Letters to the Editor

By the rules

October 25, 2009


To the editor:

I thank Cal Thomas for his Oct. 21 column. He clearly illustrates a major obstacle to much-needed health care reform: the healthy and wealthy who just don’t get it. Cal suggests anyone suffering under our current system must have made bad decisions. If they would “play by the rules, stay in school, refuse to take drugs, marry before having children, and stay married” then they would thrive under our current system. Cal’s self-righteous finger-wagging proves his ignorance, but fixes nothing.

Cal, I play by the rules. I stayed in school, kindergarten through master’s degree. I refuse drugs. My children, born in wedlock, were birthed by my one and only wife of 18 years. Teaching public school for 14 years, 28 percent of my income is now taken by health insurance premiums. That’s not a typo, nor did I leave out a decimal. Twenty-eight percent.

The student loans I accrued in school are now in deferment so I can insure my family. That deferment ends this year, and I don’t know how I’ll make the payments. Perhaps we just won’t eat. Meanwhile, my deductible and out-of-pocket expenses have increased 1,000 percent in one year. That’s no typo: one thousand percent.

Cal, you want people to work hard without government help. Fair enough, but ask the same of health insurance companies. Current antitrust law exemptions allow health insurance companies (and only health insurance companies) virtual monopolies; resulting in 400 percent profit growth in recent years while forcing preventable illness, death and financial ruin on millions of Americans.


Maddy Griffin 8 years, 5 months ago

Cal Thomas must own stocks and bonds in the insurance industry. Why would anyone NOT want health care reform, unless they are deeply invested in the current system.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

Creating a fair, efficient, effective and affordable healthcare system isn't a "bailout." And defending the status quo of a corrupt and inefficient healthcare system just to maintain some sort of ideological purity collectively shoots us all in both feet-- yet again. And you know what they say about repeating the same actions over and over, expecting different results.

rbwaa 8 years, 5 months ago

This is an excellent illustration for a public health insurance option since health insurance companies are not going to change their inhumane practices.

Brent Garner 8 years, 5 months ago

According to recent required SEC financial statement postings health insurance company profit margins have been at or below 5% for several years. From a financial viewpoint they are less profitable than Kentucky Fried Chicken. In fact, many have been downgraded as far as risk is concerned because of declines in profit margin. Now before you start shouting that the financial statements are a lie, you need to understand that these statements must be filed under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which have been developed under the guidance of the SEC. Violating those can result in fraud charges and jail time--see Enron. Companies do not violate those as a rule because the risk of punishment is entirely too great. Therefore, the claim of 400% increases in profits cannot be shown from the required financial filings.

Now, can the healthcare situation be improve? No doubt. Greater competition, which we don't have, would be a starting point, but handing healthcare over to the gov't will NOT increase competition but will decrease it. In fact, the only way the "public option" comes in as less expensive than private plans is because the gov't factors in its ability to dictate prices--read that as price controls--and price controls DO NOT increase supply, they restrict supply which only drives up costs. If you doubt that go research the history of rent controls in places like New York City and other places. Rent controls were implemented to control costs, but they have not created a greater supply of housing but have succeeded in increasing the cost of the available supply.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"According to recent required SEC financial statement postings health insurance company profit margins have been at or below 5% for several years."

This is a totally disingenuous argument-- profit is figured after expenses, and among the expenses that insurance companies pay are huge executive salaries, corporate jets, luxury office towers, and administrative expenses that are at least 6 times what it takes to administer Medicare.

It's also disingenuous in that one of the rationales for profit is that it is the source of investment capital. But what do insurance companies need to invest in? They really don't do anything but transfer money, taking an extremely healthy cut for themselves along the way.

Not to mention that 5% profit on a sector that makes up 1/6 of the US economy is a whole lot of money (money they are frantically using to bribe US lawmakers to save their sacred cash cow.)

Jimo 8 years, 5 months ago

labmonkey - insurance in general shouldn't make hardly any profit at all. Why would they? There's no unique insight, technology, or other basis to lock in profitability unlike almost any other industry. Profit for merely predicting that future payouts will be almost indentical to past payouts?

Sorry, but no one would expect significant profit for an insurer than they would a farmer. Over time, you're lucky to recover your investment. Indeed, insurance should be about the most boring, low profit industry imaginable.

That an insurer makes the profit noted in your link is in fact damning evidence against them - that they've managed to rig the system in their favor. (Surprising what a few bribes to politicians will do, isn't it?)

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Why pay the most expensive medical insurance industry in the world anything?

Never never never forget… It is the private medical insurance industry that cancels YOUR medical insurance AFTER taking YOUR MONEY for years. Years and hundreds of thousands dollars later no one has any guarantee of any coverage.

Not only that if an employer makes a switch there is no guarantee any coverage or same coverage will be available.

Face it what wayyyyyyyyyyyyy too many healthy citizens pay out to insurance companies in a 12 month period they would never spend that much in 12 months no way jose'... with very very few exceptions. So why are we giving a middle man so much money? What's the point?

Paying out all that money is no guarantee the most expensive insurance industry will stick with you when the bills come rolling in.

Think about it. It's so many many many working people WITH insurance that are being forced into bankruptcy. Why pay an insurance company anything?

The most expensive medical industry on the planet DOES NOT provide health care. This industry only makes money and lots of it.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Following national trends, each year a larger share of the budget of the Kingston City School District (Ulster County, NY) is needed to meet health benefit costs, which have nearly tripled over the last ten years.

In 2007-2008 the Kingston City School District paid out $65.6 million in wages and $22.6 million for health benefits, including basic hospital, medical, dental and vision care and a 1.45% payroll tax for Medicare.

Under HR 676, the school district would have paid only $3.9 million for health benefits, resulting in a savings of $18.7 million for the 2007-2008 school year.

Under HR 676, the average school district employee with an annual wage of $44,700 would pay only $123/month in a new 3.3% payroll tax—eliminating co-pays and deductibles.

The savings could: • support 200 new teachers • fund major capital improvements to every school • reduce class size and provide a teaching assistant for every class

The Kingston City School District is just one of 87,850 state and local government jurisdictions in the U.S. Imagine the impact of replicating these savings over the entire country!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Healthcare Savings for Healthier Cities

For far too long, rising healthcare costs have drained local and state budgets of the resources they need to rebuild, renovate and restore the vitality of their communities.

• Our employees are paying more in premiums, co-pays and deductibles, yet too many are denied needed care.

• Increasing health benefits costs—averaging 11% a year since 1999—consume city and county budgets, leaving more and more of our residents uninsured. (Currently, 48 million Americans lack health insurance.)

• Tax revenues cannot fill the gap, especially during an economic downturn.

• As state and local government debt increases, bond ratings go down.

• With state and local coffers bleeding, residents face cuts in needed services such as police and fire pro- tection, medical services for the uninsured, parks and recreation.

The passage of HR 676—Improved Medicare-for-All—is a win-win situation.

It could transform this bleak picture, providing guaranteed health care for all while helping financially-strapped state and local governments find new monies to underwrite growing challenges.

Indeed, estimates show that they could realize at least $70 billion in annual health care savings.

jaywalker 8 years, 5 months ago

"and administrative expenses that are at least 6 times what it takes to administer Medicare"

Ironic that bozo seeks to lecture someone on what is and isn't disingenuous, and then offers that statement. Important to know what you're talking about first, bozo, might help you avoid looking like a fool.

"But what do insurance companies need to invest in?"

Important to know what you're talking about first, bozo, ......

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 5 months ago

Merrill- there are a couple of reasons premiums go up- 1. Number and amount of claims 2. Age of the potential people going to be insured 3. Etc.

In your example, can you asnwer how many claims & the amount of claims paid out ?? What is the average age of the people being insured.

Look at USD497- their insurance is expenseive because they have a lot of older people on their plan, they have a lot of claims that are a lot of many.

Merrill- I have said it before let the government take over all of the lawn mowing businesses and run them for a few years before taking over health care. Let the government regulate more the lawn mowing businesses and get it right before regulating more the health care business.

Do you agtree or does it reach to close to home.

Brent Garner 8 years, 5 months ago

Bozo: You are obviously not conversant with accounting methods nor are you conversant with existing regulations on insurance companies. As for salaries, it appears that you have succumbed to the Marxist idea that profits and income are evil, evil that is if its more than you make. Please note that the companies that Dear Leader's pay czar is dictating salaries to are already losing their best and brightest who can be hired away because other companies can offer them more. Will this lead to the US taxpayer getting back all that money "given" to these companies? No, this will cause the brain drain that will put these companies at risk for further collapse. But, then again, perhaps that is what is wanted. Also, Bozo, remember this, if you grant the government authority to set those folks' income, you set the precedence, at least, of the government setting incomes and sooner or later that could come down to you! Do you really want that or perhaps you believe that the government will benevolently raise your income as it restricts theirs? That also would be a decidedly Marxist idea. So, Bozo, are you a secret Marxist at heart??

jafs 8 years, 5 months ago


Bozo's point is that if executives at insurance companies are bringing in 6 figure salaries, premiums are paying for that and the administrative costs as well as the profit margin.

The companies that the administration is trying to set some maximum pay levels for are companies that needed the government to bail them out because they were failing.

Executives at these companies were clearly not the "best and brightest" otherwise that wouldn't have happened.

Either that or the bar is set way too low.

And the word you're attempting to use is "precedent".

BigDog 8 years, 5 months ago

Why would you think that the government could do any better with insurance ..... people throw out Medicare as an example of how great the federal government does with insurance

Medicare currently has $89 trillion in future unfunded liabilities ....... five times the unfunded liabilities in Social Security. How many people believe Social Security will be there for them when they retire in 20-30 years? But they believe Medicare will be there to take care of them .....hmmmm

How about figuring out a way to fix the system the government is already running before taking on more?

Not opposed the reforming health care and health insurance system, just don't believe the government has run anything better than private sector. Somehow their "programs/businesses" seem to lose money or cost way more than projected .... ie. Post Office, wars, Amtrak, Social Security, Medicare Medicaid, Cash for Clunkers, etc.

weeslicket 8 years, 5 months ago

cal says: "How about showing the “less fortunate” the way to become fortunate? Does anyone hear a politician in either party encouraging people to do for themselves, instead of relying on government? And that goes for big corporations, too." no serious argument there.

and: "People who play by the rules, stay in school, refuse to take drugs, marry before having children and stay married, are no longer considered worthy role models by government, which has no intention of making them the norm." odd. these descriptors seem to apply to the role models most people i know look to.
do we 'play by the rules' because 'life in unfair'? or is it because that life is unfair that we feel the need to play by the rules.

and: " These norms have disappeared in a cloud of diversity and political correctness." hardly.

and: "If you have been an honest businessperson and give money to your church and charities to help others who want to succeed but are having difficulty doing so through no fault of their own, that no longer matters. In fact, government proposes to reduce the deductibility of your charitable giving because government sees itself as more capable of charity than you." church. charities. charitable giving. charity.

but especially: "but are having difficulty doing so through no fault of their own," (compassion for others) "that no longer matters." (because it doesn't benefit me personally as much now as it has in the past. a most excellent sense of compassion)

parrothead8 8 years, 5 months ago

bkgarner (Brent Garner) says… if you grant the government authority to set those folks' income, you set the precedence, at least, of the government setting incomes and sooner or later that could come down to you!

Brent, if the government OWNS a majority of my business, they have the right to set salaries at my business. If those "best and brightest" folks had run their businesses better, the government would not now own their businesses.

Personally, I'm all for government staying out of my private life...but the role of government is to serve and protect, to do for the people what the people cannot do for themselves. WE need help when it comes to health insurance, because the health insurance industry is suing the power of its lobby (operating expenses) to ensure it continues its monopolistic hold over our very lives.

In America, life itself is becoming a class-driven commodity. If you have money, you live. If not, you die.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.