Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Want Health Insurance? Go Out and Buy It. If You Can Afford A Cell Phone, You Can Afford Insurance



Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie knows how to get coverage to at least half of the 45 million Americans who need it. Call it the "Gillespie Plan": If you want health insurance, go out and buy it. Click on the Reason.tv video above (from October 2008 before the election, but still relevant today).

Related, from today's Investor's Business Daily:

"Many Americans are uninsured by choice," wrote Dr. David Gratzer in his book "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care." Gratzer cited a study of the "non-poor uninsured" from the California HealthCare Foundation. "Why the lack of insurance (among people who own homes and computers)?" Gratzer asks. "One clue is that 60% reported being in excellent health or very good health."

The uninsured are not always the same people, and many are without coverage only for a relatively short time. Devon Herrick, senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, notes that "Being uninsured is a transitory state, since most uninsured Americans are only without coverage for a short time."

Bottom Line: If you can afford a cell phone or cable TV, you can afford basic health insurance. In Michigan, you can get basic health insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield starting at $47.14 per month for those 18-30 years old (about the cost of a basic cell phone plan), and starting at $168.13 per month for another plan for individuals under 65 and families (not too much more than a cable TV plan with premium channels, and about the same as two cells phones at the monthly average of $77).

55 Comments:

At 6/17/2009 9:47 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

Health insurance is always cheap for those who are young and/or healthy. Tack on a couple pre-existing conditions and that $168/mo plan is going to skyrocket. Of course this is anecdotal evidence, which I hate using, but my parents with two pre-conditions (cancer in remission, and diabetes) were going to be paying $20k per year for insurance while my dad was self-employed. That's probably about the right number for a premium too considering the risk for high bills later on and current treatments. So it's not always that affordable to wing it on your own.

I don't disagree with Mark's point that many people are uninsured by choice or as a temporary circumstance. However, it's a just a little simplistic to say that if you have a house, cable TV and Cell phones and no insurance you could cover yourself by reallocating your entertainment budget.

 
At 6/17/2009 10:18 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

as a seminary professor of mine said several times:

"you can't say everything when you say anything, because if you try to say everything, you won't say anything, because you'll be saying everything else."

Sorry Pat...it still applies, brotha.

 
At 6/17/2009 10:24 AM, Blogger Robert Miller said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/17/2009 10:57 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Using your first link, the Internet quote for just me and my wife is $785.95 a month (we have no current or past health problems). We are both mid baby boomers, so we are certainly not unique.

Most of the certified professional financial planners we have at our seminars are counseling our folks considering retirement to budget $1000 per month for health care coverage and out-of-pocket expenses. My quote with co pays and office calls added on is in that range.

It all boils down to how much personal financial risk one is willing to take. A large percentage of personal bankruptcies are due to not being able to pay doctor and hospital bills, but a lot of people can’t pay $12,000 a year for health insurance. Sadly, but truly, some people just can’t afford to be alive.

 
At 6/17/2009 11:24 AM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

A colleague here in L.A. came down with lung cancer, despite the fact she was not a smoker. To Blue Cross' credit, they did not drop her. However, they did jack up her deductible to $18k in one year. Fortunately, she died before the next year.
I think there are some some free market solutions out there for health care, but they involve binding arbitration for all disputes and euthanasia for elderly who are terminally ill. Just two or three large private-sector payors would have more clout, and could direct their payments to the low-cost protocols that work.

In Europe, except for the private-payor angle, this is what is done, and they save hundreds of billions annually as a result.

But try running for the R-Party ticket on the "you have no right to sue your doctor, and when you get sick and old, we will pull the plug" platform.

So, National Health Insurance, here we come.

 
At 6/17/2009 11:25 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

A few years ago I had to find insurance for myself as I was the only employee in our small company living in Colorado and the company's plan didn't cover us.

As others have pointed out, the costs were very high, and the rest of the story is that the limits of what the policy would pay if anything serious happened were very low. IIRC, the lifetime cap for cancer treatment was $100k.

So as others have said, on the surface it appears that health insurance is readily available for individual, but when one digs down into the details, it's nothing like what's being touted.

FYI, we had no serious pre-existing conditions, and I was making six figures and the company picked up the tab of over $1k per month from one of the Blue Cross companies. If I had been earning less, say $50k per year, I don't see how we could have afforded coverage on our own.

 
At 6/17/2009 11:41 AM, Anonymous Cheech (in) Marin said...

John McCain proposed a $5000 per year tax credit. That would pay more than half the annual premiums for you and your wife Walt. How much extra do you want from other people?

People forget that medical goods and services have to be paid for. You don't get to eat for free and you don't get to see a doctor for free. If the marginal cost of health care is zero (or small) then people will over use it. The medicine shelves will be empty, the doctors will have unbearably long lines, and many goods and services will simply cease to exist. If we don't ration by price, we ration by some other method.

If you can't buy a better, longer life, then what good is working hard or being productive? What better way is there to spend your money?

"Whereever you go, there you are."

Sure, people can say, "I'm a 50 something baby boomer with diverticulitis and I can't get cheap health insurance."

How did you get there? You should have been thinking about that your entire adult life. When insurance was cheap, how much were you saving for health care or insurance in your later years? How many trivial and unnecessary purchases did you make in your life that you wish you could un-do so that you could now afford health care?

For that matter, what choices did you make during your life that contributed to the poor physical condition you're in now? Why should other people pay for the consequences of your smoking, drinking, bad diet, and lack of exercise?

See that house over your head. Guess what... it's only property, a signifcant store of value, and it's less important than your life. If you need money for health care, you can sell your property and then you can pay for it. Otherwise, you can drop dead in your lovely house.

The problem is that people don't want to think. They don't want to plan or prepare. They just want what they want when they want it. That's how we end up in the nanny state, robbing from Peter to pay Paul and then finding out we've made Peter broke, unwilling to work as much, or an ex-patriot.

What becomes of a person who didn't properly save and prepare to pay for health care later in life?

You die...

earlier than you otherwise would, but don't worry, even those of us who prepared for retirement and health care will be joining you shortly.

No one ever got out of this life alive.

 
At 6/17/2009 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point everybody is overlooking in this is that there are some people who can pay for their own insurance (the young and healthy) but CHOOSE not to. They are lumped into that 46 million uninsured figure that has been promoted by the Democrats as a reason for the need for national healthcare. Of course that 46 million figure is highly exaggerated (research the archives at American Spectator to read an indepth analysis article on the fallacy of that figure). Many of those 46 million are also illegal immigrants and people who did have some kind of insurance within the past year. Of course the liberal democrats who are pushing for everything to be nationalized have no issue with LYING about underlying figures to support their fallacies. To them, ends do justify the means.

 
At 6/17/2009 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A large percentage of personal bankruptcies are due to not being able to pay doctor and hospital bills...


The Medical Bankruptcy Fraud

Going by the numbers Warren et. al. provide, medical bankruptcies actually fell by almost 220,000 between 2001 and 2007, a fact that they not only fail to mention, but deliberately obscure.

The Atlantic

 
At 6/17/2009 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Government Mandates Drive Up Medical Insurance Costs

New York requires every insurance policy sold there to cover podiatry. Acupuncture coverage is mandated in 11 states, massage therapy in four, osteopathy in 24, and chiropractors in 47. There are an estimated 1,800 or so such insurance "mandates" across the country, and the costs add up. "It is always the providers asking for the mandate; it is never the consumer," says health policy guru John Goodman, who has testified before legislatures considering such rules.

What's more, states like New Jersey and New York add two more ultra-expensive requirements: "Guaranteed issue" allows people to wait till they are sick and then buy insurance; "community rating" prevents insurers from charging different prices to people of different ages and health status. These may sound like compassionate ideas, until you realize they make insurance so expensive that millions of people are exposed to financial ruin because they aren't allowed to buy basic policies focused on catastrophic costs.

How expensive? A 2004 study by eHealthInsurance.com found that a typical insurance policy ($2,000 deductible, 20% co-insurance) for a family of four could be had for as little in as $172 per month in a reasonably regulated locality like Kansas City, Missouri. But in New York that family's only option--managed care--would run $840 per month, and in New Jersey family policies run a whopping $1,200-plus. We bet Democratic Representative Frank Pallone's constituents in New Jersey would be interested in his view that insurance in his state is only "slightly" more expensive than elsewhere.

WSJ

First, the politicians create problems in the system. Then, they claim to have the solution.

 
At 6/17/2009 12:35 PM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

The free-market solution involves euthaniasia and no-fault arbitration of all disputes.
Learn to love euthanasia. It frees up resources for productive people who need health care.
The free market loves euthanasia.

 
At 6/17/2009 12:36 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Cheech (in) Marin,

I did not draw any conclusions from my statements. I wanted to point out a lot of people will pay much more than $2400 per year in health-care costs or in insurance ($200 per month). Even average people with no current or pre-existing health problems. And many, the percentage of which is in dispute, will declare bankruptcies over health care costs. Obviously, if it means paying their own way, many people cannot afford to live. I’ll leave that up to others to decide if that is good or bad.

 
At 6/17/2009 12:43 PM, Blogger Robert Miller said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/17/2009 12:44 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

"Hello, I'm Benjamin, and I DO love to utilize hyperbole."

 
At 6/17/2009 12:59 PM, Anonymous Cheech (in) Marin said...

I get you now Walt. I don't know why I didn't read you right the first time. I wouldn't normally agree with Rob that health insurance be mandated, but if as a society we will deny no one emergency care then people must be forced to pay for catastrophic coverage at a minimum.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want people to die when they can be saved, but we will always have to decide whether it's worth $2 million to help an 81 year old woman live to be 82. If she and her family have to pay for it themselves, then that's their decision. It's not mine, not an insurance company's, and not the government's decision. Some people think it's unfair to make people make tough choices like that.

I think it's unfair to make me pay to let someone else's grandma live for only 12 more months (if they even survive surgery).

Benjamin, you are wrong as usual. In a free market, you get to decide whether prolonging your life is worth the extra expense, not the market. The market prices premiums based on the probability of each person needing expensive care. Then you get to decide whether to pay it.

They make profits by spreading the uncertain risk over a large number of people - the same way a casino makes money. Unfortunately for health insurance companies, sometimes risks are systemic and unlike casinos, the gamblers can ensure their benefits outweigh their costs by living unhealthy lives, joining insurance pools when they have pre-existing conditions, and lying about their medical conditions.

 
At 6/17/2009 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, people don't need health insurance, they need medical assistance. Insurance is a means for paying for that assistance.

My wife and I have a health savings account that has us pay the first $4,000 every year, and it pays 100% after that. The account almost has $4,000 in it paid about 50/50 by her employer and us minus the money we have used each year. Since it is a group plan, we probably pay more than we would ... as mid-30s in good health, no bad habits... than if we got it on our own.

The problem that most people have with insurance is that they go for very expensive plans that they don't fully utilize. Health Savings Accounts work for most people, but not many get it. Most people at her work use the gold plated plan that costs a lot more but has a $200 deductible before fully paying out.

Benjamin - Watched Logan's Run lately?

 
At 6/17/2009 1:38 PM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

Cheech-

I may be wrong, but by your commentary you agree with me.

Who, out of pocket, or even through a reputable totally unregulated private insurer, will be able to afford to keep their 83-year-old terminally ill nanna alive for another month or year?

Sure, I might sell my house to keep my son alive, and I might find an insurer who will group my son with others (that is, before cancer) and sell insurance that is affordable, and binding.

No unregulated insurance company can cover 82-year-olds, unless the fees are to the moon.

Euthanasia! Why are your afraid to say out loud what the free-market is driving at? Or, do you prefer heavily subsidized and regulated national health insurance.

Euthanasia, again without regs, could be humane. Nanna can take heroin and smoke marijuana and watch old TV shows, and enjoy her last few weeks or months.

Until free-marketeers have the guts to say what they really are calling for, they will not win the public debate.

Euthanasia!

 
At 6/17/2009 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walt might want to consider a policy that covers only major medical and pay out of pocket for office visits. The out of pocket expense would more than likely be much less than $9420.

 
At 6/17/2009 2:08 PM, Anonymous Cheech (in) Marin said...

Yes, you are wrong, Benjamin. We agree on nothing, unless you plan to euthanize yourself.

Euthanasia means "good death", commonly known as a painless death. If it involves voluntary suicide assisted by a physician, I'm supportive of people's right to do so.

What you're attempting to imply is involuntary euthanasia as an inevitable consequence of the free market - something they call "murder".

Your hyperbole is demented.

 
At 6/17/2009 2:31 PM, Blogger Size said...

Walt,

A big reason health insurance costs so much is state mandates (see the excerpt Anonymous posted). My husband and I are middle aged and in extremely good health. Yet, in NY health insurance costs us $1200 per month. That's a minimum because of state mandates. When we moved to CT, we had the option to buy catastrophic coverage for $222 per month. The insurance company doesn't pay for office visits but none of our doctors take insurance of any kind anyway. A growing trend.

The problem with "pre-existing conditions" is that most of these situations arise from a myriad of ways for insurance to break coverage. So, you can end up paying premiums for 20 years and not be able to get new health insurance from the same health insurance company just because you moved to a different state and developed a condition 3 weeks before you moved. The number of ways to break coverage exists because of regulation - again, government. It's absurd.

I don't think anyone would disagree that what we have now is not a free market system but I argue that what's broken with it is that we resemble Britain's NHS more than we resemble a free market system.

And Benji, the way the socialized medical care works is to basically let people die. Less costly that way.

 
At 6/17/2009 2:36 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

Shawn,
To recap what I said:

1: Health insurance IS cheap for young and healthy people.

2: I agree with Mark's post that MANY people who are "uninsured" are that way by their own choice.

3: The idea that the needed insurance policy is equivalent to the cost of a cell phone plan is in many cases not correct.

I'm not trying to say everything all at once by those statements. The only thing I'd change now in my post is "young and/or healthy" to "young and healthy" now that I've seen several older, healthy people share how much their premiums were quoted to be. What specifically do you disagree with in my statement?

 
At 6/17/2009 2:45 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

anecdotes != data

 
At 6/17/2009 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what did people do for the thousands of years we did not have health insurance? However did humanity survive?

 
At 6/17/2009 3:10 PM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

Cheech-

You believe (you say) in free markets, then you cower at the results.
If a family cannot afford insurance for 82-year-old nanna, and she has cancer, then what happens, in a pure free market?
Either charity or subsidy, or euthanasia.
There won't be sufficient charity, and we have ruled out subsidy.
Therefore, euthanasia.
You are dodging the point by hurling brickbats at me, but I am calling it as it is.

Have the guts to stand up for what you believe in.

If we go to a pure, unregulated free-market health care system, it makes sense to practice euthanasia, especially on the terminally ill and aged.

You have not answered, because you cannot answer, who is going to provide the extraordinarily expensive care required for the aged and terminally ill, in a free-market system. You hide behind brickbats instead.

 
At 6/17/2009 3:26 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

Shawn,
Fine, from the 23 posts here I have found the following yearly costs:

$9,432
$528 (Robert Miller's son)
$2,064
$10,080
$10,080
$20,000

Compared to my annual cell phone bill = $1,200

 
At 6/17/2009 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh sure, you can pay $47 bucks a month, you can get "insured.” Do you want a $2,000 deducible, do you mind paying 50% of hospital costs out of pocket? You can get it. Mark, do an experiment. Drop your U. of Michigan-Flint coverage and pick up this cheapskate insurance. You’ll find out real quick what many already know about the insurance world: you get what you pay for.

Oh, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, too boot! Yeah... me and my wife remember them. Nineteen years ago when we’re living in the states but maintained Canadian citizenship, my wife got diagnosed with breast cancer. She was ready to get treated when she was informed she would have to pay $7,000 up front. $7,000!? We had Blue Cross Blue Shield!!. Turns out we were supposed to pay $7,000 up front, trust Big Blue’s word and get reimbursed by them later.

To make a long story short, we flew back to Vancouver, I stayed at her parents, she saw the doctor, and she was admitted for treatment in nine days. Yeah, that's right: NINE DAYS, not nine months like the Heritage Foundation would like you to think. We’re not Cuba! Quick and fast treatment for emergency illnesses or injuries is rather routine under university health care. All in all, my wife got treated, she's alive, the cancer never returned. Aside the 600 some dollars we forked over for plane tickets and other expenses, the hospital stay, treatments and follow up visits didn't cost us anything.

Considering the many horror stories I’ve witnessed or heard about, while living in the states, about Americans combating their health care system, it makes me glad to say I don’t live there anymore.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benjamin, I suggest you look at how Singapore handles health care. There really are more options than your simplistic 1, 2, therefore euthanasia. And for the record both Canada and the UK handle quite a few medical problems for older folks by having you die in the queue. You don't want to be old, male, and have prostate cancer, lung cancer, or need a new hip/knee replacement in the UK. (Females included in lung & hip/knee.) I also suggest you check out Medicaid and SCHIP, too. I think you will find it very hard to find someone dying because they were denied care because of lack of insurance in this country.

If you are truly worried about this I suggest you move to the "backward" state of Louisiana were I live; we have a charity hospital system. All you got to do is show up for care.

I am macquechoux

 
At 6/17/2009 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada's ObamaCare Precedent

Canada's provincial governments themselves rely on American medicine. Between 2006 and 2008, Ontario sent more than 160 patients to New York and Michigan for emergency neurosurgery -- described by the Globe and Mail newspaper as "broken necks, burst aneurysms and other types of bleeding in or around the brain."

Only half of ER patients are treated in a timely manner by national and international standards, according to a government study. The physician shortage is so severe that some towns hold lotteries, with the winners gaining access to the local doc.

Overall, according to a study published in Lancet Oncology last year, five-year cancer survival rates are higher in the U.S. than those in Canada. Based on data from the Joint Canada/U.S. Survey of Health (done by Statistics Canada and the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics), Americans have greater access to preventive screening tests and have higher treatment rates for chronic illnesses. No wonder: To limit the growth in health spending, governments restrict the supply of health care by rationing it through waiting. The same survey data show, as June and Paul O'Neill note in a paper published in 2007 in the Forum for Health Economics & Policy, that the poor under socialized medicine seem to be less healthy relative to the nonpoor than their American counterparts.

Ironically, as the U.S. is on the verge of rushing toward government health care, Canada is reforming its system in the opposite direction. In 2005, Canada's supreme court struck down key laws in Quebec that established a government monopoly of health services. Claude Castonguay, who headed the Quebec government commission that recommended the creation of its public health-care system in the 1960s, also has second thoughts. Last year, after completing another review, he declared the system in "crisis" and suggested a massive expansion of private services -- even advocating that public hospitals rent facilities to physicians in off-hours.

WSJ

 
At 6/17/2009 5:15 PM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

Macque: If you read my comments, you know that I said they do in fact practice euthanasia in Europe. I don;t know about Singapore.
I am saying, if you want a purely unregulated, free-market solution, then you are saying you are accepting euthanasia.
We will be swamped in health costs if we do not. You see that baby boom? You know where it will be in 30 years?
I would rather die quickly at age 82, high on heroin and morphine, than to be kept alive for another 6 months and $150k down the tubes.
The problem with to free-marketeers is that they lack the courage of their convictions.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

macquechoux,

Considering I live in Canada, you're misinformed.

"Canada's Obama Care Precedent" anon,

The article you quote is from the WSJ, a mouthpiece for conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation. In some cases, the WSJ actually gets articles or OP ED pieces from organizations like this.

Although non-emergency procedures are rationed, emergency procedures are prompt with good treatment. Come up here and find out. Besides, what the WSJ fails to mention is America DOES ration its health care: through denial of coverage, through changing of benefits. Cross your fingers you don't have a particular pre-existing condition when you go in for an operation.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:39 PM, Anonymous Cheech (in) Marin said...

No, Benjamin. You are offering what's called a "false choice." Your choice set is not exhaustive.

You are hiding between logical fallacies and the baseless dismissal of feasible choices.

In a free market:

1. People do not expect others to pay their medical bills for them, so they act and plan accordingly.

2. If they join an insurance risk pool, the insurance company charges everyone premiums so that the revenues exceed expected costs. Those who pose higher risks are charged higher premiums.

3. People will choose to SAVE money and/or liquidate assets to prepare for a time when their insurance will be costlier. They will have more money to save because they will be taxed less. Proper tax incentives would encourage them to save more throughout their lives.

4. People will have to decide BY THEMSELVES which risks they are willing to take and which they will not take, subject only to a mandated catastrophic plan to prevent the indestructible 18 year old crotch-rocket rider from imposing the costs of his lack of wisdom and forethought on others.

5. If people in their elder years decide for themselves that the benefit of prolonging life is not worth depleting their estate, then they may make an informed and voluntary decision to end their own lives in a painless fashion.

6. At no time would ANYONE be involuntarily euthanized. People who do not pay for care will not get care, but there can be a humane subsidy for pain relieving medication which would not cost millions per case.

You also dismiss the notion that sufficient charity would exist for exceptional cases. I submit there is more than enough such charity and there would be even greater charity if people had more disposable income.

People keep talking about the high cost of health insurance. The reason costs are so high are:

1. High demand of services by the elderly bulge in the population covered under Medicare and their own private insurance.

2. The existence of diagnostics and treatments which were not available in the past.

3. A shift in preferences toward health care and away from other uses of income/wealth.

4. Malpractice and litigation costs.

5. "Lemons" who are allowed into risk pools without properly pricing their risk.

6. Restriction of labor supply by the AMA, the nurse's unions, and other unions.

7. Excessive government mandates.

People complain about the high cost of health care, education, etc. but don't you see that if government subsidizes health care (especially for the uninsured) then demand will increase and prices will increase more. You're chasing a moving target.

The sad and sorry fact is that health goods and services are rival in consumption and we must compete over them. We can't all consume the same hospital bed and doctor's time. This bids up the price of health care.

The people who don't have health insurance either choose not to have it or they don't produce enough value to earn the food on their plates, the roofs over their heads, the clothes on their backs, and the thermometers up their asses.

Arguing with you is pointless. You are so completely stuck on stupid I'm beginning to wonder whether you are merely an indoctrinated leftist or just a trolling provocateur.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:51 PM, Blogger KauaiMark said...

2 Adults, over 60, RIF'ed, declined coverage by Blue Cross, Blue Shield and a couple more PPO's

Finally covered by Kaiser HMO at $586/mo WITH a $5400 yearly deductible and no prescription coverage.

means: anything serious and I have to pay $12k/yr before any "insurance" kicks in.

...and no I can't afford a cell phone. Had to give it up at RIF time.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:59 PM, Blogger Size said...

Finally covered by Kaiser HMO at $586/mo WITH a $5400 yearly deductible and no prescription coverage.

You seem to be under the impression that the cost of your health care should be borne by somebody other than you. Somebody has to foot the bill for you, why should it be me or why should it be you for a guy who sits around eating pizza all day developing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes or not saving for his own health care expenses?

Why is it such a foreign concept in this country that people should pay for their own welfare?

 
At 6/17/2009 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canadians receive poor value for health-care dollars

Canadian taxpayers are not receiving the same sort of value that their counterparts in other nations are when it comes to universally accessible health care, despite the fact nearly 60 per cent of personal income taxes paid in aggregate are required to cover the cost of Canada's taxpayer-funded health-care program.

In 2008, the median wait time from general practitioner referral to treatment by a specialist was 17.3 weeks in Canada. Despite substantial increases in both health spending and federal cash transfers to the provinces for health care over the last decade or so, that wait time was 45 per cent longer than the overall median wait time of 11.9 weeks back in 1997. It was 86 per cent longer than the overall median wait time of 9.3 weeks back in 1993.

Canada ranked 14th of 25 nations for which data were available in MRI machines per million population, 19th of 26 nations in CT scanners per million population, eighth of 21 in mammographs per million population, and tied for second last among 21 nations in lithotripters per million population. Clearly, Canada's relatively high expenditures are neither buying quick access to care nor are they buying high-tech health-care services for the population.

Calgary Herald

 
At 6/17/2009 6:14 PM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

Cheech-

If you consider the aging population in front of us--the baby boom going senile, and fast -- you are holding out false hope.
We either subsidize coverage (which I do not like), or practice caring euthanasia.
Euthanasia is the free-market solution.

I suppose you could argue that well into the future, if go to a pure free-market society, people might set aside enough to cover their healthcare needs. If all people were rational.

Many idealogues fall into the trap you have. They believe life will be perfect if their idealogy prevails.

I share your idealogy, but share no illusions as to its results. For many, life will be nasty, brutish and short. For the majority, that will be what they "earned" so to speak, by virtue of their own behavior, or the behavior of their parents. Maybe in a few generations, those people will leave the gene pool, or finally catch on.

I suspect the majority of people in a pure free-market system will not set aside enough for their medical bills past 70 or 80.

So, in a free-market system, they will die.

There are prices to be paid, even in a free-market system.

 
At 6/17/2009 6:16 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Cheech (in) Marin, do you really believe that the world can/will operate as you describe? I think everyone on this forum believes that people SHOULD plan for, and be responsible for, their long term health care.

But let's deal with reality. For example, what if an overweight 40 year old male with poor eating/excercise habits etc and no health insurance has a heart attack and falls over in a public place. All sorts of emergency services will be called and if he can be revived, he'll be transported to a hospital where more services will be used to stabilize him, etc. The decisions whether to provide these services will have to be made in very short periods of time (minutes and hours). Under your model, since he is uninsured, he should receive very minimal care, be made comfortable with pain drugs, and let nature take its course.

But given that the level of care provided could easily have life and death consequences, how can those decisions be made in those time frames? The reality is that any process to decide levels of care provided, even those that might be invented in the future, will be imperfect. So in the end, the outcome will be that this person will receive significant health care via emergency services, even though his habits were quite possibly a large contributor to his situation. And now we have this person receiving his health care via the most expensive channel possible: the Emergency Room.

I know you're trying to describe a system where this won't happen. But using the scenario I painted above, how do you balance avoiding providing very expensive care to an uninsured person with ensuring that the person REALLY doesn't have the proper means (insurance or savings) to pay for it?

 
At 6/17/2009 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Countries with universal health coverage are economically worse off than the U.S.

...whatever else universal coverage might bring, there is no evidence that it will bring economic nirvana. If anything, contrary to what the president suggests, the correlation runs the other way for countries with universal coverage such as Canada, England, France, Germany, and Japan. On nearly every economic front, their performance has been worse than America's—even, surprisingly, in controlling health care costs.

Contrary to popular perception, even though America is at the epicenter of the financial crisis, it has suffered less than its industrialized peers in terms of economic growth.

[...]

The one remaining economic argument for universal health insurance in the United States is that it will help rein in medical costs. The rap against America is that it spends over 15 percent of its GDP on health care—more than any other industrialized country—and yet leaves upwards of 45 million people uninsured. If it had universal coverage, the theory goes, uninsured folks would get care sooner—not wait till they have a medical emergency—saving the system a ton of money.

It is a nice theory, but there is no evidence that it is true. Although America's per capita health care spending soared in the 1980s, a 2007 study by Kaiser Family Foundation found that it slowed considerably in subsequent years. Indeed, between 1990 and 2003, the rate of growth of America's per capita spending was 3.6 percent, only a little bit higher than France, Germany and Japan's—but significantly lower than England's 4.2 percent. That's striking given that England engages in the most aggressive rationing known to the free world, routinely delaying care to patients unless they are critically ill.

[...]

All in all, there is no major industrialized economy with universal coverage that has performed as well—let alone better—than the United States in the last decade. Universal coverage might not be the cause of their inferior performance. But the crucial point is that there is zero evidence that it has put them on a more solid footing. Before applying this exotic therapy to America, Obama needs to offer more than mere hunches that it will work. He needs to offer actual evidence.

Reason

 
At 6/17/2009 6:38 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"But let's deal with reality. For example, what if an overweight 40 year old male with poor eating/excercise habits etc and no health insurance has a heart attack and falls over in a public place"...

Hmmm, how seemingly judgemental but I know what you mean...

What insurance company can realistically, legally prove that said 40 year old's heart attack was due to lifestyle choices?

None unless they followed the dude for 24/7...

So the insurance companies understandably fall back on statistics...

My question is what part of those statistics are contributed in part by the federal or state bureaucracies that might have their own agenda so offer up 'massaged' data?

I'm not looking for black helicopters but I mean does anyone really believe what the Surgeon General and his/her bureaucracy are any better than second rate court jesters?

 
At 6/17/2009 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canadian Health Care We So Envy Lies In Ruins, Its Architect Admits

Back in the 1960s, Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform and recommended that his home province of Quebec — then the largest and most affluent in the country — adopt government-administered health care, covering all citizens through tax levies.

The government followed his advice, leading to his modern-day moniker: "the father of Quebec medicare." Even this title seems modest; Castonguay's work triggered a domino effect across the country, until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.

Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in "crisis."

"We thought we could resolve the system's problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it," says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: "We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice."

Castonguay advocates contracting out services to the private sector, going so far as suggesting that public hospitals rent space during off-hours to entrepreneurial doctors. He supports co-pays for patients who want to see physicians. Castonguay, the man who championed public health insurance in Canada, now urges for the legalization of private health insurance.

IBD

 
At 6/17/2009 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's right: NINE DAYS, not nine months like the Heritage Foundation would like you to think.


I guess this guy wasn't so lucky.

VIDEO

 
At 6/17/2009 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada's U.S. baby boom

More than 100 Canadian women with high-risk pregnancies have been sent to United States hospitals over the past year – in what a doctors' group attributes to the lack of a national birthing plan.

The problem has peaked, with British Columbia and Ontario each sending a record number of women to U.S. neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

“Neonatologists are very stretched right now,” Dr. Lalonde said in a telephone interview from Ottawa. “We're so stretched, it's kind of dangerous.”

[...]

“We're transferring babies across the province, in all directions, to try to find an extra bed for the next potential birth or for any baby already born,” Dr. Chessex said in a telephone interview from Vancouver. “We now have babies who have been transferred up to six times after leaving here before reaching home.”

The Globe and Mail

 
At 6/17/2009 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congress-Induced Loss of Health Insurance

 
At 6/17/2009 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why Ontario keeps sending patients south

More than 400 Canadians in the full throes of a heart attack or other cardiac emergency have been sent to the United States because no hospital can provide the lifesaving care they require here.

Most of the heart patients who have been sent south since 2003 typically show up in Ontario hospitals, where they are given clot-busting drugs. If those drugs fail to open their clogged arteries, the scramble to locate angioplasty in the United States begins.

Daily Mail

Where will we go after they pass Obamacare?

 
At 6/17/2009 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ronald Reagan on "Socialized Medicine"

 
At 6/17/2009 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But using the scenario I painted above, how do you balance avoiding providing very expensive care to an uninsured person with ensuring that the person REALLY doesn't have the proper means (insurance or savings) to pay for it?

Daniel,

One thing that we can do is make health insurance cheaper by eliminating mandates, favouring employer provided health insurance and allowing insurance coverage to be broken by switching employers or states. That reduces the probability that the man you describe will be without coverage for at least catastrophic events.

The scenario you describe will not be eliminated entirely - but it's not eliminated with insured patients either. If you have a heart attack on the street, you're off to the emergency room whether you're insured or not. There will always be some people who don't bother buying insurance and I don't mind billing them or their estate after the fact. But, what percentage of the population are we talking about here? Seems pretty small.

 
At 6/18/2009 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
macquechoux,

Considering I live in Canada, you're misinformed."


Please don't put words in my moth and then tell me I am wrong. I had nothing to say about emergency medical care in Canada.

Now, are you saying that Canadians do not have long queues form hip replacements, MRI's, and to see a specialists? (Just to name a few procedures.) My old high school classmate, a Canadian, tells me differently. She traveled to the US rather than suffer painfully in a queue. Are you saying that only the WSJ says Canadians are unhappy about queues to see specialists and to receive procedures? If so, then I suggest you read your own newspapers and watch the news in your own country.

I am macquechoux

 
At 6/18/2009 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am macquechoux,

It's true Canada does have waiting lists for non-critical medical procedures, but what you fail to realize is America also rations its health care - it just has a much different, much less charitable way of doing it.

A co-worker of mine recently got a hip replacement after waiting six months. While this is an inconvience, try being an American who is uninsured or who is denied coverage. Try being someone who puts up with a bum hip for years.

To the transparent anon who keeps citing articles,

If you don't mind having your strings pulled by Rush Limbaugh, the American Enterprise Institution or any other right-wing think tank looking out for the big man's buck, that's fine with me.

While it's true Canada's health care system isn't as good as Japan, Germany or France's, what you failed to mention is the US ranks 50TH life-expetency (http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/06/11/life.expectancy.health.care/index.html), and America ranks 29th in infant mortality rates (http://www.apha.org/publications/tnh/archives/2009/February09/Nation/BabiesNAT.htm). You also failed to mention that America spends the highest percentage of its GDP on health care of any developed nation in the world(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/anatole_kaletsky/article6523512.ece), and countries with universal health coverage keep costs down by negotiating for lower drug costs. Everytime you get an unisured patien in the emergency room or somebody goes bankrupt on a $50,000 hospital bill, guess who pays. Everybody with insurance who sees their rates go up again!!

Any of you Milton Friedman worshipping ditto heads can stick with your helter skelter coverage system, that's fine with me. Bunch of Bush Nazi lovers who got duped into Iraq, then stuck themselves in the rear by voting for the bum again. Go ahead... get Sarah Pail in: LET'S SEE IF SHE'S FINALLY DISCOVERED WHICH COUNTRIES ARE APART OF NAFTA BY NOW!!

Just don't drop your jaw to the floor if you get denied coverage because of a pre-existing coverage, and crumble to the floor as the bill's numbers become bigger and bigger before your eyes.

Dan Loyd

 
At 6/18/2009 12:51 PM, Blogger Size said...

and countries with universal health coverage keep costs down by negotiating for lower drug costs.

Only because the drug companies can force United States citizens to pay for more than the full cost of the drug. Who will give you your free ride once the U.S. is socialized?

By the way, I'm totally loving how your post disintegrated into an incoherent leftist rant. I sprayed my computer with the tea I was drinking it was so funny.

 
At 6/18/2009 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any of you Milton Friedman worshipping ditto heads can stick with your helter skelter coverage system, that's fine with me. Bunch of Bush Nazi lovers who got duped into Iraq, then stuck themselves in the rear by voting for the bum again. Go ahead... get Sarah Pail in: LET'S SEE IF SHE'S FINALLY DISCOVERED WHICH COUNTRIES ARE APART OF NAFTA BY NOW!!

Wow, It sure doesn't take much to push these guys over the edge. I hope that Canada has mental health coverage.

 
At 6/18/2009 2:05 PM, Blogger NoWhining said...

"Considering the many horror stories I’ve witnessed or heard about, while living in the states, about Americans combating their health care system, it makes me glad to say I don’t live there anymore."

Believe me...with your attitude, we're glad you don't live here anymore either.

 
At 6/18/2009 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't mind having your strings pulled by Rush Limbaugh, the American Enterprise Institution or any other right-wing think tank looking out for the big man's buck, that's fine with me.

I get it. When someone disagrees with you they're "having their strings pulled", but when you parrot Michael Moore, your "informed".

Time to put away the bong, hang up the Che t-shirt, and grow up.

 
At 6/18/2009 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan Loyd,

If you need a hip replacement and are poor there is Medicaid in the USA. I can't say how it works in the rest of the States, in Louisiana you would go to any doctor that accepts Medicare/Medicaid patients and they would arrange surgery at one of the Charity hospitals. (Usually, but not always. Sometimes in local hospitals.) Typically, the procedure would be performed within 30 days. If you lived out of town free medical transportation would be arranged for you. Poor people do not go without medical care because of poverty in the USA.

mqcquechoux

 
At 6/19/2009 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mqcquechoux,

Lol! You really think so!? (http://www.aarp.org/research/assistance/medicaid/inb162_medicaid.html) It's true foreigners often know more about what's going on in America than many Americans themselves do. Just think of the trouble you could have avoided with Iraq if you listened to other western nations. A trillion dollar mistake…

What about the poor who have crappy insurance? My daughter - who still lives in the US and works as an Assistant Director a non-profit - tells me stories of people with insurance that carries a $1,500 deductible for a single person $4,000 for family. These are individuals earning $8.00 per hour! Do you really think you can afford to get sick on that wage?

For anybody else out there,

For starters, I was citing other articles. Michael Moore is your own fat, ugly penalty. You’re the ones stuck with 50 million uninsured citizens, up from 40 million-something a few years back. That’s the combined population of both Canada and Australia.

As I've stated to you yanks before, I experienced your health care system while living in the US. Sure, things work fine when your insurance cooperates and doesn't put up a fight over paying for a physical, but look out when some when a pre-existing condition props up. Remember Linda Peeno? (http://www.cchconline.org/issues/peeno596test.php3) She made a pretty good killing - and even did some killing! - before her guilty conscience kicked in and she ratted out to congress.

Too bad congress had better things to do during the '90s, like impeach a bastard for getting a blow job...

 
At 6/19/2009 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wow, It sure doesn't take much to push these guys over the edge. I hope that Canada has mental health coverage."

Here's the link in case you forgot your ritalin. Oh, and here's something else: Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a contient. Are these bile lies from you so-called "liberal media?" Nope, it came from the words of Fox News! (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/05/palin-didnt-know-africa-i_n_141653.html).

 
At 6/19/2009 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Only because the drug companies can force United States citizens to pay for more than the full cost of the drug. Who will give you your free ride once the U.S. is socialized?"

You'll get cheap meds. What else do you think? Do you really think those "saintly" pharmecitcal companies are concentrating their hard-earned profits in nifty drugs? Nope they blow the majority of their doe on public relations, advertising and lobbying (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/prescription/politics/) and (http://books.google.com/books?id=snVR0YW2yQYC&dq=pharmaceutical+companies+spend+most+on+public+relations&printsec=frontcover&source=in&hl=en&ei=UkI8Sr6aA4OmlAfAvc25Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=11)

Dan Loyd

 

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