Germ theory denialism

99% of the anti-vaxxers in and near Portland, Oregon will call you a “science denier” if you suggest CAGW is debatable in any way. Simultaneously, they choose to risk the death of their children from measles.  Never mind the danger to others of providing many more disease vectors.

State of emergency declared in US measles outbreak

This is a serious disease we had eliminated in the United States 20 years ago, until these morons decided to believe the germ theory of disease didn’t apply to them; while inviting thousands of poor people from third-world countries to live among them without medical exams.

Apparently, there’s no victim-identity group for “children who haven’t had measles vaccinations.” Odd, since there is one for “sex-transitioning 10 year olds.”

Perhaps the fact that measles is a very serious disease when contracted by an adult male contributes to the disdain for vaccination among these Rousseauian wannabes.

Finding out what’s in it

Changing Stance, Administration Now Defends Insurance Mandate as a Tax

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

…“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September,

He forgot to add, “Until we have to defend it in court.” Of course, the question is semantic, whatever term is used.

Insurers Push Plans Limiting Patient Choice of Doctors

The relentlessly rising cost of health insurance is prompting some small Massachusetts companies to drop coverage for their workers and encourage them to sign up for state-subsidized care instead,…

Since April 1, the date many insurance contracts are renewed for small businesses, the owners of about 90 small companies terminated their insurance plans with Braintree-based broker Jeff Rich and indicated in a follow-up survey that they were relying on publicly-funded insurance for their employees.

“Publicly-funded” may be the most dangerous phrase in the English language. Of course, you’ll be able to keep your doctor and your current health insurance under a Federal plan. The president said so.

Lost in Taxation

[W]ith ObamaCare, the agency [IRS] is now responsible for “the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history.” And without “sufficient funding” it won’t be able to discharge these new duties…

Well, well. Republicans argued during the health debate that the IRS would have to hire hundreds of new agents and staff to enforce ObamaCare. They were brushed off by Democrats and the press corps as if they believed the President was born on the moon.

No. That’s Hawaii.

I can’t wait to find out what’s in the financial “reform” legislation.

The very definition of a modern major death panel

Brought to you directly from the Kevorkian annex of the UK’s National Health “Service.”

Sentenced to death on the NHS

Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors have warned.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

RTWT

Consumer driven health care


Here is an interesting post on market driven health care from National Center Blog’s David Hogberg, who picks a bone with someone named Matthew Holt.

Holt uses LASIK eye-surgery as an argument against consumer driven health care. Since LASIK cost has fallen 30 inflation-adjusted percentage points in the last decade and since customer satisfaction averages 93 percent, it seems a poor example. Apparently, Mr. Holt’s complaints are that consumers are not well enough informed, and that advertising fails to reveal that the services of all providers are not identical.

The National Center Blog does a fine job of pointing out that this objection is basically twaddle, but let me add a bit, including a personal experience and some prognostication.

I’m near the front edge of the baby boomer cohort and until very recently, had had no experience with any medical condition that could be considered chronic, i.e. with long term implications. The short version of the story is that at the urging of my better half I undertook a sleep study to find a cure for what she claimed was a snoring problem.

The diagnosis of sleep apnea offered a choice of 60 percent successful surgery requiring an overnight stay in an ICU and 4 weeks of recovery, much of it very painful, or a potentially uncomfortable machine which I would probably have to use every night for the rest of my life.

I decided I’d try the machine first. I was naturally interested in the comfort features most likely to allow me to avoid surgery. So, I did some research. There is no central information source for these machines, but there are many vendors on the internet and a multitude of discussion groups and even blogs. I discovered a great deal about the machines through advertising, and I settled on certain features.

Armed with an idea about what I should look for, much in the way I would research a car or a major appliance, I obtained a second opinion and a prescription for this “Class A Medical Device.” I expected my final decision to be made after a visit to some kind of showroom where I could estimate the utility for travel, the control functions, features I may not have already discovered and general reputation of various manufacturer’s offerings. That is, I wanted to speak with a salesman.

Such a place only exists on the internet. Instead, I received a call from the respiratory technician of my doctor’s choice, who informed me he had a particular device ready and could deliver it in a couple of days. I asked about the features that were important to me, features that had never been discussed with me by anyone in the not-consumer driven health care arena. I was informed that I did not need those features because my prescription did not specify them. I informed him that since I would likely be using this thing for the rest of my life, I thought the features did matter. After a great deal of goofing about with a health care system that had already decided I was not competent to participate in this decision, I got what I wanted.

The point is that the “health care system” isn’t really prepared for consumer choice. The prognostication is, that as more baby boomers bump into such issues, they will bring both their expectations of consumer choice and their intransigent feelings of “specialness” to bear in ways the health care system had better get ready to appreciate, even if Matthew Holt never does.

LASIK enjoys 93% customer satisfaction because it involves cutting your eyes with a laser. I bet people tend to be interested in the success rates even more than I was with my machine.

Now, add to that the fact that a Health Savings Account combines the tax reduction advantages of a traditional IRA with the tax avoidance advantages of a Roth IRA. That is, contributions to an HSA are tax deductible and, if you spend the proceeds on health care they are never taxed.

You can pass on an HSA as an inheritance. You will not be able to do that with Mr. Holt’s opinion.

Consumer interest in medical care is clear, and the market will supply more and more information as baby boomers demand it. We haven’t had a free market in health care for decades and we don’t have one now. Speculation about the dearth of this market is premature.

Proxy


A press release from the National Center for Public Policy Research sees the President’s SOTU health care reform proposals as positive:

“That is the best idea for health insurance since the enactment of health savings accounts,” said NCPPR senior policy analyst David Hogberg. “This really helps level the playing field for the tax treatment of health insurance.”

Presently the tax code favors employees receiving their health insurance through their employer. “That really puts individuals at a disadvantage,” said Hogberg. “This change will help lower the cost for those people who purchase insurance on the individual market.”

The proposal to limit the tax deduction also deserves praise. With the current unlimited tax deduction, employees have more incentive to demand higher cost insurance policies that cover every little health expense. This leads to higher demand for health care, which leads to higher health care costs. That, in turn, boosts costs for health insurance. “The limit on the tax deduction will reduce the incentive to buy expensive, wasteful policies,” said Hogberg. “That will result in lower health insurance costs for everyone.”

There’s no question that government intervention increases the cost of health care, both through direct subsidy and taxation policy, but what really caught my attention were these comments from Congresscritters Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Pete Stark (D-CA):

Rangel: “This is a dangerous policy that ultimately shifts cost and risk from employers to employees and could result in a higher number of uninsured.”

Stark: “Under the guise of tax breaks, the president is pursuing a policy designed to destroy the employer-based health care system through which 160 million people receive coverage.”

The “employer-based health care system” is itself a result of government interference. Because the Feds imposed wage and price controls during WWII, employers competed for employees by offering benefits through loopholes in those controls – paying for employee health care, for example. “Employer-based health care” originated from doubly inept government intervention. Fifty years later, General Motors, and Michigan, are suffering from that government intervention.

So is everyone else. ALL health care costs are higher because the government fiddles with it. Bush proposes to allow health insurance tax deductions for the self-employed and the “progressives” freak. How reactionary.

That Rangel and Stark think employers owe employees health care is unsurprising, that they act as if it appears in the Bill of Rights is populist paternalism, that they have no interest in affordable health care is obvious. They would prefer a government run health care system; and unless employers are kept shackled to the responsibility, and employees to the dependency, true socialist health care is less likely to happen. Employers currently function as proxies.

I recommend reading Arnold Kling’s articles Insulation vs. Insurance, and The President’s Plan at Cato Unbound for further perspective.

Serendipitous Update: 8:12PM
Thanks to Bizzy Blog for this link


America’s biggest motor manufacturers are negotiating a revolutionary plan to rid themselves of tens of billions of dollars of healthcare liabilities by transferring the responsibility to employees’ unions.

General Motors and Ford have opened talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union about a scheme that would see the union run a massive fund to pay the healthcare bills for tens of thousands of retired car plant employees. In return for a one-off payment into the new UAW fund, the car makers could, with one bound, be free of liabilities they say are crippling them.

Technically, this would be an employEE sponsored health plan, would it not? Though, if I were a UAW member, I’d much rather run my personal plan myself. Second choice is – leave it with GM until SarBox applies to Unions. Thanks anyway.