The Healthcare Thread


June 12, 2009 by torqdog


This is it…… the place to discuss all things healthcare. With the discussion in the “Hey Prez” thread having turned to an all healthcare theme, it’s time to give it it’s own thread.

This topic is going to be on the front burner for some time to come. Give us your opinion as this debate has good points from both sides.

19 thoughts on “The Healthcare Thread

  1. Stu says:

    There’s one question that keeps coming back to me. How can any services delivery system become more cost effective (let alone deliver the same level of service per dollar) when it incurs the additional expense of funding a government bureaucracy to administer it?

  2. torqdog says:

    Stu, that’s precisely my point. Can anyone give me just one example of a federally run program that isn’t drowning in over-runs and inefficiencies. When there is no competition, there is little incentive to be frugal and waste along with inefficiencies are the norm. C’mon, you all know that! Have we become numb to this?

    Godless, I can appreciate what you’re saying and it makes me sick to hear of examples such as yours. I’ve never said this system is perfect…… quite the contrary. I know it is flawed but the alternative is no better….. and I will continue to argue that it’s much worse with a much higher price to all, along with rationing of services and drugs. I’m gonna post that google search page again. You don’t have to open each link to get a common theme of what horrors there are to be had in a state run system. And there’s not just a few links but pages and pages of them.

    Today it was announced that this first wave could cost over 600 Billion dollars. Anyone who has been around awhile knows that you can quadruple that figure for a more realistic idea of how much it will cost. Remember the new Senate visitors center where Harry Reid upon it’s opening said something to the affect of they would no longer have to deal with the “smelly tourists”? That facility was originally sold on the idea that it would “only” cost 150 million. Final cost?…….. 675 million and that is sooooo typical of how the Govt. tries to sell something. Start of by telling everyone a figure that is palatable to most and by the time it’s done and the costs are way, way higher, no-one will notice or if they do, what are they gonna do about it? When was the last time you remember seeing or hearing of a federal program actually costing what it was originally priced at? Do you really want to turn over to the Govt. a segment of the economy that is roughly 20% when they have a proven track record of screwing up the running of just about everything they’ve done?
    Anyway, here’s a link to the story.

  3. torqdog says:

    Godless said;

    “The pharmecutical companies lobbyists, the doctors that care about money over patient care, and the entire profit based system should not exist when we are talking about people’s medical well-being. Profit should have nothing to do with it. That doesn’t mean I’m against compensation. People should justly be paid for their work. When profit is the motivator, then people lose out.”

    Sorry, I can’t let you get away with that. Profit IS a motivating factor and when aligned with competition, the people DO win.

    First off, if I’m reading your statement correctly, you seem to think that Doctors, Hospitals Insurers and Pharmecuticals are wildly out of control and there is no rhyme or reason to the way they price their goods and services. Do you even have a clue as to how much it costs a pharmy to bring a new drug to market. With all the research and developement, regulations and the FDA approval process, fifteen years and a BILLION dollars is the average. Now, would you have that company that has invested all that time, money and manpower to not make anything for their efforts? That’s not very fair to the company and it’s investors. If you have a retirement plan invested in mutual funds, it’s quite likely that YOU in a small part are one of the investors!

    Second, you take away the profit and you take away the incentive for anyone to do any kind of meaningful R & D. Once that has happened, there will be little progress in finding new cures for what ails us.

    Third, competition is a prime motivational factor when it comes to both keeping costs reasonable and giving people what they need. I know, I know……… it’s not perfect and I’m sure you can jump in here with examples, however, when there is more than one provider, the marketplace is the equalizer as people will shop around for a better deal if they feel they’re getting the shaft. That is why this system, warts and all, is the best one going for the money.

  4. torqdog says:

    Regarding “Sicko” and his representation of Canadian healthcare…..
    from wikipedia (sorry to do this cut and paste thing);

    “One of the major complaints about the Canadian health care system is waiting times, whether for a specialist, major elective surgery, such as hip replacement, imaging procedures such as MRI or Cystoscopy, or specialized treatments, such as radiation for breast cancer. Studies by the Commonwealth Fund found that 57% of Canadians reported waiting 4 weeks or more to see a specialist; 24% of Canadians waited 4 hours or more in the emergency room.[24]

    A March 2, 2004, article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stated, “Saskatchewan is under fire for having the longest waiting time in the country for a diagnostic MRI—a whopping 22 months.” [25]

    A February 28, 2006, article in The New York Times quoted Dr. Brian Day as saying, “This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years.”[26] The Canadian Health Coalition has responded succinctly to these claims, pointing out that “access to veterinary care for animals is based on ability to pay. Dogs are put down if their owners can’t pay. Access to care should not be based on ability to pay.” [27] The CHC is one of many groups across Canada calling for increased provincial and federal funding for medicare and an end to provincial funding cuts as solutions to unacceptable wait times [28]. In a 2007 episode of ABC News’s 20/20 titled “Sick in Amercia,” host John Stossel cited numerous examples of Canadians who did not get the health care that they needed. [29]”

    Please take note;

    “The CHC is one of many groups across Canada calling for increased provincial and federal funding for medicare and an end to provincial funding cuts as solutions to unacceptable wait times.”

    See what I’m talking about? There’s no end to cost increases and the justifications neccessitating them.

    This does not look at all like the Canada Michael Moore tried to paint as all rosy! Propaganda from an activist with a camera? Yep!

  5. rsr348 says:

    Important topic, I know, and I would love to read through all the posts in the other thread and go to all these links and try to form some sort of opinion, but I probably won’t find time this week.

  6. Stu says:

    That Canadian Doctor’s piece is a must read.

  7. bill says:

    Ok, I read it it, so what? It sounds like what everyone in America experiences now, only they get to pay for the privilege of waiting in ER’s, procdures being turned down as unnecessary and not affordable.

    And for Chrissakes, if you’re going to post a link to the fucking Wall Street Journal as some sort of wise and balanced presentation, I’m going to post links from Mother Jones or ACORN on the subject. I’m sure I can find a compassionate Amercian doctor who thinks it’s a grand plan. That way, at least there will be a guitar AND banjo playing here for the hillbillies who fear a government option, IN FUCKING ADDITION to the private health care plan we’re all getting fucked by now.

    Why not just come out from under the bed and say that you’re upset that poor minorities might be covered by a public option, unlike now, where they are covered by a more expensive public option. It’s called welfare.

  8. bill says:

    Here, here’s my response to your Canadian doctor. It has facts and figures and other potentially doctor-confusing stuff. You know, stuff he didn’t bother mentioning.

    “The United States ranked last in terms of efficiency among five other nations with universal health care, according to a Common Wealth study. In fact, the purely government-run Great Britain ranked first:

    Compared with five other nations — Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom — the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.

    Efficiency: On indicators of efficiency, the U.S. ranks last among the six countries, with the U.K. and New Zealand ranking first and second, respectively. The U.S. has poor performance on measures of national health expenditures and administrative costs as well as on measures of the use of information technology and multidisciplinary teams. Also, of sicker respondents who visited the emergency room, those in Germany and New Zealand are less likely to have done so for a condition that could have been treated by a regular doctor, had one been available.

    One needn’t even look abroad: The government-run Veterans Administration health care system is the most effective health care system available, not just on results but on cost efficiency as well:

    Or consider this measure of the VA’s medical efficiency. Veterans enrolled in its health care system are as a group far older, sicker, poorer, and more prone to mental illness, homelessness, and substance abuse than the population as a whole. … Yet the VA’s average expenditure per patient in 2004 was $5,562, including prescription drug and longer-term care benefits that have long been available to VA patients. By comparison, Americans as a whole, including children and those who never saw a doctor during the year, consumed an average $6,260 in health care dollars in 2004. “

    • torqdog says:

      That’s fine and dandy Bill but let’s take a look at what Massachusettes has done. They recently instituted universal health and so far the results aren’t very encouraging.
      Take a look around this MDs site and see for yourself.

      As I’ve said more than once, it’s a VERY complicated issue and I for one am absolutely opposed to a Govt. run system. My challenge remains……. name me ONE federal govt. run program that is efficient and effectively administered. You can’t because when there is no competition and money is liberally thrown at their every beckoning request, there’s no need to answer to anything other than increasing next year’s budget. Healthcare, regardless of what the Prez is saying, WILL follow the same mold.

      The founders of this country are probably rolling in their graves. Seems like that “Life, Liberty and the “pursuit” of happiness has gone the wayside. Now happiness is expected and some even go as far as to say it’s a “right”, to be delivered by the government. For 200 years this was an “equality in opportunity” country and we got along just fine. But around the time that we became an “equality in results” country, people have been bitching and complaining incessantly. Let some of those bitchers and complainers go live in a third world country for a week and watch their attitude shift overnight. Especially when they have no T.V. or cell phone and can’t drive to the local McDonalds so they can complain to 911 that they ran out of chicken mcnuggets. (actually happened in Florida)
      That gal doesn’t need healthcare, she needs a straightjacket and a trip to Bellevue.

  9. bill says:

    Randy, if you’ll read my comments instead of skimming for effect you’ll notice the research study and article I used refers to the V A Hospital expenditure per veteran, a group that has many more mental health and physical problems than the average citizen population, as less annually than for regular civilians accessing private health care.

    And, yes, I can mention another one for you: I want access to the same healthcare that’s made available to Congress and our military. Under the current proposal, you can keep your Kaiser-Permanente and co-pays and deductibles and continue to enrich their stockholders and I can switch to the government option should I choose to have it.

    How’s that for competitive forces on the market place setting prices and service quality?

    • torqdog says:

      Bill, no skimming here! I just chose not to respond to your statistical “data”.

      Mark Twain said it best…. “there are three kinds of lies…… lies, damned lies and statistics”.

      But now that you’ve brought it up, your VA info looks good and I have no reason to dispute it…….. however, I have to wonder…….. are those figures based solely on those who use the system or (more likely) are they based on ALL members who are covered? There are many Vets who are members in the program but, for one reason or another, do not participate much in VA benefits, yet are included in totals. You know…… it’s called “double coverage”,……. spouse has better coverage so why use the VA yet why give it up when it’s essentially free.. That factor alone would make those numbers “skewed”. The same can be said for those stats you posted from other countries……. the more folks you include, the lower the cost ratio per person because you’ve included people that don’t use the system and most likely would have opted out of coverage in this country thus making our numbers appear bigger in comparison. People in their twenties come to mind here.

      You seemed able to readily find those stats you posted though they were five years old in some cases. Maybe you could enlighten us as to the true dimension from which they were sourced. I understand waiting periods and substandard care are more the norm than private insurance which might be why many choose not to participate. Seems that I remember an incident involving the VA and Walter Reed recently. I’m not doubting you, just a little suspicious is all.

      After all……. the VA is not known for being a “stellar” operation.

      For the record, I no longer am covered by Kaiser as they don’t have any facilities here in Northern Nevada. Sure do miss it though.

      Bill, answer me this……. does your employer offer a retirement plan and do you participate?

  10. Jane says:

    Stu under the single payer option, the overhead is reduced significantly
    The reason we spend more and get less than the rest of the world is because we have a patchwork system of for-profit payers. Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with the bureaucracy. Combined, this needless administration consumes one-third (31 percent) of Americans’ health dollars.

  11. bill says:

    Randy, yes we offer a 401k program with no match.

    The VA Hospital sytem has had a terrible reputation over the years, but we have one here and people come from all over the Rocky Mountain area to access it. It’s good.

    If I ask my disabled Navy Seal friend about VA Hospitals, he has the horror stories of being wheeled into a corner with a morphine drip and left for days in a VA Hospital back east when he was blown up in ‘Nam.

    He is a huge fan of the VA Hostpital here in Utah. He’s now being treated for a variety of war-wound related problems including encroaching blindness, deafness and misc. neurological problems in his back and legs. He lives alone. He’s not one to gush about much of anything, believe me, but he LOVES the VA Hospital and the quality of care he recieves.

    I’d take that kind of option over the private hospital/insurance company boondoggle I’ve dealt with for the past 2 years any day!

    • torqdog says:

      Sounds like you have a “diamond in the rough”. Why do you think your local facility shines in comparison? Orin Hatch didn’t have anything to do with that, did he?

      The reason I asked about the 401k is this……. you and Godless have mentioned on more than one occasion how you kind of hold the “stockholders” or “investors” of these large insurers in contempt, or at least on the surface that’s how it appears. As I mentioned to Godless, if you have money invested in a 401k that is invested in mutuals, which is how most folks have them set-up, then you are most likely in a small way one of those investors that profits from insurers doing well.

      Just thought you’d like to know.

  12. Hi
    Good site
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  13. torqdog says:

    Here’s what our future could look like under Obamacare…. sort of. This movie IS a spoof and was made long before Obama was a “twinkle”. Notice the gal at the front counter has a machine like what they use at McDonalds etc. Maybe it’s not so far fetched as one would wish it to be with the accelerated rate of the dumbing down of America in recent years.

  14. torqdog says:

    Well I watched the Obama health reform news conference on the tele last night and I came away with a few observations and questions.
    1) Off subject, what in the hell was he doing taking a question about the Cambridge Police/Louis Gates incident? He admitted that he didn’t know the details surrounding the case yet that didn’t stop him from calling the actions by the responding officer “stupid”. Very sophomoric and nonpresidential! I heard the police transcripts from the incident and the officer was completely justified in his course of actions. If you’re interested, you can read the entire transcript of the news conference here;

    2) It looks like we have a new demon we can add to the list to vilify…… Doctors.

    1) Why is he in such a big hurry to get this passed when many of the provisions won’t take effect for years? Is it possible that as folks are becomming more educated on this subject, they turn their noses at it. Recent polls show that a growing majority of folks questioned are NOT in favor of the single payer health plans circulating through Congress right now. Members of Congress get lambasted at town hall meetings by well informed and angry constituents. A program of this magnitude that will cost in excess of a trillion dollars should be analyzed more thoroughly and not rushed. Please tell me why it should be rushed if your opinion differs.

    2) Where is the “transparency” Obama ran on and promised? Many swing voters were brought over to his camp with the promise that legislation bills would be made public for a period of time before signing would take place and many are starting to regret their vote. He has to know this yet we still rush bills and no-one even has time to read them before signing them into law. NOT GOOD!!!

    UPDATE; the Friday, 07/24/2009 snapshot polls from Rasmussen and Zogby have Obama’s favorable numbers now below 50%, 49% to be exact. Folks who strongly disapprove over those who strongly approve give Obama a negative 8. Rasmussen was the pollster who got the election pegged by being closer than all the others. Even Bush 43 had higher numbers at this point in time and this was after the Florida debacle and before 9/11. Before this latest poll, when he (Obama) still enjoyed positives in the 50s, he was still rated at this point as the 10th lowest ranked out of 12 POTUS’s since WWII. Has the glitter and all that hopey change stuff faded? Even the teleprompter bailed on him last week.

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