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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What no one is saying about Healthcare...

...Ok so occasionally I break from the norm of adding materials supporting the projects I working on to express an opinion or show something I think is interesting. This is one of those times and harsh words are used.

Just as a primer on the Health Care component of this check out the map below and compare the total per capita cost of health care pending in the US versus ANY other country on the map:
CNN Comparison Map

You might also want to compare governmental investment in Health Care in all these places and make the correlation between that and the cost of health care in the world and it's pretty clear to see what's going on as far as overpriced health care in the US.
In order to get into this I'm going to have to layout some background information just because I've found that a lot of people really just have no clue about what's going on as afar as the breakdown of the national budget. If you already know this stuff you can easily skim the info and move on.
(There's a movie link at the bottom which is a first hand interview of an American living the Czech Republic and his experience with healthcare originally posted online from another artist )

Disclaimer: Okay, part of the YouTube user's name is pothead so, many may feel like the info he dispenses is of questionable value...which would be understandable. He also calls the procedure he had an UltraSound which is clearly not right since those are mostly used to look at unborn babies. What he had was probably a lipotripsy. BUT there is still some good general information to glean from this.

First...this is definitely a conversation about the national budget as much as it is about the US health care system and we're talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Generally, I've found that many people tend to believe that programs like National Welfare absorb significant portions of the budget.

FACT: Welfare accounts for about .00016% of the national budget.

Conversely, I've also found that a lot of people have, for whatever reason, decided that a number of other "Wasteful" expenditures which they generally can't name are responsible for our Ginormous budgets and national debt.

FACT: Social Security is BY FAR the largest budget item on the US budget list. Social Security accounts for 50%-60% national budget and probably 70% of the national debt. National Security is between 12%-18% of the national budget the last time I checked. MediCare/MedicAid is responsible for something like 80% of the Social Security bill.

I posted all of that just to basically try to start to put things into perspective. Most people will immediately say "What the Hell?" How did MediCare/MedicAid get so big in the first place...and more importantly what exactly is MediCare/MedicAid?

MediCare/MedicAid is U.S. sponsored health insurance for citizens over the age of 65. In other words it's health insurance for medical patients that require the most medical care and the most expensive medical care. Some people might even have the obtuse opinion that states something like this "Cut those old frickers loose, They're holdin us back!" There are some elected officials whose opinions are fairly close to that, but I'll dig deeper on that a little further down. The reason why it's critical to get Social Security fixed NOW is because the Baby Boomer generation, the largest age group in the country, are about to collectively turn 65 over the next couple of years. Even with the smaller age groups up to this point Social Security has brought the U.S. economy to it's knees. If something doesn't change the U.S. will come out on the other side of "Baby Boomer" MediCare FUBAR'd (fucked up beyond all recognition) We really shouldn't want to be in that position.

Here's the thing many democratic government officials are thinking but won't insurance is pretty profitable if you don't have to cover old people which is where private Health Insurance has taken up exclusive residency at this point. The idea is that if the government can get elders out of the Medicare system that make a $250,000 plus per year that can easily afford their own private insurance, add some younger healthier people that require less care and bring some more profitability to government health care insurance roles and cut out out some ineffective medical policies that cost tons of dough without producing tons of results they can resolve the looming Social Security Budget Crisis by making government health insurance solvent. By introducing a public option they can bring down the cost of private health insurance/health care by creating a health care insurance company that operates WAY BELOW the 300%-1000% profit margins that private insurance companies enjoy now. A public option would also allow the government to hold the health care industry accountable for success and failure rates and use that as additional leverage in negotiating better pricing (at least for those in the government plan which would be a lot.) Private insurers will be forced to cut their profit margins and aggressively negotiate for lower medical costs instead of just cutting services/options for insurance holders.

So one thing you might ask is "This makes perfectly obvious sense what's everybody screaming about?" As promised earlier I said that some people might have the obtuse opinion that states something like this "Cut those old frickers loose, They're holdin us back!" and that there were some elected officials whose opinions are fairly close to that right? Well here it is, Republicans basically have no interest in making the current MediCare/MedicAid system solvent, they want to blow it up and push all elderly citizens into the private health insurance sector. They want to provide vouchers which represent a fraction of medical care expenses that would be covered by MediCare/MedicAid. With the way private insurers operate this is the way you want to go if you want to reduce the U.S. population QUICKLY. If you want to hear about massive deaths and genocide conspiracy theories for the next 50 years because of something like this voucher plan than it's the way to go. Republicans have been trying to destroy MediCare and MedicAid for YEARS. You might ask "Well, the Republicans had the presidency, the House and the Congress majority for the better part of 8 years why didn't they do this then?" The simple answer is that self-preservation rules strongly in all of these parties. Destroying MediCare/MedicAid years ago would have destroyed many republicans political careers, so they are content to try to do this while the seated president is a Democrat so that they can eventually shift blame. If this isn't the first bill that's voted on and it lasts until the next election and Republicans loose more seats, or Massachusetts seats an interim congress person before the next actual election it could be a moot point and the the new Health Care plan could get pushed through without any Republican support.

My personal feeling on this is that the Obama administration needs to keep pushing this, BUT again start the rumbling of a smaller bill that would allow the legal import of Canadian prescription medications sooner. I think he should have pushed this first, because it would have easily made it through the voting process and it probably could roll through just as easily now as well. Legalizing cheaper meds from Canada would have an immediate positive impact on those that need them and it would give all concerned a segue into actually researching a "Single Payer" government run health care system and it's benefits. Personally, I could care less about the "Public Option" eventually possibly turning into a single payer system even though I don't think it will happen as long as private health insurance companies run their businesses honeslty. Legalizing Marijuana FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES ONLY is also something that could possibly help win the Health insurance battle, most Doctor's agree that for a couple of conditions it's proven to be the most effective pain reliever available and going State by State creates more problems than it solves.

Right now most people are disgusted with the way health insurance works and their ever shrinking options with insurance that they pay copious amounts of money for and it's just a hot button topic. Unless some very clear improvements are delivered quickly many will assume that it will only make things worse. It's unfortunate that a lot of people either don't remember or choose to ignore how much better health insurance was before the Bush administration was installed.

American Living in Czech Republic Video