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Op-Ed: My Experience & Why We Need Healthcare Reform A.S.A.P.

Back in April I wrote about how our medical bills were starting to really pile up due to my brush with leukemia, and at that point we were really worried about how much it was all going to add up to. And then as soon as we were getting closer and closer to having everything paid off, I got another surprise – a melanoma on my leg had to be removed and I had to have surgery to have a golf-ball sized hole taken out around the spot. Ka-ching went the register at the Doctor’s office! So, after two major medical issues in less than 12 months, and with health insurance, wanna know how much we have spent of our own money?

$9,235.71

Yep, almost $10,000 of our income has gone to pay of medical bills so far, in addition to the $300+ a month we were paying on our premium. Luckily now we have a great plan through my wife’s work, but prior to September 1 we were paying for our own private insurance. And in order to make it affordable for while we were living in California, we had a very high deductible. But $10,000 is a lot of money for anyone, even for a dual-income household such as ours. So imagine what it would be like for someone without extra income? Or 3 kids to feed? Or a mortgage to pay for? $10,000 is a large chunk of most people’s income, and having to shell out that much money in one year for medical bills could be an incredible hardship. No wonder people lose their homes, their jobs, their marriages, etc. over paying for medical bills. I am not someone who was unhealthy – I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I eat organic foods, I am of “normal” bodymass and I exercise regularly…yet here I am with $10,000 in medical bills to pay nonetheless. This could happen to anyone; I just happen to be able to pay the bills myself without falling behind or losing anything important to me. But many people would not be able to, and this is why our health insurance in this country is such a national embarrassment – the health of our citizens should be of major concern for everyone.

Opponents will say things about the way unhealthy people live costing them more, or scream “socialism” and things like that. But above I pointed out that I am not unhealthy at all – and it still happened to me. If I could not have paid my bills, would I deserve to lose my home? My job? My credit? I don’t think so – this is health we are talking about, not some stupid mistake I made on my own. Every other single industrialized nation on earth has some form or another of universal health care, and it is about time that we step up to prevent disasters from happening to people who cannot pay their bills. I am lucky; I can pay mine. And I know this. But not everyone is this lucky, and not everyone gets away with only having to pay $10,000. Some are up to their eyeballs to the tune of hundreds of thousands in medical bills, which is not right for such a rich nation.

It could happen to anyone, including you, even if you have good insurance.

It is about time we don’t hold health care over people’s heads but rather start making it a priority for everyone, regardless of political affiliation. However we make it work and however it gets done, something needs to give. I was lucky this time…but I may not be next time. You might not be either. And it’s not right that anyone has to worry about how to pay for medical bills in this day and age; I think we can all agree on that.

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Comments (79)

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  1. Kate says:

    I have to agree with you. Our lack of socialized medicine is a national embarrassment. I can describe myself much as you describe yourself: healthy young adult, non-smoker, active, eats organic, bmi in the low range of normal. And yet I’ve had pneumonia twice as an adult. Once that put me in the hospital, and the other time it should have, but I just didn’t go. I had no insurance and incurred major medical bills. I was fortunate enough that I was able to pay in manageable monthly amounts for a few years before the remainder of the bill was written off when I became a full time student. I know many others aren’t so lucky. It shouldn’t be so.

  2. Frugal Dad says:

    I like the idea of opening up Medicare for those under 65 to pay into based on their income (those who make a ton of money, but refuse corporate insurance plans, or are self-employed, would subsidize the premiums of those who make less, and/or have several dependents). These people would still have to pay something, because I don’t believe in 100 “free” services from the government.

    This would be a step short of “universal health” care, but I imagine the number of freelancers/self-employed/small business employees who would take advantage of such a plan would help cover the majority of the operating costs.

  3. david says:

    That would certainly help, FD, but I have insurance and I am still in the hole $10K…and I was not even that sick. Insurance for all would be great, but it still could (and does) leave people in debt up to their eyeballs through no fault of their own. That’s why I believe the entire system needs to have a do-over so when you get sick you don’t go into such debt that you could lose your house, etc.

  4. Your story is a good one and quite helpful to the discussion. The problem with many of the universal payor solutions that have been proposed is that they do nothing to control costs. If there is no consumer component to the economic equation, costs will continue to inflate to oblivion, care will be rationed as it is in many countries, and many of the best and brightest will move on to different professions that are not government controlled. Do you really want a government bureaucrat making your healthcare decisions?

  5. David says:

    ToughMoney – would it be any different than the insurance bureaucrat making the decisions? Somehow I doubt it, really. I dont think it could get any worse than it is right now.

  6. Joshua says:

    I smell an Obama fan. I’m sorry to hear of your medical issues and the costs associated with it and I hope that you will live a long and happy life. However, asking the government to step in and take control is one of the worst things that could happen to healthcare.

    Don’t listen to the media, the hype, and all of the other bull. You need to sit down and see just how bad the “universal health care” countries really have it. You might have been stuck with that cancer in your leg for a long time, as it got worse, WAITING for an appointment in other countries.

    There is nobody in the world that would doubt that we have the best doctors, best medical schools, and best overall medical services in the world. The beauty of capitalism is that anybody can do it and if you let the government step in you’re only asking for socialism (Obama) and you will pay MANY TIMES OVER more then than you are now. Not only that you are asking people like me who are trying to stay ahead of the game to pay MORE taxes (I already pay close to 30%!!) to help people like you.

    Don’t we have non-profit groups to help people like you? Can you not hold a benefit or charity event to help pay your bills. You can and we do it all the time here in Iowa to help each other out with no government involved.

    Stop asking the government to fix your problems. Your a big boy now and you don’t need mommy and daddy to save you. You need to get out there and make the best of it. If you can’t find a charity to help you or a better insurance company to help you than start one. That’s what FREE means in our country and that has been what’s proven to work time and time again.

    I would HIGHLY recommend that you, and anyone reading your blog, take a look at this article (http://www.fff.org/comment/com0302p.asp) and learn more. Take a view of the whole site and subscribe to the RSS feed and/or newsletters. Don’t take my word for it; read a few things and see if you agree with me. God bless all of you.

  7. david says:

    Wow, insulting people who might need assistance with medical bills, how Christian of you. (“God bless all of you”) For the record – A. I didn’t need it. B. My dad died from cancer and it cost over a hundred thousand dollars of my parents money to try to save him over the 1.5 years he was sick. They had the money; many don’t. I sure hope you never, ever get a serious illness and need assistance.

    And like I always say, funny how police, fire, education, roads, etc are paid for by everyone through their taxes (ie – socialism) but no one seems to mind. But again, that is not what I said in the article if you took the time to read it; I was merely suggesting that something needs to be done.

  8. plonkee says:

    The US government pays more per capita for healthcare than the UK government.

    The UK has healthcare that’s free at the point of service.

    Whatever it is that US taxes are paying for, I don’t think it’s very efficient.

    I think probably the French or maybe the Dutch have the best healthcare system btw.

  9. Joshua says:

    David:

    I read my comments over again after receiving your note and I don’t see where I was mean towards you or anyone else. All I’m saying is that if you look at the past performace of our government run “solutions” you will find they have an D, possibly even an F, letter grade.

    We need to find a solution, that doesn’t involve government, to this problem. Doctors receiving kickbacks by recommending certain medications, charging exobiant rates for simple proceedures, hospitals charging hundreds of dollars for asprin, lawsuits awarding multi-million dollar judgements, and the list goes on. If you haven’t noticed the government only makes these same problems even worse by special interest groups only puts in an extra layer of mismangement that needs their own set of kickbacks.

    What we need is accountability and alternatives. Tell me, what’s the difference from one mega-insurance company from another? One doesn’t cover this or that and if they do they charge you extra or refuse to cover you. What we need is an alternative solution where openness and oversight is key. I have an idea in mind but it’s only in it’s infancty and I have to ponder it much more before I reveal it.

    I’m sorry if my earlier post came across as rude or vicious but it certainly was not intended to be so. All I ask is that you slow down, look at the situation objectivtely, the past performance of all the systems you are looking to, and really hash out the reality. What we have isn’t that bad, yet, but you’re right when you say it could have been better. Sorry to hear about your Father, and yes.. God bless.

  10. david says:

    “Your a big boy now and you don’t need mommy and daddy to save you.”

    Thanks, but that is awfully rude of anyone to say to anyone else, when that someone does not know the situation. I did not ask to be helped. I was merely discussing how horrible it is that people have to lose their homes or end up in collections because they got sick through no fault of their own.

    In addition, I do find it weird that religious people want others to go it alone when they need help, or to “start their own insurance company”, or any other reason people give to not have health care available for all. Isn’t a major part of religious belief about making sure people are helped and taken care of? Didn’t Jesus do that? I am not a religious person, but I imagine that it is. They want to legislate sexuality, marriage, abortion and other societal “issues”, but would it be so terrible if we legislated health care?

  11. Joshua says:

    I’m not all high and mighy with my religion and in no way does it really have to do with our discussion about government control and health care. Skip the religious portion and review the cold hard facts, history, and numbers when it comes to just about any government run program (I’m talking about OUR government and nobody elses) and you’ll see what I mean. I understand that what you and your family had to go through was terrible and I’m glad that you have come out of it alive and well. I’m only asking you to look at this from all angles using cold hard data.

    I don’t think we are going to get anywhere with your anti-religion attitude and your attacking me for posting my opinion on your blog. Just look at the facts and perhaps post (or do a serious of posts) about the situation and maybe you’ll find something I don’t know we can all learn from.

  12. david says:

    I did not bring up religion – you are the one who keeps saying God bless us …unless we need help with health insurance bills. It does have something to do with it, if you are going to continuously mention it. Legislate sexuality, abortion, who can get married, etc – but heaven forbid you legislate, in any way, giving people healthcare. It’s so hypocritical it’s outrageous. I am not attacking you for commenting; I am merely stating that your obvious religious beliefs and your thoughts on healthcare provisions are at exact opposite ends of the spectrum, that is all. You are right, we are not going to get anywhere, and while I appreciate your comments, I disagree wholeheartedly with them.

  13. Leslie says:

    A reply to all those who think that just because you want affordable medical care that you are a socialist, un-American, un-Christian (that one is for you, Joshua): I am a housewife. My husband was promised healthcare for his dependents (me) when he retired. He retired. After a few years, his “employer” said we must pay for a group policy for me. Now, he is on medicare. But to be able to allow me to pay for the group policy, he now has to go to a “Pay for Service Plan”. Which means that any doctor he sees can decide if they really want to accept what the insurance company wants to give them. I’ve looked for private insurance. It appears that I can pay my premiums, and should I ever put in a claim, I’ll conveniently have a pre-existing condition. (Have you had a muscle ache or sprain in the last 10 years? pre-existing condition. Have you had sinusitis in the last 10 years? pre-existing condition. Have you ever consumed alchohol? Well excuse me for having toasted the bride and groom at my stepson’s wedding. Have you been alive for the last 10 years? you’re catching on now — pre-existing condition)

    I want the same plan our Congress gives to themselves and their dependents. If that’s socialism, count me in.

  14. Vanessa says:

    I agree 100%. In the next few months we will no longer have our military insurance, Tricare. I’m dreading when this happens. My husbands job does offer insurance however it is not that great, in fact, it is pretty terrible. I honestly am ‘lost in the sauce’ in what we should do. Were not in any position to fork out $300.00 a month for insurance and it doesn’t look like we will be any time soon, even though we are looking for extra streams of income. I don’t understand how tons of countries have insurance plans for all of their citizens but the USA can’t seem to muster up something similar. If we had an insurance plan for all citizens perhaps we would not have so many people living on the streets because they lost everything to medical bills. It is a true disgrace.

  15. Glblguy says:

    I agree our healthcare system has some big problems, namely costing too much but relying on the government to pay it isn’t the right choice. I will cry socialism, because that is exactly what it is. The more power you give the government, the more we inch towards a socialistic government.

    I want government for the people and of the people. I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good answer, but I know the right one isn’t government healthcare. Your concerns are dead on though David, we do need a better solution…anybody know of some alternatives?

    How about all of us chipping in and helping out each other rather than relying on the government to do it?

  16. Joshua says:

    Letting the market sort things out is 99.9% of the time the best thing to do. However, part of the downfall of capitalism is that GREED comes into play more often than not. Can anyone say OIL COMPANIES? The same goes for our current government officials.. honestly even though the law says they cannot accept bribes or special gifts.. who here can raise their hand and honestly say that they are not doing so? Exactly.

    However, the beauty of our country and form of government is that we do have the power to change things both politically and commercially. In fact, I’ve had an idea in my head that I’ve been working on for a couple of years now that I want to take public someday. I believe that if I truly sat down and worked it out with other smart people we could whip these insurance problems in the bud.

    We have to band together and fight these institutions and I’m with you in the same boat. Our current insurance companies do.. and there is no other way to put it… suck. The problem with giving the government power to do something is that once you give it to them.. you almost never get it back (anybody have a family member that borrows stuff and then you never see it again??) well the government is much like that except it not only affects you.. but in this situation it affects ALL of us.

    I’m not sure arguing about it here is solving anything really. I wish I could reveal my plan to all of you but it’s all half-baked at the moment and pretty worthless as it stands now. All roar and no bite.

  17. Double says:

    I live in Canada and feel blessed that we have healthcare available to everyone. It is not a perfect system as lack of competition and inefficiencies in the government run plan means higher taxes if we the people do not push for accountability.

  18. Donna says:

    Last year I almost had to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills. There are no “lifestyle changes” that could have prevented my illnesses from happening. This is in spite of my “good” health insurance, full time job that puts me above the Federal Poverty Level, and my frugal lifestyle with no car, no television, no airplane travel, second-hand clothes and furniture, no eating out, no Starbucks, etc. I’ve put off having children because of finances, and I’ve begun to doubt I’ll ever be able to afford them before menopause. I have worked hard to become financially solvent again, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get a mortgage I can afford because of my credit record. With my FICO score in the toilet and society’s obsession with that number, I’m also worried about future job prospects.

    All because of medical costs my insurance doesn’t pay for. I agree – something has to change.

  19. [...] from MyTwoDollars tries to make the case for healthcare reform, using a personal example. Later, he ties the issue to [...]

  20. LAL says:

    Funny David that almost the same words come out of the mouth of people who don’t want to help others. Read about it here for me. I’m linking you because I think it’s related

    http://www.livingalmostlarge.com/2008/08/29/is-250k-year-rich/ and here’s the other one http://www.livingalmostlarge.com/2008/09/05/comparing-the-candidates/

    I noticed that people who make above $100k think that they should keep all their money. Those below that line don’t and feel those above should pay more.

    I am above the line $100k income yet I believe in socialized medicine and more government control. I believe our society will improve if we help everyone’s situation and not allow it to become bleak.

  21. [...] I think it raises a lot of questions about our current system.  David @ MyTwoDollars has spent $10k on medical bills this year on top of premiums.   Another person from Savingadvice is struggling with the rising cost of insuring her family. [...]

  22. jw says:

    If Congress, Senate and the White House had to deal with our current insurance for-profit system, they would do something right away. As it is, they enjoy good health benefits and don’t have to fight every other lab test like I seem to have to do, despite having ‘good’ group insurance through an employer. People should wake up and realize that the insurance companies have created a confusing system and habitually deny legitimate claims, which you then have to fight on your own. And good luck getting insured if you’re self-employed or pay your own way. Most likely you’ll pay through the nose for years and then when you need it, they will deny your claim.
    * By the way I’ve won all my most recent battles and they always admit that I’m covered. But why do I have to go through this hassle every single time? I’m not alone since I know at least 3 other co-workers fighting different denials of coverage.

  23. Tim says:

    LAL, I don’t think people are saying they don’t want to help others out, nor are people who make $100k saying that they should keep all their money. You continue to be blinded by some bias for some reason. Bottom line, and I keep having to repeat myself and you continually ignore it, I for one have never said that govt shouldn’t help and i should be keeping all my money. I am squarely in the boat that govt has a role. However, the govt spends an incredible amount of money on healthcare already. The problem isn’t a lack of funding, the problem is that the system is broken. fix the system first, then see if more money needs to be provided to pay for the fixed system. throwing more money at a broken system is not the solution. i don’t think anyone, regardless of what they make, should be responsible for paying more for a broken system; however, there is a ton of talk about taxing more and giving tax credits to people who make less in this election season, all in the name of fixing healthcare. Nice buzz words in an election year, but it means throwing money at a broken system rather than fixing the system first.

    those who make less of course are going to feel that those who make more can afford to pay more, and those who make more will feel that they have earned their position so shouldn’t have to be penalized for it. both are right and they are both wrong. I for one do not believe that anyone should have to pay, regardless of their income level, for the bad financial habits of other people. Right now, there are far more people with bad financial habits.

  24. Glblguy:

    “I want government for the people and of the people.”

    Shouldn’t a government for the people take care of its people?

    Think about the difference between the wealthy and the poor in this country (and everyone in between). The wealthy have more stuff, better stuff, etc. than the poor. But we’re all human beings, and if we don’t have access to good health care, or can’t afford it, nothing else really matters.

    I firmly believe that the best way to make America more free is to take away the worry of what’s going to happen if they get sick. Or the trouble of being stuck in a dead end or otherwise un-enjoyable job simply because of the health benefits — which probably aren’t even that great.

    The free market has had a go at this for a long time now and has failed rather miserably. It’s time to make them move over and give someone else a try.

    None of this is to say that our government should not be held accountable — it absolutely should be. But the people here who are decrying “socialism” (as if that’s some strange concept for the most social of all animals…) are arguing against it not on its merits but because they are afraid of the government. Instead of being afraid of the government, take control of the government. It is, after all, your civic duty to do so.

  25. Tim says:

    MITBeta, that’s all fine and dandy, but the people have to take some responsibility and be actual participants in the society. The problem isn’t that the govt isn’t working for the people, the problem is that the people are failing their part in society. when people are choosing personal discretionary consumption over savings and insurance, you have a problem. No one ever said your civic duty was to forgo insurance and savings in lieu of a $5 latte, cable tv, a new leased SUV, and an interest only mortgage. There are lots of people who make way less than me, but have much nicer stuff and more stuff than me. on the flip side, i have more money in the bank and good health insurance. i don’t find it necessary for me to pay for their healthcare when they’ve spent their money on so many other things but. that has nothing to do with a govt taking care of people. it has everything to do with people having some responsibility in taking care of themselves over discretionary spending. the free market has not failed anyone.

  26. Joshua says:

    Tim: Right on brother! Allow me to contribute a bit more to what you said…

    September 11th, (yes I’m going there) this was a day that I can use to show David what we’re talking about. All of the families of the people who were murdered are OK now. A huge percentage of us that were not directly related to the terrorist attacks on that day reached into our pockets and donated to the Red Cross and many other organizations to help those familys.

    Every single child who lost a parent that day now has fully funded college educations. Every family has money in the bank to help offset long term living costs (in fact some made out quite well!). The list goes on and on and that doesn’t even take into account any insurance they may have had (let alone the airlines insurance covering them).

    What I’m trying to get at is that government only screws things up. It was US and not the U.S. Government that got those people through it on our own. My point is this, if you take care of yourself you’ll be OK. In fact, David, you said you were OK and of course your upset that you had to pay some cash into it. When we break down everything you said it all comes down to money.

    You’re mad that you had to pay money for medical care. I suppose that if your car breaks down ($h1t happens) you want the government to step in and buy you a new one or pay for the repairs? I suppose if your house burned down do to a lighting strike you want the government to build you a new and better one for free.

    It sucks you had to pay medical bills. But you are healthy, alive, and in good shape both physically, mentally, and financially even so because you took care of yourself. I have NO pitty for people who are on welfare (grew up on it cause my Mom didn’t want to work and I had no Dad).

    You are lucky we even have insurance, the worlds best doctors, and what-not. Your illnesses could have killed you if not treated properly and all you can do is whine that it cost a few bucks for insurance and co-pays. They kept you alive and you should be thanking them. I’m sure they are MUCH more unhappy paying the huge bills you racked up for them out of the blue. They paid what..80-90% of your costs? Do you think you paid that much in premiums since you’ve been with the insurance company? I doubt it.

    I could go on and on.. but the truth is your alive and the system worked. Your out some cash because of your illness, even though they may be no fault of your own, but $h1t happens.

  27. David says:

    Actually Joshua, you missed my entire point altogether, 100%. I am not mad I had to pay money for my care; I never once said that. I am mad that there are many people who have to go into debt, lose their houses, or lose their credit because of needing to see a doctor. Health is not something that we should have to go into debt for; it should be a basic human right if we truly care about each other as humans.

  28. Joshua says:

    David:

    Health is not a guaranteed “right” as a human. I can prove that easy, have you ready the obituaries lately? People get sick and people die and thus no right to health by default.

    Your case is a PERFECT example of why our system works. You got an education, a good job, medical insurance, and had money saved in the bank. When you became ill your insurance kicked in (I won’t doubt that people have to fight for things at times but that’s called reading the fine print), you used the money you saved to pay the co-pays, and when all was said and done you are healthy as a horse again. That is EXACTLY how it works and should work.

    Asking me to help foot your bill is wrong. I’m sorry you were sick, and all othe others out there who can’t “afford” health insurance, but the Red Cross and many other not-for-profits are out there helping people (ever heard of the free medical clinics?) and not using a dime of government money (except for any grants that our congressmen gave them) and they only took them because they were available and would go to waste if not used.

    Those people you speak of, and I quote.. ” I am mad that there are many people who have to go into debt, lose their houses, or lose their credit because of needing to see a doctor”, were not responsible at some point. Whether they didn’t have an emergency savings fund, PROPER insurance coverage, or what have you.. at some point they screwed up.

    In fact, everyone who is reading this should take David’s example and ensure you have at least 6 months of emergency funds stored. Review your current medical coverage and insure you have the best coverage.. oh boo who you have to pay more to get more.. but it’s better than the poor house!

  29. David says:

    Sorry, but I have zero patience for people without a single bone of compassion for anyone other than themselves. We are all in this together…and then we die. Big whoop what we accomplish/save/do/can purchase while we are here; we all go the same way into the nothingness and no one is better than anyone else because of it- rich, poor, black, white, man, woman. So why not help out a fellow man or woman if they are down on their luck? We work our asses off to create our life…but it doesn’t mean I am not willing to help out a fellow human being.

    Since you don’t want to use your tax money to help anyone else out but yourself, should we get rid of the police? Firemen? Libraries? Public schools? Parks? Roads? Bridges?

  30. Joshua says:

    David:

    You sure are hostile. I didn’t say I wouldn’t help anyone out (did I not mention not-for-profits somewhere in this thread?). I’m only saying that I shouldn’t be forced to give up funds to an organzation (government) because I know they will screw it up. Their track history proves it.

    David, could you go ahead and write me a check for $2,000 a month and send it my way for the rest of your life please? It would sure help me and in fact I might even donate it to the Red Cross or homeless shelter or even one of the two free medical centers we have in our area.

    No really, since you don’t care about your money and self lets go ahead and make it mandatory that you send me the check. You don’t get to decide how or where it is spent but you’ll sure feel good about it. Then, and records will prove it, the next time you cancer inflicts you or some other major issue pops up we’ll wait 6 months to get you into an appointment, with a doctor who isn’t paid well, with medicine that’s barely worth it own weight to carry, and see how long you live and how happy you are with the program. Oh sorry, your local hospital has been closed down because the money we “allocated” for medical care was misspent because we (the government) had to borrow some of it to make our Social Security payments (oh yeah.. how’s that program going?) so you’ll have to travel to the next largest city and hope their hospital can get you in.. 8 months later.

    Stop arguing with me, do your research (no really.. go out and get hard evidence of how well these other countries medical systems work), and then come back on here and apologize for your stupidity.

    I’ve been having some heartburn over the last 3 weeks or so and over the counter stuff just isn’t cutting it for me. I need to go see the doctor and so… ring… “Doctor’s Office”. I’d like the earliest appointment you can provide me. “How does today sound, is 4:30 PM OK?”. Yes, that will work great.

    When I arrive they will already have my medical insurance on record. The doctor will see me with a big smile on his face, in the nicest well kept office, with the latest medical gear/machines, and with multiple nurses asking if they can get me water, candy, a magazine, you name it all waiting on me hand and foot.

    When I’m done the doctor will prescribe me with a little something (the best money can buy) and electronically send it over to my favorite pharamcy (we have many choices). I’ll pay my little $15 co-pay and be on my over. At the pharmacy I’ll talk to the nice Pharmacist who will tell me everything I need to know about my prescribed medicine and take the time to answer any questions. Normally all my medication is covered and I don’t pay a dime, but this particular one isn’t on “the list” and that’s OK. They have a generic with the exact same makeup (probably made by the exact same company) that I can get for only $2.

    Sure sounds like hell to me. You want the goverment to fix what again?

  31. David says:

    Joshua, this argument is over because A. you are now calling me stupid and B. it’s my site and I can write about what I wish on here. You don’t need to read the site, and in fact I am not sure why you do – I don’t waste any time on sites that I don’t agree with. But I stand by my argument, my writing, and you can either take it or stop reading the site. There is no argument to be had with me, and my voice will not be quieted by insults from someone I do not even know. Best of luck to you, and here is to your continued good health.

  32. Joshua says:

    We’ll have to agree to disagree but the definition of insanity, as described by Albert Einstein, is “doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. Allowing the government to take more control of something so important is, by definition, insanity.

  33. LAL says:

    David, I think we’re on the same wavelength. There is a right to basic human health and well-being. And many people forget that along the way. They become consumed with money and their own spending and their own savings.

    Things might work a little better if we helped each other out. Instead of course we’re in this system that doesn’t work BECUASE there are MANY PEOPLE out there who are very selfish.

    They feel they shouldn’t have to pay for anyone else. Not realizing it’s insurance. Insurance against bad things happening to you.

    If the tables were turned and you were the person diagnosed with terminal illess or lifetime disability, would you suddenly want help? Or would you be fine on your own?

    Would you be able to manage everything independently like an island?

    Donne said “no man is an island, but we’re interconnected”. Truly, the way the US system is going it’s every man is an island and let’s kick off anyone who isn’t “good” enough by our standards.

  34. LAL says:

    I have to add that’s why other countries have socialized system because they believe life is a basic right. We don’t.

  35. david says:

    Unfortunately, so many Americans are so selfish that they only care about their own self-interest. Except they don’t seem to mind when the government spends their tax dollars on oil company subsidies, bailing out billion dollar corporations, or killing people overseas in unwarranted wars. For that, they are OK with government spending their money. But taking care of a sick child who needs healthcare? Oh no, we cannot do that – that’s socialism! The whole argument falls apart the minute they start screaming socialism, as healthcare is about the only thing left in American society that is NOT some form of socialism.

  36. [...] LAL, I don’t have a good response for you, but your post made me think about a post at another blog that has generated some buzz: Op-Ed: My Experience & Why We Need Healthcare Reform A.S.A.P. [...]

  37. Leslie says:

    David, Thank you for caring about the world outside of your own self-interest. Knowing that there are people like you gives me hope for our society.

  38. [...] David at My Two Dollars has spent $9,235.71 on healthcare in less than twelve months. Universal Healthcare, people! We need Universal Healthcare! I have three kids and I’d be surprised if I spent €923.57 on healthcare in the past year. And you know what? Even if I did spend it, it was reimbursed at at least 65%, if not 100%. [...]

  39. Dee says:

    My husband and I are both on Medicare and pay approximately $260 per month in premiums ($98 per month each for Medicare and $66 per month for a Medicare supplement policy for me). My husband is a Vietnam vet and receives his health care through the VA system. Why would there be a problem if everybody was able to participate in the Medicare program? It’s not as if it’s free; there are premiums to pay…a lot of people seem to be unaware of that fact. And we are able to see the doctors we want to see and get the same care those with private coverage get. If everyone paid premiums on an income-based scale, it seems to me that almost everyone could be covered and not spend their lives worried sick that they’re going to get sick and not be able to pay for it.

    Even if you have coverage, you can find yourself with co-pays and deductibles you cannot pay, especially if the illness is serious enough that you’re unable to get back to work quickly. I am very proud (for more reasons than one) that my husband is a vet – in 2004 he had surgery for invasive bladder and prostate cancer. He hasn’t been able to work a single day since then. Where would we be, after a lifetime of working, if we had been in the position to have to pay the non-covered expenses we would have had under private coverage?

    For the record, I am not a liberal. But I have a problem understanding why most people think it’s a great idea for the government to pay for our children’s education but that somehow expecting some help with health care is un-American. Color me confused.

  40. deepali says:

    OMG, this makes me so mad. There is INDEED a basic right to health! In fact, we have so declared it globally, written resolutions, and passed the damn things in UN assembly AND Congress. We are in fact signatory to the progressive realization of the universal right to health.

    “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” – UDHR

    “Governments have a responsibility for the health of their peoples which
    can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social
    measures.” – WHO Constitution

    Call me a socialist – it is not insulting to me to be branded as such if it means that I believe that the society in which I am a member should do its utmost to protect the basic human rights of all. I think if you do not believe that, then you need to go find a cave to live in and leave society to those of us who believe in it. I am tired of this old-school divisive mentality that seems to think only a select few deserve entitlements.

    The US pays the most for health care (compared to other HICs), and yet we cannot provide universal coverage. And it’s not just individual costs – tax dollars are already spent to a great degree bailing out EDs and hospitals that are required to care for people regardless of insurance in the event of an emergency. And that is EXPENSIVE. And we are already PAYING FOR IT.
    The HYPE is that health care will be more expensive with a universal net. It won’t be – we already have the most expensive system in the world. This is because without national system, we have no incentive for prevention and thus everything is spent waaaay down the line when things get more expensive.

    What drives me nuts the most is that we already do believe in a nationalised system – or we wouldn’t have a $50 billion leadership act to combat malaria, TB, and HIV in other countries. And yet Americans have to flounder…!

    And for the record, the government doesn’t run anything – it contracts everything out. The problem is oversight – contractors bilk taxpayers billions of dollars.

    David – I’ve run out of steam. Sorry for the long comment. I am glad that you are in a position where you can handle these expenses, though I am sorry that you have to. And I am sad that we are still at a point where people even have to worry about this.

  41. david says:

    Dee – it’s not even really a liberal vs conservative thing. It’s a basic human issue, and it’s sad that so many people are only concerned about their own well-being and seem to think that they will never, ever need any assistance. Even with insurance you can go broke!

    Great comment depali, I appreciate it. We socialize everything here in the US – but people brand it like it’s some horrible thing. Funny how we are bailing out company after company now, but we cannot figure out a way to get people to a doctor and help them afford one. As I have said before: “I guess when it benefits the the housing market, the economy as a whole and any shareholders of the two giants who might gain something, socialism is a good thing. When it benefits children who need a hot lunch at school or a parent who needs help paying medical bills, it’s bad. “

  42. Jacob says:

    This is really controversial and its important to find solutions to the rising cost of healthcare. I don’t think government is neccesarily the only or best solution. There could be other ways to lower healthcare costs to make it affordable to everyone. I think we need to ask ourselves why did health care become so expensive in this country, that the poorest cannot afford it? It didn’t used to be this way. I saw a program on 20/20 that dealt with the healthcare debate that I thought was insightful.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEXFUbSbg1I

  43. mapgirl says:

    David, someone said to me the other day ‘We privatize profits and socialize risk.’ to describe what’s happening with the financial institution bail out.

    There is no upside to saving a person’s life because eventually they will die anyway. Isn’t that a horrible free-market line of logic? But I swear, that is the appearance that policy makers give us when they say they are unwilling to help people who are sick.

    As far as that nasty commenter who is against socialized medicine, I think they don’t understand. The US has the greatest and most expensive healthcare system in the world. But it has limited access for the poor and uninsured. At least with socialized medicine there is some sort of access for the underclasses in those countries. They can get some care if they need it. In the US, people wait until they’ve got Stage IV cancer (terminal) because they ignored the pain, lump, etc until it was so far gone they are going to die. Then we end up doing very expensive, cutting-edge medical science in heroic measures to save them when preventive, socialized care could have stopped it at Stage I.

    I’m all for sharing healthcare costs with poor people so that they can choose to go to the doctor whenever they feel sick rather than wait till a heroic measure is needed. Oh wait. I already do pay for that in Medicare and Medicaid, but it is so poorly mismanaged by our government and pays based on diagnosis rather than actual care that it is abused and defrauded all the time.

    Sorry for the sarcasm, but a lot of my friends are medical professionals and I went to a college with a teaching hospital. I know what the issues are with the science, ethics, policy and money and frankly there is a solution if people want to work on one. It’s called Tort Reform.

  44. Andrea says:

    David,

    I’ve been reading all these posts and following them since the beginning. I don’t agree 100% with either side of this debate that y’all have going on. However, I would like to take a moment to chime in with my own opinions.

    I do believe that it is important for everyone to have some type of healthcare. Our current laws state that anyone, even illegal aliens, can go into any hospital and receive appropriate medical care WITHOUT paying first. You get the treatment and then worry about finances later. If you are poor they will generally not bill you and write them off.

    I think that alone covers what you are trying to do. Now, as for what this Joshua guy was posting:

    I do agree with some of his points; I think that we as citizens are too materialistic. In fact, who here has a car that is more expensive than you need? Who here has other luxuries such as large flat screen televisions that they don’t need? The well being of yourself and your family should be the priority on everyone’s list. Everybody, at some point, unfortunately will become sick. Our bodies and systems eventually wear out and we’ll need medicare care at some point. We all know this way ahead of time and should plan for it just like you plan for a down-payment on a home (lets not get into the current mortgage and financial crisis.. lessons have been learned).

    Our current system works for those who know how to work it and have planned for it. Some of you have stated that other countries like Canada and the UK have working socialized systems. I’ve looked into these, and even watched the Michael Moore movie about it, and have to say that he makes it look good.

    But… I looked into his claims about those countries and found that their Income Tax and other taxes are extremely high. We’re talking about more than half of each paycheck you receive going to the government. If that’s the case then say goodbye to all these luxuries that we currently enjoy. Could you really have afforded that car or large screen TV if you only had half of your paycheck right now? Do you want the government to save your money for problems in the future or would you be more comfortable saving it by yourself (and getting interest on it!)?

    I believe, like you David, that everyone should be healthy and not have to worry about it. However, none of us have to worry about it because the law already entitles us to appropriate medical care FIRST and financial issues second. But, to keep you out of the poor house, as someone earlier said, you need to have your own savings to cover those co-pay costs just like you may have savings to cover unexpected repairs on your home or vehicle.

  45. david says:

    Andrea – some of what you said I can agree with you on, but the reality is that that law may say it entitles you (is it law?) – but it really doesn’t. Illegal immigrants avoid hospitals until they are so sick that the care costs way more than it would have if they had come in right when they got a cold rather than letting it turn into pneumonia – they are scared of being deported. Also, just because you have insurance does not mean you will not go broke trying to pay the bills – I have health insurance and my bills (out of pocket) are already at $10K, plus the $3K+ I have paid in premiums over the last year. My dad’s bills were $150K out of pocket, with insurance. Insurance does not equal =”paid for” healthcare.

    We pay more for healthcare than any other nation that I can think of, yet our coverage is some of the worst. As mapgirl said above, if we actually took care of people when they first got sick, our costs and premiums would not be so high. The entire system needs to be gutted and re-done. If we can pay for almost everything else with tax dollars, along with bailing out failing private sector companies that created their own fate, then I imagine we could throw some money into the ring to take care of our sick citizens.

  46. Sarah says:

    “But”¦ I looked into his claims about those countries and found that their Income Tax and other taxes are extremely high. We’re talking about more than half of each paycheck you receive going to the government. If that’s the case then say goodbye to all these luxuries that we currently enjoy.”

    Well, I’m from the UK. I’m on a low (almost minimum wage) and around 15-20% of my wages are deducted before I get them for taxes. Our food and petrol is more expensive but we have a slightly more sustainable way of living that doesn’t rely on ‘all terrain’ cars for city streets and $5 starbucks coffee. Thanks to your ‘freedom’ the USA is gobbling the worlds resources at at alarming rate… for pointless luxuries. But it would infringe on your ‘freedom’ to put some of those dollars into a public healthcare system, wouldn’t it?

    I am in no way saying the NHS is perfect. However unlike some American friends of mine, when my partner got pneumonia he went to the doctor and was treated without having to take a credit card along. We don’t have to add the worry of huge debts to worry created by illness in the first place. A few years ago I broke my ankle and the resulting operations and implants would have costs thousands and thousands of dollars had I lived in the US… money that on a low wage I would simply NOT HAVE HAD.

    Oh, and for those who don’t like the possible queues for appointments… we have private healthcare too. If you can afford to get insurance, you can – and you’ll get those wonderful clean shiny waiting rooms with coffee on tap – but if you can’t you’re not a second class citizen.

    Basically the American idea of ‘freedom and justice for all’ is based on one thing and one thing only… money. If you got it.. go you… if you haven’t… well you can die of pneumonia on the streets.

  47. Andrea says:

    Sarah:

    Thank you for your comments from “the other side” (meaning NHS country). What do you mean people die here on the streets? I’ve never heard of such a thing. If you are a homeless bum living on the street AND your illegal to our country you will STILL get medical care here that is top notch.

    You just told us, in not so direct terms, that your waiting list and medical care rooms aren’t that great. And THAT is why there is private care on the side. For those that manage their money properly.

    You also stated you are a minimum wage employee and they are taking upwards of 20% of your wages!!!! If you look at some of the tax returns here for minimum wage workers you will find they have a NEGATIVE tax return!! This means they will give them money, more then they have paid in, each and every year. You can even write off any medical expenses you had throughout the year depending on your income and not pay a dime.

    It would be great to be able to just walk in and not have to pay. However, at the price of being a second class citizen and visiting lower quality facilities and doctors it’s just not worth it.

  48. Donna says:

    I wish people were as upset about the socialization of the over $1 trillion in financial market losses as they are about the possibility of universal healthcare. Thanks to the inflation that will inevitably result, even fewer people will be able to afford health care in this country. Of course, they’ll be blamed for their inability to make ends meet in an inflation economy.

    Naturally, the President, the Treasury Secretary, the Chairman of the Fed, Congress, and all the financial market oligarchs won’t have any trouble paying for their health care costs. That’s because they’re better with money than the rest of us and so more deserving of life and health, right?

  49. david says:

    Donna, you should know by now that only the well-off and smart people deserve healthcare, right? ;-)

  50. [...] at My Two Dollars has a great article on why we need healthcare reform ASAP.  I agree with David, as is evident in the spirited discussion that follows.  I believe that the [...]

  51. Four Pillars says:

    A little late to the conversation but..

    I really can’t understand people who don’t want the government involved in healthcare – as David pointed out they are involved in a lot of important aspects of our lives so why not healthcare?

    Tough Money Love – one financial benefit of government run healthcare is bargaining power with the drug companies – this is why meds are so much cheaper in Canada than the US..

    Glblguy – you say you don’t like socialism but you want everyone to chip in and help each other? Isn’t that socialism?

    Joshua – you are a f***ing jerk.

    Mapgirl – “˜We privatize profits and socialize risk.’ what a great quote!

  52. david says:

    Thanks 4P, appreciate the comment. The “socialism” argument really gets me every time – we are a socialist nation, its just that no one wants to admit it.

  53. Nuder says:

    I hate to bring this up but I feel I have to.

    Joshua made this comment on how it works in the good ol u.s.:

    “I’ve been having some heartburn over the last 3 weeks or so and over the counter stuff just isn’t cutting it for me. I need to go see the doctor and so”¦ ring”¦ “Doctor’s Office”. I’d like the earliest appointment you can provide me. “How does today sound, is 4:30 PM OK?”. Yes, that will work great.

    When I arrive they will already have my medical insurance on record. The doctor will see me with a big smile on his face, in the nicest well kept office, with the latest medical gear/machines, and with multiple nurses asking if they can get me water, candy, a magazine, you name it all waiting on me hand and foot.

    When I’m done the doctor will prescribe me with a little something (the best money can buy) and electronically send it over to my favorite pharamcy (we have many choices). I’ll pay my little $15 co-pay and be on my over. At the pharmacy I’ll talk to the nice Pharmacist who will tell me everything I need to know about my prescribed medicine and take the time to answer any questions. Normally all my medication is covered and I don’t pay a dime, but this particular one isn’t on “the list” and that’s OK. They have a generic with the exact same makeup (probably made by the exact same company) that I can get for only $2.

    Sure sounds like hell to me. You want the goverment to fix what again?”

    Sounds dandy…here’s what happened to me while backpacking in Paris, France

    Cough cough, I walk in a pharmacy and ask the pharmacist (which is not the same thing as going in a CVS) that I dont feel well and if she knows any good doctors around. She sent me to a doctor, I walked right in his office, told me I had a severe throat infection, took out his little pad and prescribed something. I walked back to the pharmacy got my medicine and was better in a couple of days. How much did I pay? about 20 bucks for everything and they DID have magazines in the waiting room.

  54. Joshua says:

    Nuder, thank you for the comment and personal reference. I’m glad that you are one of the few who didn’t have to wait weeks or months to get service (especially if you had needed a specialist for something). You were only visiting France and didn’t have to live there.

    I pay $0 for my insurance at my current place of employment. At my last two companies I worked for I had to pay some but overall it was about $1,500 or less per year on average for just the premiums.

    I’m a middle class earner here in the good ‘ol USA and I pay about 25% income taxes after everything is said and done. However, the people of France have to pay more than half of their total pay every single check and almost 17% in sales tax alone for anything they purchase. In fact, that is so outrageous that the business put the tax into the sales price so people don’t freak out everytime they purchase something. (ref: http://www.americansinfrance.net/MovingPlanner/Taxes_in_France.cfm)

    Now, take a look at your next pay check and see how much is being withdrawn. Yes, even here it seems depressing when they take money out of our check, but add it all up. Now if you lived in France and receive the same pay amount what do you think would be left after their taxes?

    Really, run the numbers and see just what I mean. Their medical care is not “FREE” as all these uneducated and lazy people on here keep stating. They pay a LOT of money each and every check to go into the doctor and not have to worry about spending a few bucks. It’s so sad how people refuse to do the research before they start asking the government to “give” them more.

    In fact, I challenge David to create a new post and find facts that back up his request for our Government to give him his “free” medical care. He won’t, because he can’t.

  55. david says:

    Nuder – thank you for being a voice of reason. People actually believe that because someone has to wait a few days to see a doctor once in a while that all socialist countries make all their citizens wait like that. It’s an absurd presumption.

    Joshua, I won’t write anything per your request, only because I don’t really care for your attitude or your insulting comments, and neither do other people who read this site or have read this post, obviously. There is a difference between having a conversation over disagreements and just plain insulting people. And the minute you did that, you lost all credibility with me and I was done discussing this or anything else with you. And here you are again, “challenging” me. This is the end our our discussion – feel free to continue reading (not sure why you do, though – unless it is just to try to stir up stuff, which to me is not exactly a good way to spend time, but to each their own) and commenting if you wish. Have a great day.

  56. Joshua says:

    This may sound childish but when you read my previous statement:

    “In fact, I challenge David to create a new post and find facts that back up his request for our Government to give him his ‘free’ medical care. He won’t, because he can’t.”

    I have to say, “I TOLD YOU SO!”. Anyway, I read this blog because some of the things that David posts are pretty good. I just wish that he would use common sense and facts to make judgements and post about things he can’t truly understand. Hey, pass the glass of Obama cool-aid! Sheesh.

  57. Well, now I understand why Joshua is so out of touch: he doesn’t even have to pay for the insurance he has. No wonder he can’t properly value it.

    I hope that he realizes that he is the exception rather than the norm. Many people in the US have no access to insurance at all, or if they do it is simply too expensive (ever seen what COBRA charges?). The vast majority of those who do have insurance pay some amount of it themselves. In my case, I pay 5% from every paycheck towards healthcare that isn’t even that great, considering that if I do get sick I get nickeled and dimed to death. My wife is pregnant and I’m not particularly looking forward to the $1000 co-pay on her upcoming hospital stay.

    But what options do I have?

  58. david says:

    MIT – 50 million Americans don’t have insurance. But hey, screw them – somehow it’s their fault!

  59. david says:

    Joshua, sorry but you just crossed the line. All comments by you will be deleted if you are insulting other readers as you just did. I can take it; but insulting other readers is unnecessary:

    “Notice that I’m doing some considerable rounding to ensure David and his like can keep up with the numbers”

    Won’t be tolerated. Comment deleted.

  60. Frenchie says:

    i don’t think i’ve ever seen someone delete a comment because of such a mundane sentence? david i think you should put whatever josh write back up on there because it isn’t that bad and you could have just snipped that part out couldn’t you? this has been a very interesting set of posts by everyone and not being able to read what josh wrote is like reading a whole book and finding that the last couple pages are missing.

    can you please keep deletions to a minimum and post whatever else he said back again so we can all read it? thanks david and keep up the good work

  61. david says:

    Frenchie – Joshua has been commenting for a few weeks insulting my readers and myself. I can take it, that is why I put myself out there – but when it goes beyond that, it’s gone. Its the first comment of his I have deleted, and I will leave all his other ones up, including future ones, if he can make his points without insulting people. Acting superior to others by trying to put them down is not a cool way to get your point across. Hope that makes sense.

  62. Sarah says:

    In regards to Joshua’s comments:

    I don’t remember the last time I had to wait for healthcare.

    The couple of times I’ve been to the GP (doctor) recently they offered me same day appointments I couldn’t take due to work. Both times I’ve walked in 5 mins before my appointment time, waited a maximum of 10 minutes, and was in and out quickly with the relevant diagnosis/prescription. The prescription charge is around £7 ($15 or so I think) – which covers *any* medicine prescribed. If the medicine would be cheaper than that over-the-counter you just buy it at the cheaper price. Contraceptives and various other things are free.

    “You just told us, in not so direct terms, that your waiting list and medical care rooms aren’t that great. And THAT is why there is private care on the side. For those that manage their money properly.”

    No, I didn’t actually. I said “Oh, and for those who don’t like the possible queues for appointments”¦”. POSSIBLE. I’ve never had a problem with queues for medical treatment. And in regards to the waiting rooms… that was more a sarcastic comment about your need for free coffee. Apparently free coffee makes the extortionate charges okay for you!

    Granted, our dental system is having problems at the moment due to a massive lack of staff. However children still get the dental care they need, and if you need urgent care you can get it.

    Oh and regarding the taxes on goods in shops… most Europeans would no doubt find it utterly ridiculous that a non-optional tax is added on top of the price listed on the shelf. It just happens to be what you’re used to.

    “Their medical care is not “FREE” as all these uneducated and lazy people on here keep stating. They pay a LOT of money each and every check to go into the doctor and not have to worry about spending a few bucks.”

    Uneducated and lazy my ass! Nothing like insulting people to get your point across is there?

    Actually, I don’t think anyone is under the impression that our healthcare is free. We all know full well our taxes go into it. I’d much rather my tax money go into healthcare for kids than the billions of dollars the American government puts into dropping bombs on people, though :) (and it also means that when unemployed because of oooh say… terminal illness… the healthcare IS ‘free’ to user.)

    Joshua, I think you’ve proved one thing and one thing only to most of the people here: that you’re a selfish, (and luckily for you) well off, privileged person. Maybe try thinking about somebody else for once.

  63. Sarah says:

    I have no idea where the random smiley in the middle of ‘terminal illness’ came from. Please ignore :)

  64. David says:

    Sarah, if we have learned anything, it’s that Joshua likes to insult people to try to get his point across. And in addition to that, he leaves comments under other names trying to support his other comments. Thanks for taking the time to write your comment out, Sarah, and letting us know of your situation – appreciate it.

  65. [...] from MyTwoDollars wrote a great post asking why the US doesn’t have universal health care – the comments are a great read as well.  I too can’t understand why the US doesn’t [...]

  66. Chiming in from that other socialist stronghold, Canada. With regard to Joshua’s great service treating his heartburn; getting an appointment, prescription, and drugs in one day, I found nothing extraordinary about that service at all. This is just typical service that I would expect from our socialized medical system here in Canada.
    And as far as paying 50% or more in taxes, last year I had gross income just over $79,000 Canadian and paid $6540.69 in income tax. Additionally, we have a value added tax (13% in Nova Scotia) added to most purchases excluding food, education, and shelter, that I estimate cost me $1500 per year. That is a total of 10.2%.
    One caveat; my income tax could have been a fair bit higher if I hadn’t made significant RRSP (retirement) contributions, which are tax deductible. But by a fair bit higher, I mean in the 20-25% range, still nowhere near 50%.

  67. david says:

    Simple Bachelor, that just sounds horrible. I mean, wow – less than 10% in taxes. And universal health care that works. You socialists are so evil!

    Seriously, the stories about how bad universal health care are in other countries remind me of the made up horror stories told at camp. Sure, you might find a few that are actually bad – but I got news for people – there are millions of bad ones here in the “free market”.

  68. deepali says:

    So, I wasn’t going to chime in on this again, but I feel a bit compelled. Without giving too much away (I hope), the people I interact with daily have their hands in the middle of this mess. I think that some people have a faulty perspective on this issue, because they are looking at it too closely and need to zoom out a little bit. From the 10K foot level, here is what we have:
    1. america has the highest costs (per capita) in the world
    2. we have privatized “free market” health care
    3. “socialized” health care in other countries works quite well
    4. most people are generally uninformed about health

    Can I bust some myths? Tort reform (alone) will not solve this problem. Malpractice rates are not high due to some correlation with legal protection, but because the insurance companies can charge what they want. We actually have an absurdly high rate of medical errors in this country (higher, I think, than “socialized medicine” countries). Only recently have hospitals begun releasing this information.

    People do indeed die on the streets here, but it’s not always pneumonia. Sometimes it’s MDR TB. In order to be treated at a hospital, a person has to get to the hospital. Then there’s patient compliance with treatment – almost impossible if the patient has no insurance. For that matter, we like to talk about reducing/prohibiting abortion in this country, but the majority of abortions happen amongst people who lack health coverage for birth control.

    As for costs and wait in other countries – people always throw around the “you have to wait a month to get an MRI” thing. True and not true. You will not wait that long for an MRI of your head. You will if it is an MRI of your knee. Why? Because, the second is not necessary. In fact, all those unnecessary MRIs are part of why our costs are so high. But, if you really want it done, then you can get private insurance.
    And the taxes issue – consider the amount taken out to be equivalent to your health insurance premium being deducted pre-tax. If I make $1600 a month ($10/hr), and 20% comes out in taxes, that’s about $300/month. That is what some people pay in health insurance premiums (not even talking about a deductible). And it guarantees you access to real medical care including prevention and treatment, and not just emergency care. For that matter, it also covers your education.

    The only argument against nationalized health care is that the government does a crappy job of administering things. But we’ve got some smart people in this country – surely we can find a way to create oversight and suitable regulation.

  69. david says:

    Thanks deepali, for that in-depth look. I always appreciate a good comment that hammers home the point!

  70. ThankfulCanadian says:

    Thankfully I’m Canadian and don’t have to bother with this nonsense. Misinformation about wait times and taxes is the best naysayers can do? At least I don’t have to worry about coming up with $10k to dig a hole out of my leg EVEN WITH INSURANCE.

    Seriously:

    1) I don’t understand the fear of “socialism”. Didn’t all that fear of the Reds die with the collapse of communism? Isn’t it time for a more sophisticated understanding of the world? We’re right over the border here in Canada. Come for a visit. I promise I won’t be wearing a furry hat and drinking vodka – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    2) What *are* you paying for? From what I understand, even if you’re able to pay for insurance, you get the privilege to pay more and more and more.

    3) Responsibilities. What should your government be responsible for? Clearly your government has some sort of responsibility for education, policing, fire, highways/roads, potable water and other services. I’m not hearing much debate over whether you should have to directly pay a fireman before he puts out the fire to your house.

    So why shouldn’t the physical health of an American citizen be covered? Doesn’t it benefit your economy to have healthy productive citizens?

  71. David says:

    Thank you, ThankfulCanadian, for your insight on this. We are a ridiculous people, for sure!

  72. Nuder says:

    “Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools, or health insurance for all?”

    -kurt.vonnegut-

  73. Heather says:

    I just wanted to say that I haven’t read a post that hit this close to home in ages. For being the first post I’ve read on your site, David, you’ve converted me into an RSS reader. There are some extremely enlightening comments on here, and I’m glad that all the commenters from NHS countries chimed in – I have friends from countries with socialist healthcare, and they are generally in and out of the doctor’s office with very little wait. Having been a graduate student here in the US with horrible insurance, and sometimes no insurance, and having to pay $400 a month for privatized sometimes…I’ve had an early lesson at what it means to decline seeing a doctor in the interest of saving money. Think about it. $400 a month for someone making ~$22,000 a year. Thats 22% of your pay for just health insurance – and that doesn’t include the outrageous cost of anything not covered under insurance.

    Granted, if someone is lucky enough to be the picture of perfect health, or go directly from their parent’s nurturing care (and full-coverage insurance) to a high-paying job with great benefits, then they probably are a little out of touch with how inadequate our healthcare system is (Joshua).

    P.S. Nuder, you rock, almost as much as KV does. Best quote ever.

  74. david says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Heather, I sincerely appreciate them. And welcome to My Two Dollars!

  75. AnnJo says:

    The emotional tone on this thread has run pretty high and I’m a little nervous about chiming in, but as much as I don’t want to offend anyone, here goes:

    Just because the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight does not mean that the dream of a socialist Utopia has died. As Winston Churchill once said, the inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings, the virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of its miseries.

    Universal health care ideas are appealing in the way that every Utopian dream is, but they have never worked out as dreamed. Various states in the U.S. have tried various schemes, and each one has lead to higher costs, less choice, fleeing physicians, exploding budgets, more uninsured people and ultimately a quiet abandonment or severe cut-back of the program. (Just last week, I read that Hawaii has abandoned its univesal child health care coverage.) Here’s a good summary of what has happened to the various state programs: http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/Centers/healthcare/policybrief/StateHealthCareReforms.pdf

    The countries that hava socialized medicine suffer from a “brain drain” of the top physicians, a lack of medical innovation (easily measurable by issued patents), swelling health care budgets and constant problems with unacceptable wait times, quotas on medical care and huge inconveniences for the health care consumer. When those inconveniences are in waiting time for treatment, they include pain, disability and death. Polling data show that 30% of Canadians are dissatisfied with the health care they themselves receive, compared to only 10% of Americans who are dissatisfied with their own health care. Canadians may be more happy with their “system” in theory, but in practice, they don’t like how it affects them directly. Because it’s simply not as good.

    When my sister’s U.S. doctor found a lesion on her lung during a routine chest X-ray, it took about 10 days to get a CT scan of it, consult with the pulmonologist, the oncologist and the surgeon, and have her lung cancer surgery. In Canada, just the wait for access to the the few CT machines would have been several weeks longer, and after that, they’ve been struggling for the last 10 years to bring the wait time in lung cancer cases down to eight weeks from the first visit to the specialist to the surgery. My sister is alive 11 years later. Like David, she paid about $10,000 above her private insurance coverage and maybe above what it would have cost her in Canada.

    Maybe she would have survived in Canada too, but maybe those months of waiting would have meant a metastisis to the brain, bones or elsewhere, and three children left without their mother at a young age. And what is the “cost” of weeks of waiting for treatment, knowing that all the while a fatal disease is progressing within you unchecked?

    Is it really better to have your life at the mercy of a government bureaucrat with virtually guaranteed life-time employment, than to have your check-book at the mercy of an insurance executive who has to worry every day about balancing enrollments with profits? Neither is an attractive prospect, but if you don’t like how the feds handled Katrina or the mortgage industry, why would you entrust your life to them to save some money?

    Our health care system in the US treats the poor and unissured the way that countries with socialized medicine treat everybody. If you believe that an equal sharing of the misery is better than an unequal sharing of the blessings, that is a straightforward choice of values, and I can respect it, but from everything I’ve read, it would be a deception to pretend that most people’s health care in the U.S. would be improved by socialized medicine. It would not be; it will worsen.

    And because American medicine has been for the last 30 years or more the engine of innovation and discovery for the whole world, over time, not only Americans’ health care will decline, but so will the rest of the world’s.

    But the Utopian dreamers who stifle innovation will escape the blame that should be theirs, because the medicines and techniques that won’t be invented, the lives that would have been saved, the pain and disability that would have been alleviated, will simply never be known.

    The reason some people, like me, resist socialism is not because of some left-over fear of a communist bogey-man, but because it always reduces human freedom and over the long-run, increases human suffering, including the economic suffering it most claims to alleviate. The reasons why this noble dream simply doesn’t work out were spelled out clearly back in the 1944 book by Nobel Prize winner Frederich Hayek, called “The Road to Serfdom.” In the years since then, Hayek’s predictive accuracy has proven strong enough that even socialists these days generally know better than to openly advocate for socialism, preferring to call it by euphemisms like “social justice” and “universal health care.”

    I already find it necessary to pay private school tuition to educate my children because of the incompetence of the public school educational system, for which I must also pay through my taxes. When they get that right, and can cope adequately with national emergencies like Katrina and 9/11 and the mortgage industry collapse, I’ll give some more thought to whether I want my health care turned over to them as well. For now, though, I can’t think of anything I’d like worse.

  76. [...] but I have finally paid off all the expenses tied to both my misdiagnoses of leukemia and my real diagnosis of a melanoma skin cancer. Needless to say, I don’t ever want another year like this one until I am about [...]

  77. [...] think we need to socialize health care through a universal health care program, I believe we need health care reform.  The most important issue – to make health care and health insurance more [...]

  78. Frustrated! says:

    I have $7,000 in med bills between my two teens staring me in the face….and we aren’t done. These last few weeks have been stressful, draining, and frustrating. We are small business owners that have been hit extremely hard by the economy. We make too much to get help. We haven’t been making enough lately to get good affordable health insurance. I check regularly….the latest check…this is the best deal they could offer me….I can pay $497 month and have a $5000 deductible…then they will cover 80% after my deductible is met…so that is $5964 yearly + $5000 = $10,964 yearly to have health insurance. Heck….I can’t afford the that! The last time we had insurance, it started out at around $500 month and gradually increased over 3 years time to over $800 month and we barely used it….never me the deductible any year. ARGHHHH! This is frustrating. Another frustrating thing….when we did have health insurance last we paid twice what we do now (without insurance) for procedures but without insurance, they give you discounts…I’m thankful for that but is it right?? Is that why the insurance rates are so high?? Because you have to pay twice as much for a procedure than if you don’t have insurance? Example: Depo shot on insurance $135 (not covered – I had to pay), Depo shot no insurance $69.

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