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45,000 American deaths associated with lack of insurance

Original post made by Stay Cool, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Sep 18, 2009

Web Link
This article illustrates why health care/health insurance reform is so important. If you decide to post a response, please let's keep it a respectful debate on both sides. Thanks!

Comments (14)

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Posted by Pro-Choice (for HCI)
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

To Stay cool: Thank you for the posting and I am not sure what is the point. The article highlight stories which make everyone feel bad. However, I am not sure how the health care reform would help the case with "Sue Riek". I have cut/pasted part of the story below..

"For 10 years, Sue Riek suffered from back pain, but couldn't
afford medical care.

When a mid-life divorce left her single and without health
insurance, Riek started a home-business selling make-up on eBay
to support herself and her two daughters.

Riek, who lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, didn't qualify for
Medicaid. And she couldn't afford a $5,000 monthly insurance
premium, said her eldest daughter, Kaytee Riek.

... "

Could someone out there please help me to understand how the health care reform would help someone like 'Sue' without increase anyone else's insurance premium or increase my taxes? How does the new system work? I understand the competition helps drive down prices but to what extent? Words don't do much for me... Please show me and the rest of the concerned citizens how the math works here...

It is easy for anyone to make claims that health care will be affordable. How does it work? Please, please someone explain it to the public...

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Posted by Stay Cool
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2009 at 10:47 am

While the final plan is still under negotiation, here are some answers to FAQ re: reform-
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

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Posted by Parent of Two
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 18, 2009 at 11:09 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Healthcare reform = good idea

Government-run healthcare reform = bad idea

How many of you think that FEMA is well-run? How about the Post Office? What about the purchasing policies of the Pentagon?

The government bureaucracy CREATES more problems than it solves. The bureaucracy in England and Canada is horrible (talk to anyone from those countries about getting appointments). And our government is bigger, less efficient, and woefully incapable of running a lemonade stand, let alone the healthcare requirements of 300 million people.

There are lots of ways to improve the current healthcare/insurance situation (portable insurance, minimum employer benefits, etc.) without dumping it into the hands of the least efficient organization in the country.

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Posted by Pro-Choice (for HCI)
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2009 at 11:57 am

To Stay Cool: Thank you for the links. I found your first and third link helpful. THe link to CBS is the usually cosmetic article which doesn't tell me much.

I think my answer is found in the following quotation (again, I cut/pasted below for other readers to read)

"Many people don't have health insurance because they can't afford it. Will reform make health care more affordable?

It will depend on each situation. An ''exchange'' with real competition would likely lower health insurance premiums for many individuals and small businesses, which don't have the buying power that large corporations have. Individuals also will get help if they qualify for subsidies. Young and healthy individuals, though, may wind up paying more."

Like anything else (just like auto insurance, homeowner insurance, term-life insurance), it is a statistics game. You have the higher risk people (with chronic health issues) and healthy people (younger generation). You collect premiums (not counting subsidies) and hope the healthy people won't use the medical services as much (like myself) and use the money to pay for those who need health care more often. However, this won't work if the public option is FULL of people with chronic health problems. The plan cannot pay for itself. Am I wrong here? Please correct me...

How does the public option really drive down cost? Will the government interject itself into the health insurance industry by limiting employee/administrator/doctor compensation/bonuses if they want to participate in the exchange? If private sector is making so much money and reward their administrators/doctors with very high pay and bonuses, the government may limit that if they participate in the public exchange program. I cannot see how by interjecting a public option would lower health care. Again, could someone please enlight the public on how this reform would lower the health care cost? I did hear something today (interview with Dr. Tim Johnson?) that maybe the doctors/administrator compensation would be based on how well they can cure people not how many tests they order or not order.

I am trying to stay neutral and listen to the facts. I don't believe there is a 'death' provision. That's is the scare tactics some groups are using. I dismiss that totally! Our court system would not tolerate such a thing!

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Posted by poster boy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Parent of Two,
Your comments are helpful, but no one's suggesting that. Not once has any of the reform plans called for a comprehensive takeover of healthcare by the federal government, closing down all private insurance companies, and having the whole system run through a single federal bureaucracy, so you're worried about something that's not going to happen. As for a lot of your assertions, they're debatable as well...for instance, it's been covered countless times, but poll the people of england and canada and they both love their system and shake their heads in disbelief at ours. As for our government not being able to run a lemonade stand, i'll remember that the next time I'm driving my car on the federal interstate system, drinking my clean tap water, eating food that's safe for consumption, and enjoying the freedoms provided by my government-run military.

Pro-Choice (for HCI), as to your question of how this woman would be helped. There are several ways reform will help her:
1) Under all the plans currently in formulation in the senate and house, Medicaid will be expanded to provide coverage to people just like this woman who are not currently eligible for medicaid. She will now have that option.
2) if she still doesn't qualify for medicaid, she will be in the income range to make herself eligible for a subsidy from the government to purchase her own insurance at a discounted rate. Since she will be one of 40 million new customers eligible to buy insurance, the private insurers out there will be competing on a system of exchanges that will be setup by the government to buy the best-priced and best-quality insurance available to her.
3) If she finds that those private plans are still unafordable to her, a public option will be available to compete against private plans, and since the government-run option (that's competing against private insurers, mind you, for that same subsidized payment) will have lower operating costs and won't be worrying about maintaining a 22% claim-rejection rate to make wall street happy, they will most decidedly offer her a plan she can afford.
4) If this woman is now insured and can seek treatment for her back problem, or any other ailment she might be dealing with, she will get that care earlier before her ailments rise to the level where she can no longer function or requires surgery. If you take a minor back problem that can be treated cheaply and prevent it from aggravating into a full-blown surgery, you'll save money all around. Multiply this by 40 million and you can see how short-term costs in treating people early will save billions in avoiding surgeries and more expensive treatments that became necessary because these people avoided treatments they couldn't afford.
5) This will be paid for in several different ways. Different proposals have different plans, but all of them basically target any tax increases on the very wealthy, the top 1%, either by a surtax, or a limit in how much they can deduct from their taxes, or by a tax on "luxury private insurance plans" that only the wealthy can afford. Considering these folks were the overwhelming beneficiaries of the bush tax cuts in 01 and 03, i think they can afford to give a little back to make sure this countries healthcare system remains viable. But in the end, as long as you're not in this top 1% of income earners, you shouldn't have to worry about taxes.
6) if we do nothing, the costs will be much more than the cost of reform. If we do nothing, in 10 years, the average annual insurance premium will be @28k for a family of 4. that's more than double what it is now. This will explode our deficit, many companies won't be able to insure their employees and will drop their coverage, thus throwing more people onto the rolls of the uninsured and the whole system will come crashing down. This whole reform plan is about holding down costs by bringing more people into the system and introducing a system of competition to private insurers (who in most states hold virtual monopolies). A plan that costs 900 billion might seem like a lot, but that's over 10 years, which means 90 billion per year, and our total federal budgets is well over 2 or 3 trillion dollars, which means 90 billion per year is barely 5% of that total. It's important to keep that in mind. Anyway, i hope this answered some of your questions.

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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm

"Parent of Two",

When you make statements like "The government bureaucracy CREATES more problems than it solves" you diminish your credibility because it is such an obvious oversimplification. If the statement were true, the solution would be to simply eliminate all government bureaucracy. It is like saying tax cuts always produce more revenue for the government. If so, shouldn't we cut all taxes to zero, thus maximizing government revenue?

The challenge is building the most effective government that we can while keeping taxes as low as possible.

"There are lots of ways to improve the current healthcare/insurance situation (portable insurance, minimum employer benefits, etc.) without dumping it into the hands of the least efficient organization in the country."

Aren't you asking for government regulation here, and then saying that you don't want to dump it "into the hands of the least efficient organization in the country"? But it is the government that will need to be creating and enforcing these new regulations.

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Poster Boy - there you go again with those well reasoned counter-arguements. I predict your time here on the forum will be limited, but I will enjoy your posts and sanity while it lasts. Thanks for posting.

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Posted by Parent of Two
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Parent of Two is a registered user.

So far, this particular thread has focused more on discussion rather than name-calling... let's keep it up!

My other concern about the current healthcare proposal is the cost, and the seeming lack of research into intermediate steps rather than a complete overhaul. Taxing the rich NEVER raises revenue for the government, because frankly, they'll just take their income, their spending, and their residence elsewhere to avoid any increases. This ends up having a negative trickle down effect as the purchasing power is diminished.

A better way to (effectively) tax the rich is to put a tax on STOCK of $1 per $10,000 of trade. $87B are exchanged every DAY on the NYSE, not sure how many of those deals are > $10K, but it's safe to assume that it would be a large percentage. It's not enough to be a major impact to the financial institutions (.01 of 1%), but because of the volume, would satisfy almost all of the needed costs.

And like I said, I still don't necessarily trust the feds to oversee their portion. My dad was in the VA system, and frankly, it shortened his life by years because of their churn-and-burn mentality of cycling through patients, disposing of them when they reach their funding limit.

If they put in a provision to ENSURE all Americans that have good insurance already get to keep their providers at a reasonable price (maybe plus COLA), I might get on board. But I honestly see businesses dropping their insurance benefits as being non-cost effective ways of retaining/attracting employees, and that's what worries me most.

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Posted by poster boy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Parent of Two,
A tax on stock trades...that is an interesting idea. I think it absolutely has no chance to ever even make it on paper in a congressional bill, but that's besides the point. Stockholders for years have been decrying the capital gains tax and been trying to eliminate it...i doubt they'll put up with a tax on high-volume stock deals. And I feel I must point out the contradiction that you reject an earnings tax on the rich and replace it was a scheme to tax every stock trade...i like your idea only in the sense that the rich would gladly except an increase in income taxes as an alternative...:)

And furthermore, I am a liberal to the core, but I do see how this could have a very chilling effect on our entire economy, would drive a lot of stockholders and traders into foreign markets that don't have this tax, and would generally depress the economy. But like I said, it is an interesting idea I've never heard before...

I would hope that the top 1% would see the benefit in paying a bit more to ensure the stability of a healthcare system that enables the overall economy to function. Sure, they can decide to fight the tax and hold onto the extra few hundred thousand per year they'd pay, but in 10 or 15 years when the whole economy collapses around them, they'll stand to lose a lot more...and I'm just hoping they're smart enough to see that. Tell them to think of it as an investment whose dividends will be lower healthcare costs to the companies they own stock in, which means more money being returned to them in dividends instead of being paid out to healthcare companies in premiums for their employees...

As for a provision to ensure your insurance won't change, there's no way to do that without instituting a draconian set of regulations on employers who provide healthcare to their employees. The healthcare we're provided now can be changed at any moment at the discretion of the employer. If they decide tomorrow that the PPO plan they offer is too expensive and instead will dump all healthcare plans and replace them with a health savings account, what are you gonna do...quit? You're basically asking the government to step in and tell companies they can't do that, and I doubt the wingnuts will put up with that.

What the reform plans being offered do however is tell employers with over 200 employees that they're required to provide some form of comprehensive healthcare insurance to their employees and if they don't they need to pay into a fund that will provide the subsidies to their employees so they can buy their own. And if you choose not to go with your company's plan, you can either use a subsidy (if you qualify < 300% poverty level) to buy your own insurance, and hopefully have the choice to buy the public option if it makes it into the deal.

In the end, the existence of a government run insurance option does not mean the feds are taking over and it does not mean that death panels are on the way. It's just providing people with more options and providing competition to the private insurers who hold virtual monopolies in most states. It's about giving more options to americans, not taking them away.

Your comments about the VA system, btw, were true. It is a system that's overwhelmed by both the influx of thousands of iraqi and afghan vets, the aging of the vietnam and WW2 era vets, and the fact that bush and the GOP slashed and burned their budgets for the past 8 years. The VA needs to do more and the feds need to step up and provide the best care possible for the men and women who gave so much to our country.

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Posted by Pro-Choice (for HCI)
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2009 at 2:17 pm

To "poster boy", thank you for your clarification... it's very helpful..

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Posted by amazed
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 18, 2009 at 5:25 pm

the idea that the government is going to compete against private companies seems odd. Are you saying that the government is required to make a profit?
In the end, regardless of how much money we pump into it and how much a burden we put on the next generation, the system as it is, and whatever system the government comes up with, will collapse under the weight of the expodentially growing aging population.

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Posted by Einstein
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 18, 2009 at 7:42 pm

So one point to ponder, Obama has a comanding majority in the house an senate and he is a democrat as we all know so if it is such a great deal why doesn't he just pass it and shove it down our throats? Why? well maybe because it isn't and his own party will not support and will get wiped out in the next election if they vote for it.

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Posted by Ken in South Pleasanton
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 21, 2009 at 8:59 am

Reply to "a reader"
I agree with Parent of Two on the government bureaucracy creating more cost and confusion and applaud your suggestion of reducing government bureaucracy. Have you considered how many new government bureaucracies need to be created to flesh out and implement the proposals that are currently in the healthcare reform act? Which government bureaucracies and offices will be eliminated to pay for the new bureaucracies? I'm guessing you will think that these comments are also an oversimplification of a complex maatter. In my experience it is sometimes better to determine at a high level (simplified overview) whether something makes sense rather than trying to make a bad idea sound good by mucking around in the details. A bad idea with lots of detailed planning and thinking is still a bad idea. Such is the current healthcare reform snaking its way through our federal government.

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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm


I think I get what you're saying, that basically the reform bills are too big and bureaucratic, and that some modest changes in health insurance regulation might be a better idea?

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