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Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

We’ve talked about Socialized Health care a few times, pointing out the obvious failures of it. No matter what country its in, it sucks. Well here is some more for those that still think that the ‘Change’ we need is towards a system that even its architect says is a failure!

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

As this presidential campaign continues, the candidates’ comments about health care will continue to include stories of their own experiences and anecdotes of people across the country: the uninsured woman in Ohio, the diabetic in Detroit, the overworked doctor in Orlando, to name a few.

But no one will mention Claude Castonguay — perhaps not surprising because this statesman isn’t an American and hasn’t held office in over three decades.

Castonguay’s evolving view of Canadian health care, however, should weigh heavily on how the candidates think about the issue in this country.

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

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

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

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

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

In America, these ideas may not sound shocking. But in Canada, where the private sector has been shunned for decades, these are extraordinary views, especially coming from Castonguay. It’s as if John Maynard Keynes, resting on his British death bed in 1946, had declared that his faith in government interventionism was misplaced.

What would drive a man like Castonguay to reconsider his long-held beliefs? Try a health care system so overburdened that hundreds of thousands in need of medical attention wait for care, any care; a system where people in towns like Norwalk, Ontario, participate in lotteries to win appointments with the local family doctor.

Years ago, Canadians touted their health care system as the best in the world; today, Canadian health care stands in ruinous shape.

Sick with ovarian cancer, Sylvia de Vires, an Ontario woman afflicted with a 13-inch, fluid-filled tumor weighing 40 pounds, was unable to get timely care in Canada. She crossed the American border to Pontiac, Mich., where a surgeon removed the tumor, estimating she could not have lived longer than a few weeks more.

The Canadian government pays for U.S. medical care in some circumstances, but it declined to do so in de Vires’ case for a bureaucratically perfect, but inhumane, reason: She hadn’t properly filled out a form. At death’s door, de Vires should have done her paperwork better.

De Vires is far from unusual in seeking medical treatment in the U.S. Even Canadian government officials send patients across the border, increasingly looking to American medicine to deal with their overload of patients and chronic shortage of care.

Since the spring of 2006, Ontario’s government has sent at least 164 patients to New York and Michigan for neurosurgery emergencies — defined by the Globe and Mail newspaper as “broken necks, burst aneurysms and other types of bleeding in or around the brain.” Other provinces have followed Ontario’s example.

Canada isn’t the only country facing a government health care crisis. Britain’s system, once the postwar inspiration for many Western countries, is similarly plagued. Both countries trail the U.S. in five-year cancer survival rates, transplantation outcomes and other measures.

The problem is that government bureaucrats simply can’t centrally plan their way to better health care.

A typical example: The Ministry of Health declared that British patients should get ER care within four hours. The result? At some hospitals, seriously ill patients are kept in ambulances for hours so as not to run afoul of the regulation; at other hospitals, patients are admitted to inappropriate wards.

Declarations can’t solve staffing shortages and the other rationing of care that occurs in government-run systems.

Polls show Americans are desperately unhappy with their system and a government solution grows in popularity. Neither Sen. Obama nor Sen. McCain is explicitly pushing for single-payer health care, as the Canadian system is known in America.

“I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care program,” Obama said back in the 1990s. Last year, Obama told the New Yorker that “if you’re starting from scratch, then a single-payer system probably makes sense.”

As for the Republicans, simply criticizing Democratic health care proposals will not suffice — it’s not 1994 anymore. And, while McCain’s health care proposals hold promise of putting families in charge of their health care and perhaps even taming costs, McCain, at least so far, doesn’t seem terribly interested in discussing health care on the campaign trail.

However the candidates choose to proceed, Americans should know that one of the founding fathers of Canada’s government-run health care system has turned against his own creation. If Claude Castonguay is abandoning ship, why should Americans bother climbing on board?

Prepare folks.
Universal health care is coming.
If and when Obama wins he will get it passed with the help of the Democrat party in Congress.

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I recently had a very lively debate with a good friend on Health Care and the solutions that are viable.

He is of the thinking that the solution lies in a Nationalized Health Care plan similar to that of Canada. Where price controls are instituted on both the medical industry as well as the medical professionals in the industry, such as doctors, nurses, EMS workers etc. This he believes is the solution to a ballooning cost of medicine in this country.

The problem with that is that it never works. Innovation take a dive, doctors start to seek elsewhere to work and in a country where we are already lacking in health care professionals the last thing you should be doing is putting a squeeze on how much they can be paid.

I had read a few weeks ago part of McCains plan for health care in America.
Its the only plan that actually uses the free market in its solution. While the democrats solution is to basically socialize the whole thing.

We’ve seen what a great success that has been with Medicaid and Medicare. To get an idea what it would be like under a Democrats system look nor further than the Walter Reed debacle.

Why McCain has the best health-care plan
His is the only one of the candidate proposals that has a chance of getting medical costs under control. An argument for some free-market sanity.

By Shawn Tully, editor-at-large

(Fortune Magazine) — Fellow Americans, choose your revolution. One way or another, we’re getting a new health-care system. The old one is obviously broken. The U.S. now has 47 million uninsured, and costs are out of control. The Department of Health and Human Services predicts that if things continue as they are, health spending will almost double by 2017 to $4.3 trillion, or one-fifth of GDP, vs. 16% today.

The crisis has gotten so severe that fixing the system is no longer a partisan issue. Everyone understands that something has to change, and fast. In this presidential race, both sides are proposing radical fixes that would totally transform the way health care is delivered and paid for in America. Both the Democrats and the Republicans embrace the same goals: John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton are all putting forth ways of making health care affordable for every American and stopping a disastrous escalation in costs. Both sides also envision a world where employers play a much smaller role in medical benefits. The differences, of course, are in the way each candidate intends to reach those laudable goals. In essence, McCain wants to create a kind of national insurance market that shoves more decision-making power into the hands of consumers; the Democrats are aiming for a Medicare-like federal superprogram. (We’ll stick with the “Democrat” label in this story. The nominee status was still unclear at presstime, and, intraparty sniping notwithstanding, the Clinton and Obama plans are extremely similar.)

So far, the press and public haven’t paid much attention to the implications of these dueling visions. This stuff is complicated, and the most revolutionary provisions are buried deep in jargon-filled position papers. But parsing the plans is worth the work: This issue is crucial to America’s economic future, and the differences between McCain and the Democrats are profound.

Who has the best plan? Both have huge flaws, but on balance McCain’s is better.

McCain’s main pillar is the elimination of a tax break that employees receive if their employer provides their health care. That may not sound like a shocker, but it is. The exclusion dates from World War II, when the federal government imposed controls on wages, but allowed companies to compete for workers by offering tax-free health benefits in lieu of pay. The law is largely responsible for the nightmarish patchwork of corporate-provided medical plans we enjoy so much today. Employees and their unions demanded richer and richer packages, and employers complied, since they could buy far more benefits for their employees than workers could buy with after-tax dollars on their own. Americans have paid a steep price, however, by sacrificing their raises as corporate insurance bills exploded, never more so than now.

McCain suggests that we junk all that. Say you’re earning $100,000 a year and your company provides about $9,000 toward your $12,000 family premium, which is about average. Today you’re taxed only on the $100,000. Under McCain’s plan, you’d also pay on the $9,000. That could mean an extra $3,000 or so in federal taxes alone. To compensate for the extra levy, McCain would provide a $2,500 federal tax rebate for individuals and $5,000 per family, meaning a family would simply subtract $5,000 from its tax bill, the equivalent of a big cash payment.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Employers would no longer be able to buy more health care with $9,000 of their employees’ money than the workers could buy on their own. The raison d’être for corporate health benefits would vanish. Employers have another compelling reason to pass the ball to the employee: While wages are rising around 3% ayear, their health-care costs are growing at three times that rate. “I predict that most companies would stop paying for health care in three to four years,” says Robert Laszewski, a consultant who works with corporate benefits managers. Hence, an employer that pays $9,000 for your benefits would simply pack an extra $9,000 a year into your paycheck. (Why? Because in a competitive labor market, companies would have to hand over that cash to employees or risk losing them.) So you’d have $6,000 after tax, plus the $5,000 family credit, to buy insurance. That’s $11,000 in new cash that employees can set aside for health care.

So what types of policies would they buy? Employees (and their families) with corporate plans – about 150 million Americans – would probably rush toward high-deductible, low-premium insurance, and use what’s left over to pay cash for routine procedures. They would couple those high-deductible policies with Health Savings Accounts, which allow families to put away up to $5,800 ayear, before taxes, for medical expenses. Those plans cost about $10,000. That’s not a huge saving from the typical $12,000 corporate plan, but it’s a start. More than four million Americans already have HSAs, and the McCain plan would make portable, high-deductible plans the product of choice for a new generation of healthcare consumers.

Besides eliminating the employer exclusion, McCain’s plan boasts another nice feature. It would allow consumers to choose an insurance plan that suits their stage of life. If you’re young and healthy, for example, you probably want the cheapest plan you can get. If you’re 45 and have four dependents, maybe you want something a bit more expensive and generous. Nine states, including New York, California, and Texas already require that as many as 50 benefits be covered, a list that ranges from in vitro fertilization to mental health services to prescription drugs. These requirements increase the cost of insurance; they’re a major reason young people have dropped their coverage. Under the McCain plan, insurers in any state would be free to offer the plans with a vast variety of deductibles, co-pays and benefits. UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans already provide a menu of packages tailored to groups as varied as Gen Xers and retirees.

The problem with McCain’s approach – and it is a huge problem – is that McCain ventures so far toward total laissez-faire liberty that he risks leaving the poor and sick behind. Here’s why. Perhaps his most drastic proposal is allowing the same insurance products to be sold across state lines. That seems to make sense, and maybe it does: Look what interstate banking has done for pricing and choice in financial services. But in health care, the upheaval would be so brutal that it scares even the most ardent free-marketer. Many states have some form of what policy wonks call “community rating.” Under pure community rating, insurers must charge all customers the same premium no matter whether they’re 20 or 55, or whether they have cancer or are models of good health. McCain is targeting community rating for good reason. It forces the young and healthy to pay far more than their actual cost by making them subsidize the elderly and sick. Like the mandated benefits, it’s pushed millions of Americans in their 20s to drop their health insurance.

But under the McCain plan, states with no restrictions – Pennsylvania, for example – could sell policies for 25-year-olds that cost around $1,200 a year, one-third the price in New York. Young New Yorkers would drop their plans in favor of Pennsylvania providers, forcing New York insurers to jack up premiums for people in their 50s or early 60s, who need those rich, community-rated plans that cover as many procedures as possible – but who no longer benefit from the excessive premiums paid by the youngsters. It gets worse. Anyone with cancer, diabetes, or other pre-existing conditions will see their premiums multiply too.

To his credit, McCain does have a plan for relatively young, low-income Americans who can’t afford insurance. “We would increase the tax credit according to income so that poor families could buy insurance,” says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain’s policy director. But McCain sorely lacks a plan for people in their 50s without corporate benefits, and Americans with pre-existing conditions, who would be brutally stripped of coverage if insurance crosses state lines. “For his plan to work, McCain has to tell us how he would deal with the old and sick,” says Jon Gruber, an MIT economist. “If McCain doesn’t tax the healthy to pay for pre-existing conditions, as happens under community rating, he has to tax the taxpayer. That means his plan will require huge subsidies he’s not talking about.”

NOW FOR THE DEMOCRATS. The core of their plan is a “pay or play” option for employers. Large companies would have the choice of either providing benefits for workers or dropping their coverage. If they chose the latter, they would pay a mandatory payroll tax to support a new government-administered system. That system would have two parts: a Medicare-like public program, and a menu of private options similar to the generous plans available to U.S. government employees today. Workers who are self-employed or lack insurance would go straight into one of these two options. Low-income Americans would receive federal subsidies to purchase the premiums.

In practice, the system would quickly swell the ranks of Americans with government-paid health care. Remember, health-care costs are rising far faster than wages, so companies have a strong incentive to pay the tax and erase that rapidly growing burden from the books. It’s also likely that the government plan will offer better benefits than many, or perhaps most, corporate plans. In fact, the Democrats call for rich standard benefits packages based on the plan offered to federal employees. Those packages would have deductibles of just $300 and offer prescription drugs, mental health benefits, and “spinal manipulations” (i.e., chiropractic services), among a cornucopia of other benefits. As a result, the federal plan, potentially packed with new benefits pushed for by lobbyists for various medical specialties, will quickly cause an exodus from employer plans.

The standard benefits package isn’t just a bad idea because it will substantially raise the cost to taxpayers. It will also make it virtually impossible for Americans to buy insurance tailored to their needs. Suppose you’re one of those 25-year-olds. You probably don’t want to spring for a full-blown plan that covers old-age diseases like Alzheimer’s and would rather save some money and go with a low-premium, high-deductible plan. But the Democrat approach requires that any competing plans be “actuarily equivalent” (Clinton’s term) to the federal employee plan – which translates as a generous minimum standard for health insurance. “With that mandate, you rule out high-deductible plans,” says Gruber. “It would make it very difficult to design one that would qualify.”

The Democrat proposals have some additional drawbacks. First, the Dems want to heavily regulate the insurance industry by limiting everything from profits to marketing expenses. If the earning power of insurers is determined by federal regulators, their pricing will be too, and thus they will evolve into the equivalent of public utilities. Would you rather have medical prices set by fiat or by nationwide market competition?

Second, the Democrat plan exacerbates the fundamental problem in the American health-care system, which is that no one has any incentive to care about price. (How much is that MRI center charging for your ankle scan? Who cares? Just hand over the $50 co-pay and never you mind.) Creating a huge new medical superstructure would shift far more spending to third-party providers, chiefly the federal government, giving consumers even less incentive to concern themselves with the price of an MRI – or any other service, from an elective wart-removal procedure to a life-saving heart bypass. “The Clinton and Obama plans would enormously increase total health-care spending, but disguise the extra costs by shifting them to taxpayers,” says John Sheils of the Lewin Group, a research firm that does statistical modeling for health-care plans.

Despite all that, the Democrats’ plan probably beats McCain’s if you’re scoring on political viability. Their program doesn’t involve anything that smacks of a cut in benefits, and it’s just easier to win with largesse.

But on economic merits, McCain wins. For all its problems, at least it puts the consumer in charge. Would that create a world where we’re forced to dicker with heart surgeons? No. It will create a world where health care is treated as the precious resource that it is, rather than a costless entitlement; where nationwide competition pushes down the price of catastrophic care and consumers focus their attention and budgets on what’s really crucial to their health. That’s an important first step. The price of health care is never going to get under control until patients get what they deserve: the right to be customers too.

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Trustees for the government’s two biggest benefit programs warned Tuesday that Social Security and Medicare are facing “enormous challenges” with the threat to Medicare’s solvency far more severe.

The trustees, issuing a once-a-year analysis of the government’s two biggest benefit programs, said the resources in the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by 2041. The reserves in the Medicare trust fund that pays hospital benefits were projected to be wiped out by 2019.

Both those dates were the same as in last year’s report. But the trustees warned that financial pressures will begin much sooner when the programs begin paying out more in benefits each year than they collect in payroll taxes. For Medicare, that threshhold is projected to be reached this year and for Social Security it is projected to occur in 2017.

The first year that payments will exceed income for Social Security will occur in 2017, just nine years from now, reflecting growing demands from the retirement of 78 million baby boomers. Medicare is projected to pay out more than it receives in income starting this year.

“The financial difficulties facing Social Security and Medicare pose enormous challenges,” the trustees said in their report. “The sooner these challenges are addressed, the more varied and less disruptive their solutions can be.”

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, one of the trustees, warned that the country was facing a fiscal train wreck unless something is done.

“Without change, rising costs will drive government spending to unprecedented levels, consume nearly all projected federal revenues and threaten America’s future prosperity,” Paulson said in releasing the new report. “Our nation needs a bipartisan effort to strengthen both programs for future retirees.”

President Bush, who wanted to make overhauling Social Security his top domestic priority in his second term, tapped Paulson to lead that effort. However, Paulson has been unable to forge a consensus with Democrats, who took control of Congress in 2006.

Democrats contend that Bush lost valuable time after his 2004 re- election pushing a plan to allow younger workers to direct their payroll tax contributions into private accounts, an idea that went nowhere in Congress.

While the Social Security trust fund will have resources until 2041, the more critical date in terms of government revenues will occur in That is the date that Social Security will have to pay out more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes. At present, Social Security is running large surpluses that are going to fund the rest of government.

However, in 2017, the situation will be reversed and the government will have to start filling the gap between what Social Security will be collecting in payroll taxes and what it must pay out. Technically, it will do that by redeeming the non-marketable Treasury securities that are held in the trust fund. However, those bonds are simply government IOUs.

To get the money to pay the benefits, the government will have to borrow or close the gap in other ways such as cutting benefits or raising taxes.

This is of no shock to me.
It shouldn’t be to anyone.
USA Today recently did an analysis on this very issue with the same results.
But Democrats but like most liberals believe that creating more social programs will solve the problem we have today. Its why plans like the proposed Universal Health Care program will fail.

They won’t cut benefits, so the only obvious solution will be to raise taxes. Its the only way they know how to do things. The recent legislation to push for an expanded medical program was funded entirely with increases in cigarette taxes. What happens when those taxes aren’t collected? Will they cut the program? Doubt it.

This will make it all the more fun to watch a Democrat win this election year.

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NOTHING and I mean NOTHING that the government has been a part of in funding HAS EVER facilitated in the lowering of its costs. NOTHING. If the idea that you liberals want to facilitate is one of price controls, and nationalizing all hospitals in the country then there are other countries out there for you.

But more to the point is the ever increasing cost of health care, which will NEVER EVER be lowered through increased government intervention.

EXAMPLE:

The federal government will spend twice as much on health care in 2017 as it did in 2007, as costs keep going up and as Boomers enroll in Medicare. The toll: federal outlays for Medicare and Medicaid will hit $1.5 trillion, up from $750 billion last year, according to an estimate published today in Health Affairs.

The estimates don?t take into account the expanded role the feds would play under the Democratic presidential candidates health care proposals, which would cost about $100 billion a year, the WSJ notes. But once you?re at $1.5 trillion, the leap to $1.6 trillion doesn?t seem so vast.

The nation?s overall spending on health care ? including federal, state and private payers ? will continue its long tradition of growing faster than the overall economy, and health will account for nearly one fifth of the GDP by 2017, according to the estimate, by analysts from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Meanwhile, the higher-ups in Washington are fighting over how to slow the growth of Medicare spending. President Bush has proposed freezing reimbursement rates for health care providers such as hospitals, nursing homes and home health centers, the Associated Press points out. Bush also proposed making wealthier seniors pay more for Medicare drug coverage.

The Dems have suggested cutting payments to privately run Medicare plans, which cost the government more than traditional Medicare. That difference will become increasingly costly in the years to come ? the Health Affairs paper estimated that one in four Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in private plans by 2017, up from about one in six today.

Government intervention and funding will only INCREASE its costs. Unless of course you want a Nationalized system in which the Hospitals are all controlled by the federal government in which case you WILL SEE a large exodus of Medical Research companies with high paying jobs to other countries. They are already itching to leave this will only increase their incentive.

That supposed 100 Billion is also a very SMALL estimate on what the actual cost will be. Right now as it stands Canada spends over 100 Billion on only 30 million people. The US has 10 times that many people. To assume that the cost overruns and increases in health coverage under this Universal Health plan will be anything near 100 Billion is a fallacy. Try upwards of 1 Trillion or more.

Why we are trying to adopt failed Socialist medicinal practices in the US is beyond my comprehension I guess. Other then the fact that more and more people believe that the government should be their sole provider of everything.

People out there are concerned with Privacy rights on Trains but ignore the massive violation of privacy rights that will come as the Health Department will get more authority to look into your medical records to better facilitate “preventative” measures for you. Which is part of the Obama plan on Health Care. To have more “preventative” health care. Which only means that a government agency will start to recommend to you what YOU should be doing with your health. Not your doctor. Which I guess in this Universal Health care plan would be one in the same. As doctors will wind up being employees of the federal government eventually.

Should be a fun 4 years after November.

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