Letters to the Editor

Letter: No free care

January 11, 2014


To the editor:

Recently on these pages fellow citizen Melinda Henderson claimed, “And colonoscopies and mammograms are FREE (emphasis hers) for everyone.” Fallacious is not a strong enough adjective to describe her rhetoric in support of controversial Public Law 111-148, entitled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA.)

There is no newly created free medical care provided by ACA. Free medical care is charity care voluntarily donated at no charge by a generous provider holding no expectation of reimbursement. Even then, there is a cost for the transportation of the patient to the charity care facility or the charity care provider to the patient — a cost that is paid by someone.

Costs involved for provision of colonoscopies or mammograms for patients under insurance plans under the ACA law such as: medical staff member wages, the purchase and upkeep of the medical instruments used, supplies consumed, and the cost of documentation in health records are not cost-free. Those costs will be paid by: 1) the pool of funds collected by insurers in premiums, 2) by tax receipts from productive workers, 3) other ACA-specific taxes and fees, or 4) by increased federal debt. Medical care provided under ACA with no co-pay, no co-insurance, and no deductible for the patient is not free, and I trust Ms. Henderson is intelligent enough to recognize the outright fallacy in her published words. I wish her well as she develops a refined, fact-based rationale for her opinion on ACA and other matters of public policy.


RJ Johnson 3 years ago

Well written!!

Nothing is free!

Kendall Simmons 3 years ago

Contrary to "popular opinion" here, this letter (and the man's argument) is pretty silly...as well as awfully petty.

So Melinda Henderson should have written "free of charge". Or "free to consumers". Big whoop.

EVERYTHING has a cost...even our air (because, remember, we force companies to pay money to reduce pollution so that the air we breathe is relatively clean).

But, if Henderson shouldn't be allowed to say "free", then it should, for example, be just as wrong...and "fallacious"...for stores, say, to advertise "buy one, get one free" because, obviously, that second "one" is NOT free. I wonder if Kelly rails against that type of claim, too. Or is this, perhaps, just an "I hate the ACA" issue.

My gosh, when writing about getting charity care, Kelly declares "Even then, there is a cost for the transportation of the patient to the charity care facility or the charity care provider to the patient". You want to talk about "fallacious"? (A word he apparently enjoys throwing around.) What "transportation of the patient" cost is there for WALKING to the darn facility, as so many people actually do...both here in Lawrence and elsewhere?

Sorry, but I found this to be an incredibly petty letter.

William Enick 3 years ago

I apologize...but sorry back at ya..."millions of people being harmed..." a little bit knee jerk there...don't think you will be stating this kinda bull in 5 years...

Cille King 3 years ago

The ACA is pointing a gun? I completely missed that. I know that there is a $95 penalty if a person doesn't have insurance in 2014. As many previous discussions mentioned, we all pay in higher premiums for those who are uninsured or under insured. Doctors and hospitals have to be paid one way or another for all that care.

Also mentioned in past discussions, that preventive exams like colonoscopies can save a great deal of expense, suffering, time away from work and families with early detection.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years ago

Your statement about colonoscopies is so very true. My father had one pretty much on a whim in 2007, and it was discovered that he had colon cancer, and it was in stage 4, that is, the cancer had spread all over his body already. So, he went into surgery immediately, and had something like 11 inches, a large amount, of his cancerous colon removed. Then came the bad news, they hadn't been able to remove it all.

He handled the chemotherapy (chemo) and surgery very well, and was cancer free for a little while, and then there were problems with cancerous tumors appearing twice in his liver, and once in one of his kidneys. I think that was all, but I could be wrong. Twice they were treated with surgical methods, but the second tumor in his liver could not be removed because there wouldn't be enough of his liver left afterwards. That one was successfully treated with harsher chemo.

He has very expensive CAT and PET scans regularly, and of course he's been taking chemo intravenously every three weeks, and sometimes once a week, for all these years.

It was fortunate that he had an excellent health insurance policy from Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and I think Medicaid also covered part of the cost. I have no idea what the total cost of his treatment so far has been, and it increases every three weeks with each chemo treatment, but I can assure you that if you took the total cost and subtracted $1,000,000 (One Million Dollars) from it, you would have a whole lot of money left. Possibly well over $1,000,000, but I really don't know, no one ever informed me of any of the costs. I extrapolated that amount from the cost of a very good friend's somewhat similar breast cancer treatment. Almost all of it was covered by the health insurance premiums of people that did not develop cancer. So a large number of people indirectly paid for part of it.

A colonoscopy performed at the polyp stage would have prevented all that expense, trouble, and worry. I wonder how much that 20 or so minute procedure would have cost.

It was certainly a warning for me. Now there have been colon cancer cases on both sides of my family, and I've been informed that current medical opinion is that one of the causative factors is genetic, that is, inherited.

It cannot be stressed enough that everyone should have a regular colonoscopy performed at least every 5 years after the age of 50. Or possibly every 10 years, you will need to discuss that with your physician, because there are some factors that need to be evaluated before a 10 year interval can be considered to be safe.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years ago

This is for anyone that has never had a colonoscopy, and is hesitating to have it done because of terrors or fears about what it will be like to have the procedure performed. It is true that it sounds like having it done will be terrible. There is a name for the terrors and fears that you might have: Phobias.

First off, everyone agrees that the very worst part of the procedure is the preparation for it. You will do that in the privacy of your home, and it involves drinking a whole lot of liquids. It is a fact that if you have trouble drinking water or other liquid beverages, the preparation for it will be horrible. You will need to stay at home, and follow the directions that you will be given. They are not complicated.

Then, about 24 hours after you've been on a liquid diet, you go to the hospital to have it done. There is absolutely no need to be embarrassed at all in front of the professional people that will see you in private, you are no different and you look no different than the last 300 people that they have helped go through the procedure.

They will be very casual and helpful about it because of this: This is no big deal, and if you are worried, guess what, they have worked with probably 100 people that had the exact same fears that you might have. If you have any questions, they will answer them for you in a very polite and informative manner.

You will need to lie down on a hospital bed, and a needle will be inserted into your arm. Then you will be carefully administered a painkiller or two of some sort, and all your cares and worries will drift away. That part of it is very nice, why don't you go get one done just for that.

Then the doctor sees you, and he or she might ask a few questions. But, your answers will not be expected to be very exact, because by then you're somewhat in Dreamland.

I was told that it took 20 minutes to be performed, but that didn't sound right at all to me, I could have sworn that it took between 10 and 20 seconds at the very most. The first time the doctor had just gotten started, and then it was announced that it was done. That's what Dreamland does to you.

Then, you get dressed and go home. But you can't drive, because you're still somewhat confused by the sedative. Then, you're going to be really hungry, so plan to eat some foods you really like.

It's over.

Cille King 3 years ago

There is no 'i' before the 'e' in my name. The 'e' is silent when my name is pronounced. So, 'Cille' is pronounced like 'Seal'.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

The more covered by "good insurance" the less all should pay theoretically unless the insurance industry decides otherwise. Keep a close eye on the insurance industry.

The health care industry has 8 lobbyists per elected official and they don't work for nothing and they also spread special interest campaign HEALTH CARE DOLLARS around generously, Reckless use of health care dollars I say. Guaranteed profit can we say?

Correct nothing is free simply because it is included in the price however because it is included as a matter of prevention it might be smart to make use of such an opportunity.

It's hard to feel sorry for the insurance industry who manages to receive more than $1.4 trillion tax dollars annually to cover a very wide sector of those having access to government sponsored medical coverage.

That $1.4 trillion tax dollars is more than enough to cover all in America under the Medicare Single Payer instead of only those mentioned above. In essence taxpayers may have better coverage under ObamaCare but we're still not getting the best bang for our tax buck.

Libby,Montana has Medicare Single Payer Insurance for all in that community no matter what so it seems to me Lawrence,Kansas should be such a community as well. This somehow got tucked into the ObamaCare legislation by Sen Max Baucus ....... the man who refused Medicare Single Payer Insurance a seat at the congressional hearings.

Do I believe Libby,Montana should not have Medicare Single Payer Insurance? Absolutely not. I believe all in America should have what Libby,Montana has been able to achieve.

William Enick 3 years ago

You are making WAY too much sense here Richard...STOP IT! It's hard to get, you know, all worked up... (I heard you could see right up Baucus' fundament...)

Leslie Swearingen 3 years ago

Thank you Ron for your excellent comments. I too have had a colonoscopy and it was exactly as you described. Much more emphasis should be on prevenative health care.

No one should be shamed into not getting the help for medical expenses that they qualify for.

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