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Letters to the Editor

Forced insurance

February 12, 2010

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To the editor:

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook’s proposed amendment to the state constitution, prohibiting the federal government from forcing Kansans to have health insurance, requires close analysis.

Paul Degener says he has Medicare and doesn’t like it, and wants rid of it. Let’s suppose Mr. Degener has the misfortune to be involved in a serious automobile accident and is rushed to the emergency room. Upon his arrival it is discovered he has no insurance. What does the staff do, give the ambulance driver the address of the nearest mortuary? Probably not. A team of several doctors, nurses and aides will reset his many broken bones and stitch up his ruptured internal organs. They will save his life.

Now, who pays for all of this? Not Mr. Degener, unless he has (unlike most of us) two or three hundred thousand to a million dollars set aside for such an eventuality. No, it will be the public, either through higher fees the hospital must charge to recoup their expenses (after all, where would a hospital keep six or seven thousand Rhode Island Reds), or through some government agency who would bail Mr. Degener out.

It appears this amendment (as an unintended consequence, perhaps) promotes a public option. If so, why not settle for the best: a single-payer system.

I wonder if Sen. Pilcher-Cook is considering language in her amendment that would prevent government from forcing Kansans to purchase car insurance.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

"It's easy to blame greedy insurance companies for higher prices, but Sony doesn't lower the price of it's HDTVs out of the kindness of the CEO's heart."

I suppose if we were to staff the hospitals and emergency rooms with Chinese peasants who only get 30¢ an hour, (or Mexicans for $1.50) then costs would go down, LO, although medical outcomes may be slightly different.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

As Liberty said (and I've been saying for quite a while), the problem is the cost, not who pays for it.

But I'm getting pretty sick and tired of seeing the 'argument' presented in this LTE - that the rest of us have to pay for it if the accident victim doesn't have insurance.

Believe it or not, Mr. Kimball, SOME people actually have the audacity to believe they're responsible for paying their own bills. It is absolutely amazing to me that so many people around Lawrence base their 'argument' for forced insurance on the notion that people have no personal responsibility - that really says a lot about those using that 'argument'.

Then again, so does the constant re-hashing of the 'But what about car insurance' line. Mr. Kimball, nobody is forced to carry car insurance. First off, of course, you don't have to have a car. But even if you do decide the exercise the privilege of driving, you only have to demonstrate financial responsibility for damages you may cause to someone else, not to losses you personally incur. That is, you have to carry liability insurance, but you do NOT have to insure against losses you may incur - you're allowed to assume that risk yourself. Just as you should be allowed to assume the risk for your own health care expenses.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"I suppose if we were to staff the hospitals and emergency rooms with Chinese peasants who only get 30¢ an hour, (or Mexicans for $1.50) then costs would go down, LO, although medical outcomes may be slightly different."

How strange that boohoohoohoozo believes the quality of medical care is related to the cost, when he's been blathering for years about how all these other countries provide care just as good as ours for so much less money.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

"As Liberty said (and I've been saying for quite a while), the problem is the cost, not who pays for it."

Of course the cost is the problem-- and this idiotic system that's designed to deliver profits, not healthcare, is the primary reason for that.

BTW, my first post was in response to LO, who wants to compare cheap electronic goods made by slave labor to healthcare.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

*First of all medical insurance giants do not provide health care they are the "middle men" who USE YOUR MONEY to make large profits.

*Let's get smart and eliminate the NOT necessary "middle men". CIGNA CEO was recently awarded a $73 million retirement bonus out of the health care dollar pie.

What else would single payer eliminate?

  • Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Insurers make paperwork confusing because "they realize that people will just simply give up and not pursue it" if they think they have been shortchanged, Potter said.

More on this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636.html

  • The nations consumers could have excellent National Health insurance for all if one would eliminate: elected officials as shareholders special interest campaign funding the insurance industry recklessly spending health care dollars to bribe votes the news media offering misinformation ( their large advertising revenue is at stake)

Remember it is the most expensive medical insurance in the world that denies care and/or cancels coverage after taking ones money for years and years.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

The U.S. health care system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system, so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health care bill is paid through taxes($1.2 trillion), according to a 2002 analysis published in Health Affairs by Harvard Medical School associate professors Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein.

Tax dollars pay for Medicare and Medicaid, for the Veterans Administration and the Indian Health Service. Tax dollars pay for health coverage for federal, state, and municipal government employees and their families, as well as for many employees of private companies working on government contracts.

Less visible but no less important, the tax deduction for employer-paid health insurance, along with other health care-related tax deductions, also represents a form of government spending on health care.

It makes little difference whether the government gives taxpayers (or their employers) a deduction for their health care spending, on the one hand, or collects their taxes then pays for their health care, either directly or via a voucher, on the other.

Moreover, tax dollars also pay for critical elements of the health care system apart from direct care—Medicare funds much of the expensive equipment hospitals use, for instance, along with all medical residencies.

All told, then, tax dollars already pay for at least $1.2 trillion in annual U.S. health care expenses. Since federal, state, and local governments collected approximately $3.5 trillion in taxes of all kinds—income, sales, property, corporate—in 2006, that means that more than one third of the aggregate tax revenues collected in the United States that year went to pay for health care.

Recognizing these hidden costs that U.S. households pay for health care today makes it far easier to see how a universal single-payer system—with all of its obvious advantages—can cost most Americans less than the one we have today.

Medicare must exist in the fragmented world that is American health care—but no matter how creative the opponents of single-payer get, there is no way they can show convincingly how the administrative costs of a single-payer system could come close to the current level.

More on this matter: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

You're the one trying to make the comparison, not me, LO. The reason Sony can sell their stuff so cheap is because they use extremely cheap labor-- much cheaper than can ever happen here, since very little of medical care can be outsourced.

"I suppose for a doctor to make anything less than $400k a year is slave labor. "

Are medical salaries too high? Probably, but under the current (non)system, they aren't going to come down-- quite the contrary.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

Your vaunted markets can be manipulated and distorted, LO, and in a completely laissez-faire system, they always are. Which is exactly what has happened in our current (non) system.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

LIberty,

Healthcare isn't quite a "product" in the sense that a TV is.

We all will need healthcare of some sort, but we don't need a TV.

Thus the demand is much less elastic, and the normal supply/demand analysis is not as useful.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Mr Kimball is a very smart consumer. For all of those screaming about tax dollars Mr Kimball is trying to reduce the number of tax dollars our city,state and federal governments spend providing health insurance to millions of employees .... not a bad idea.

Single payer/IMPROVED Medicare for All insurance would substantially reduce the cost of medical insurance that our Board of Education is funding probably by about 50%.

This insurance could cost about $250-$300 per month for a family of four plus eliminates co-pays and deductibles.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

"As for Sony, most of their TVs are made in Japan and they don't use slave labor."

"Slightly more than 50% of the electronics' segment's total annual production during the fiscal year 2005 took place in Japan,"

And it's been decreasing ever since. I seriously doubt that they make a point of paying more than whatever the prevailing wages are in whatever country in which their manufacturing takes place.

While you want to assert that it's "government interference" in healthcare that drives up costs, this is not supported by the fact that other countries with much greater government involvement cover more people for considerably less cost.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

At $18,000 - $20,000 a year for coverage that will stand by a patient no matter what how much more deregulated can it get?

Deregulation has not worked in the energy or the home loan industry, Why? Because it requires super human discipline to stop greed. Simply impossible.

Deregulation is Reaganomics/Wrecknomics = screws consumers.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

"*First of all medical insurance giants do not provide health care they are the “middle men” who use your money to make large profits."

First of all, medical insurance is not supposed to provide health care, any more than car insurance is supposed to provide transportation or homeowner's insurance is supposed to provide shelter. Do you understand the purpose of insurance, merrill?

As for the rest of merrill's posts:

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

If only somebody had posted enough drivel about HB 676, we'd all have unicorns by now.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

"First of all, medical insurance is not supposed to provide health care, any more than car insurance is supposed to provide transportation or homeowner's insurance is supposed to provide shelter. Do you understand the purpose of insurance, merrill?"

Do you understand the difference between apples and oranges, nota?

situveux1 4 years, 9 months ago

the great thing about constitutional amendments is a majority of people must approve them first.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

"What about the cost of having to wait (and wait and wait) for treatment?"

Sorry, but there is really no evidence that, overall, wait times are substantially greater in those countries than here. And if you factor in that at any given point in time, somewhere between 1/6 and 1/3 of the population here have no wait times whatsoever, because they never even get to get in line.

I'm sure that if in all those other countries, if they wanted to spend twice as much, and exclude 1/6 of the population from access to healthcare, they could eliminate any amount of waiting.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 9 months ago

"Because they weren't deregulated."

No, regulations were just made toothless and/or not strictly enforced.

diplomacy205 4 years, 9 months ago

My doctor works at least 60 hours a week. The Doctor is available for 45 hours at the office and works at a free clinic for at least 15. Then there are the additional hours spent on call. How much should the doctor be paid?

diplomacy205 4 years, 9 months ago

I wonder if the people who state that Canada's health system costs less than ours know how the accounting works.

Does the costs of the government agencies to support the system get factored in or do they just point out the payments to medical providers? I've tried to see a breakdown of the costs of Canada's system by budgetary category, but the numbers are obfuscated.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

Ask Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams about how wonderful and universal health care is in Canada.

He came to an American hospital when his own life was on the line.

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2510700

puddleglum 4 years, 9 months ago

I wonder if Sen. Pilcher-Cook is considering language in her amendment that would prevent government from forcing Kansans to purchase car insurance.

I've been saying this for years!!!!!!!!!!!!!

how about a poll?

We are forced to buy car insurance, why not force us to buy health insurance? don't give me that crap about car insurance is for the others around you either.

where is the outrage over forced car insurance?

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

"Single-payer for thee, but not for me" is the take-away.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Do you understand the difference between apples and oranges, nota?"

Apparently you don't, Herr Klowne, since there is absolutely no apples-to-oranges comparison here. (And, incidentally, it was the LTE writer that introduced the comparison.)

Insurance is insurance. It is a financial risk management product, nothing more and nothing less. For a fee, a third party agrees to assume the risk of a major and unforeseeable expense. The source of that expense is irrelevant, whether it's from a car accident, a house fire, a major illness, a concert or sporting event being rained out, or a space shuttle exploding on launch. The problem comes in because people like you think what causes the expense somehow makes health insurance different. It does not.

The other problem is the way we've misused health insurance. We don't use car insurance to buy gas, pay for oil changes or new brakes, or to install a new car stereo. We don't use homeowner's insurance to remodel the kitchen or paint the house a different color. But for some reason we started using health insurance to pay for the normal, foreseeable, routine costs that people should be paying for the same way they pay for their gas and oil changes, the same way they budget for that eventual roof re-shingling or replacement water heater.

If we only used health insurance for the purpose insurance is intended for, those unexpected major expenses, it would be affordable. And if we didn't use it for every routine physical or runny nose, then those visits would be affordable without insurance.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"And if you factor in that at any given point in time, somewhere between 1/6 and 1/3 of the population here have no wait times whatsoever, because they never even get to get in line."

Do you actually believe the lies you post, boohoohoohoohoozo?

Even your revered Party dogmatists have revised their claims downward that there are only about 30 million Americans without insurance, and about half those are by choice. That leaves about one-twentieth of the population that does not have access to health insurance, and far fewer that can't get health CARE.

Seriously, Herr Klowne - you make spurious claims such as 100 million people can't even get in line for healthcare and you wonder why people laugh off your posts?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Forced insurance coverage is a tax dollar gravy train for the medical insurance industry at today's cost for certain. My my how they love socialism.

============================================ If millions of healthy insured dropped their policies not only would they save thousands of dollars the insurance industry would faint in disbelief that this many people actually are awake and give a damn.

Sooner or later another few million would do the same. Suddenly all of america would realize the medical insurance business has been doing nothing but making tons and tons of profit by way of fear mongering.

At that point all would see that america could have insurance at a much much lower rate for the best coverage in the world that includes the entire family.

Makes dollars and sense to me. More money to invest smart instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

Maybe get on with that home improvement with cash instead of borrowing from the bank.....just maybe.

Maybe go to Jamaica for a few weeks instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

Most consumers are under-insured = candidate for bankruptcy.

Most coverage WILL NOT stick with consumers when the going gets tough = fraud.

What could be done with that high profit middle man money that which DOES NOT provide health care?

  1. Home Improvements = jobs

  2. Invest in a green annuity

  3. Create a college investment account for children

  4. Purchase a fuel efficient auto = money saved and secures jobs in the automotive industry

  5. Buy gifts for a lover which improves ones quality of life and boosts a local economy

  6. Buy a second home in the Rocky Mountains = helps reduce number of homes for sale

  7. Keep an existing vehicle in top running condition = dollars saved and clean air

  8. Landscape a yard to reduce mowing substantially and requires far less water = conservation of natural resources and more money in the wallet

10.Donate to a local zoo or library.

*11. PAY OFF CREDIT CARDS

  1. Set up a health care investment account or annuity that makes YOU money instead of wealthy CEO's. Your health care annuity will NOT cancel out on when the poop hits fan.

  2. National Health Insurance is far better for America than the public option and certainly way better than the status quo by several thousand bucks.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 9 months ago

notajayhawk (Anonymous) says…

As Liberty said (and I've been saying for quite a while), the problem is the cost, not who pays for it.

But I'm getting pretty sick and tired of seeing the 'argument' presented in this LTE - that the rest of us have to pay for it if the accident victim doesn't have insurance.

Believe it or not, Mr. Kimball, SOME people actually have the audacity to believe they're responsible for paying their own bills.


That's right some people do, and some don't. I've seen it firsthand. I wouldn't mind it if the system enabled me to quit subsidizing those that don't.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 9 months ago

"9. Landscape a yard to reduce mowing substantially and requires far less water = conservation of natural resources and more money in the wallet" {snort}

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

cg22165 (Anonymous) says…

"That's right some people do, and some don't. I've seen it firsthand. I wouldn't mind it if the system enabled me to quit subsidizing those that don't."

Of course you wouldn't. You don't see anything disingenuous at all in saying it's not right for you to be forced to subsidize those who can't pay their bills, so you want the government to force someone else to do it?

bearded_gnome 4 years, 9 months ago

important to note: when boozo the ranting clown attacks profits, he doesn't even know what they are!

look at his previous posts. he thinks profits are only money reinvested in business, and even payments to managers and supervisors!!! lmao.

profit is such a foreign concept to his addled mind he doesn't know that profit is gain. gain won through investment of capital, talent, hard work, and acceptance of risk. profit is the payback.

and Merrill the greenie fascist thinks along with Boozo that they can decide when people have made enough profit.

that is dangerous: people who don't understand profit believe themselves wise enough to recognize when the other guy has enough profit! Soon, they'll decide when everybody has enough money, and when you go above a certain level taxes confiscate all...oh but that's been in the mouth of the big O'dude for many months now.

indeed, it is not profitable for canadian cardiologists to care for that premier's heart condition there in Canada. where's the highest concentration of Canadian doctors? A: Florida.

and indeed boozo is just making it up. a few months ago the Canadian Supreme Court stated that their singlepayer system was failing Canadians, and killing them, through the wait times.

but of course Boozo knows the Canadian system better than the Canadian Supreme Court, riiiiight.

understand boozo/merill[greenie fascist]: profits always bad; private enterprise always baaad.

however in a recent survey, americans overwhelmingly stated that they do not trust their government to do things even almost right some of the time!!! so of course americans are skeptical of government takeover of health care.

boozo/Merrill[greenie fascist]: doctors paid too much, take their money and to heck with the effect of decreasing number of available doctors.

unfortunately, boozo/Merrill[greenie fascist] accurately reflect the thinking of Mr. Obama and his cadres.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Under Improved Medicare for All Insurance have no fear the private health care industry will not go broke.

There is no evidence that there will be less doctors under Improved Medicare Insurance for All. The heath care industry will continue to grow according to Nightly Business Report.

Not only that 2.6 million new jobs are projected under Improved Medicare Insurance for All. The economic impact of this would create more jobs throughout the economy.

Health Care NOW is EXPANDED/Guaranteed Medicare Insurance for ALL and does understand that EXPANDED/Guaranteed Medicare Insurance for ALL rates and fees need to be tweaked to meet current demands.

The private health care system will not go broke no way jose'.

A primary reason the Medicare system was chosen is to save tons of dollars. This system is in place thus preventing the reinvention of the wheel thus saving millions of tax dollars. It is a program that works therefore why not adopt, improve and tweak where necessary.

The health care industry is familiar with Medicare. AND several hundred million "clients" = substantial buying power thus reduction in cost for items such as prescriptions.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Here are 10 great reasons to support the U.S. National Health Insurance Act/IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for All: http://guaranteedhealthcare4all.org/sites/default/files/10-Reasons.pdf

  1. Everybody In, Nobody Out. Universal means access to health care for everyone, period.

  2. Portability. If you are unemployed, or lose or change jobs, your health coverage stays with you.

  3. Uniform Benefits. No Cadillac plans for the wealthy and Pinto plans for everyone else, with high deductibles, limited services, caps on payments for care, and no protection in the event of a catastrophe. One level of comprehensive care for everyone, regardless of the size of your wallet.

  4. Prevention. By removing financial roadblocks, a universal health system encourages preventive care that lowers an individual's ultimate cost and pain and suffering when problems are neglected and societal cost in the over-utilization of emergency rooms or the spread of communicable diseases.

  5. Choice. Most private insurance restricts your choice of providers and hospitals. Under the U.S. National Health Insurance Act, patients have a choice, and the provider is assured a fair payment.

  6. No Interference with Care. Caregivers and patients regain their autonomy to decide what's best for a patient's health, not what's dictated by the billing department. No denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions or cancellation of policies for "unreported" minor health problems.

  7. Reducing Waste. One third of every private health insurance dollar goes for paperwork and profits, compared to about 3% under Medicare, the federal government’s universal system for senior citizen healthcare.

  8. Cost Savings. A guaranteed health care system can produce the cost savings needed to cover everyone, largely by using existing resources without the waste. Taiwan, shifting from a U.S. private health care model, adopted a similar system in 1995, boosting health coverage from 57% to 97% with little increase in overall health care spending.

  9. Common Sense Budgeting. The public system sets fair reimbursements applied equally to all providers, private and public, while assuring that appropriate health care is delivered, and uses its clout to negotiate volume discounts for prescription drugs and medical equipment.

  10. Public Oversight. The public sets the policies and administers the system, not high priced CEOs meeting in private and making decisions based on their company’s stock performance needs.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

"There is no evidence that there will be less doctors under Improved Medicare Insurance for All."

Well, except for the ever-growing number of providers who are refusing to accept Medicare already.

"3. Uniform Benefits. No Cadillac plans for the wealthy and Pinto plans for everyone else"

Right - Pinto (or more likely Yugo) plans for everyone - The Marxist Utopia!

"6. No Interference with Care"

What color is the sky on your planet, merrill?

"8. Cost Savings ... Taiwan, shifting from a U.S. private health care model, adopted a similar system in 1995, boosting health coverage from 57% to 97% with little increase in overall health care spending."

How much kool-aid do you have to swallow, merrill, to be able to call an "increase" (no matter how "little") a "cost savings"?


puddleglum (Anonymous) says…

"We are forced to buy car insurance, why not force us to buy health insurance? don't give me that crap about car insurance is for the others around you either."

No, we certainly wouldn't want to confuse you with facts. Especially those you're apparently incapable of fathoming.

Melissa Sigler 4 years, 9 months ago

notajayhawk says...

The other problem is the way we've misused health insurance. We don't use car insurance to buy gas, pay for oil changes or new brakes, or to install a new car stereo. We don't use homeowner's insurance to remodel the kitchen or paint the house a different color. But for some reason we started using health insurance to pay for the normal, foreseeable, routine costs that people should be paying for the same way they pay for their gas and oil changes, the same way they budget for that eventual roof re-shingling or replacement water heater.

If we only used health insurance for the purpose insurance is intended for, those unexpected major expenses, it would be affordable. And if we didn't use it for every routine physical or runny nose, then those visits would be affordable without insurance.


While it may be true that people overuse the healthcare system at times (for minor problems), going without preventative healthcare altogether would be devastating. Some people can't afford a couple hundred dollars for a routine exam (pap smear for women, blood checks, etc) and therefore might not go altogether. This could lead to further health problems down the road, which could end up costing a lot MORE money for either them, and/or the insurance company. Going in for a yearly exam, especially if you are at risk for any health problems is necessary and shouldn't be qualified as a "cosmetic" procedure, as painting your house might be. It wouldn't be too hard to set aside money for a yearly check up (people still wouldn't do it, but thats their own problem) but taking out this option would be devastating for those who have a minor, but unexpected issue that could end up being worse if they don't get checked out.

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