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Health Care

There’s been a lot of back and forth between pro-nanny state folks and pro-market folks concerning the impacts of either policy on job growth.  On one hand there is the argument that the uncertainty of regulations causes a pause in investment.  The case being that businesses are unable to predict the return of their investment due to unknown costs in the environment.

I have suggested in the past that this is akin to playing blackjack.  Consider the game as we know it.  A dealt 21 is a winner at 150% of the wager.  Dealer has to hit up to 16 and wins on a tie.

Further consider a table of players.  Upon being told that the rules might change mid “shoe”, that the changes to the rules are not yet finalized and that once you commit to playing, you can’t back out, do you think the players would play more, play less or play the same?

I suggest that the players would “hold onto their capital” until they knew the rules, and then, based on the new value proposition, would play at a level that reflects the advantage to the house; less play if the rules benefit the house, more play if those rules benefit the player.

Why we would expect business to react differently isn’t rational.  And, as it turns out, is exactly what we are seeing:  Hat Tip Carpe Diem

Because we don’t know what our health-care expenses will be in two or three years, we are unable to determine with any certainty how much our investments will have to return for us to be profitable. All of that counsels in favor of holding off on new investments and saving our funds. We want to grow. But we are unable to do so knowing that large and undetermined liabilities will absorb funds we otherwise would invest for expansion.

It is simply not reasonable to suspect that people or organizations will invest at the same level when the risks are unknown.

So, I’m reading a story about an illegal immigrant who is struggling to obtain a kidney transplant.  He has a donor; his brother.  But the system doesn’t allow illegal residents transplant care.  Lifetime dialysis?  Sure.  Transplant?  No.

Anyway, I’m sure I read this somewhere, but it occurred to me that of all the people in the kidney transplant process, the doctors, the hospitals, the nurses everybody, the only person who isn’t compensated for his time and effort is the guy that loses the kidney.

Isn’t that weird?  Maybe if we allowed people to sell their spare kidney we wouldn’t have so many people waiting for a kidney.

Most certainly, however, I am sure they are not alone.  But I can’t blame ’em.  Really.  They’re just a victim of the tribalism going on in Washington.

So, specifically, Democrats labelled Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan as one that would “end Medicare as we know it.”  And they defend this statement thusly:

“The very definition of the Medicare program is a national health insurance program for seniors which House Republicans would abolish under their budget,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in an earlier rebuttal of Politifact’s analysis of the Ryan plan.

And additionally:

“It seems foolish to have to parse the meaning of the word ‘end,’ but if there’s a program, and it’s replaced with a different program, proponents brought an end to the original program,” liberal blogger Steve Benen wrote at the Washington Monthly. “That’s what the verb means.”

Okay, but the silliness is obvious.  Using this logic any time any program is changed, even by the slightest bit, the old existing plan would “end” and the new plan, complete with all it’s new language, would be the new plan.

Wanna change the test scoring system in public education?  Well, go ahead, but be aware that you are “ending public education as we know it”.

Wanna increase the speed limit on I-40 from 60 to 65?  Okay, but be prepared to defend how you are “ending the federal interstate program as we know it.”

Absurd, truly.

And I am not alone.  Politifact has named the Democrats charge the “Lie of the Year”.

Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact for people 55 or older, but dramatically changed the program for everyone else by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.

Democrats pounced. Just four days after the party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a Web ad that said seniors will have to pay $12,500 more for health care “because Republicans voted to end Medicare.”

Rep. Steve Israel of New York, head of the DCCC, appeared on cable news shows and declared that Republicans voted to “terminate Medicare.” A Web video from the Agenda Project, a liberal group, said the plan would leave the country “without Medicare” and showed a Ryan look-alike pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. And just last month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a fundraising appeal that said: “House Republicans’ vote to end Medicare is a shameful act of betrayal.”

After two years of being pounded by Republicans with often false charges about the 2010 health care law, the Democrats were turning the tables.

PolitiFact debunked the Medicare charge in nine separate fact-checks rated False or Pants on Fire, most often in attacks leveled against Republican House members.

Now, PolitiFact has chosen the Democrats’ claim as the 2011 Lie of the Year.

Go read the whole thing.  There are worse things to do on December 20th.

I went to the doctor yesterday for a “check-up”.  This isn’t my physical or anything like that, just a quick and simple check and chat.

Good times.

So, as always the doc isn’t happy with my weight, my exercise or my daily ration of my local beverage:

Whatever.

After telling me that she wanted to put me on blood pressure medication 2 years ago, I sign and accepted it; getting old is both a bitch and not a choice.  And it beats the alternative.  Then, last year when she asked me how my blood pressure was, well, she was less than impressed when I told her that I didn’t know.  I never check.

Well, after listening to her go on and on about how important it was, I rushed out and bought a digital cuff machine thingy.  And now I check twice a day.  And record it.

This time I had my data and, surprisingly, she was pleased with the blood pressure.

So, now she’s done and I ask her if it could be my turn.  She kinda looks at me and nods and then I ask her this:

Doc, I read a lot and recently I came across data suggesting that salt does not, repeat does NOT, contribute to higher blood pressure.  Is this true?

She leaned back and nodded, then said;

Yes.

Son of a bitch!

So, that’s the one thing I knew but confirmed.  The other is that hyper-tension is the #1 killer in America.  The cure?

A pill.  Total cost?

$4 a month.

What do these two things mean?

Life is good!

More proof that we have the best medical care delivery system in the entire history of the world:

Drugstore and supermarket pharmacies across the country have launched a marketing blitz to attract flu shot customers, touting the convenience of stopping at a local drugstore and often offering drop-in vaccinations anytime the pharmacy is open — sometimes even 24 hours a day.

“If you decided at 4 o’clock in the morning you wanted to go out and had nothing better to do than get a flu shot, you could walk right in and you could get a flu shot,” says Scott Gershman, pharmacy manager at a Walgreens drugstore in Springfield, Va.

Shelley Troff and her 13-year-old son dropped by Gershman’s pharmacy one afternoon in September to get their annual shots. Troff says she didn’t even consider going to her doctor’s office. “To be frankly honest, Walgreens is easier,” she explains. “Since this is one mile from my house and the clinic is 20 minutes from my house, this is where I come.”

Pharmacies usually charge between $25 and $32, while a shot at the doctor’s office generally costs at least $48

Really super sucks to be an American.

Duke.

Leading hospital in the nation; if not the world:

Durham, N.C. — Babies born with a skull deformity can get help from Duke University Hospital surgeons who are the first in the state to perform a minimally invasive procedure to fix the problem.

Open surgery, which is standard to correct the problem offers great results, but a lot of blood loss and some permanent scars are associated with it.

Catherine will become the first infant in North Carolina to undergo an alternative surgery, which uses two small incisions and endoscopic cameras.

“The visualization now with our optics is so good with high definition that we can see … just beautifully,” Duke neurosurgeon Dr. Gerald Grant said.

I bet’cha this procedure is WILDLY popular in Singapore, Japan, Sweden and Norway.  Not to mention such medical hotspots as Poland, Cuba and Hungary.

But because those countries rate ahead of us on such meaningful statistics as quality of potato soup and rocks per square farmland yard they rank ahead of the United States in Health Care stats.

As if.

Ask anyone on the street if they would be willing to see the needy get the medical care they need and the answer is a massive “Hell yeah!”.  But ask them HOW that is to happen and you get a whole bunch of, “Hell, I da’know.”.

And so’s the quandary of the average American.

And so it is, when faced with work, and love, and school and bills and and and…we are willing, almost demanding, that this burden be taken from us and handled by someone else.  The Genesis.   The lightning striking the mud.

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I’m reaching into the “Way Back Machine” and pulling out a post from a long time ago:

Much debate has been made about the uninsured in America. I have tried and tried and tried to make the point in my personal conversations that you can not claim you can’t afford thing “A” when you voluntarily spend the money that could purchase thing “A” and instead buy thing “B”. That is to say, if I have enough money to book, but instead purchase a DVD, I can not claim to be unable to buy the book. I simply decided to prioritize the DVD higher than the book.

The same is true of health insurance. If I have money to purchase health insurance but instead choose to buy thing “B”, I can not claim to be unable to afford health insurance. I just decided not to buy it. Now, I understand that there are things in life that seem to qualify as “must have”. Shelter, food and clothing to name a few. People even claim that an internet connection and phone service can qualify as required services. So I tried to find an item that in no way could be classified as “required”. I came up with lottery tickets.

Now, looking at uninsured data found at Carpe Diem, there seem to be three rough categories of people:

  1. Those that make less than $25,000 a year
  2. Those that make from $25,000 to $50,000 a year
  3. Those that make more than $50,000 a year

Those three breakdowns seem to describe the uninsured equally. About 30% of the uninsured population are in each category. Let’s see if my theory holds true for the lower income population.

Using data reported by 4 Professors at Duke University, we are able to see lottery participation rates as well as annual per capita amounts.

What it shows is remarkable. Combining the players making less than $25,000 per year we see that just about HALF of the population plays the lottery. Further, those people who play are spending near $600 a year! This means that these players have near $600 of annual disposable income that they are choosing to spend on the lottery. By going here, I can find a policy that covers a single 25-year-old man for $52 a month. Or, $612 a year – almost exactly what is being played on the lottery.

Given that a group of people have disposable income of near $600 and that an insurance policy costs nearly $600, can you realistically say that those folks are unable to afford health insurance?

Me either.

Just look and see:

1  France
2  Italy
3  San Marino
4  Andorra
5  Malta
6  Singapore
7  Spain
8  Oman
9  Austria
10 Japan
11 Norway
12 Portugal
13 Monaco
14 Greece
15 Iceland
16 Luxembourg
17 Netherlands
18 United Kingdom
19 Ireland
20 Switzerland
21 Belgium
22 Colombia
23 Sweden
24 Cyprus
25 Germany
26 Saudi Arabia
27 United Arab Emirates
28 Israel
29 Morocco
30 Canada
31 Finland
32 Australia
33 Chile
34 Denmark
35 Dominica
36 Costa Rica
37 United States of America

It’s plain as day.

The United States sucks.

But I’d like to see even ONE of those other 36 nations do this:

Makayla Clary, of South Hill, Va., was a passenger on an ATV that suddenly tipped over.

“I initially found her at the accident and had to lift the ATV off of her,” her mother, Cheri Clay, said.

A helicopter carried Makayla to Duke hospital.

Catch that?  In order to provide treatment, a helicopter was employed.  And she was carried to Duke Hospital.  One of the world’s TOP facilities.

Okay, back to the news:

There, doctors said her legs were crushed and had severe cuts and swelling. It looked as if her right leg might need to be amputated, but her surgical team recommended waiting four more weeks, Duke plastic surgeon Dr. Detlev Erdman said.

During that time, Makayla underwent additional therapy, including hyperbaric oxygen treatments. In those, a person breathes pure oxygen in a sealed chamber with a pressure 1½ to three times greater than the normal atmosphere.

“With hyperbaric oxygen, we can actually decrease the swelling while simultaneously providing oxygen for those tissues which are not getting an adequate supply of oxygen,” said Dr. Bret Stolp, with Duke Hyperbaric Medicine.

Makayla spent two hours a day for two weeks in a hyperbaric chamber in pressure equivalent to diving 33 feet below sea level. A head tent fed her 100 percent oxygen.

The treatment accelerated Makayla’s treatment and helped save both her legs.

Recently, she was able to drop her crutches and take a few steps on her own.

“She took three steps towards me, and we just hugged and cried,” Clay said. “To go from an injury where half her leg is basically missing to having almost a complete limb now, it’s amazing.”

Makayla said her big motivation to get better is to return to the softball field, where she plays catcher on her school and recreation center teams.

From amputation to catcher on the softball team.

Not one other medical system on the list could have provided that treatment.  Expensive?  You betcha.  A feature or a bug?

Feature.

‘Nuff said.