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  • ONE FOR SKIP

    Filed at 6:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Yeah, it’s an anecdote. But they’re real people. They played by the rules. And now she’s dying. Is it right to bankrupt the family, too?

    The health insurance/health care market is completely broken. Market failures do not fix themselves. It’s time for national health care.

    44 Responses to “ONE FOR SKIP”


    Comment by
    Art H Tracy
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 8:23 am

    I absolutely disagree with you. This woman would fare no better under a national health care plan. She would die while on a waiting list. Health care resources are scarce, and they must be rationed somehow. As harsh as the market is, it’s better than bureaucrats doing the rationing.


    Comment by
    COD
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 9:17 am

    So you want to put the same people that ran the Katrina disaster in charge of health care? Or how about the same people that got us into Iraq? They did such a great job there that they’ve certainly earned the right to give us “Iraq” quality health care.

    A change in administration will make no difference. A tiny percentage of the federal government turns over with an administration change.

    Health care is screwed up, but nationalizing it will make it even worse.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 9:26 am

    Then how do you account for the extremely high ratings folks on Medicare give to that program?

    Health coverage should not be tied to employment.


    Comment by
    Art H Tracy
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 10:14 am

    I account the high ratings that people give to medicare to the fact that their premiums are 80-90 precent subsidized.

    I totally agree that health coverage should not be tied to employment.


    Comment by
    Toni
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 10:29 am

    >>>”I absolutely disagree with you. This woman would fare no better under a national health care plan. She would die while on a waiting list. Health care resources are scarce, and they must be rationed somehow. As harsh as the market is, it’s better than bureaucrats doing the rationing.”


    Comment by
    Toni
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 10:40 am

    What the … ?? MY own comments disappeared into the ether…

    I was disagreeing with the comment above, saying that while I agree rationing/ resource decisions seem called for, that under a national health plan this family would surely NOT be losing their home.

    No one should lose their home due to such circumstances- and this could happen to just about ANYONE. Once someone has preexisting medical conditions, often no more individual insurance is available at any price.

    As for comparing this to Katrina- pleazze… The disaster of Katrina was confounded by the incompetent, inexperienced, bungling managers of FEMA, who should never have been appointed by our Prez… That sort of cronyism should not even be allowed. Any good leader would find the best people available people in each field for key positions, not buddies whom he or she owes favors to.

    I believe a national health care plan can work and should be implemented ASAP.


    Comment by
    RedMolly
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 11:05 am

    Health care is already “rationed” in this country–lavished on the rich at will, doled out grudgingly to the truly impoverished, available maybe-sometimes to the rest of us. Anyone who doesn’t think health care is already “rationed”–can you honestly call up your doctor and get an appointment for a routine physical less than six months in the future? And that’s not even touching the “rationing” that’s a result of lack of insurance or under-insurance.

    What do the Canadians, Swedes, French, Brits and Japanese (etc., etc.) know about medical administration that we apparently don’t? And why can’t we learn from what other countries are doing–both well and poorly?


    Comment by
    Art H Tracy
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 11:37 am

    I think 3 things will happen in the next 10 years:

    1) National health care will be implemented in this country.

    2) Bob Herbert will write a column about a 55 yo woman who died of duodenal cancer while waiting months for treatment. (the kind of story that pops up in the Canadian, Swedish, French, and especially British media.)

    3) The dead woman’s family will not lose their home.

    Just this past Friday, my father was refused Medicare coverage because he was 1 SS credit short of the requirement. He’s met 39/40 of the requirement, but he can’t pay a little (or a lot) to make up for that credit. It’s just an anecdote, but he’s one real person who is not satisfied with Medicare.


    Comment by
    COD
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 12:00 pm

    Govt is the reason that health care is tied to employment in the first place. It started with the wage freezes in WWII and expanded with the tax deductibility for employers. If my company pays for my health insurance, or a portion of it, it is 100% deductible for the employer. When I pay for it, I have to eat 7.5% of my adjusted gross income in health care expenses before I can deduct a penny.When govt causes problems more govt has never been shown to be the answer.

    Yes, the poor probably would be better off under national health care. However, a large portion of the middle class that has insurance today will have worse access to health care and fewer choices.

    The problems in health care flow not from a lack of government involvement, but from too much regulation and too much power concentrated with the insurance companies. There are certainly some things govt can and should do to restore the balance more on favor of the individual health care consumer. A total takeover is not one of those things.


    Comment by
    Rob
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 12:12 pm

    Well, I’m the token loudmouth conservative here, I guess I should put in an appearance. I got no fix to be loud about.

    When my dad got cancer, he was fortunate enough to be at a point in his life when he was ready to go, so he politely declined all the expensive stuff, and just died with dignity. It was more important to him that he own all his bills and have a grand left over for each grandkid, than to live an extra year or 10.

    Judging by the incredibly powerful positive impact such stories have in the lives of my kids who never met him in life, I gotta say there’s something to that line of thinking.


    Comment by
    Jill
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 12:30 pm

    Put my family down as one that is NOT satisfied with Medicare. Doctors were not allowed to make the medical decisions in my father’s care, the insurance company was. Total insanity. He needed to raise his hemoglobin level, but since it wasn’t quite putting him at death’s door (yet!) they wouldn’t pay for the medicine. This was after we had to fight over every single test for MONTHS when he was diagnosed with colon cancer. This may not be “medicare” this may be “insurance” as a whole.

    For the record, my DH, daughter and I have not had medical insurance for 6 years – we can’t afford the premiums, and with him being self employed and me being part-time, we don’t get anything thru work. When my daughter got sick and we faced a possible ER trip, we called to get an idea of how much it would cost. We could get NO information. Hmmmm…the system is definitely broken, but I don’t think adding bureacracy is the way to fix it!


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 4:05 pm

    Put my family down as one that is NOT satisfied with Medicare. Doctors were not allowed to make the medical decisions in my father’s care, the insurance company was.

    This was almost certainly NOT Medicare but private insurance. Insurance companies maximize their profits by denying treatment/claims. If they can deny long enough, some of the patients will die off. Free money!


    Comment by
    sam
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 8:02 pm

    The problem with health care in the US, in my opinion, is that people are willing to get rich on the suffering of people. The market is about money, not helping people get what they need. My family is currently paying off an ER visit for an asthma attack that should be a condition my wife could manage on her own, if only we were able for her to see a doctor on a regular basis. We have also ignored the request from her OB/GYN for further tests because we know that we can’t afford them. We’re thinking now that we will just wait till we get our income tax returns next year and then schedule her visit, hoping like hell till then it’s nothing important.

    National health care is the only way to make sure that ALL people can see a doctor. People should be ashamed to support the present system as it is the most corrupt and antiAmerican thing imaginable. Basic medical care should absolutely be a right afforded all American regardless of ability to pay. To think otherwise is just a shitty way to be.


    Comment by
    NJRoadie
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 8:42 pm

    “This was almost certainly NOT Medicare but private insurance. Insurance companies maximize their profits by denying treatment/claims. If they can deny long enough, some of the patients will die off. Free money!”

    No, you are wrong, it was Medicare. In fact I read recently where the decision that affected my father so severely is actually a Medicare policy decision across the board. Apparently too many old cancer patients had been getting this very expensive hemoglobin boosting shot, and Medicare decided it was spending too much on it!
    mdredu...k.html


    Comment by
    NJRoadie
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 8:53 pm

    Oh, and for the record, my father has one kidney (lost the other to cancer some 20 years ago) and had surgery for colon cancer in February. His hemoglobin levels were bottoming out, and he was not bouncing back from surgery – this was in late MAY when we were rejected by Medicare for this drug. Ridiculous!!


    Comment by
    don
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 11:13 pm

    NJRoadie, you should go back and re-read the post you linked to. Nowhere does it say that there is an across-the-board restriction on using that therapy. What is says is:
    1. The FDA issued safety warnings due to increased risk of mortality in some patients (including cancer patients like your father) because it can increase the growth of tumors.
    2. CMS (The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services) proposed limitations on coverage.
    3. After protests from the medical community, CMS did NOT issue a limitation.

    I should also mention that if your father, like many Medicare recipients, has no private insurance in addition to Medicare, he wouldn’t even have had the surgery for his cancer, and probably not even a doctor visit or tests to diagnose the cancer in the first place.


    Comment by
    Dee Dee
    October 23rd, 2007
    at 11:30 pm

    This story hits close to home for me. I started chemotherapy plus Herceptin today for stage 1 HER2+ breast cancer. We’re fortunate that my husband has good insurance through his job that covers the bulk of our expenses. I live in terror that he will be laid off as he nears retirement, as I would likely be deemed unable to be insured. I support some form of nationalized health care.


    Comment by
    Audrey
    October 24th, 2007
    at 1:46 am

    Don’t get too comfortable thinking that your health insurance is actually going to pick up all of the tab for your catastrophic illness. It doesn’t work that way.

    Big long soapbox made short… even though my folks (Americans to the end) had great insurance coverage, what they had to pay for coverage, plus their costs (what ins. didn’t pick up) for my mom’s cancer treatments and meds did bankrupt them — and they were a very frugal couple who had a great fat load of cash in savings to boot.

    Healthcare in Canada may not be perfect, but it surely isn’t the completely FUCKED UP system that the US insurance companies have designed for Americans.

    And about those wait lists (yeah, I’m talking to YOU Art and Rob), those stories are largely inflated and propagated by those who have vested interests in seeing a two-tier system invade Canada. The fact of the matter is that wait lists are longest for non-critical surgical procedures and then, mostly in large cities. Personally, I waited no longer than one week to get a suspicious mole biopsied and removed. My late mother-in-law always got her treatments and surgeries very quickly when she was battling her cancer. I can’t point to one person I know that has had a life-threatening wait for anything.

    Sure, our system could use a large infusion of $$ to get those lists down and it’s still not 100% guaranteed, but then neither is anything in your capitalist pig system either, so STFU.


    Comment by
    Audrey
    October 24th, 2007
    at 1:51 am

    Hmm.. that cut off my last paragraph…

    I have to say though, that I have absolutely no hope for a US national healthcare. I have to agree with Chris, in that if you leave the development of a national healthcare system up to any of the bozos holding offices right now (or the slate wanting to belly up to the bar in the next election) then you’re screwed to the wall before you even started. Those insurance companies have entrenched themselves firmly into every politician’s pockets. You’ll have to change THAT before you can change anything else.


    Comment by
    Dawn
    October 24th, 2007
    at 9:07 am

    From COD:
    “However, a large portion of the middle class that has insurance today will have worse access to health care and fewer choices.”

    How so?

    “And about those wait lists (yeah, I’m talking to YOU Art and Rob), those stories are largely inflated and propagated by those who have vested interests in seeing a two-tier system invade Canada. ”

    Agreed. My two anecdotes are my mom who had a problem woth her gall bladder and surgery the next day and my father who just finished prostate cancer this summer. All his treatments were done in a timely manner and he’s cancer free today.

    Most of the negative stories I hear about our Canadian system from american sources paint a system I don’t recognize.


    Comment by
    Karen E
    October 24th, 2007
    at 9:56 am

    None of us has all the answers, but treating people this way is simply barbaric. What a disgrace.


    Comment by
    Art H Tracy
    October 24th, 2007
    at 10:27 am

    I don’t personally know anyone who hasn’t had adequate, if not excellent health care provided by private carriers. Those private SOB insurance companies sprung for high 5 figures to fix the heart of our friends’ 2yo. Therefore, anyone who thinks ill of capitalist pig private health care should STFU.

    And about those Bob Herbert stories, those stories are largely inflated and propagated by those who have vested interests in seeing national health care invade the States.

    Did I do that right?

    I will study this issue, but what I believe now is health care is, has always been, will always be, in every place, and under every system characterized by harsh economics. I believe there is an element of the desire to go national to relieve the individual of the responsibility for making the hard decisions about their loved ones.

    I don’t believe that health care is a right. Any efforts to collaborate or pool risk should not be coerced.


    Comment by
    sam
    October 24th, 2007
    at 12:34 pm

    Art doesn’t believe health care is a right, so it must be all right with him that families can go into debt and eventually even find themselves homeless over making hard decisions for their loved ones. So if it comes down to getting your loved one the treatment that will make them well or keeping the other bills paid, the choice, though hard, must obviously be to let the loved one suffer and die. The markets decided that you don’t deserve to be well, because healthcare isn’t a right.


    Comment by
    COD
    October 24th, 2007
    at 1:02 pm

    What is health care? it is not some amorphous blob. It’s essentially the time and expertise of the health care practitioners. By demanding health care as a right you are saying that the practitioners somehow owe you a portion of their time and expertise. And that if they won’t give it to you then government should force them.


    Comment by
    Art H Tracy
    October 24th, 2007
    at 1:31 pm

    I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone how to make their difficult decisions. But those decisions can’t be wished away no matter what health care system exists.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    October 24th, 2007
    at 1:39 pm

    By demanding health care as a right you are saying that the practitioners somehow owe you a portion of their time and expertise. And that if they won’t give it to you then government should force them.

    No. If, for instance, every American has health insurance as a birth right that insurance is paid for by taxes. The doctor still gets paid just as he does now. The difference is that the insurance companies would not be allowed to cherry-pick only the healthy people in a community. There would be no more exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

    Read up on Hillary’s or John Edwards’ proposals. They aren’t what you think they are.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    October 24th, 2007
    at 2:17 pm

    Daryl, that last exchange between you and COD made me think of how education is a universal “right” now, in which its practitioners are paid with our tax money, schools are not allowed to cherry-pick the academically healthy and intellectually compliant people. No exclusions allowed for pre-existing learning problems or lack of ability to thrive and give beck, etc.

    I am not making a case one way or the other, just asking the question as a sort of thought experiment, of y’all on either side of the health debate, to see how you see it:

    If “health care managed through government” did parallel “education managed through government” in basic design and delivery, would that give you pause? Could the ideal really work in practice for public health care, even if it has proven unworkable with public education? What would we want to do differently with Clintonian health care — if we do think the school systems are less than ideal — to avoid similar disappointments and fatal faults?


    Comment by
    COD
    October 24th, 2007
    at 2:53 pm

    The Clinton and Edwards plans are not nationalized health care. In a nutshell, they both will simply mandate that insurance companies accept everybody, they will mandate that everybody buy insurance, and then provide tax relief to help pay for it all. On the surface, that’s not a horrible plan. The problem is that they both are counting on massive cost reductions that will magically appear due to the govt involvement and modernization that they will be able to force through.

    Somebody please provide one single example of something on this scale that got cheaper after the federal govt got involved?

    I have no faith that their plans will actually result in cheaper more accessible health care.

    To JJ’s point, how much better is public education now compared to pre Dept of Education schools? Almost every problem that led Jimmy Carter to panic about schools still exists, and in many cases is worse today than it was then.


    Comment by
    don
    October 24th, 2007
    at 3:11 pm

    I just posted my own thoughts over at my place, but apparently the trackback didn’t work, so here’s a link:

    National Healthcare


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    October 24th, 2007
    at 3:42 pm

    Wouldn’t “politicization” of health care be even worse, once it becomes a federal tax issue for all of us? As a privately insured female, I already feel as if the government has entirely too much to say about my health and I don’t even have subsidized group coverage — I pay in full for my own “individual” indemnity policy. Even so, Terri Schiavo was diagnosed via video from the floor of the US Senate (by its president!) and legislated against in my own state capitol. Nothing about women’s health issues is un-politicized already. But I imagine it getting worse yet.

    (Imagine Clintonian government ideals administered under Bushian social ideals re: this WaPo column today for example)


    Comment by
    Andrea
    October 24th, 2007
    at 4:23 pm

    Just popping in for two things:

    – wait times: those who read my blog know that when Addison had his accident and susequent treatment, we got in everywhere RIGHT AWAY. And when I was diagnosed with early cervical cancer it was 3 months from “something’s not right” to hysterectomy city.

    – secondly, the biggest thing that disgusts me with US healthcare is women cannot even have babies without worrying about a hefty bill. And that’s for a normal, uncomplicated birth.

    The story in the original post is sad, but up here someone that far gone would not be helped much either. Sad but true – they can’t fix everyone.

    Also, across Canada different provinces have slightly different rules. So keep that in mind when comparing.

    It isn;t perfect up here, but it’s a sight better than what’s down there.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    October 24th, 2007
    at 5:31 pm

    I never realized we had so many friends up North. 🙂


    Comment by
    Rob
    October 24th, 2007
    at 5:32 pm

    “If, for instance, every American has health insurance as a birth right that insurance is paid for by taxes. The doctor still gets paid just as he does now.”

    I’m really starting to worry about the guy that has such distrust in govt. education, but such trust in govt. healthcare.

    But yeah, I got no magic fix, just arguements against other people – so take me with a grain of salt.


    Comment by
    sam
    October 24th, 2007
    at 7:28 pm

    “I’m really starting to worry about the guy that has such distrust in govt. education, but such trust in govt. healthcare”

    Isn’t there a name for this kind of argument, where you take two unlike things and try to force a comparison? Education is something easily accomplished at home, whereas medical care is best left to those trained to provide it.


    Comment by
    Art H Tracy
    October 24th, 2007
    at 7:47 pm

    I’d like to review a little bit here:

    Sam says:

    National health care is the only way to make sure that ALL people can see a doctor. People should be ashamed to support the present system as it is the most corrupt and antiAmerican thing imaginable. Basic medical care should absolutely be a right afforded all American regardless of ability to pay. To think otherwise is just a shitty way to be.

    I’m skeptical that there is any way to make sure that ALL people can see a doctor. I don’t support the system the way it is – I’m not ashamed to say that I believe that the only role the federal government should play in health care is regulating the interstate commerce aspects of it. And I don’t think health care is a “right” of any sort based on roughly the same reasons that Chris stated above (I don’t think a majority vote confers “rights” on people.) Therefore, according to Sam, I’m a poo-poo head.

    Audrey is apparently OK with people referring to the Canadian system as a model, and with Bob Herbert writing of horror stories of the uninsured, but if anyone refers to stories about the waiting lists in the Canadian system, well, “those stories are largely inflated and propagated by those who have vested interests in seeing a two-tier system invade Canada,” and the capitalist pigs should just STFU!

    Karen doesn’t have any answers but she bravely chimes in with:
    “… treating people this way is simply barbaric. What a disgrace.”

    Sam states that: “… it must be all right with (Art) that families can go into debt and eventually even find themselves homeless over making hard decisions for their loved ones.” It troubles me when anyone gets into this situation, I wish fewer people were in this situation, I wish I was able to help people in this situation more than I do. I guess Sam conflates my recognition of reality with satisfaction with the situation.

    Daryl, how does the level of discourse of these people compare with that of the creationists you’re always carrying on about?


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    October 24th, 2007
    at 8:40 pm

    Don has a long “comment” here.


    Comment by
    Karen E
    October 24th, 2007
    at 10:33 pm

    Art H. Tracy, I agree with Sam. You are a poo-poo head. Also, unlike the rest of “these people,” you are a snob. How’s that for discourse?


    Comment by
    Toni
    October 25th, 2007
    at 10:08 am

    >>>I don’t personally know anyone who hasn’t had adequate, if not excellent health care provided by private carriers. Those private SOB insurance companies sprung for high 5 figures to fix the heart of our friends’ 2yo. Therefore, anyone who thinks ill of capitalist pig private health care should STFU


    Comment by
    Toni
    October 25th, 2007
    at 10:13 am

    Hm, my comments were snipped off again. Alas, no time to retype my thoughts right now. (Daryl, there seems to be a problem with your comments feature here…. not sure why but for the second time it truncated my comments, snipping off my personal comments after cut/pasting a quote.)


    Comment by
    Andrea
    October 25th, 2007
    at 10:54 am

    Toni – it’s probably the stuff you’re pastin gin and/or the length if it’s really really long. Try “paste without formatting”.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    October 25th, 2007
    at 11:08 am

    Or it could be the html. Toni, send me an email and I’ll enter it manually.


    Comment by
    Toni
    October 25th, 2007
    at 4:01 pm

    Here is one example I personally know of in NC, involving an insurance company affiliated with a prestigious hospital. The patient had group health insurance and was referred to an orthopedist for prolonged severe knee pain. The orthopedist recommended an immediate MRI based on initial x-ray findings. The insurance company refused to pay, requiring that first the patient must do 6 weeks of physical therapy (with a **co-pay** of $60 per visit or $720 out of pocket for the 6 weeks of PT) and then have the situation reaccessed by the orthopedist again. After that, the MRI **co-pay** would cost $1000.

    It is a shame and unacceptable that people on fixed incomes, barely able to afford health insurance at all, are still manipulated by this sort of system. They can barely afford the insurance, much less outrageous co-pays — and to top it all off, the insurance company made the medical decisions, NOT the orthopedist. The state of this county’s health care system is, to me, a travesty. The example I give is not a life or death example but it is also just a drop in the bucket… of suffering going on.


    Comment by
    Audrey
    October 25th, 2007
    at 9:40 pm

    Art must be one of those “I’ve got money and I’m just fine so the rest of you can all fuck off and die” guys. Keep your holy private healthcare, Art, and stay down there. Way down there.


    Comment by
    Karen E
    October 26th, 2007
    at 7:52 pm

    Elitist barbarians deserve health care as do the most humble among us, and it’s a safe bet that the people Art is so cavalier about sacrificing would have a lot more compassion for him than he has for them if their situations were reversed. My own dad was forced into early retirement from his supervisory job at a company he had been with for over 30 years, and my mother was a couple years too young for Medicare. Unforeseen circumstances like this happen every day. I see health care as more than a right; it’s common decency.