One Ugly Elephant

The eye of an asian elephant at Elephant Natur...

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In grappling with the healthcare problem, what USA Today editors called the “single biggest threat to America’s economic future”, I sometimes feel like the proverbial blind man trying to describe an elephant.

As I mentioned in my last post, I hadn’t realized that the debt-ceiling legislation merely delayed the “draconian cuts” penalty until after the 2012 election. Now in today’s Joplin Globe comes a column by Robert Reich providing clarity to yet another aspect of the problem.

Reich agrees with two appellate federal judges that the ACA was based on an unconstitutional premise, viz., that the government can tell people what to buy. Example:

OK people, everybody, and this means you, head of household, buy at least one pound of broccoli every month. It’s good for you. And you had better have your receipts ready for inspection by the IRS after December 31 too.

Reich properly points out that this indeed is like what the ACA tries to do because, and this is the heart of it, the mandate is to buy private insurance, not government insurance. I guess I’ve been feeling the wrong part of the elephant, but I didn’t really get that before now.

Studies show that broccoli may help in the pre...

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See, that’s the problem, the motive’s don’t mix. Government wants to make people’s lives better (no, really, it does), and the private sector wants to get as many dollars out of you as possible. That’s capitalism, the engine of the economy. Now taxes are a different animal. The Constitution says Congress has the power to tax us. It’s a parent kind of thing: eat your broccoli, it’s good for you and all of society will be better for it. The words “promote the general welfare” apply here, and that’s why we have the EMTALA law (even if it is extortion on a grand scale).  As a society we want to be kind, not mean, and I hear nobody calling to repeal EMTALA. But basic economics says we can’t have stuff, indefinitely at least, without paying for it.  I found a CBO report that says this,

CBO projects that without significant changes in policy, total spending for health care will be 31 percent of GDP by 2035 and will increase to 46 percent by 2080. Total spending for Medicare is projected to increase to 8 percent of GDP by 2035 and to 15 percent by 2080. Total spending for Medicaid is projected to increase to 5 percent of GDP by 2035 and to 7 percent by 2080.

Thus, Reich’s conclusion,

So what do Obama and the Democrats do if the individual mandate in the new health care law gets struck down by the Supreme Court?
Immediately propose what they should have proposed right from the start — universal health care based on Medicare for all, financed by payroll taxes. The public will be behind them, as will the courts.

Sigh. That, unfortunately, is the same conclusion to which I myself had reluctantly come a few weeks ago. Since then I have sought alternate schemes unsuccessfully. Even the USA Today editors, as I mentioned in my last post, recognized healthcare as central to the debt dilemma and yet had no solution to it but to dump the accelerating costs on the backs of seniors and retired military. That’s no solution. At best it is just kicking the can further down the road. The problem, like the black hole it is, will just keep growing until it consumes every dime the economy makes. The damn elephant is even bigger than I thought.

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
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11 Responses to One Ugly Elephant

  1. John Erickson says:

    Just so you know, Jim, you need to drop the final word “law” from your EMTALA Wiki link, otherwise Wiki gives you a “not found” razz.
    And I think we’ve moved past elephant, and are screaming towards “blue whale”…..

    Like

  2. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    There was a thread of comments recently between HLG and me (EC blog I think) where the “root” of your issue was discussed. Today healthcare (at close to 20% of GDP) is about $2.86 Trillion, the most money spent anywhere in the world on health care. HGL proposes the single payer solution and believes that cost can come down to slightly over $1 Trillion per year.

    Now just think about that.

    Some 300 million Americans spend close to $3 Trillion per year on health care today and he thinks he can reduce that total spending by 2/3rds with a single payer plan. The only problem is he is a little vague on how that will work exactly, other than by rationing the care and paying providers “slave wages” of a sort.

    Well before we take that “big leap” into a national single payer system for all Americans I suggest that he show the way to reduce Medicare costs alone by 2/3rds or something in that ball park. I am going to “add up the figures” with a little online research of the real and total cost of health care to all citizens over 65 to include the $420 billion from the “general fund”, plus Medicare taxes, plus Medicare co pays, plus how the “other 20%” costs, etc. I bet that total will be in the range of $1 Trillion per year total cost, or more considering how expensive EOL has become.

    I don’t believe we are “wrestling with or defining” a single elephant. It is more like a very large herd of such with a few other animals of a sort thrown into the mix. When government tries to grapple with such a beast, well just let the bureaucrats and politicians “do it” for us, right?

    And when society tackles something this big and is so horrendously large the only way I have ever seen such to be resolved is through the “market”. And the market is a very painful way to do so with lots of people feeling real physical pain as a result. When someone puts “skin in the game” in the amounts we are talking about, well some people call that being “flayed”.

    No doubt that old people died at a younger age before Medicare came along. Now go figure out a way to pay for that increase in life expectancy in the future or even sustain the one we have today. I submit that we cannot do so (pay for Medicare as it is today) in the future, much less try to cut total health care costs by 2/3rds from today’s amounts without significant loss of life.

    But if you can come up with $3 Trillion today to keep eveyone well and happy (and pain free) I say, great and go for it. But again, I suggest that you try to lower just Medicare costs today to prove you approach, before we subject the whole country to a single payer program.

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Anson,

      HLG seems to think, as I do, that the viability of a single payer healthcare system has been demonstrated in Canada and Europe (Scandinavia at least). You don’t have to do accounting gymnastics to prove it – it already exists. And, as HLG has said, that system produces slightly better results than ours in the stats that ought to matter, longevity and infant mortality. QED.

      But then comes the problem that bothers you and everybody else, and I think it boils down to a loss of personal control. It’s not so much that we ourselves know so well what to do when health problems arise, whether it be chronic back pain or cancer, but that we fear putting some cost-conscious bureaucrat in charge of such decisions. We all want the best possible treatment, no matter what it costs. Well, who wouldn’t? But we have such a self-deciding system and that is one reason why our way costs double, isn’t it? Another reason is the expensive abuse of excess testing, motivated by profit and fear of lawsuits. I submit that there is no debate left over whether we can afford that way. We can’t. We either have to fix it, or switch systems.

      How would you fix the system? First of all, as we have already agreed, you would have to make the hidden hand of the market work by giving consumers (patients) the incentive to care about price. But even if you could do that, and it wouldn’t be easy, the general population simply is not equipped educationally or psychologically to make serious medical decisions for themselves. Despite the illusion of self control, all kinds of things influence such personal decision making, including snob appeal, i.e., the mere fact that one procedure costs more than another may make it preferred. In a post last June I discussed a specific example of how this cost taxpayers a huge price. LINK:

      https://jwheeler59.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/just-gimme-the-latest-and-greatest-doc/

      Here is a real life, current example. Texas governor Rick Perry recently had a controversial, experimental stem-cell treatment for his chronic back pain. Some established medical experts say that by doing so he took an exceptional chance that they would never have condoned. And this is a man who might well be in charge of monumentally important decisions for all of us two years from now. The full article is at this link:

      http://news.yahoo.com/doctors-perrys-stem-cell-back-treatment-072921392.html

      Now, how would one confront fears about a single-payer system? First of all, I have no personal experience with this, except to say that I, like you, was the beneficiary of the military system of medicine when on active duty. That is a single-payer system, is it not? It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a horror show either. (What would have been the response if you had objected to what medicine you were given then? Kinda funny to think about, isn’t it?) Yet the active duty health management seems pretty good to me. Secondly, I have personal testimony from two sources who commented previously that such can be a viable system, donvphilly and HLG. Thirdly, I suggest that a single-payer system needs to be transparent to the public and the press, with open forums on policies. Almost every night on the national TV news I hear about health issues in this way, and quite often it is about controversial and sometimes downright wrong decisions being made under our present system, decisions such as using a recent, more-expensive drug when an older generic is superior.

      Solving the healthcare conundrum is about money, sure, but it is more than that. Healthcare is complex. Decisions must be made by patients and their families – I think we all agree with that. What we need to decide, it seems to me, is whether we can surrender some personal autonomy to experts in open forums to make sensible and affordable decisions for us. Some nations have proved they can. Whether America can depends on political leadership versus demagoguery. But we can’t go on the way we are. We can’t all be like Rick Perry and grab the latest and most expensive cure on the shelf.

      Jim

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  3. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    So because it costs too much, we the people should surrender our decisions concerning our health to a bureaucracy, a government bureaucracy is what you and others suggest it seems.

    Now go read Animal Farm. Better yet go read a book about the Russian Revolution and how those folkes decided to let essentially ALL of their personal decisions be relinquished to a “soviet” made up of workers and government bureaucrats. People were starving in the streets and on the battlefields of the eastern front in WWI and they decided a government of “soviets” was the solution. Then 80 years later and with untold grief and suffering, they decided that was not a very good idea, either.

    But you and others say health care is so vital to our lives that giving up our liberty to choose how we live (and die), meaning how we care for our mental and physical health, that we simply must relinguish our liberty in health matters to a “soviet” of our own making. And of course whatever that “soviet” of health care bureaucrats decides it will at a minimum be a one size fits all system.

    Your heart attack will be treated the same way all heart attackes are treated, etc. You will have no alternative or choice in the matter. In other words, because it is so expensive, you expect me to give up my liberty in such matters. And your most compelling argument for me to give up my liberty is a moral argument of “fairness” or equality.

    I tried yesterday to do some online research on cost, percentages, etc from a variety of sources related to health care. It was mind numbing. Bottom line was a confirmation of about $2.8 T in all HC costs for all Americans, today. About 22% of those total costs (around $600 Billion) are Medicare costs. About $325 Billion of that Medicare cost comes straight out of the general fund and the rest from payroll deductions, copay, etc. Then don’t forget the other 20% not paid by Medicare which must come from elsewhere bringing the total cost of HC for those over 65 to around $750 Billion.

    OK, $750 B for about 45 million people (15% of our population), the approximate number of Medicare receipients from online information. But of course universal health care would apply to slightly over 300 million people. A simple straight line ration would show such total cost for all Americans using Medicare standards of care and cost today would come to a whooping $5 Trillion a year unless we LOWER Medicare standards and cost.

    Yes, some of that extraodinary cost is EOL care, the percentage of which is unknow to me. So MAYBE if we apply Medicare standards and cost to all Americans ( the Reich solution) the total cost would ONLY be somewhere between $3 T and $4 T per year. That is our entire current federal budget annually, as an approximation.

    The ONLY way to pay for such extraordinary expenses to government is to drastically lower the standards and cost of HC to provide such universal care. And we have a perfect example of a large country that did so, the Soviet Union. And that is not really accurate as we all know that the “elite” in the Soviet Union received far better care than did the “masses” during that time under communism.

    So what this all boils down to is deciding how to ration HC. In one extreme the government did so and in a pure free market the market itself does the rationing. Europe has gone more to but not all they “way” to government control and the U. S. seems to want to go at least that far at least by liberals.

    Well to paraphrase Patrick Henry, some, me included will say give me Liberty, and I will choose my own death at least to some extent.

    As we both know the military system of HC for active duty and dependents in our time was OK, not great but certainly OK. But then we and our families were young and healthy at that time for starters. I don’t know the cost of such a system back then but do know that it changed after we left the service, probably due to cost. Now Tricare provides the cost payments for dependents and only Active Duty personnel receive the benefit of strict military medicine IF it is available on a base.

    Another interesting aside. If you throw in Tricare, Vet Admin and “other” federal HC (like insurance for government employees) you are well over $1 Trillion a year right now for such government HC provisions.

    Finally, at least 250 Americans today are reasonably satisfied with our current HC system if you believe the polls in response to Obamacare (around 70% oppose it). The only thing OC really addressed was pre-existing conditions and the uninsured. And those costs in the future just for OC will break the government as well AND make private insurance even less affordable to the “masses” (to compensate for forcing private insurers to pay for the pre-existing clauses).

    Conclusion, cost controls and rationing MUST occur in HC and now the argument is over “what” must implement controls over cost, standards of care and availablity of care. You and “yours” call for universal controls run by government. I say NO, give me liberty and I will take care of myself and my family to the extent that I can. And the response against my “way” is that I lack compassion or even am immoral to suggest such an approach, at least from some.

    Tough call and tough alternatives for sure. But in the end, I believe individual liberty is far more important. As Patrick Henry actually said, “Give me Liberty or give me death”.

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Now go read Animal Farm. Better yet go read a book about the Russian Revolution and how those folkes decided to let essentially ALL of their personal decisions be relinquished to a “soviet” made up of workers and government bureaucrats.

      I’m glad you are able to boil this complex conundrum down to a simple solution: capitalism or communism. Sure, sounds like a simple solution to me. Simple and wrong. Why? Because, Anson, we already have socialized medicine. Medicare is socialized medicine and it accounts for over half of the medical business in the U.S. So are Medicaid, the VA system and the active duty system. And please think about this carefully: the EMTALA law is effectively forcing you, through huge increases in cost, to pay the medical bills of some 40% of your fellow comrades, er, I mean citizens. If that doesn’t equate to socialized medicine, I’ll eat my hat. So if you are really going to stand with Patrick Henry you had better get busy and dismantle this crazy, communistic system.

      You said,

      Finally, at least 250 Americans today are reasonably satisfied with our current HC system if you believe the polls in response to Obamacare (around 70% oppose it).

      (I assume you meant “250 Million”.) I agree that it’s probably true that people are generally satisfied with the present system. I know that you and I are because as retired military we have the best healthcare insurance in the world. Our out of pocket expenses are small. So are the approximately one-third who are lucky enough to still have insurance through their employers. So are the approximately 40% who don’t want to pay insurance premiums and rely on ER’s – theirs is free (until the unexpected happens), and even then, most of them ignore the bill. Sure, they’re all happy as clams at high tide. But the system is spiraling out of control and is unsustainable. If you don’t know that, you haven’t been paying attention.

      By the way, I read Animal Farm a long time ago, and Orwell’s 1984 too. But before you lecture me as you would a Communist I suggest you come down from your patriotic pedestal and take a personal stand against the healthcare system we now have that you like so well, because, Comrade, it is mostly a socialized medical system.

      Jim

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  4. ansonburlingame says:

    Now, Jim, you are lecturing me,

    “Come down off my pedestal”. Jeez, my fingers are twitching in a retort!

    In the extremes the choice is in fact between a totally free market and communism, a very unfree system of one size fits all unless you are an “elite”. But there are shades of a huge variety of colors in between those two extremes.

    Yes, some 30% or so of our HC system today is socialized Medicine in Medicare, VA, etc. But the rest is a free market system of private insurance companies. Anyone can “shop” around for a better policy, at least to a degree. Unfortunately once you pick a policy you must only go to the providers listed therein. Locally that means Freeman or St. Johns. I don’t like that for sure.

    What you are proposing in your call for universal care is much farther to the “left” , meaning towards communism or socialism, than our current system. And our current system MUST change as you well know. So the argument is over in which direction it must change, left or right, politically.

    My solution is to move “right”, away from the form of socialized medicine that we have today. That means individuals must put more “skin in the game”, not less. Your universal care system will NOT require such action to demand more out of pocket payments, a lot more. Government will try to pick up the bigger tab in a universal system.

    So it is NOT a strict free market vs communism choice. But it is a very clear argument of more or less government involment in HC. You will chose one way and I obviously oppose such a choice, whether from a “pedestal” or just right here at my keyboard. So take your lecture and……!

    Then tell me how to pay for your universal care solution.

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      I don’t know where you get your 30% figure for how much of our system is government administered. You don’t provide any reference, as usual, and you ignore my figures, as usual. In 2004, based on figures from the Kaiser Foundation, the U.S. spent $1.540 Trillion on healthcare. Of that, $0.602 Trillion was Medicare and Medicaid. That works out to 39%, not 30%. Now that was 7 years ago. Surely you know that with the aging of the Boomers the number is higher today.

      Kaiser reference: http://www.kff.org/medicaid/upload/Key%20Medicare%20and%20Medicaid%20Statistics.pdf

      So, you want to “move to the right” as a solution. Fine, let’s get it done. Which parts of the system will you reduce? Medicare? Medicaid? EMTALA? If you can figure out how to do it, what is your plan? You don’t have one, Anson. That’s the problem. By stubbornly clinging to the present system, which is fine for you personally but which is strangling the country financially, you are ignoring reality. I might point out too that your position on this is disastrous for people like John Erickson, our fellow commenter who has health problems and is trying desperately to pay unreasonable costs, are being hung out to dry under our worsening system.

      You want me to say how to pay for universal health care. The answer is that such systems are available for comparison and the costs are less than half of what it costs us now. That is the simple truth. I have previously explained why our system costs too much in this post:

      https://jwheeler59.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/just-gimme-the-latest-and-greatest-doc/

      Instead of comparing me to a Russian you might want to consider that some other pretty smart people have pondered the problem as I have described it and believe that a single payer plan, or some form of it, is a reasonable way out of the mess. I would give you a link to follow, but since you have stated you don’t follow links I will provide an excerpt and then the link for any other readers not already exhausted by the discussion. This is from a Harvard Business School website on “What Is the Government’s Role in U.S. Healthcare?” Any areas of emphasis are mine, not theirs.

      Healthcare will grab more and more headlines in the U.S. in the coming months. Any service that is on track to consume 40 percent of the gross national product of the world’s largest economy by the year 2050 will be hard to ignore. Business management already feels the effects of healthcare costs more acutely than most consumers. Several recent studies and proposals shed light on the problem and possible solutions. They leave us with questions, too.

      To put things in perspective, U.S. healthcare currently costs about $2 trillion per year. Of this, more than $600 billion (31 percent) is never seen by recipients. It goes for administration. On a per capita basis, it is roughly $280 billion more than is spent for administration in the other twenty-one countries whose life expectancies exceed those in the U.S., all of whom have some form of taxpayer-financed, single-payer system, the kind that used to be referred to by detractors as “socialized medicine.” Worse yet, the current system leaves more than 40 million Americans without health insurance. Because many are not employed or have very low incomes, programs that provide incentives through employers and tax relief don’t help them. With this much room for possible improvement, the incentives should be sufficient to foster changes in behavior.

      A recent McKinsey study estimates that more than half of the $98 billion of excess administrative costs it identified goes for insurance company marketing and underwriting. Its estimate does not include the costs of sorting out acceptable applicants or denying payments under existing policies, another substantial amount. And it does not include the costs that doctors and hospitals incur in denying applications for payment, often in the form of payments to consultants who specialize in this kind of responsibility-shifting activity. By contrast, McKinsey estimates that it would cost “only” $77 billion per year (or about $1,900 per person) to provide healthcare to all of America’s uninsured. If made available along with consumer education, others have suggested that all of this amount could be recouped eventually through the elimination of healthcare expenses incurred by those unable to pay now.

      Now comes Robert Frank, a Cornell economist, who has proposed ways of overcoming opposition to some kind of government- (and therefore taxpayer-) funded solution to the problem. He has put his finger on the two main obstacles to major change in the current system, insurance company opposition and higher taxes. He suggests that insurance companies, who have acted in good faith to respond to incentives provided by the market, could be subsidized for their losses while their managements shift their health insurance strategies, perhaps to provide only supplemental private coverage. A portion of the $280 billion in annual savings suggested above could be used for this purpose. He proposes that the other obstacle, higher taxes, could be overcome through an effort to educate the public about the long-term economic benefits of such a move. How his proposal would fare in the face of previous failures is a real question.

      Given their magnitude, failure to solve these problems in the U.S. could have global economic impact. But are we addressing them with the creativity they deserve? For example, to combat opposition to a tax increase, could tax credits for later use (when savings kick in) be issued to individuals and businesses in the amounts by which their taxes are increased? To provide universal insurance, could the government provide vouchers (along with consumer-oriented education) to all uninsured to be used at their discretion for their own care? In other words, could a consumer-driven solution be combined with a single-payer system? What can the U.S. learn from other countries in the delivery of high-quality healthcare? What is the government’s role in U.S. healthcare? What do you think?

      LINK: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5645.html

      Please note that the notion of combining a consumer-driven solution be combined with a single-payer system is not the same as Rep. Ryan’s idea because his scheme has no provision for supporting the lower tier of patients beyond a flat and inadequate amount of voucher money.

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  5. ansonburlingame says:

    JIm,

    As I said, when I did some limited online research it was mind numbing. But you and I have stumbled upon a similar web site provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation except that my Google search using “medicare costs” took me to one for 2010, not 2004.

    My 30% figure came from a pie chart on that web site though I did not try to round it up or down to an exact figure. 30%, 40%, whatever is not the point. The simple fact that government provides something less than half of the total medical costs today is the point. And if you go to a universal system ALL of those costs, now for 2011 some $2.5 to $2.8 Trillion per year, would have to be borne by such a universal system.

    Think you can bring down that cost with a universal system by eliminating “adminsitrative” costs? Good luck. I have never seen any bureaucracy lower overhead costs.

    As for solutions, I have written all sorts of ideas for such. Start with the simple fact the Medicare and SS today cover everyone over the age of 65 regardless of their wealth. And both systems are going broke. Well means test both of them NOW, right now, you, me etc. Raise the “retirement age”, NOW for everyone under age 55, NOW. Take it up to 75 about the same point in terms of life expectancy today as when Medicare was passed in 1965. Again do it NOW.

    Go from a system of government provided care to privately funded care. Let government only control funding for private insurance and not direct payment for medical care (the Ryan Plan).

    In other words move to a system where everyone has to put skin in the game and then let the market drive the billed costs of medical care. Yes, that means real physical pain and even death will increase. But believe me the pain and death created by a bankrupt U. S. government would make such sacrifice pale in comparison.

    We have created a system of HC standards that is the absolute best in the world. No better place in the world to go to be treated for any illness than right here in America, today IF one can pay for the care. Well we are at the point where “we” cannot pay for maintaining or increasing such standards of care. To me that is a simple reality.

    But if you and yours can indeed find a way to pay for our current standards of care universally, then I am all ears and wish you well in your efforts. But at some point you MUST put a believable $ sign behind your plan, moral arguments nothwithstanding. And I believe if America went to a European or Canadian model of HC, well, one we cannot afford to do so and second Americans would scream their heads off. Just look at the reaction to Obamacare and those screams are without knowing completely or even partially the complete cost of Obamacare. We won’t really know that until 2014 or later.

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Actually, Anson, I am not sanguine about achieving a single-payer HC system in America at all, simply because most people think like you do. The concept of “socialized medicine” or “socialism” as a very bad thing is an enduring meme in our society. People are loathe to think deeply about such matters, and I believe you are affected that way too. For example, despite all the discussions we have had, you can’t bring yourself to question the prices charged by the Medical Industry. That is evident when you say,

      Think you can bring down that cost with a universal system by eliminating “adminsitrative” costs? Good luck. I have never seen any bureaucracy lower overhead costs.

      You see, a government, single-payer system would save money not by administrative costs but by negotiating and even controlling prices. A prime example is the prohibition included in the law by Congress against Medicare negotiating drug prices with the drug industry. That is the prime reason the pharmaceutical industry is the world’s most profitable. Without that, drug prices would be much lower and there would be many other savings, such as exorbitant physician salaries, unnecessary CAT scans, marginally effective operations (e.g., unnecessary pacemakers), and the like.

      Do you know that many doctors own scanning machines and benefit financially from keeping them fully used? I am not saying all doctors are crooks, I’m simply saying they are human and when questions arise about the desirability of tests and scans and there is profit to be made by leaning towards “yes” rather than “no”, then they do the obvious. That said, the occasional doctor is found to be a crook, as in the case of the doctor and his brother from Carthage who was convicted of blatant tax evasion.

      Now you might say switching systems is a mistake because capitalism and competition always beats socialism, and that would surely be true if there were a free market in HC, but there isn’t. Why not? Because the structure of the industry, as you have agreed, doesn’t give the consumer reason to question costs, and because the industry itself controls the supply. Medical schools limit the supply of doctors and nurses, for example, and the drug industry limits the availability of medicine through manipulation of the patent system. Thus, on this large and complicated scale, market forces are minimized and Americans pay double. You see, when you look at it this way you don’t have to be a socialist to recognize that capitalism isn’t working the way it should in this system, so when you characterize me as “you and yours”, evidently labeling me as a socialist, you just might be off the mark. I fully believe in capitalism when it’s in a system where market forces are allowed to work.

      Jim

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  6. ansonburlingame says:

    JIm,

    Com’on, I think the prices charged for medical care are outrageous, simply outrageous. Recall my concern over the $30,000 for 12 hours of “care” for Janet last March. And they did not even give her an aspirn for a stroke for crying out loud. She had to wait to get home for me to give her such and about 24 hours to receive any competent care for her stroke. Outrageous and that crap goes on all the time.

    My friend with no insurance had a kidney stone, more painful that “child birth”. I took him to the ER and remained there for about 4 hours. His bill was $5,000 including $3600 for a single two minute CAT scan. Outrageous. He of course will ultimately pay his bill over time. I will probably help him is that effort to the extent that I can as well. He is that kind of man. But……..

    I just don’t thinking moving farther towards socialism is the right approach. And so far none of you have shown me the way to do so but I continue to read, listen and interact.

    Anson

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