Posted by: elambend | November 13, 2009

The Likely Effects of Nationalized Health Care

Below is a bunch of quotes and links to stories they came from that I compiled for some friends of mine.  We had begun discussing health care over lunch and they started disputing some of my assertions.  Most dishearteningly is that the conversation ended when one of them just declared it too complicated and kind of ended the debate with that.

One of the major points they did NOT believe me on was my assertion that the bill would lead to HIGHER insurance premiums for most people, thus the lead article:

“On Nov. 2, the Congressional Budget Office estimated what the plans will likely cost. An individual earning $44,000 before taxes who purchases his own insurance will have to pay a $5,300 premium and an estimated $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, for a total of $7,300 a year, which is 17% of his pre-tax income. A family earning $102,100 a year before taxes will have to pay a $15,000 premium plus an estimated $5,300 out-of-pocket, for a $20,300 total, or 20% of its pre-tax income. Individuals and families earning less than these amounts will be eligible for subsidies paid directly to their insurer.”

“Sec. 59b (pp. 297-299) says that when you file your taxes, you must include proof that you are in a qualified plan. If not, you will be fined thousands of dollars. Illegal immigrants are exempt from this requirement.”

“Sec. 202 (p. 91-92) of the bill requires you to enroll in a “qualified plan.” If you get your insurance at work, your employer will have a “grace period” to switch you to a “qualified plan,” meaning a plan designed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. If you buy your own insurance, there’s no grace period. You’ll have to enroll in a qualified plan as soon as any term in your contract changes, such as the co-pay, deductible or benefit.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704795604574519671055918380.html
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Mandated Health Insurance Squeezes Those in the Middle [in Massachusetts]

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125304790936413347.html#mod=article-outset-box

“In Massachusetts, rising health-care costs, already among the highest in the country, threaten the insurance mandate’s long-term viability. The state’s costs to expand coverage have swelled nearly 70% to an expected $1.75 billion in fiscal 2010 from a base of $1.04 billion in 2006, about half of which is supported by federal funds, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a nonprofit policy research group.”

They bought their own insurance in 2006, after Mr. MacDonald, a 39-year-old computer consultant, lost his job and began to work as an independent contractor. Insuring the couple and their four children then cost $650 a month, or $7,800 a year, and didn’t include prescription-drug coverage. It was “a lot, but something we could afford,” Mr. MacDonald says.

The next year, premiums rose to $750 a month and to about $900 a month in 2008. The MacDonalds say their actual medical costs hadn’t come close to the premiums they were paying. “What are we getting for it?” Ms. MacDonald says they asked themselves before canceling.”

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Maine Finds Health Care Fix Elusive

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/health/policy/11maine.html?_r=1&th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all
[The tone of this article is generally sympathetic to the Nat. Health Care Reform, though given the facts of the story; I don’t see how.]

“The state’s legislators have tried for decades to fix its system, but their efforts have always fallen short: health insurance premiums are still among the least affordable in the nation, health care spending per person is among the highest and hospital emergency rooms are among the most crowded. Indeed, many overhauls to the system have done little more than squeeze a balloon — solving one problem while worsening another.”

“To help people like Mr. Sargent, the state is one of 17 that limit how much insurers can charge people for being older, and it does not allow exclusions for previous illnesses — both policies that are part of national reform proposals. But one result is that premiums for younger people are relatively high. Although national proposals would require that nearly everyone get coverage or pay a penalty, Maine’s Legislature rejected such a mandate so many young people do not or cannot buy insurance — further skewing the insured pool to sicker and older people and making premiums that much higher.”

“To compensate for such expensive care, the state pays doctors and hospitals relatively skimpy fees for treating Medicaid patients. As a result, doctors are closing solo practices and joining hospitals, which then have the market power to jack up rates to private insurers in a common problem called cost-shifting.”

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Health Care Speech Writers for Edwards, Clinton & Obama now without Insurance.

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/10/08/health-care-speechwriter-for-edwards-obama-and-clinton-doesnt/

“While the state has the lowest rate of uninsured, a report by the Commonwealth Fund states that Massachusetts has the highest premiums in the country. The state’s budget is a mess and lawmakers had to make deep cuts in services and increase the sales tax to close gaps. The number of people needing assistance has at times overwhelmed the state. The mandate means that some people who can’t afford insurance are now being slapped with a fine they also can’t afford. There is no “public option” in the way the president describes it, no inter-state competition, no pool for small businesses and self-employed individuals like me to buy into groups that negotiate cheaper rates. So far I haven’t found any “death panels,” but if I get sick and need a hospital, I sure hope I can find one and a feisty granny to pull my plug.

What makes this a double blow is that my experience contradicts so much of what I wrote for political leaders over the last decade. That’s a terrible feeling, too. I typed line after line that said everything Massachusetts did would make health insurance more affordable. If I had a dollar for every time I typed, “universal coverage will lower premiums,” I could pay for my own health care at Massachusetts’s rates.”

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The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
[Whole Foods CEO’s ideas for reform]

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html

“• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

• Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

• Enact Medicare reform.

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America

Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.

Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor’s Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.
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http://www.aei.org/docLib/20061017_OhsfeldtSchneiderPresentation.pdf

Once fatal injuries are taken into account, U.S. “natural” life expectancy from birth ranks first among the richest nations of the world. (Page 19, Table 1-5)

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/health/04infant.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=premature%20births%20&st=cse

“Premature infants in the United States are more likely to survive than those elsewhere.”

“High rates of premature birth are the main reason the United States has higher infant mortality than do many other rich countries, government researchers reported Tuesday in their first detailed analysis of a longstanding problem. ”

“The high levels of prematurity in the United States have various causes. Dr. Fleischman said the smallest, earliest and most fragile babies were often born to poor and minority women who lacked health care and social support. The highest rates of infant mortality occur in non-Hispanic black, American Indian, Alaska Native and Puerto Rican women. But other minorities have some of the lowest infant mortality rates in the United States: Asian and Pacific Islanders, Central and South Americans, Mexicans and Cubans. ”

“Dr. MacDorman said prematurity was not the only factor behind infant mortality in the United States. She said full-term babies in this country also had higher death rates than those in Europe from sudden infant death syndrome, accidents, assaults and homicides.” [i.e. NOT due to health care]

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