health Program, one of the merrill-bot's favorite sites to link to, has ramped up their rhetoric to the level of openly disseminating this flat-out lie on their website: "... private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar." However, on a separate page they water that down to "administration consumes 31.0 percent of U.S. health spending," which is not quite the same thing.

The NEJM study used extremely questionable methodology, for a start. For instance, they "assumed that the administrative share of the income of dentists and other nonphysician practitioners mirrored these differences." [The 'differences' were that they assumed that if a dentist's office, for example, had 43% fewer clerical employees, then their administrative costs were 43% lower.] There are approximately 100 professions in the allied health field - Do you really think you can compare the administrative costs of a physician and a sonographer based on how many receptionists there are in the office?

And the study never found anything remotely like data that supports that 31% share going to the cost of insurance. Again, the NEJM study looked at total administrative costs, many of which have absolutely nothing to do with insurance. For example, they counted all clerical workers salaries as part of that administrative expense ("43.8 percent of the work force in physicians’ offices", according to 'unpublished data'). Our own agency has more clerical workers in the medical records department than in billing; the expense of those employees' salaries is indeed an adminsitrative expense, but it would not decrease one iota if there were a single-payer system. They also attributed one-third of office rent to administrative costs - you think that if we went to a single-payer system, your doctor's office would get rid of their waiting room, fire his receptionist, and somehow (magically) reduce the need for medical records' staff?

By the way, did you know that this "definitive study of the administrative costs of the U.S. health system" (as it's described on their website) was written by Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, who just happen to be the co-founders of PNHP?????

READ the study yourself. Look at the data they're trying to spoon-feed you. Don't be just another lemming following the socialized-medicine morons over a cliff.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 10 months ago

Socialized healthcare does not work in countries that have spent decades and enormous amounts of cash on it (Norway), it will not work here.

Further, just a simple point but it goes to the logic of the letter: why is a budget a zero sum game? A dollar spent on advertising =/= a dollar taken away from a patient.

pace 8 years, 10 months ago

I feel confident the republicans and democrats will protect the hollow halls of the insurance companies even if they have to sacrifice women and children first.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 10 months ago

very well done Nota!

indeed admin costs are seriously inflated that way.

funny, Carol's letter doesn't include how even the Canadian supreme court admits that people die of being on waiting lists in the Canadian health system.

Carol, you so ready to bury me?

Mr. Obama says we can keep the plan we have but Congressional Budget office says tens of millions of americans will lose their plans with the Obamacare system, and worse depending on the format of the government-backed health insurance!

his bright idea: have a government entity compete with private insurers...first that's not legal, second that's completely in opposition to historic american principles: you'd be using tax-supported entity to compete with private business.

finally, Mr. Obama's plan will dramatically decrease access to specialists.

four times in my life my life has been spared by quick access to multiple specialists. you really want to kill me then?
no, not "scare tactics," truth.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 10 months ago

Give us a break, nota. No one for a second believes you have "analyzed" the data in that report. Why don't you be honest and at least acknowledge the insurance industry hack that did the "analysis" you parrotted?

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"No one for a second believes you have “analyzed” the data in that report. Why don't you be honest and at least acknowledge the insurance industry hack that did the “analysis” you parrotted?"

No one, herr klowne? Or no one without a bulbous red nose on their way to their weekly Party meeting?

Find it somewhere, herr klowne, or STFU. You have never read the study yourself, I'd bet you wouldn't even know where to find it if it weren't for the PNHP propaganda machine linking to it (only fair, since they wrote it). Perhaps you can try reading it yourself - you can always have someone elxplain the words with more than one syllable.

You're a chronic troll, boohoozo - you flood these message boards with whatever you can pull out of your adult diaper almost as much as merrill (at least he actually cites some sources), you can't answer a single challenge anyone poses to you on your cr*p, you never cite sources of your own, and you have the unmitigated gall to challenge anyone else? Like I just said, klownie - if you can find some 'insurance company hack' I'm 'parroting' here, do it - or STFU and admit, just once, that you really have no frikkin' idea what you're talking about.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 10 months ago

Carol I have a question, where did the constitution say the government becomes its citizens nanny or worst our parent? It is not the function of our government to compete with private insurance companies. But its about pay back in the minds of you liberals isn't it, you don't think any company should make money do you, unless its some liberal like Soros. Government control of everything is not the kind of country we want or need.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 10 months ago

Just as I expected-- no honesty from nota-- just straight into the frothing vitriol he does so well.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 10 months ago

5 common fears about health reform Last reviewed: August 2009

Now that health-care reform is a possibility, the forces of opposition are gearing up. Anti-reform campaigns with names like Patients United Now, Partnership to Improve Patient Care, and Conservatives for Patients' Rights are trying to make meaningful reform sound dangerous. Here are five of the worst fears you might hear—and the facts as we see them under the reforms we recommend.

Read about our latest reform efforts and our analysis of legislation as its being debated in Washington, D.C. in our Guide to Health-Care Reform.

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Just as I expected— no honesty from nota— just straight into the frothing vitriol he does so well."

And just as everyone familiar with what passes for your 'arguments' expected, boohoozo - you came back with: Absolutely nothing.

Where's the source of your baseless drivel on how much nationalized healthcare will 'save' us, boohoozo? Got anything other than what your hand's filled with from fishing around in your diaper?

Here, let me save you the trouble:

This page clearly identifies the co-founders of PNHP, self-described as "a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program," and "dedicated exclusively to implementing" such a program, as the authors of the NEJM study.

More on one of the authors, from Dr. Woolhandler's bio:

"After several years of working in the movement against the Vietnam War, I sought a career that would allow me to continue my work for social change. ... Medicine was a career that allowed me to combine both my interests...I could reach a large audience for progressive ideas by publishing in medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the JAMA."

"[Her mentor] helped me envisage how my social activism might be combined with an academic career."

She wasn't a doctor fed up with insurance procedures, she specifically entered the field of medicine to promote her 'social change' agenda. Oh, she does still practice as a clinician - part-time - but not at some inner-city clinic for the indigent. She works at Cambridge. (She accepts Aetna, HealthNet, and Guardian.) Oh, and under the 'plan' proposed by these nuts? For-profit hospitals and clinics would no longer be allowed (although, obviously, doctors would be allowed to profit from healthcare).

Now that's independent research for you.

But here's a link to the NEJM article:

Perhaps, if you're even capable of reading big words (let alone understanding them), you can tell us where it says that 31% is entirely due to the costs of insurance? Or that we'd save anything like that amount if we instituted their 'plan?' They can say anything they want on their website, but those claims would have gotten the article tossed from NEJM, because they simply aren't true.

You wouldn't know "honesty" if it was capable of biting through your diaper, herr klowne. You're a lying buffoon too stupid to analyze data for yourself, and with no inclination to do so - you'd rather have 'your' opinion spoon-fed to you by the Party hierarchy, nicht wahr? As easy as it is to make you look the fool with your unsubstantiated, dishonest, and baseless drivel, it gets tiresome, so I'm just calling you on it, klowne - back up your claims, or be recognized for the lying troll you've always been.

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

"Health insurance ads always make me wonder whose health care was denied to pay for the ad."

Yeah, I've often wondered how many indigent patients KU Medical Center could serve for what it cost them to have Tom Skerritt pimping them all over the television. But that's okay - as long as someone else foots the bill, right, Carol?

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

About exactly what everyone expected you to come back with, loser.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 10 months ago

Info Supporting Prudent Health Insurance HR 676

Current White Collar Crime: Medicare Fraud Indictments

Senate Report Finds Insurers Wrongfully Charged Consumers Billions

It is wrong that HR 676 is not on the table.

Lots of people go out of business due to mismanagement why not the medical insurance business? People would not be left without medical insurance. Perhaps shareholders should consider dumping these stocks before its' too late due to the ultra strong citizen force for reform which will shake up the current situation substantially.

$1.2 trillion tax dollars are paid out to cover a variety of government employees yet that same amount will cover all in the USA under HR 676. Why isn't HR 676 the main focus?

ALL city,state and federal government officials should be on HR 676 due to the huge cost savings to the taxpayers Wouldn’t that be a prudent move and be looked upon as fiscally conservative. School districts should also get behind behind this fiscally respnsible HR 676 coverage.

Why not use those tax dollars more prudently?

The majority of our elected officials are out of touch and cannot possibly understand. Is that because taxpayers pay for our own plus their insurance? Yet they will not pay for our coverage which is to say there is something wrong with this picture. Special Interests and Lack of Disclosure:


Health care costs and facts: Paying More, Getting Less How much is the sick U.S. health care system costing you?

Brent Garner 8 years, 10 months ago

If you think a single payor system is going to work well then please look at the military medical system--especially for dependents, the VA, medicare, and medicaid. None of those programs work as advertised and have big problems like rising costs and declining coverage. Oh, and while you're at it, look at Oregon where they have a single payor system. Its a wonderful place (tongue in cheek). In Oregon a man suffering from cancer was denied chemotherapy because the medical board "did not feel it would be cost effective" but they offered him $5000 to have a doctor kill him--Oregon has a euthanasia law. I don't think I want a national system like any of the above, thank you.

llama726 8 years, 10 months ago

"funny, Carol's letter doesn't include how even the Canadian supreme court admits that people die of being on waiting lists in the Canadian health system."

How many people die in this country because their private insurance won't cover a procedure or they can't afford enough insurance to get the treatment they need?

It annoys me when people bring up the "dying on waiting list" argument as if that's just the case for everyone in Canada - you get sick and you die because there's no way to treat you.

What you're saying is that you'd rather the poor people die that you don't have to see, think about, or hear about in our current system than face the possibility that all of society might suffer if we aren't able to provide medical care. Instead of distributing the system's flaws to everyone, in other words, you'd rather pay lots of money to make sure you never have to die of a treatable illness while someone whose insurance was declined due to them already being sick will now get to die knowing that at least they are dying a patriot, defending the God-given rights of every major insurance corporation.

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

merill (automoton) says ...


From the story the merrill-bot linked to: "Illness and medical bills caused half of the 1,458,000 personal bankruptcies in 2001, according to a study published by the journal Health Affairs."

Patently untrue. The study found no such thing. It found that half the bankruptcy filings included" medical bills, not that those bills caused* the bankruptcies. People that can't pay their mortgage, credit card bills, student loans, etc., also didn't pay off that hospital bill from a couple of years ago? Gee, go figure.

Why do you keep propogating these lies, merrill-bot?

George Lippencott 8 years, 10 months ago

Yes, the administration of health care costs money. I would appreciate some expansion on the notion that the insurance industry is excessively wealthy. They were hired by my providers, all government entities, to control costs, process claims, address fraud and other appropriate functions. Is there waste, probably, but there is waste (by somebody’s definition, in everything.

Just how will the government process claims under a single payer system? Who will address fraud? Who will determine necessity? Those functions cost money. I would be careful with data on Medicare overhead. The government can move costs around much quicker than a regulated insurance company can. I believe there are estimates that Medicare fraud alone costs about 70 billon a year. Less policing - more fraud. Policing costs money.

If we are going to compare systems, we need to capture all the costs consistently. The current system is a matter of fact collection of data. A single-payer government owned and operated system providing "merrill's" notion of care is an unknown since no foreign system is that beneficent.

It is certainly appropriate to want a single payer system but I would think we would want a reasonably accurate accounting of expected costs and benefits to include risks. I see lots of opinions. I see references to lots of studies performed by groups with agendas. Much heat and little light.

In my little mind at the bottom line, we would simply be exchanging filthy rich CEO's with a bunch of SESs and Public Law employees. That probably might save some money but nothing like what has been thrown around. The rest of the process would probably not change much as we would just exchange private sector employees for public sector employees.

Before I would buy any of this argument about insurance costs, I need to be shown how we eliminate the legitimate costs of insurance such as cost containment, fraud policing and validation of necessity. I just cannot conceive that a government program would not do these things. The government program would have the added costs of determining eligibility for financial assistance, a function not performed by private insurance.

Does somebody have a number for the totality of the remuneration to senior management and stockholders? That may be the limit of the actual savings.

Would somebody help me understand how we would make sure the government does not use the annual appropriations cycle to slowly induce rationing and ultimately euthanasia in the name of cost reductions? There are rumors, unconfirmed, that that is exactly what they are doing to “reduce” the costs of the much less then a single payer system on the table in DC.

Matt Toplikar 8 years, 10 months ago

Neo-conservatives please-- Get over it. It's gonna happen. People need health care and all the bs you can throw up here is not going to change that. It's only a matter of time and you're just wasting your energy. If you had been screwed over by the health insurance industry, you might understand this better.
So let me put it to you as clearly as possible: This idea and movement is not going away and will only become stronger every year that people don't have health coverage. You are fighting a losing battle. Give it up. You'll sleep better.

George Lippencott 8 years, 10 months ago

mtoplikar (Anonymous) says…

There is a difference between "universal coverage " -everybody has health care to a greater and lesser degree - and a single payer government owned and operated system. The former is the search in DC right now. Just what is it we need to accept becaues it is going to happen??

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

mtoplikar (Anonymous) says…

"Neo-conservatives please— Get over it. It's gonna happen."

Awww, wook ... the cute widdle child thinks he knows what 'neo-conservative' means.

mtop has the same problem as the LTE writer - he thinks he understands the issue from the Party soundbites. If we don't turn over the whole thing to the government right now, then poor sick children will be dying in droves, yada yada yada.

Perhaps those of you in the "movement," mtop, should be aware that your "movement" can't even decide what direction it's going in? Even Obama doesn't want a single-payer system. As a matter of fact, if you go to some of the single-payer propaganda sites like PNHP's, you'd see that the single-payer folks are very upset with the pres for his 'government-option' plan. And the president can't even get enough support from his own party for that, let alone universal coverage.

Pipe dreams never do seem to 'go away,' mtop - luckily, they never seem to come true, either.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 10 months ago

Just what is the connection between being healthy and being moral?

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

vertigo (Jesse Crittenden) says…

"If it doesn't work, why then aren't the people of those nations clamoring to get rid of it? The reason they're not is because the system does work. How many other nations out there are with some form of universal health care are begging for a change to a private industry system where a good portion of their population will no longer be covered? None you say? Hmm… interesting."

Before you make such statements, you should really do something to lower your level of ignorance on the issue.

One of the reasons the people aren't 'clamoring' is that in countries such as Canada, it was illegal for private insurance to cover treatments and procedures that were covered by the national healthcare plan. The people did, indeed 'clamor' - the result of which was that at least one of the province's (Canada's largest) supreme court ruled that the province could not prevent private insurers from covering those procedures (for the not-so-little reason that people were dying from the wait for national healthcare).

You might also ask yourself the question as to why so many Canadians even choose to have private insurance. Could it be that surveys show the majority of Canadians think their own system is broken and in need of major changes?

llama726 8 years, 10 months ago

"mtop—i will never give up on freedom and free markets."

How noble of you, but free markets don't produce the best results on social services needing to be applied to everyone in society. The free market can determine the value of goods, but when it comes to health care, it doesn't do well enough.

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

vertigo (Jesse Crittenden) says…

"Canadian private insurance covers things that the public health system doesn't- i.e optometry, dentistry, etc. That's WHY so many Canadians have some form of supplemental insurance. Maybe YOU should do something to lower YOUR ignorance on the subject."

Um - you are familiar with the points of the case you cited, aren't you? Canadians had private insurance to cover the (very many) things their tax dollars didn't pay for because it was against the law for the insurance companies to pay for treatments that the national program covered - until that case. (Yeah, sure, I'm sure the Quebec supreme court ruled in Mr. Chaoulli's favor because he was the only one who had a problem. Brilliant.)

And by the way, does that explain why hospitals in Vermont, NY, Michigan, Washington, etc., are full of hoards of Canadians? For "supplemental" care?

And I don't suppose you bothered to check out any surveys on how satisfied Canadians are with their system? Here's one you might find informative:

Among the interesting tidbits - 60% of Canadians believe they "likely to be subject to a serious medical error while being treated in a Canadian hospital" - and 74% of nurses & 77% of healthcare managers agree with them. If allowed to cover the same services with private insurance that the national plan covers, 64% believe they'd have shorter waits, 59% said more access, and 55% said better quality - despite the belief by the majority that prices would increase. And interestingly enough, 55% believe the Canadian healthcare system needs "a complete rebuilding or some major repairs." Yeah, they sound satisfied.

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

vertigo (Jesse Crittenden) says…

"Interesting tidbit from your own survey- those that state “a complete rebuild” (i.e. scrapping the current system) is only 14%."

A number that's included in the majority that believe it needs at least 'major repairs.' Your original claim was that they weren't clamoring for change. Whether or not they prefer to fix the current system, the 86% you noted that believe the government should be providing more sounds like a clamor to me - especially when a majority believes the system needs either scapping or at least major repairs.

I had mentioned that the majority believed it would increase costs to allow private insurers to compete with the government (yet the pro-nationalized medicine contingent here seem to believe the opposite - how odd). Yet they still believe it would lead to better quality. It would lead to fewer doctors, according to their expressed beliefs in the survey - yet they still believe it would lead to better access. Try analyzing the data instead of reciting the ideological talking points. Fewer doctors but better access - and you propose what, more doctors but less access? Great plan.

I linked to the survey. Sorry I didn't quote the entire survey, there is a word limit in these posts. I included the salient points to rebutt your contention that people in socialized medicine countries aren't 'clamoring' for change. The people in Canada are. The fact that the 'major repairs' they are clamoring for is not a complete scrapping of the system they have is irrelevant - the same holds true here. The fact that the majority of people in this country want major changes in our own system does not mean they want the government to run the whole show, either. People are pretty much dissatisfied with everything these days. That's not much of an excuse to spend trillions on an experiment to see if it could be done better - when the alternative isn't something people are happy with in those other countries, either.

Oh, and there's another possible reason you don't perceive those in other countries 'clamoring' for change - when someone grows up being fed dog food and being told it's a steak dinner, they aren't likely to know the difference, are they?

notajayhawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Oh, sorry, vertigo, here, let me spend 10 or 12 hours doing your homework for you.

I picked one country - besides being the closest it's the one most often talked about in this debate. And once again, when people eat dog food their whole lives, they don't even know they have anything to complain about. The reason I cited the percentage of Canadians who believe they'll be a victim of a medical error was to illustrate that very point. When 6 out of 10 people expect to be the victim of a medical error (and 3 out of 4 nurses agree with them), if they don't demand huge changes to their system, it shows just how satisfied they can be with dog food.

If the people in Europe or Canada or the Far East want to have socialized medicine, good for them. If they want to ride bicycles instead of cars, hey, more power to them. If they choose to forgo private ownership in favor of the state, or accept the absolute rule of a monarch, great! If they want to live a life where the government tells them how many children they're allowed to have or which internet sites they can access, terrific!

But this isn't Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Brunei, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabian, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Pakistan, Thailand, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, New Zealand, or Australia. Those countries are free to make their own mistakes. I can only try to keep my own country from emulating them.

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